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There are a handful of cigars that only need one word to describe them: Opus, Añejo, Monster, and for many cigar smokers, Goldie.

While the cigar has a fair amount of gold on the band and boxes, it’s named not for the color or the metal, but rather for Goldie Drell Paley, the wife of Samuel Paley, who originally launched the La Palina brand in 1896 as part of the Congress Cigar Co. She is also the grandmother of Bill Paley, who revived the La Palina brand in 2010. It is her image that graces La Palina’s bands, those as recently announced, the company’s Classic lines are getting an update, which harkens back to the brand’s early 20th century look.

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The La Palina Goldie line debuted in the summer of 2012 to much fanfare, and since then has become an anticipated annual release. It has been described by Bill Paley as a tribute to women in the cigar industry; named for his grandmother, it is produced at Sandy Cobas’ El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, with each cigar for the first several years of releases made by Maria Sierra, who honed her skills in Cuban cigar factories before coming to the U.S.

Sadly, Sierra passed away in January 2019, though before her passing she had selected the roller that would carry on the Goldie line: Lopez “Chino” Perez, who she handed the line off to as part of her retirement in 2017.

The line has now grown to eight releases, with the vitolas generally alternating between slender and thick from year to year, though has recently stayed on the bigger end of the ring gauge spectrum.

The 2019 edition is one of the biggest to be released, a Churchill vitola that measures7 x 48, a size that is close to what is known in Cuban cigar factories as the Julieta No.2, though that vitola uses a 47 ring gauge. It was that vitola de galera that gave the cigar its initial name, the Julieta. However, that was changed after the cigar was announced due to its place in the Romeo y Julieta brand.

It is also the most expensive Goldie to be released, with each cigar priced at $23 and boxes of 10 cigars priced at $230. While the size and price are on the big side, production isn’t, with just 1,000 boxes of 10 cigars produced, tied for the fewest cigars produced for a release since the original La Palina Goldie Laguito No. 2 from 2012.

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Palina Goldie Churchill
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Factory: El Titan de Bronze
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Churchill
  • MSRP: $23 (Box of 10, $230)
  • Release Date: September 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

If there’s one thing I seemingly never have to worry about when it comes to the La Palina line, it’s getting an attractive cigar. The Churchill looks quite attractive with its tanned wrapper leaf and the band that complements it so well with cream and gold hues. The fantail head is one of those flourishes that I know adds nothing to the experience I’ll get smoking cigars, but it doesn’t mean I appreciate it any less. The cigar is rolled very well from a visual perspective, and it’s firm to the touch when inspected, which also reveals a very smooth wrapper leaf. Maybe I’ve smoked enough of the Goldie line to expect the banana bread note off the foot, and sure enough it is there when I sniff the feet of two of the three cigars smoked. It’s a very mild aroma that doesn’t jump off the foot but is lush when given proper attention. Otherwise the aroma is pretty nondescript and neutral, with no pepper or other aromas standing out. The cold draw ranges from near perfect on two samples to surprisingly tight on one sample in terms of airflow, though there isn’t much in the way of flavors, and certainly none of the banana note that I associate with the Goldie profile.

The La Palina Goldie Churchill opens with an interesting dry note that has me reaching for water; in two samples it’s reminiscent of eating a bit of flour in how it dries the mouth and doesn’t really add much flavor. The third sample is creamier and much more palate friendly, with wood and pepper tingling the tongue more than drying it out. Black pepper comes to the rescue in the subsequent puffs and brightens the profile up, though it still has a way to go before I could call it truly complex on the whole. By the one inch mark, the profile starts showing some additional development, adding in a pinch of white pepper to brighten things up while creaminess is starting to fill in some of the gaps on the base notes. There’s a fair amount to be added from the retrohale here, as it doesn’t have quite the same dryness that gets imparted on the palate, and the pepper is just a bit brighter as well. As the first bit of ash falls it seems to take a good bit of whatever was causing the mouth-drying effect with it, opening the door for a bit more creaminess, along with just a bit of chalk. It’s an interesting flavor that wraps up the first third, one I can’t exactly put my finger on in terms of specifics. It’s a medium-plus intensity of flavor, while early strength is medium-minus. The draw, burn and smoke production are all very good so far.

The start of the second third brings about a bit of mellowing to the profile, though it’s more in how dynamic the profile is on the taste buds. There’s still some pepper and creaminess, now joined by pizza dough, which at times seems to absorb whatever flavors the cigar might be trying to offer instead of providing a platform for them to shine. The pepper cuts through and becomes a bit grating on the throat in one sample, which isn’t an ideal way to stand out. The midway point of the cigar shows some impressive progression the flavors, though sadly the banana flavor I’m still waiting for has yet to truly appear, nor any real sweetness for that matter. There are spots where I get hints of a warm banana custard, though a bit more intensity would be not just appreciated but beneficial to the profile. Most of the flour and chalk has left the profile, and black pepper is doing most of the work in that department save for traces of white pepper on retrohales. As the burn line progresses, there are some attempts at a baked soft pretzel flavor, more wood comes into the profile and the cigar goes back to drying out my mouth, though the physical sensation is a bit different from what I found in the first third. The burn continues to be near perfect and smoke production plentiful, though it’s no match for a breezy day.

Not surprisingly, the flavor from the La Palina Goldie Churchill is still on the dry side as the burn line crosses into the final third, with wood and wheat leading the profile and a bit of black pepper found on the finish. It’s far from a peppery cigar at this point, and I’m hesitant to attribute the lingering tingle on my tongue to that flavor. When there’s more creaminess in the profile, it is to the cigar’s benefit as it adds a bit of sweetness as well as improving the mouthfeel of the smoke. There is also some flirting with peanuts and cashews, a bit of nuttiness that adds a touch of oiliness to the smoke and some character to the flavor. There’s just a bit of heat entering the profile in the final inch or so, which doesn’t do much to help the profile and signals the end of the cigar has arrived. The construction remains fantastic, with the profile sitting at medium-plus and some sneaky strength kicking this up to the medium-full level.

Final Notes

  • The second cigar I smoked has some serious wrapper issues, so much that I could hear it cracking and separating both while smoking it and while it was at rest in the ashtray. It occurred around the middle section of the cigar and got so bad that I had to glue down what I could to keep it from getting really messy.
  • It was an effort that worked until the burn line started passing through the cracked area, which spread down to the binder, and while the cigar was able to be smoked, it quickly became a visual mess of split tobacco.
  • I can’t say I picked up much strength from the La Palina Goldie Churchill while I was smoking it, but I certainly felt it after standing up following the first cigar. As you might suspect, there was some white sugar consumed shortly thereafter.
  • In one of the more interesting notes from 2019, La Palina took on distribution of Room101 Cigars.
  • La Palina also shipped a new cigar in December 2019, the Double Digit, a 6 x 60 that comes with a wallet-friendly price of $6.99 per cigar.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co.Corona Cigar Co. and JR Cigar, carries the La Palina Goldie Churchill.
86 Overall Score

With cigar lines such as the La Palina Goldie, there come expectations and burdens, as well as inevitable comparisons from one year to another, which often become the central discussions about each release. On its own, the La Palina Goldie Churchill leaves a fair amount to be desired. Under the overriding mouth-drying physical sensation, the cigar struggles to find the lush and palate-engaging flavor profile that brought it to prominence. There are sporadic puffs where it flirts with creaminess, nuttiness and even the very fleeting warm soft pretzel note—and it gets rewarded as such on the scorecard—but sweetness rarely if ever comes into play, let alone the banana note that has become a noted staple of the blend, especially in its skinnier vitolas. Instead, dry wood and pepper steer most of the journey, though even those fall short of the refinement level that I'd expect from any cigar, let alone one asking $23 per stick. Yet even with all that, the Goldie Churchill never turns into a bad cigar. I never wanted to just put it down and walk away, I just wanted it to live up to its lineage. If there is a saving grace of the cigar, it's the construction, which is quite good in all facets, but it's hardly enough to say this is one of the better releases in the series. There is a side of me hoping that I caught this cigar at a low point of its life and in a few months it will turn into what I hoped for, but at this moment, it is appealing but falls short of the high bar set by other releases in the series.

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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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