In March, the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) held its annual meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, an while cigar exclusives for the group are nothing new, this year’s event included a new vendor for TAA: La Palina.

For the first time, La Palina released a TAA exclusive cigar, dubbed simply “Bill’s Blend,” which as the name indicates, is a personal blend of company head William C. “Bill” Paley. Coming in at 6 x 50, the toro is composed of an Ecuadorian habano wrapper covering an Ecuadorian binder and filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

“‘Bill’s Blend’ is proudly hand-rolled in the United States of America, in Little Havana Miami,” said Paley in a press release. “We are wonderfully pleased by this cigar. ‘Bill’s Blend’ highlights La Palina’s commitment to the brick and mortar side of our business, and is the essence of ‘Made in America.’”

Bill’s Blend TAA 2016 is packaged in boxes of 20, with each cigar carrying an MSRP of $10.99 and only 1,000 boxes produced. As with La Palina’s Family Series and Goldie, the new cigar is rolled at El Titan de Bronze in Miami.

A total of 10 manufacturers have created 16 new releases this year for the TAA.

  • CLE Azabache 5 x 50 (5 x 50) — 320 Boxes of 25 (8,000 Total Cigars)
  • CLE Azabache 6 x 54 (6 x 54) — 320 Boxes of 25 (8,000 Total Cigars)
  • CLE Azabache 6 x 60 (6 x 60) — 320 Boxes of 25 (8,000 Total Cigars)
  • Crowned Heads — The Angel’s Anvil 2016 (5 1/2 x 54) — 1,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Drew Estate — Herrera Estelí TAA 2016 (6 x 52) — n/a
  • La Flor Dominicana TAA 48 (6 x 54) — n/a
  • La Flor Dominicana TAA 48 Celebration (6 x 54) — n/a
  • La Palina’s Bill Blend (6 x 50) — 1,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • My Father El Centurion H-2K-CT (6 1/2 x 52) — 1,400 Boxes of 20 Cigars (28,000 Total Cigars)
  • Nat Sherman Panamericana Belicoso Fino (5 1/2 x 52) — n/a
  • Nat Sherman Panamericana Gordo (6 x 60) — n/a
  • Nat Sherman Panamericana Robustico (4 x 54) — n/a
  • Padrón 1926 Serie No. 48 Maduro (5 1/2 x 60) — n/a
  • Padrón 1926 Serie No. 48 Natural (5 1/2 x 60) — n/a
  • Quesada Reserva Privada Robusto (4 3/4 x 52) — 1,400 Boxes of 10 Cigars (14,000 Total Cigars)
  • Tatuaje TAA 2016 (6 1/4 x 50) — 4,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (80,000 Total Cigars)

La Palina Bill's Blend TAA 2016 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Palina Bill's Blend TAA 2016
  • Country of Origin: U.S.A.
  • Factory: El Titan de Bronze
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $10.99 (Boxes of 20, $219.80)
  • Release Date: May 26, 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 20 (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The La Palina Bill’s Blend is covered in a mocha brown wrapper that is smooth to the touch and features just a touch of oil. Although there are some viens present running up and down the length the cigar, they are not overly distracting, and it has some nice firmness when it is squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of barnyard, leather, manure, earth and sweet cream, while the cold draw brings flavors of strong aged oak, leather, hay and milk chocolate sweetness.

Starting out, the La Palina Bill’s Blend features a combination of sweet oak and creamy earth as the dominant flavors, interspersed with notes of leather, hay, almonds and sweet vanilla. The profile is exceedingly creamy on the palate, I am picking up both some white pepper on the retrohale as well as some slight spice on my tongue that does not seem like it is going to stick around for long. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a simple straight cut, giving me just the right amount of resistance, while the burn is far from razor sharp, it does not need to be touched up yet. The smoke production is both dense and plentiful, while the overall strength seems content to stay at a point between mild and medium so far.

La Palina Bill's Blend TAA 2016 2

Some slight mint note makes an appearance in the second third of the Bill’s Blend, although it is relegated exclusively to the retrohale, where it joins the same white pepper from the first third. The profile is still quite creamy, with some vanilla sweetness combined with dominant flavors of sweet oak and leather, followed by notes of espresso beans, dark cocoa, bread, cinnamon and slight honey. The draw continues to be excellent, while the burn starts to get away from me, forcing a touchup, but the smoke production remains as high as ever. Strength-wise, the Bill’s Blend barely hits the medium mark by the end of the second third.

La Palina Bill's Blend TAA 2016 3

Sadly, the mint note from the second third is long gone by the time the final third starts, although the creamy oak and leather combination continue to lead the way in the profile. Other notes of cinnamon, yeast, citrus, dark chocolate, almonds, earth and slight floral round out the flavors, while the white pepper and vanilla on the retrohale continue to stick around until the end. Thankfully, the burn has evened out nicely, and the draw continues to give me no issues whatsoever, while the smoke production has actually increased a bit compared to the first two thirds. The overall strength changes very little from the second third, and ends the final third firmly in the medium range.

La Palina Bill's Blend TAA 2016 4

Final Notes

  • Yesterday, we reported the addition of three new lines debuting at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show: La Palina El Año 1896, La Palina Illumination and La Palina Nicaragua.
  • Last month, La Palina shipped the latest release in its Goldie line, the 6 3/4 x 43 Goldie Dalia.
  • The El Titan de Bronze factory is located in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, and also produces La Palina’s Mr. Sam and Goldie lines.
  • I have to say, I was a bit surprised at the price considering these are produced in the U.S.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • The 49th Annual TAA Convention and Trade Show is scheduled to be held March 12-16, 2017 in Cabo San Lucas.
  • The average final smoking time for all three samples was one hour and 45 minutes.
  • Site sponsors Corona Cigar Co. as well as STOGIES World Class Cigars (713.783.5100) are both TAA members.
91 Overall Score

I really enjoyed the overt creaminess that was present in the La Palina Bill’s Blend on the palate combined with the ever present white pepper on the retrohale. In addition, the vanilla sweetness, the wonderful balance and the excellent construction really pushed it over the top for me. While I don’t think that it will take the top La Palina spot for me—that would be the Goldie—the Bill’s Blend is a winner anyway you slice it, and one that is easy to recommend.

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.