La Palina Classic Connecticut

La Palina Classic Connecticut

The La Palina Classic Connecticut has been around for a while now. Originally created in the Congress Cigar Factory which was opened by Samuel Paley in Chicago, 1896. He named their first cigar La Palina in honor of his wife. Unfortunately three decades later in 1926 the Congress Factory closed when Samuel retired and the line went from luxury to a mass marketed brand. Fast forward to 2010 and in walks his grandson Bill Paley (Son of William Paley Cofounder of CBS) who revived the line back to its previous luxury status. The first modern La Palinas were produced in the Bahamas in limited quantities with the least expensive being $18. Even with the higher price they gained a following and now La Palinas are produced in all the major non-Cuban cigarmaking countries.

The Classic is covered in a light golden brown Ecuadorian wrapper. The seams are tight, there is some light veining and a slight oil shimmer. It is dense to the touch with no dead spots found. The smell from the body reminds me of gram crackers and cedar, from the foot there is a bit of pepper and soft tobacco.The

The first third starts off mellow and creamy with a bit of charred wood. The draw is open and easy with a burn that is sharp and a fair amount of smoke to fill the room.

Moving into the second third the flavor remains mild as expected from a cigar of this blend. The gram cracker noticed in the smell comes through now along with a light pepper and cream finish. The burn stays consistent and the smoke billows out from it nicely.

In the final third I did not notice a great deal of flavor change, maybe a touch more pepper on the retrohale but that’s about it. Throughout the cigar there were no construction or burn issues. The burn line was always stable and even and the ash held until I wanted to knock it free.

If you’re looking for something light to start your day or end it the La Palina Classic Connecticut is the way forward. Great for a relaxing smoke that will pair with just about anything you can think of. It also has a price that won’t break the bank. When you see these in the shop make sure to pick up a fistful to stock your humidor with.

Wrapper –  Ecuadorian Connecticut

Binder – Dominican

Filler – Dominican & Nicaraguan

Price: Around $6.00

Website: https://www.lapalinacigars.com

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 pints

Protocol Themis

Protocol Themis

“Themis (/ˈθiːmɪs/; Ancient Greek: Θέμις) is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as “[the Lady] of good counsel,” and is the personification of divine order, fairness, law, natural law, and custom. Her symbols are the Scales of Justice, tools used to remain balanced and pragmatic.” Now when Protocol Cigars named the Themis after this a female version of Thanos, wait that’s the wrong type of Titan… Originally released at the then named ICPCR in 2017 the Themis is an addition to their line blended in part by one of Cubariqueño’s partners William Agathis who worked closely with Hector Alfonso Sr., Director of Operations at Espinosa Premium Cigars. Naming this cigar Themis is a pretty bold statement given what she stands for, balance, equality, order. This cigar has a lot to live up to for this name, lets see how it does.

The look of the cigar is a muted light brown color, like tea with a bit of cream added to it. The wrapper is mostly smooth with some visible veining and a soft powdery finish. The seams are snug, the body is firm to the touch and there are no apparent dead spots. The smell from the body is faint and there’s nothing much that can be described there, from the foot I notice a some floral notes and light spices. The cold draw gives flavors of bread and butter with a hint of pepper.

For the first third there I notice some creaminess to the cigar, a bit of toasted wood and a light pepper flavor on the back. The cigar burns evenly with no issues and the smoke is light and plentiful.

Moving into the second third more of the creamy goodness from the first is there, this cigar is almost like smoking butter. The pepper does start to stand out a bit more on the back of the pallet. It’s not over powering just enough to let you know it’s there. The burn stays true and the smoke production is plentiful.

In the final third the spice picks up a bit, and the buttery toast flavor with cream remains consistent. The burn is sharp throughout the entire cigar (only one out of 4 did I have an issue with and it was a particularly windy day so I will name that as the culprit) and the amount of smoke is more than satisfying.

For me I found this cigar to be around a medium in intensity and is a great morning cigar or if you’re looking for something a bit on the lighter side to smoke in the evening. It has a flavor profile that can be easily appreciated by both the novice and seasoned smoker and would pair well with just about anything you put it up against. While I did not find much flavor change from start to finish this is not a bad thing. Perhaps that’s why it was named Themis, it’s a well balanced cigar that carries its flavor and texture from start to finish. Or maybe I’m like Mr. Fantastic and that’s a stretch. (Sorry everybody, we’ve been re-watching all the Marvel movies again recently.) Either way when you see these make sure to pick some up because you won’t regret having these on hand.

Wrapper –  Ecuadorian Connecticut

Binder – Nicaraguan

Filler – Nicaraguan

Price: Around $10.00

Website: https://www.cubariqueno.com

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 pints

Undercrown 10

Undercrown 10

What better way to celebrate an anniversary than with making a new and better blend. Drew Estate has done just that with the Undercrown 10. I’m sure most of us remember when he original Undercrown came out offering a less expensive alternative to the Liga Privada No. 9 and T-52. Created, almost out of necessity, by the blending team when told they could no longer smoke Ligas, as an effort to keep enough product to fill orders. Because of it being such a grassroots creation the Undecrown was labeled as being “Born On The Factory Floor” and since then there has been the addition of the Undercrown Shade and Undercrown Sungrown and now a fourth has been added to the regular production line with the Undercrown 10. “Like all other Undercrown cigars, Undercrown 10 is born on the factory floor and celebrates Nicaraguan tobacco heritage and the people who work at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, but Undercrown 10 is just a little bit more special than the other cigars in the line. Anticipate a cigar with tobaccos that are aged a little longer than other Undercrown cigar tobaccos. Expect a cigar that’s spicier and bolder than other Undercrown offerings too.” The Undercrown 10 is different than the original with its use of a more premium selection of the San Andrés maduro wrapper seen on the original Undercrown Maduro blend, harvested from the highest tobacco priming available. They then use Connecticut Broadleaf binder and rare Nicaraguan leaves throughout the filler.

I like the “All Dekk’d Out” look of the cigar, with the foot band, ribbon and double band across the top third, but of course most of that needs to be removed to really see it. Once the foot is uncovered and the ribbon is removed I get a good look at the dark brown wrapper. It is slightly oily with some visible veining and a few bumps along the body giving it some character. Now I don’t know if this was intentional or a happy accident but when looking at the cigar under lighting the ribbon has appeared to have left some small specks of gold color on the wrapper above the main band that shine if the light hits them right, giving it an even more regal look. The smell from the body is sweet and floral and from the foot I pick up earth and dried fruit. The cold draw is easy and the flavor is all aged sweet tobacco to me.

The first third starts off quite spicy and a bit chocolatey. I don’t make these sort of wild flavor comparisons but for a moment I thought it tasted like an horchata margarita from Cava de Tequila in Epcot. (That quickly went away as soon as I thought about how pretentious that sounded.) The rest of the first third keep a good spice and pepper flavor. The burn was even and like pretty much all DE cigars there was plenty of smoke to fill the room.

In the second third the pepper begins to fade toward the back and earth and cream notes move forward followed by a bit of bitter dark chocolate. The burn stays consistent, as the construction is solid and of course there’s all that smoke.

At the final third the cigar becomes very creamy to an almost buttery smooth constancy along with a bit of woodiness. The pepper and spice are faint on the retrohale and can be noticed on the finish. Pedro Gomez had commented that there is the flavor of sun dried cherries which I did not notice until I put the cigar down and discovered that the lingering flavor I had was indeed cherries. The burn stayed sharp for the entire production and the medium weighted smoke always satisfied.

I’ve always been partial to the Undercrown line as it came out shortly after I began smoking and wasn’t comfortable spending Liga prices while developing my palate. It gave a solid stick at a fair price and introduces you to quality tobacco. With the Undercrown 10 they step it up a notch with even better tobacco and a new blend that is a real pleasure to smoke. The Undercrown 10 is something I will be keeping in my humidor and part of my regular rotation. With its style it could be smoked by pretty much anyone and pairs well with either tea, coffee, a nice bourbon or peaty scotch. Look for these cigars in your B&M stores and don’t be affraid to buy a box you won’t regret it.

Wrapper – Mexican San Andrés

Binder – Connecticut Broadleaf

Filler – Rare Nicaraguan

Price: Around $12.00

Website: https://drewestate.com

Rating: 4.9 out of 5 pints