March 6, 2012

Cigar Review: La Palina Family Series Babe

La Palina "Babe"
For some reason I thought I had not reviewed The Family Series line by La Palina, but then I realized I had and thought that was silly. The line is a classic in my opinion, and since my first one of these cigars at Drapers in Washington D.C. I have loved them. I know that I have discussed the line plenty of times in the past, but it is such a great story that it is hard not to talk about. La Palina Cigars first began in 1896 when a man by the name of Sam Paley started his own cigar shop in Chicago, Illinois. Once he opened his shop he opened a neighboring cigar company called Congress Cigar Company, and the name of one of the first products was La Palina. The cigar was named in honor of his wife, Goldie Drell Paley. Eventually he moved the cigar company to Philadelphia in 1910, and it was in that year that Sam Paley' son, William S. Paley joined the company as Vice President of Advertisement. While working with the company, he began to do advertisement on the radio for La Palina Cigars, and found the advertisement to be very successful. He eventually went into radio, and started Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Eventually in 1926 the cigar company his father started came to an end and with it so did La Palina Cigars.


Eventually in 2008, the son of William Paley and grandson of Sam Paley, Bill Paley began the journey of remaking La Palina Cigars. It has been over 80 years since the original line, and Bill Paley was determined to bring back a part of his families history. He wished to make a luxury cigar for his families retreat in the Bahamas at The Lightbourne House. During this quest he found himself at the Graycliff Factory working with Avelino Lara. As you know, Mr. Lara was the famous blender of the Cuban Cohiba line for Fidel Castro, and eventually came to work for Graycliff after leaving Cuba. While blending tobacco at the factory Mr. Paley found the cigar he was looking for, and so La Palina Cigars was reborn and released to the public in 2010. The line is made in the traditional Cuban fashion as all are in the factory, and utilizes some of the finest and rarest tobacco available. The vitola I chose this time was Babe. The cigar gets its name from Bill’s mother, Barbara “Babe” Cushing Paley.

The cigar is a robusto vitola measuring 5.25" with a 50 ring gauge, and feature a Costa Rican wrapper and a Costa Rican binder. I imagine that the filler and binder are Costa Rican Jaltepec, but I am not positive. The filler is a combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco, and I can say for certain that it is some of the finest tobacco from the prominent regions of those two countries. Costa Rican tobacco is known for being incredibly flavorful and also expensive. The cigar is beautiful in appearance with a marbled brown wrapper that is oily and silky. There are some veins present in the toothy wrapper, and it has a coloring of dark tan, Colorado Claro in coloring. Holding the foot of the cigar, and the wrapper to my nose I get aromas of stone fruit, coffee, leather and cocoa, and I am eagerly awaiting this terrific robusto.
Nice toothy wrapper
As I light up the cigar I am immediately greeted with an abundance of flavors, and a cigar that is producing a great amount of smoke. There are some noticeable cream and coffee flavors present, but I am also getting some spice notes, light cherry flavors and a finish of barnyard and leather. It is a solid cigar that shows wonderful flavors so far, and has a great complexity level. I would say the strength of the cigar is a solid medium, maybe a little bit stronger in this third, but very balanced. It has a terrific burn line thus far, razor sharp, and it is leaving a solid light gray ash on the end of the cigar. Overall it shows those great Graycliff flavors with a nice twist, and very enjoyable.   

I am in the second third of the cigar now, and the flavors have definitely gotten stronger. Not so much stronger in terms of strength/body, but in presence. The cherry notes are very present, and they are more like dark cherry notes. The spice flavors are showing bits of cinnamon, cayenne and cloves, and the coffee and cream notes are still very present as well. There is a nice finish of leather and wood with the cigar, and it is a very enjoyable cigar. I would say the strength has decreased some in this third, and I would say it is more around the medium level. The cigar is still burning evenly, and I am still holding on to the ash from the beginning of the cigar.    

When I get into the final third of the cigar I really don't want this cigar to end, but I have another cigar ready to get lit up so I am pretty happy. The flavors are still very similar to what they were in the second third, but it is so enjoyable that I really don't want it to change. I am loving the cream and coffee notes, and they pair wonderfully with those dark cherry notes and the wood flavors. There is a presence of rich earth in this third, and it finishes of spices and leather. I would say the cigar finishes at a solid medium level, and the burn line is still perfect. When I smoke the cigar down to the nub it is still cool and flavorful, and I immediately light up my second one. 

This was really a terrific robusto, and I loved the flavor profile. This cigar definitely showed some characteristics that you see with a Graycliff cigar, and that is a positive aspect. The cigar delivered a plethora of complex flavors throughout, performed wonderfully in terms of construction, and provided a solid amount of strength as well. It really is a great line, and I always save these for special occasions. With the release of the El Diario line, La Palina has really announced itself as a company that makes everyday cigar and special occasion cigars, and both lines are fabulous. If you had to make me choose, I would struggle, but I think I would choose this line more often than not. I find the line to be just as flavorful, though different than the El Diario line, but less rich and more of a cigar that I could smoke more of in one day. I give this cigar 95 points, and it was nice to smoke one of these beauties again. It had been some time, and even though it was not a special occasion it is good to splurge from time to time.
Family Series Babe
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