While I couldn’t tell you exactly what time of year to expect them, ever since its debut in July 2012 I have looked forward to the release of the newest vitola in the La Palina Goldie line. It’s a line that has generally delivered well for my palate and has an inspiring back story, as Bill Paley, owner of La Palina, calls it his cigar to honor the women of the cigar industry. It is named it for his grandmother, Goldie Drell Paley, and made at El Titan de Bronze in Miami, which is also owned by a woman, Sandy Cobas.

Until 2017, the cigars had all been made by a single woman, Maria Sierra, who honed her skills in Cuba’s cigar factories starting in 1967, before coming to the United States in the mid-1990s and joining El Titan de Bronze in 2011. Sadly, she passed away in January 2019, and prior to her death, passed the duties of making the La Palina Goldie line to Lopez “Chino” Perez as part of her retirement in 2017.

Since the Goldie line debuted in 2012 with the Laguito No.2, a 6 x 38 panetela, La Palina has added a new vitola in subsequent years. While not a set pattern, the new sizes had generally alternated between slender and thick, such as the 6 1/2 x 56 Goldie No. 6 that was released in 2020. In 2021, La Palina decided to release not just one new Goldie vitola, but two, the latter of which would be the most limited release to date and would only be available to retailers who attended the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show and ordered it at the La Palina booth.

That cigar is the La Palina Goldie Prominente is a toro-esque vitola, a 6 1/2 x 48 vitola that is more accurately described as a grand corona. Like the other sizes in the line, it uses an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua including medio tiempo tobacco, a higher priming leaf that grows at the top of certain tobacco plants. It has an MSRP of $23 per cigar and is offered in 10-count boxes, with just 300 boxes being produced. The first half of those boxes began shipping in mid-August, with the rest slated for this month.

The company also added the Goldie Laguito No. 1, a 7 x 38 lancero that has an MSRP of $23 as well. It is also offered in 10-count boxes, though 1,000 were produced and available to all La Palina accounts, regardless of whether or not they attended the trade show. They also had a split shipment, shipping alongside the Prominenete and the La Palina White Label, a release for the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA).

These two cigars bring the total number of Goldies released to 11.

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Palina Goldie Prominente
  • Country of Origin: U.S.A.
  • Factory: El Titan de Bronze
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Grand Corona
  • MSRP: $23 (Box of 10, $230)
  • Release Date: Aug. 11, 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 10 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

While I don’t want to admit to a faulty memory, I will say that I never think of the La Palina Goldie line having as dark of a wrapper as the one on the Prominente. This leaf is a dark, rich brown that is dry and velvety to the touch, with some noticeable primary veins but not an extensive network of highways and streets. The cigar is rolled to what I think is a near-ideal standard, meaning it’s consistently firm but not hard, with two samples offering just a bit of give while the third doesn’t. Given the texture of the leaf, I’m hesitant to squeeze it too much as it feels fragile and maybe even brittle. The foot of the cigar has aromas of wood barrels, and definitely more those used for whisky or bourbon than wine or rum, though don’t draw any inference that there is a boozy smell here. There’s also a bit of particle board as well, and each of the three samples seems to get progressively drier. As they do, there is a bit more pepper and tingle in the nose. In clipping the cap, my thoughts about the fragility of the leaf are reinforced by the sound I get, though my scissors do no damage to the cap or head. Airflow is spot on or just on the firm side of ideal, while the flavor is marked by a richer version of the barrel sensation I got through the nose. It’s still quite mellow and neutral, at times making me think of something between crackers and a plain donut. I also get a tingle on my lips from where they were touching the cigar, even though I’m also picking up a slightly waxy sensation.

While I don’t know exactly how distinctive I would call it, I generally think that the La Palina Goldie line has a fairly distinctive profile, and the Prominente is no exception out of the gate, though it’s not always what I remember from previous incarnations of the line. There’s a dry woodiness, a touch of sourness and just a slight amount of mixed white and black pepper, which not only adds to the flavor but gives some tingle to my lips. While it’s not what I would call the greatest start, it’s also not long-lasting, more or less gone by the time there’s enough ash to tap off. In its place, the barrel wood notes have livened up, there’s some middle-of-the-spectrum earthiness and a steadily increasing black pepper. There is just a touch of sharpness from the pepper on my tongue, but retrohales are much smoother without sacrificing the tingle. While the profile has been dominated by this distinct wood flavor, I get a flavor that I could make the case for as a light coffee before this section comes to a close. My first thought was more along the lines of coffee grounds, though the more I smoke through this section the less I feel that’s the best descriptor and more a very mild roast prepared simply. Flavor is medium-plus, body is medium but building, and strength is shy of medium. Construction is generally very good, though there are some puffs where I think a bit more open draw might help.

In the first cigar, immediately after I knock a clump of ash off and the second third gets underway, the draw opens up a few ticks and the flavor really blossoms. It doesn’t happen consistently across the cigars I smoke for this review, but when it does, a bright pepper flavor is the first thing to catch my attention. That quickly starts reintroducing the wood of the barrels and then hitting a softer cake donut flavor. As the burn line approaches the midway point, the cigar becomes a bit smokier, a stark contrast to what I remember about the profile, as I keep hoping for the banana sweetness that I think of first when thinking of the Goldie line, yet the La Palina Goldie Prominente is almost at the other end of the flavor spectrum with earth and coffee also part of the mix. As the burn line moves through the final portion of this section, the overall intensity of the flavor begins to settle a bit, and in particular the aforementioned earth backs down, which clears the way for a bit of creaminess, though a bit of chalk is on its heels. Flavor is generally medium-full in this section, body is medium-plus and strength is just getting into medium territory. The cigar continues to burn well, though I’d still like a bit easier draw at times, and there are the first hints that combustion might have some challenges ahead. Smoke production is good if not a standout, while the burn line remains even.

While I thought the La Palina Goldie Prominente had left the funky flavors from its opening way back in the first third, but they are back at the start of the final third. It’s a slightly damp woodiness that hit the front third of my tongue, with a bit of sharp black pepper behind it to further the tingling physical sensation. The chalk has a habit of persisting through this section, and with just under two inches left and the finish line in sight, it takes a step forward and dominates the flavor and retrohale. There is some respite by way of creaminess, and one sample manages to keep a big, bright white pepper front and center in the retrohale, but the profile has seemingly set its course for the rest of the way, and I’m not sure it’s one I want to see all the way through. That chalk flavor picks up some sharpness, which seals the deal and has me put the cigar to rest. Flavor finishes full, body medium-full and strength just above medium. Combustion is consistently problematic in the final third, needing a few relights to get through this section. The burn line is razor sharp, and the smoke production ramps up a bit to deliver an amount more to my liking. The final third is generally medium-plus if not just shy of full at times, body is in that same range, while strength doesn’t quite get much beyond medium for my system.

Final Notes

  • This is definitely not the same Goldie profile as I remember from previous years, and I say that because I can’t imagine the vitola is driving the differences. I say that with a huge disclaimer that my memory might be betraying me, but this is as far down the robust scale as I thought the previous blends were down the scale of refinement, balance, nuance, complexity and some delicateness.
  • I have yet to try the other new size released this year, so I can’t say with certainty that there is something different at play in the blend. I also haven’t smoked any older Goldies lately, but I’m certainly intrigued to do so should I come across one.e
  • It’s interesting to note how close the Goldie bands are to the previous KB bands, though there are some subtle differences, most notably the three medals under the picture on the former, while the latter appears to have just one.
  • If you didn’t see it, the La Palina KB Series got a big makeover this summer and now look nothing like the previous version.
  • I consulted the ever useful CubanCigarWebsite.com to see if this vitola has a Cuban counterpart, and the closest I could find is the Partagás No.15, which was made for a 2013 Réplica de Humidor Antiguo release but hasn’t been used elsewhere. As with pretty much any vitola, there are a number of sizes that are close that have been used more often, such as the Hermosos No.1, which is 6 5/8 x 48 and used for several limited releases.
  • While I didn’t get a lot of nicotine strength from the cigar, my palate got a workout. I wouldn’t be concerned about this stick giving you much of a buzz, if any at all.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 35 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
83 Overall Score

I'm at a bit of a loss for what to make of the La Palina Goldie Prominente, as not only was it a good bit different from what I remember of the blend, but each of the three samples had their own struggles with flavor and combustion that simply should not happen in a blend of this class. The start of each cigar was a bit funky, and while the middle sections were better, each just seemed a bit off, largely because they were dry on the palate and missing some of the smoother, lusher flavors I remember, and that's before we even get into the banana flavor that I have long associated with this cigar. I'd be more forgiving of the cigar if the finish was better, but two samples come full circle to the funkiness from the start, while the third sample finishes better as long as you're fine with white pepper. I'd be interested to know not only what happened with this cigar, but more importantly, if time will fix it, if I just had an unlucky draw of samples, or if the Goldie line had truly changed from what I remember it to be.

Patrick Lagreid

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.