Today we’ll be reviewing the La Palina Mr. Sam, the full-production release of a formerly limited cigar. “Mr. Sam” refers to La Palina founder, Sam Paley, being the nickname the workers in the original factory used to refer to him. This cigar is part of the La Palina Collection series, which is the home of La Palina’s most prestigious releases. The cigar is rolled at the famous boutique factory El Titan de Bronze out of Miami, FL, the same factory that also produces the famed La Palina Goldie, which is hands down one of the most genuinely beautiful cigars ever crafted (we’ll be reviewing this years Goldie very soon, the pictures are sure to be spectacular).
Cigar: La Palina Mr. Sam
Size: 5 1/2 x 42
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Factory: El Titan de Bronze
Appearance and Pre-light Aroma:
The wrapper is a rustic chocolate-brown, coarse to the touch, and has a spattering of veins running throughout its length. The veins are nearly jet black when viewed up close, giving a visually stunning contrast with the lighter shades of the wrapper. The cigar is subtly oily, giving it an elegant soft sheen. For those of you who subscribe to the idea that excessive tooth equates to excessive flavor, you’re in for a treat. Up close, the Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper on the La Palina Mr. Sam is densely caked with tooth, giving an appearance similar to that of gritty sandpaper. Despite the slightly rustic look of the wrapper, the overall visual of the cigar is absolutely beautiful, and that is no exaggeration – those familiar with famed La Palina Goldie line will instantly recognize the absolutely stunning roll and construction of all the La Palina Cigars coming from El Titan de Bronze. Roll lines are virtually non-existent, and the cap is near perfect.
Aromatically, the Mr. Sam has a sophisticated aroma, falling primarily under the umbrella of ‘earthy’ and ‘barnyard’. The first aspects to really strike are an intertwined bit of light soil and rich powdery chocolate. More subtle undertones of wood and hay are prevalent. After a few more whiffs a crisp and light sweetness can be distinguished, blended in seamlessly with the rest of profile so well that it’s difficult to really dissect and articulate. Most pronounced on the dry draw, the flavor in question seems to be part of some sort of hybrid mixture of dry blueberry, plum, and wet oak, although descriptors as specific as those are likely to be specific to my palate.
While not jarring, the first few puffs of the La Palina Mr. Sam are certainly pronounced, mainly due to the rather dense texture of the smoke. A dry powdery chocolate, paired with something vaguely reminiscent of vanilla creme makes for a very alluring entrance. While those two characteristics grab most of the attention early on, it’s fairly easy to pickup on the fact the whole profile is built upon a foundation of fresh soil. Other undertones consist of muted oak, and a touch of cedar. A retrohale showcases a fair bit of intensity as far as strength goes, and a bit leather not as easily picked up orally. This cigar is very much alive.
The first third of the La Palina Mr. Sam was largely devoid of pepper, a characteristic I found somewhat odd for a fuller bodied cigar with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. While the first third has a definitive ‘snap’ when it hits the palate, that’s not to be mistaken for pepper. That oddity has been remedied into the second third however, in the form of medium strength good old-fashioned black pepper. Earth, soil, and cedar all have become more pronounced, with a more equal distribution of flavor against the sweet chocolate and vanilla flavors picked up earlier on. The texture is still meaty, and has a noticeable bit of substance to it. The body is also fairly dry, coming across as somewhat wispy. Mineral-esque flavors are picked up as undertones, but are particularly prevalent through a retrohale. Speaking of the retrohale, one should no doubt mention that putting the La Palina Mr. Sam through the nose in the second third delivers a potent dose of pepper and general ‘heat’.
Into the final third, we find the La Palina Mr. Sam continuing to evolve at a pace that is more than enough to keep interest. At face-value, we find more cedar, acting in conjunction with a caramel-esque chocolate flavor, as well as a slightly bitter dark coffee note, all of which hold strong through the finish. More wood-y flavors have also developed. Nearing the nub, the Mr. Sam retains its composure, with very little in the way of harshness. There is certainly a bite, but not one that is unfavorable, nor is the bite a consequence of being too close to the nub. Strength started at full in the first third, mellowed to medium-full through the middle, before picking back up to full strength for the final stretch.
Burn and Construction:
The Mr. Sam excels in both of these categories. In all honestly, the construction on the Mr. Sam is some of the best I’ve ever seen. I have smoked about a dozen of these since they started hitting shelves, and a few have been on the tighter side, but it was ultimately a non-issue. The burn is fairly smooth, although it gets a bit wobbly here and there, but largely self-corrects. A wrapper touch up or two was all I ever needed
I expected the La Palina Mr. Sam to be good. All of La Palina’s products are at a baseline of “good”, and only go up from there. What I did not expect was that the Mr. Sam is not just good, it’s absolutely exceptional. The construction is fantastic, and the cigar gives off an aura of class before even taking a puff. The aromas prior to lighting are crisp and fresh, eliciting a sense of enthusiasm prior to taking even a single puff. Once the cigar is lit, you find yourself engrossed in an invigorated blend of flavors. High in complexity, but straightforward in digestion; the blend is able to ‘wow’ at face-value, as well as being capable of gratifying the more experienced and analytical palate. It covers all the right bases, and delivers the right amount of heavy, earthy, and robust flavor one seeks from great Nicaraguan tobaccos.
The La Palina Mr. Sam defines the very essence of elegance and sophistication, from its absurdly great flavor, all the way down to packaging and bands; this cigar positively exudes class.
4.5 out of 5