La Palina Mr. Sam | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 4.75 x 54 “Robusto”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $11.25 each by the box

La Palina Mr. Sam from The La Palina Collection


I am on the reviewer’s list for La Palina going on 2-3 years. Courtney sends me a press release for my blog, I post it, and two cigars follow a month later after the A List reviewers get theirs.

Then I discovered that I published the Mr. Sam PR release last summer and never got the cigars. So I sent her an email telling her to send me some cigars.
A month later, I get them.

I did not get an apologetic email. But I told my wife these exact words: “You watch. Next week Courtney will send me a PR release to post on my blog and she only sent me the cigars to butter me up for that…you watch.”

It wasn’t a week before I got the PR request. It was two days! Courtney goes on the assumption that us low plain lying reviewers are just so happy to get anything from La Palina that she can treat us any which way she pleases and we will ask for more. Last time she sent me sticks, Scotch tape was used to hold the cigars in place surrounded by newspaper…ruining one cigar. She sent me another a month later.

Meanwhile, every single of my 12 reviews have made it to their website. But last time I looked, every other reviewer in the world that had something positive to say was also on the list which numbered around 175 reviews.

Now, of course, I will give an honest review but I am now the 43rd reviewer to do so.
Thanks Courtney.

The cigars come in boxes of 10 and only 850 boxes were released.

From the La Palina web site:
“Mr. Sam was rolled at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, FL. A dark Ecuadorian wrapper surrounds a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan filler, creating a beautifully crafted blend that is rich with flavor. This 4.75×54 Robusto is a must have for any cigar connoisseur. Samuel Paley and his wife Goldie have been once again united, within the La Palina Collection.”

The wrapper is a gorgeous Colorado reddish tinge to it. A dark, dark brown with a nice oiliness you won’t see in my photos because it is pissing down rain and not an iota of sun to brighten them up. Damn shit camera. The wrapper feels very silky.

On one of the two cigars, the triple cap is very pronounced and very symmetrical. Seams are invisible but there a lot of large veins permeating the stick. The double cigar band is the same as on all of the brand’s cigars. The double band merely states the blend’s name.

I clip the cap and find aromas of strong earthiness and spiciness. There is a touch of cedar and cocoa. And something fruity.
Time to light up.

I get a first flavor of pumpkin. That’s a trip. And then a nice black pepper spiciness, coffee, cocoa, nuttiness, strong earthiness, and a bit of newly tanned leather. Like sniffing a new saddle. (I know what you’re thinking)

There is a very deep richness to the whole package. Sweetness shows itself.

The char line needs an emergency touch up. It was about to canoe on me. Hopefully burning away ¼” of the cigar will fix it. Drat.

The black pepper proceeds to become red pepper quickly. And then a touch of creaminess shows up rounding out the nice flavor profile.

The char line remains wavy but not ready to panic yet.

Sweetness increases. Back to doughnuts…it reminds me of a maple frosted doughnut with a really good cup of coffee. The maple is brought out by the coffee component.

I read on one of the online cigar descriptions or one of the reviews how the cigar tastes like sugar cane. This is another of my pet peeves. Who the fuck remembers what sugar cane tastes like unless you work the fields in the Philippines? Or from when you were 8 and pleaded your mother at the grocery store to buy you one only to be disappointed by how treacly sweet it was after 15 minutes. Yuck. Sugar cane does not provide a warm and fuzzy flavor note for me. Whatever that is.

The cigar is pleasant at the 1” burned mark. But nothing special. And as usual, the cigars by La Palina are way overpriced. Early in my association with La Palina, they must have been desperate because they sent me some of the more expensive Family Collection series which at the time, individual sticks were going for as much as $30. They have now become $20 sticks. Greedy bastards. Wm. Paley XXVII isn’t rich enough from the family business; he has to empty your wallet as well.

No. I don’t expect to get any more cigars from La Palina after this review. But enough is enough. If I want to be treated like the red headed step child, I can talk to my wife.

The char line needs another touch up. A $12 stick should be better constructed than this one.

The second third is upon me and the flavors ain’t going anywhere. It has two weeks of humidor time which is either not nearly enough or this all there is.

The cigar ain’t bad…it just isn’t knocking my socks off. And once more, for $11, I want my socks removed by a stripper.

Maybe it is just an old school blend requiring months of humidor time. I don’t know. In the past, two weeks was all that was needed for the other La Palina reviews.

I’m at the halfway point and zero changes to the flavor profile. Other than it is dull and unexciting. I am really disappointed. And then the cigar goes out on me. Born under a bad sign…

I read the A List reviews and they are basically saying the same as me but flowering it up some so as not to break that vital tie to La Palina. I don’t see anything in their description that varies from mine except they are not critical like me. One even spends half a paragraph on how nice the ash is. Yikes.

In fact, it seems that I am nicer than they are when describing the flavors..and here they are once more: Sweetness, earthiness, coffee, fruit, tiny amount of creaminess, cedar, leather, the spice is gone, and a bit of nuttiness. Like you.

The last third begins and I’ve hit the sweet spot. Flavors perk up a bit. Caramel enters the picture. Pokey. Pokey flavors.

The char line needs another major tune up. This cigar is a disaster. Do not, I repeat, do not buy this cigar unless you want to take the chance that leaving it alone in your humidor for 4-5 months might do the trick.

For this kind of money, the sweet spot should have hit after 1”. Don’t worry. La Palina won’t read this since I didn’t post their press release. They could give a shit about me and my reviews except when I fawn all over the cigar.

The cap completely gives in to my chomping and I have to remove a sizeable chunk for the photos.

All of the A List reviews make a big deal because this cigar came from the famous El Titan de Bronze factory. Wow. Now I’m impressed.

The only thing about this being such a dark, dreary day is that my photo of the cigar band isn’t washed out as it normally is on a sunny day. That gold and white band just disappears normally. Drives me crazier than I already am.

Nothing takes longer to smoke than a cigar that bores you. What seemed like perkiness has died down. For chrissakes.

I apologize dear readers for putting you through this but think of me and the torturous ordeal I’m going through having to write this. Oy vay.

The only dominant flavors at this point are the creaminess and sweetness. And no fucking sugar cane.

I’m now on what seems like hour 14 with this cigar. It seems to keep growing longer. Never should have dropped acid before the review.

Damn. The cigar goes out on me again.

I can’t finish the cigar. My back hurts. I am bored. And some nicotine kicks in. The hell with it. By now, you’ve gotten my drift about what I think of this cigar.

And now for something completely different:

My favorite band to play in of all time was Homegrown, circa 1971-1973. I’ve told stories about them before. A 5 piece hard rock band that was booked all the time. We could mimic the best hard rock from Zep to Black Sabbath to the Stones to the Beatles. And everything in between.

We played the El Toro Marine base in Tustin, CA all the time for the EM club. And then our idiot booker put us in the officer’s club for one night.

It was like a hooker’s bar. Very nice with lots of leather and red velvet. All the officers wore their dress uniforms and their women in their best dresses.

Immediately, we knew we were in the wrong place. Halfway through the first song, an officer approached the band stand and told us to turn down. So we naturally turned up.

We were really pissing everyone off. They wanted to hear Country music. WTF?
Our booker must have had brain damage.

So our lead singer, Mark Baird, handed us all one hit of acid each and we popped them. Might as well make the best of things.

45 minutes later, God knows what we were playing but we were having a great time. Long extended solos on every instrument that drove the crowd apoplectic.

They tried to make us stop but we ignored them. Mark got on the mic and began spewing something from the beat generation poems.

A call was made to our booker. They tried to get us to stop but we wouldn’t. The booker showed up around 30 minutes later. Had a confab with the boss at the club and she came over and told us to shut ‘er down.

We were frying and just laughed. We played one last song….I remember. It was “Wild Thing.”

Now here is where the real problem set in. We were flying and couldn’t figure out how to pack up. We laughed continuously. Took us almost 90 minutes to figure it out.

We had two roadies with us. One guy, I forget his name, but he was about 6’-6 and muscle bound. One of the officers tried to stuff our gear away without asking permission. The roadie, who was also frying, picked him up and threw him across the room.

The MP’s were called. They stood there bouncing their night sticks into the palms of their hands while they made sure we packed up and got out. One of the MP’s was a regular when we played the EM club. It was Eddie!

Eddie knew right away we were high. And he asked for some. So Mark gave him a hit of LSD which he immediately swallowed.

He sneaked over to the side of the stage and drank an entire pint of beer in one swallow. This facilitated the acid working faster.

We were fumbling around when we heard Eddie laughing at nothing. The other MP asked if he was OK?

The drum kit was partially still set up and Eddie went over to it and grabbed a pair of sticks and started to bang the snare drum and cymbal.

All hell broke loose as more MP’s were called. One of the new MP’s got in our big roadie’s face and a fight broke out. The booker stood there with her hands in her face.

We were banned from the Officer’s club forever. Like we gave a shit. The next weekend, we were booked for the EM club where they loved us.

It took us 2 hours to drive the 15 minute way home. We kept getting lost. We saw a Taco Bell that was open and stopped and fed our faces. Mike, the guitarist, pulled out a joint and we smoked it and woops…we were really frying now.

We managed to all get home around daylight.
That was a really fun night.

Now El Toro has been shut down.
Good memories.

This is the only photographic evidence of the band Homegrown playing at El Toro Marine Base EM Club:


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8 replies

  1. I have a successful recipe for detecting pretenders in the boutique cigar industry. It’s too expensive to ship overpriced crap boxes to Malaysia, so I track down samplers or add a stick or two to a more mundane order. I then smoke them back-to-back with the nearest Don Pepin equivalent (usually about 40-60% of the price, with an awesome supplier in HK). Kristoff, Ortega and Padilla (among others) have passed the test. Mr Paley has not. The boutique cigar sector seems to have replaced vanity publishing as the rich old man’s ego trip of choice.

  2. Once again we all need to thankful for the honest candor of our uncle Katman’s reviews saving our hard earned coin on another overhyped,overpriced stick that sounds like it would be better suited to being dipped in roofing tar to patch hail damage on a roof.
    As an aside, think of the honor if it really was a legendary bassist like Marcus Miller who adopted your baby,and not some anonymous two string hack with more money than ability. As a fellow bassist who also had to part with his cherished Fender in a previous life,I feel deeply for your loss.

  3. I did buy La Palina Goldie 7X40 from Small Batch Cigar and I’ll let it rest for a good time and then I’ll try it. I was thinking about Sam, but for some reason, it didn’t attract me. Maybe the name Sam did for me? Maybe, but with your review, I’ll skip it for sure.

    • I’ve really enjoyed the La Palina blends. This is the first one I didn’t care for and it had nothing to do with the politics of dancing with the La Palina folks.

  4. Absolutely Patrick. Trying to explain what tripping was like to someone that never tried it was like speaking Farsi to a Venutian.