In June of this year, La Palina announced a new vitola in its Collection series. Dubbed the “Goldie”, it is a 6 x 38 Petite Lancero which is named after Goldie Drell Paley, who was the wife of the founder of La Palina cigars Sam Paley.
Here is a little bit of history about the La Palina brand from its website:
The Congress Cigar Company and its leading brand, La Palina, had its beginnings when Samuel Paley emigrated from the Ukraine in the late 1800s. Arriving in Chicago, Sam obtained work at a cigar factory as a lector – an individual who reads novels, magazines and newspapers to the cigar rollers in the gallery. His interest in the tobacco industry grew, and Sam devoted his personal time to studying cigars, the nuances of their blending and the tradition of their manufacture. His efforts and knowledge were quickly recognized by his employer, and Sam was promoted to roller and then blender.In 1896 Sam opened a cigar shop of his own in Chicago with an adjacent factory that he named Congress Cigar Company. Their first product was La Palina, in honor of his wife Goldie Drell Paley. Sam was a turn-of-the-century master craftsman and would sit in the window every day rolling cigars. La Palina was his passion, and Sam was a true artisan who believed in quality, excellence and perfection.
Congress Cigar Company moved to Philadelphia in 1910, and Sam’s son, William S. Paley, joined as Vice President of Advertising after his graduation from the Wharton School of Business. Enamored with radio, William sponsored a small radio show in Philadelphia called “The La Palina Hour”. The advertising increased sales of La Palina and convinced young Paley of the value and potential of radio, leading him in a new direction. William’s subsequent purchase of five radio stations in Philadelphia was the inception of his Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), known as “The Tiffany Network” for the quality of its programming and its journalistic excellence. Ultimately, Congress Cigar was liquidated in 1926, after Sam’s retirement.William S. Paley learned about quality from his father and through his experience with La Palina and Congress Cigar. Those values would guide the Paleys for the next three generations and would take Bill Paley back to his roots, and the resurrection of the La Palina brand.
The revival of La Palina was driven by Bill Paley’s desire for a signature luxury cigar for the Lightbourne House, the fabled Paley family retreat in the Bahamas. Following his grandfather’s dedication to excellence and his parents’ attention to detail, Bill began a journey to revive the all-but-forgotten La Palina brand. He dedicated himself to creating a cigar emblematic of the original La Palina.Bill’s quest for the extraordinary took him to Avelino Lara, the expatriate Cuban Master Blender who created the famed Cohibas for Fidel Castro. Lara had abandoned Cuba and was heading Enrico Garzioli’s factory at Graycliff in Nassau. With the acquiescence of Garzioli, Bill worked directly with Lara to create a cigar that appealed to his discriminating palate.
The Goldie is a unique specimen for a few reasons, but the main one is that each and every cigar in the release was rolled by master roller Maria Sierra, who was one of the first women trained to roll cigars in Cuba, and who started her career at El Laguito, where Cohibas are produced, in 1967. Maria was trained by both Avelino Lara, who created the Cohiba blend, and Eduardo Rivera Irizarri, who was Fidel Castro’s personal cigar roller, and is a 95 rated Category 9 roller in her own right.
The La Palina Goldie is rolled at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, and the blend includes Medio Tiempo leaf, which is also used in cigars like the Cuban Cohiba Behike BHK and the Diesel Crucible. Only 1,000 boxes of 10 cigars were produced with a MSRP of $15.00. The La Palina brand actually has three different lines: El Diario, the Family Series and the La Palina Collection, which is where the Goldie falls. There is only one other release in the La Palina Collection, the Limited Edition 1896 Robusto.
The boxes that the Goldies come in look like this:
(Photo courtesy of La Palina)
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: La Palina Goldie Laguito No. 2
- Country of Origin: USA
- Factory: El Titan de Bronze
- Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
- Binder: Ecuador
- Filler: Nicaraguan & Dominican
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 38
- Vitola: Petit Lancero
- MSRP: $15.00 (Boxes of 10, $150.00)
- Date Released: July 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
The La Palina Goldie Laguito No. 2 is an obviously well-rolled cigar with gorgeous light cinnamon brown wrapper that is smooth to the touch. There are some veins present, but they are not overly distracting; the triple cap and little flag on top are nice touches. It has the perfect amount of give when squeezed, and the wrapper smells like hay, wood and sweet fruit. However, the pre-draw is amazing with notes of what I can only describe as banana.
The first third of the Goldie starts off with an assault of flavors: honey, nuts, banana, leather and coffee all vie for a dominant spot in vain. It’s extremely creamy overall and does not seem to be losing any of that as the third continues. There is some slight spice on the tongue—just enough to effect the profile and there is also a surprising amount of pepper through the retrohale, although it is almost nonexistent in the mouth. As you would expect from an expert roller, the burn and draw are the epitome of perfection and smoke production is average. Strength starts out the first third at a mild-medium, and while it is getting stronger, it is not doing it very quickly.
Coming into the second third of the La Palina, and the banana note that was so strong in the first third has started to recede a bit to more of a general sweet background note. The profile is still quite creamy and at right around the halfway point, the pepper on the retrohale kicks up a huge notch that continues well into the second third. Flavors continue to shift back and forth, with cinnamon, nuts, white chocolate and coffee leading the pack. The construction of the Laguito No. 2 remains amazing, and the strength bumps up to a slightly stronger than medium by the end of the second third.
The final third of the La Palina Laguito No. 2 sees an increase in spice on the tongue and a decrease in pepper on the retrohale. Flavors continue to impress with the creaminess and sweetness remaining at around the same levels as the second third. The main difference is the strength, which surprises me by hitting the full mark by the end of the cigar, albeit just barely. It’s extremely easy to nub, and did not even get close to warm at the end, as you can see by the nub on one of my samples.
- I could not help but immediately notice that boxes that the Goldies come in have notches cut out to support the fans on the cap of the cigars. The first time I saw this method used was actually in the Liga Privada Dirty Rat boxes back in 2010.
- The 6 x 38 vitola is called the Laguito No.2 in Cuba, but is usually known as a Petit Lancero in the U.S.
- Is this cigar better than my other favorite Petit Lancero cigar, the Tatuaje Black Petite Lancero? It is quite different in almost every aspect (profile, strength, flavors), so I will just say I like them both about the same, but would smoke them at different times, depending on my mood.
- The band is a bit ostentatious, but attractive in an old school, gold and marble kind of way. On the plus side, it does match up with its marketing and product quite well.
- The Goldie never even got warm at the end.
- The banana flavor I noted in the pre-draw and first third, where it was the strongest, is extremely interesting. I have just not picked that note out of cigars very often, and it made for a very enjoyable smoke.
- I can not stress enough how phenomenal the construction is on these cigars. Each and every one I smoked were perfect in every way, not that that is surprising considering who rolled them. It may very well be the best constructed cigar I have smoked all year.
- Interestingly, Maria Sierra’s rolling career started on July 22, 1967, almost 45 years to the day (about two weeks early) from when the Goldie cigars were released.
- As mentioned above, Maria is a 95 rated Category 9 roller. This basically means she is one of the best cigar rollers in the world. She was also one of the first female rollers in Cuba, and one of the original thirty women chosen to roll for Castro.
- Willy Herrera, who was formerly of El Titan de Bronze and is now working for Drew Estate, was involved with the blending of the Goldie.
- The final smoking time for all three samples was right around one hour and 15 minutes.
The Bottom Line: I have to say, although I find the El Diario line a little weak, I have been really loving some of the recent La Palina releases. The Kill Bill is a very good cigar and a wonderful vitola, and the Goldie is even better. The cigar is a flavor bomb, extremely complex, expertly rolled, amazing construction and is just a joy to smoke. Easily one of the best La Palinas I have smoked. Yes, they are almost absurdly expensive for the size, but honestly, I sort look on it as having a piece of cigar history, since each one is rolled by one of the top rollers in the world and someone with an incredibly decorated cigar career. If you have the money to spend, and love close to full-bodied, complex and full flavored cigars, you will not be disappointed.
Final Score: 93