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La Palina Bronze Label TAA 2017

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For its 2017 contribution to the Tobacconists’ Association of America Exclusive Series Program of cigars, La Palina turned to Rocky Patel and the El Paraiso factory in Honduras to create the Bronze Label TAA 2017.

The cigar is made primarily of Honduran tobacco, though there are some Nicaraguan leaves to be found in the filler. It’s a single vitola release, coming in the auspicious 6 1/2 x 52 toro vitola that has seemingly become the de facto size for such releases in recent years.

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However, it wouldn’t stay as a single vitola release for long, as in January 2018 the company announced that it would become available to all retailers, adding a robusto and toro to the offerings.

  • La Palina Bronze Label Robusto (5 1/2 x 50) — $8.99 (Boxes of 20, $179.80)
  • La Palina Bronze Label Toro (6 1/2 x 52) — $9.99 (Boxes of 20, $199.80)
  • La Palina Bronze Label Gordo (6 x 60) — $11 (Box of 20, $220)
It also drastically upped the production of the line, as just 800 boxes of the Toro were produced for TAA retailers, a total of just 16,000 cigars. That number was originally just 500 boxes, with La Palina upping the production following the TAA’s meeting where it was sold.

Here’s what I said about the La Palina Bronze Label TAA 2017 when I reviewed it in Aug. 2017:

Mark me down as impressed if not quite overwhelmed by the La Palina Bronze Label TAA 2017; the cigar is quite good, particularly in its more flavorful expressions, yet other than in a few spots stops short of being a true symphony of flavors. The coffee note that came out in the second sample is a particularly strong note, while the consistently rich wood and restrained yet flavorful earth form a solid base note that is quite pleasing to my palate, and what chocolate is present is an added bonus. Yet for all the good things it has to offer, I found myself searching for the symphony among the instruments, and just never came across it. Make no mistake, the La Palina Bronze Label TAA 2017 is quite a good cigar and one I’d certainly smoke again; hopefully when I revisit it the flavors will have come together in a way that could really push this cigar into the next level.

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Palina Bronze Label TAA 2017
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: El Paraiso
  • Wrapper: Honduras
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $9.99 (Boxes of 20, $199.80)
  • Release Date: May 13, 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: 800 Boxes of 20 Cigars (16,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

After slipping off the cellophane and removing a foot band that is fairly well adhered and bears the TAA’s logo, I’m greeted by a fairly standard looking toro vitola with a wrapper that falls a bit beyond well-tanned but short of dark brown. It’s firmly rolled and capped well, the seams are just barely visible and the wrapper has a network of small veins that create a map-like pattern while giving some ridges for the fingers. The foot of the cigar is incredibly complex, with dried apricots and peaches ahead of a liquid smoke note and then a creamy finish. I find myself spending a few minutes with it given just how complex and enjoyable it is. The cold draw is a tick firm and a few ticks less complex than the aroma, with a subtle bit of the apricot note and a generic soft pretzel bread at its core.

For a cigar that uses a fair amount of Honduran tobacco, I’m surprised there isn’t more earthiness and terroir out of the blend at the start, instead, there is a sweet and spicy sauciness out of the gate with a bit of cedar in the background. A more traditional black pepper begins to come along as the burn line approaches the one-inch mark, and it’s not long after that when some dry wood and earthiness introduce themselves. A retrohale after the first clump of ash drops reveals a much more familiar aroma and flavor, and a quite good one at that with bright, clean pepper and a flavor that engages the entire tongue. I’d peg it around medium-bodied, a bit lighter on strength and a bit more vibrant in flavor. There aren’t many changes until the midpoint of the cigar gets on the horizon when I pick up a more vibrant orange and citrus note with an interesting damp chalk finish. Retrohales are still incredibly helpful in getting the most out of this cigar, as they temper what the palate gets while using some mellow white pepper to accent the physical sensation.

I’m not quite sure if I got distracted or was too into the La Palina Bronze Label TAA 2017, but the burn line crosses the midway point and gets into the tail end of the second third rather quickly, with a citrus and cedar leading the top part of the flavor and offering some Honduran terroir for the base. From a physical reactions standpoint, there is now a longer finish from the black pepper and spice, though it’s not more intense. By the time the final third gets burning, the sweetness has largely departed from the cigar, and while I can’t recall a specific shift where it departed, coming back to the cigar after a minute of rest reveals a clear change of direction, now tasting much more of Honduran earth and terroir, with the Nicaraguan tobacco seemingly adding some pepper-forward kick as well as a bit of roughness towards the back of the throat. After just about two hours of smoking time, the cigar finishes on a very earthy note that has seen the pepper dial back quite a bit, and while still a bit robust it’s plenty palatable to smoke down to under an inch in length.

93 Overall Score

After over a year in the humidor, the La Palina Bronze Label TAA 2017 continues to impress, maybe even more so than it did when first smoked, though to borrow from my original review, it still feels like it's lacking the symphony despite having seemingly all the instruments. There's sweetness, spice, pepper, earth and woods, yet it feels more like listening to each section play in pairs rather than everything coming together into true cohesion. That said, it's still well ahead of what it seems most cigars tend to offer both in quantity and quality of flavors. I feel like I have to disclaimer the extremely earthy finish of the final third as I know it's not everyone's favorite flavor but it works for me until it's time to put the cigar down. I can't speak to any differences between the TAA-banded version and the regular production toro other than time; either way I'd recommend picking some up for what should be an enjoyable and flavorful experience.

Original Score (August 2017)
89
Redux Score (January 2019)
93

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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