Cigar Review: La Palina TAA 2017 (Bronze Label)

  • LP2017_straightVitola: 4 Star Toro
  • 6.5” x 52 ring gauge 
  • MSRP $9.99
  • Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

One of La Palina’s co-Presidents, Clay Roberts, told me that one of the things he and fellow co-President, Sam Phillips, have been trying to do in the past year or so is to leverage the connections each has made throughout their years in the cigar industry to produce better quality and more consistent cigars at prices that can stay both consistent and reasonable. One of the fruits of that labor is the new Bronze Label line, which came about from La Palina working with the Rocky Patel cigar company to produce a brand new blend.

The Bronze Label follows up on the successes of the Black Label and Red Label lines, both of which were made at PDR Cigars in the Dominican Republic. This cigar is made in the El Paraiso factory in Honduras, home of many of Rocky Patel’s blends. It uses Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers, a Honduran binder, and a Honduran Habano wrapper leaf. The Toro size is the initial release, available only to Tobacconist Association of America (TAA) member retailers, but the line will be expanded soon with new sizes that will be distributed to all accounts.

I have smoked a few Bronze Label sticks already…one pre-release version, as well as a couple of the official releases that we received at Burns Tobacconist. I purchased this review stick at Burns.

Prelight

If you are familiar with the packaging of the Black and Red Label lines, you won’t find anything to be surprised about with this one…the packaging is the same, but uses a bronze ink as the major color. Also, the foil here is a bronze colored foil rather than the traditional gold foil. The result is a little harder to read, but it does look striking. Aside from the main LP “cameo” band and “Bronze Label” secondary band, this cigar has a foot band that has the TAA logo, as well as the type “TAA Exclusive.” It’s a very good look overall.

The wrapper leaf of the TAA 2017 Bronze Label was a medium brown with just a touch of redness in it. It had a fairly delicate vein structure and a good amount of oiliness under my fingertips. The aroma from it was earthy and manurey. The foot had more manure, along with a touches of wood and hay.

The cold draw was very good and had flavors of cedar, natural tobacco and grass.

LP2017_footFlavor

Oddly enough, the first flavor that came to my mind after lighting the Bronze Label was “metallic.” I definitely got a bit of a coppery mineral note, along with cedar and earth notes on the palate. The retrohale was woody and peppery from the beginning. As the first third progressed, I got a steady cedar flavor up front, with the earth and mineral notes playing a more supporting role. The pepper spice died down pretty quickly.

As I moved into the second third, I noted that the La Palina Bronze Label was sitting right around dead-center on the body scale and continued to offer up notes of cedar and earth primarily, though some citrus twang and a mild sweetness crept into the proceedings from time to time, as well.

The same mix of cedar and citrus was up front as I got into the final third, balanced with a very nice natural tobacco note, subdued sweetness and a touch of Nicaraguan earth and spice. That same basic flavor profile continued on until the end with the spice increasing in intensity.

Construction

The cigar burned slowly and evenly with a very straight burn line, almost perfect draw and solid ash up to almost an inch.

Value

Like the others in the “color” lines from La Palina, the price on the Bronze Label is reasonable, sitting at the high end of the “sweet spot.” For the experience it delivered, I would say it’s worth it.

LP2017_angleConclusions

For many years I have tended to dismiss “Honduran-heavy” blends as having muddied flavors and just generally being boring. While I’m not ready to retract all that I’ve said in the past, I am pleased to find some very interesting Honduran smokes hitting the market; cigars like the Eiroa First 20 (both Oscuro and Colorado versions) and this La Palina Bronze Label are making me realize that Honduran doesn’t have to mean it won’t work with my palate. The 2017 TAA Bronze Label is a refined, medium-bodied smoke with plenty of flavor and complexity from beginning to end. Definitely a stand-out in the La Palina line.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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