Late last year, Bill Paley and his La Palina team got together with Rocky Patel and released another TAA only blend to the market. TAA stands for Tobacconists’ Association of America, which is a group of large and influential retail cigar shop and lounge owners along with a select group of brand owners. Together, the shop owners and brand owners work to introduce exclusive TAA exclusive blends or vitolas to the market. You won’t see a TAA specific vitola of a blend anywhere, but in the shops owned by those in the TAA. Many times the blend is first introduced to the TAA members as is the case with the La Palina Bronze Label.
Sometimes the line stays as a TAA exclusive and other times the brand owner expands the line to other vitolas of the blend, which is what happened with the La Palina Bronze Label. The blend was an obvious hit with the TAA shops so the company moved to open it up to a regular production in January of this year. I have to admit, I received the TAA variety at this years Smoke Inn, Great Smoke 2018. I smoked it at the show without reviewing it but that happens sometimes.
Last month I was surprised when my mail box had some samples of the regular production variety of the Bronze Label. I have to say thanks to Nick Perretta, the Inside Sales Manager for La Palina Cigars, for sending me samples to review on Stogie Press.
The La Palina Bronze Label
Let’s have a little discussion about this cigar. To start with, it is a collaboration between Bill Paley of La Palina and Rocky Patel. These two gentlemen have known each other for quite some time and in the words of Rocky Patel:
“I’m very proud to be working with some of my oldest personal friends and collaborating with a terrific cigar company such as La Palina to produce this fine cigar blend,”
The collaboration goes deep, so deep that the cigar line is being produced in Honduras at the same factory that produces Rocky Patel cigars. Yep, the La Palina Bronze is produced at the El Paraiso factory in Danlí, Honduras, which is the Plasencia factory in the country. So now we have not only Rocky Patel and La Palina in this collaboration but also Plasencia. Not much can go wrong with that formula.
Now the only thing that would be cooler is if this was a Honduran Puro…Unfortunately, that was not in the stars for this blend. As you will see in the blend profile there is some Nicaraguan leaf in the mix.
- Wrapper – Honduran
- Binder – Honduran
- Filler – Honduran, Nicaraguan
While the TAA exclusive of the Bronze Label is a 6.5 x 52 Toro, the production was rolled out in 3 vitolas all packaged in 20-count boxes:
- Gordo – 6 x 60 (MSRP $11.00)
- Robusto – 5.5 x 50 (MSRP $8.99)
- Toro – 6.5 x 50 (MSRP $9.99)
For this review I sampled two La Palina Bronze Label toros which I received from the company for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press.
The La Palina Bronze is a medium brown, satin-smooth cigar with a light oily sheen and few noticeable veins. The wrapper has a slight red tinge to it. The cigar is finished with an expertly applied triple cap and shows signs of a tight packing with no soft spots.
The cigar is adorned with two bands. The primary is the standard La Palina logo using a bright bronze and reddish-brown motif. As always, the photo engraving of Bill Paley’s Grandmother (Goldie) is centered in the band. The secondary band lays right below the primary and uses the same motif with the bronze words “Bronze Label” centered int he reddish-brown background. If you were to pick up the TAA exclusive there would be a footer band declaring it as such.
Running the Bronze Label across the nose I picked up a natural tobacco sweetness along the barrel and a tea leaf aroma off the foot.
I sliced the head just above the first line of the cap and gave it some cold draw puffs. The draw was a bit more open than I usually like but nothing that I felt would impact the burn. The cold draw offered notes of peppery spice and earth.
Cigar Review Notes
- Initial light offers spiced fruit and dry cocoa
- Medium grey ash rests on medium char line
- Smoke smooths quickly into a creamy fruit
- A unique spice enters that I can’t describe
- Dry leather completes the early profile
- Ash fell after the first third revealing a centered and slightly protruding burn cone
- Zesty notes are moving in and the cocoa grows little more
- Pepper spice starts to increase
- Cedar and sour cherry notes enter in the second third
- Vanilla and Sarsaparilla notes enlighten the palate
- I know, come on Boston, really? Sarsaparilla? Yes, look it up and you will understand.
- Pepper continues to increase on the nasal
- Fruit lingers in the complex finish
- Flavors have blended into the final as the pepper faded and a slight dryness completes the journey
- Strength was solid medium
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 20 minutes
Overall, the La Palina Bronze label was a relatively complex smoke with some unique flavor notes not normally found in cigar blends. I will repeat again Sarsaparilla. If you did not know the flavor you may describe it as root beer, but this is a much more complex soft drink. The burn was perfect all the way to the nub with a straight char line and carrying a decent ash after each fall. With the complexity in this cigar I would suggest pairing it with a complex soft drink like root beer or doctor pepper.
Trivia: When I was a kid, I had a soft drink making kit and one of the formulas was Sarsaparilla. It was the most unusual beverages I had ever tasted and my Dad told me how that was all the rage when he was a kid. Being young, the flavor was not to my liking but looking back it was just a matter of training the palate to appreciate complex notes. Little did I know then that I would be smoking and enjoying cigars for 40 years and savoring flavors each time.