La Palina Red Label | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Ecuadorian
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 40 “Petit Lancero”
Body: Medium
Price: $9.00 MSRP ($8.00 just about everywhere)

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red_label-family

Today we take a look at the new La Palina Red Label.
This was a gift from buddy, Eric Anderson. Thank you, sir.

BACKGROUND:
Debuted at the 2015 IPCPR trade show.
Factory: PDR Cigars in the Dominican Republic.

From Cigar Aficionado web site:
“Claiming to be on the lighter side of medium-bodied, the Red Label Collection will consist of an Ecuadoran Habano wrapper, Ecuadoran binder and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

“It’s slated for four sizes: Gordo, measuring 6 inches by 60 ring gauge; Toro, 6 by 50; Robusto, 5 by 52; and Petit Lancero, 6 by 40. The cigars are being produced at the PDR Cigars factory in Tamboril, Dominican Republic, which also produces the La Palina Black and La Palina Classic brands.

“The Red Label Collection will be packaged in boxes of 20, and is expected to retail for around $10 per cigar. La Palina plans to begin shipping in late-July, shortly after the show.”

From the La Palina web site:
“The La Palina Red Label is a blend full of flavor, not of strength. The silky Ecuadorian wrapper-binder duo keeps the Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos performing in unison. The La Palina Red Label starts out mild and never gets beyond medium, but your pallet will be working throughout. The La Palina Red Label is a beautiful cigar, perfect for a night out on the town. A delicate spice compliments the creamy and rich smoke; while the subtle sweetness on the finish will give you pause between puffs. Bolder isn’t always better, the La Palina Red Label proves it.”

A statement from owner of La Palina Cigars, Wm. S. Paley III:
“I don’t think I had ever done something that made my family proud,” Paley says. “Starting the cigar business allowed me to—rather than living up to what my father built, and all his expectations—to live up to my grandfather.”

Now that could only come from a rich boy’s mind who grew up with homes in Manhattan, Connecticut, and other posh N.E. US locations. After all, his father did start CBS Television and his grandfather was a big man in his own right.

DESCRIPTION:
Very rustic looking cigar. Lumps and bumps and some wrinkles. Seams are tight. Lots of veins. Looks like a quadruple cap…but most probably is a triple cap.
The wrapper has a Colorado red tint. It is oily and the color of dark toffee.
The double cigar bands veer from the usual black to a bright red. Go figure. With my photography skills? Recipe for disaster.

SIZES AND PRICING:
Petit Lancero 6 x 40 $9.00
Robusto 5 x 52 $10.00
Toro 6 x 50 $10.50
Gordo 6 x 60 $11.50
Comes in 20-count boxes.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell sweetness, spice, and cinnamon.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell strong green vegetal notes, spiciness, dried dates, and wood.
The cold draw presents flavors of green bell pepper, grass, vegetal notes, floral notes, cedar, sweetness, and Asian spices.

FIRST THIRD:
Draw is spot on. A ton of smoke bamboozles my senses as it swirls around my head making me feel like I’m in a cloud. (Stream of consciousness…sorry).

Flavors: Sweet caramel, vegetal notes, floral notes, grass, cedar, lots of malt variations, and dried fruit.
Very unusual blend. And the strength is just a strong mild body. Very unusual for a La Palina. And seems odd to me for a heavily Ecuadorian blend.

3

I expected more spiciness but now it just lingers in the alley. Like Sally.

I don’t know about you, but over the years, La Palina has lost its luster for me. Maybe back in 2009 or so, Paley Jr Jr started up the family business once again. And at first, made cigars for his rich companions at those private clubs in Manhattan, (the ones that did allow Jews), and passed them out; proudly proclaiming, “Hey buddies. This is my new $30 cigar.” And that’s what the Family Series went for. After 6 months, they dropped the price by a hefty $10 and sold those same cigars for $20 a stick. What a chazer. (Yiddish for: A pig; by extension, one who eats like a pig; a selfish person..or a thief”)

And then BAM! Flavors explode: Creaminess, cocoa, Chocolate Malt, Cara Munich Malt, and Crystal/Caramel Malt, (See Malt Chart), strong red pepper, raisins, green pepper, floral notes, and strong sweet cedar.
Nice.
The La Palina Red Label is a slow roll. Packed solid and smoking slowly.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 35 minutes.
Construction is good. The char line needed one major touch up.
Complexity settles in.
As you look at my photos, doesn’t the La Palina Red Label look like it has a quadruple cap?

4third

Strength is mild/medium.

Someone sent me some La Palina Black Labels. Not impressed. I waited, and waited, and waited. It just never seemed to become smokeable. After months of humidor time.
Dud.

The La Palina Red Label is much better. But, to be honest, I can run through “The Katman’s Best 195 Boutique Brands/Blends in the $6-$9.50+ Range” and find each and every cigar blend just as good, or better, than the La Palina Red Label. It just isn’t anything special. Maybe the last third will seek redemption.

The flavor profile, except for the green bell pepper, is pretty common place.
I read a couple reviews and they fawned over the cigar like I sometimes do. But when I do, it is a fantastic cigar. The La Palina Red Label is just a good, solid blend. But not fantastic.

I feel like I’m being blended down to…so to speak. Feeding the masses by Paley Jr Jr.

The cocoa makes a big surge. And drags along with it a nice array of malts. We now have a soda fountain chocolate malt milk shake. The green vegetal notes are gone.
The spiciness is way in the back of the line.

5

Strength is barely medium body. I know the quote from the La Palina web site warned us that this is a mild bodied cigar but I rarely believe the PR that comes from the manufacturer. But this time, they are spot on. “Barely medium.”
The char line is a mess.

This cracks me up. If you go to the La Palina web site, and check out the “Press” or reviews, there are 426 reviews. They chose to collect every single review ever written about their cigars. From magazines to blogs.
The La Palina Red Label goes out. Drat.

HALFWAY POINT:
Smoke time is 45 minutes.
Finally! Sweet Spot 1.0.

Here they are: Spice, sweetness, chocolate, malts, creaminess, caramel, raisins, floral notes, nougat, and sweet cedar.
Now we’re talking. Flavors are bold and enticing.

6half

When I first saw this size, I thought: “Oh no. A 30 minute review.” Man, was I wrong.
Malt variations take over the lead with cocoa and creaminess on their tail and flank.

I am still amazed that I never figured out the Malt Configuration. Thousands of reviews and it took a dementia epiphany to get it. I spoke of the “It” factor a thousand times and didn’t know what it was. One reason is that just how often do we taste malt in our diet? Malted Milk Balls? A chocolate malt milk shake?

Oh good. The wife took off for work and the cable TV radio classic rock station is now shaking the walls. I like to bop while I write. Not have CNN in the background. Just how much Wolf Blitzkrieg can you take?
I seemed to have moved passed the bitter stage about not being able to play bass any longer. I now love to watch concerts on TV. I love the AXS TV and Palladia channels.

Oh right…the La Palina Red Label.
Strength is a solid medium body now as I near the beginning of the last third.
A woody element pops up. Sort of gets in the way of the sweet flavors.

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An aside…Only the movie western lovers will remember this guy: Chill Wills. He played in every western in the 1940’s through the 1960’s. Always the side kick. Back in 1972, a friend knew this guy. Wills thought of himself as a singer. He wasn’t. But he had this cool little recording studio in Huntington Beach, CA.

chill

I got invited there to play bass on one of his albums. Very cool dude. And the booth was always full of his friends. All western starts. Once, John Wayne showed up..Without his toupee!! He was in a shit load of Wayne westerns.
He had a lovely wife whose name…get this…Novadeen Googe. You couldn’t dream that name up without mushrooms in your system.
I can’t remember the name of the album. But I got to know the man and he was very nice to me even though I had a huge fro at the time. He died in 1978 at the age of 76.

OK. I know I’m veering.
The La Palina Red Label is a very nice cigar.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour.
Ahhh…Peter Gabriel…my all time fave song from him: “In Your Eyes.”
There have been no significant changes to the flavor profile. The strength remains at medium body. Nice balance. Long finish.

It has a gritty quality to it now.

8third

I think that the La Palina Red Label can wipe the La Palina Black Label off the board now. Far superior smoke.
I have pretty much reviewed every single blend back when I was in good graces with the La Palina folks. For the longest time, this was a rich man’s cigar. Like Davidoff. And I betcha that Paley Jr Jr was trying to imitate that level of prestige with his blends.

He certainly got Cigar Aficionado to play along with a bunch of high ratings for most of his blends. But not all. His most expensive blends didn’t get ratings as high as his $10 sticks.

I can recommend this cigar but not highly. It is a good stick with lots of flavors but it doesn’t bowl me over. Compared to anything by Ezra Zion or Warped, it pales in comparison.

The La Palina Red Label is just another good $9 stick in a huge pile of like priced cigars.
The last inch becomes harsh, bitter, and hot.
Final smoke time is one hour 15 minutes.

RATING: 86

PRICE POINT:
$8.00 or $9.00 is probably about right for this brand. I don’t think you will ever see a $6 stick from La Palina. Or a bundle of 2nds.
As far as I know, all of his blends are regular production sticks so they can be had cheaper on Cbid and the like.

SUMMATION:
I didn’t have high expectations going into this review. I think that Paley Jr Jr has lost some of his passion for cigar blending. Although, I’m pretty sure he only says yes or no to his blenders. I don’t think he gets down and dirty in the blending process. He is a busy man. Sort of blending by proxy.

The La Palina Red Label is an ordinary cigar. Certainly better than the $4 or $5 sticks you can buy from just about every online store. But not a true winner.
I’m guessing that Small Batch Cigar and Cigar Federation will carry them and you can get their 10% off deal.
But my prediction is that the La Palina Red Label will fade into the Cbid category where you can pick the cigar up for $7 a stick.
The char line needs a major touch up for the money shot below.

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2 replies

  1. It is a pleasure to write to you. Your reviews are entertaining, and I’ve always done well by following you.

    However in this review (on La Palina Red) you seem to destroy La Palina Black, but in 2014 you wrote an over the top review of La Palina Black. I realize your reviews are brimming with hyperbole, but I am confused. I have five resting in my humidor and was looking forward to another couple of weeks passing, but now I don’t know.

    Again, I love your reviews….. you are so hilarious.

    • I apologize Charlie. My early onset of dementia is one of the reasons I stopped reviewing. I get confused much too often.
      Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
      Regards,
      Phil