La Palina Illumination
I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving and got a chance to spend it with those you love. As temperatures start to dip here I find myself enjoying my last day of vacation with a La Palina Illumination and a bottle of Alesmith’s Horny Devil Belgian-style Golden Ale.
The Good Stuff:
La Palina showcased a few new blends at this year’s IPCPR show in Las Vegas, the Illumination was one of them. Produced at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, the Illumination features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper as well as undisclosed binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The blend easily resembles the ever-popular Goldie which is one of my favorite blends ever created. Bill Paley from La Palina actually created the blend to resemble the Goldie, but less expensive, and more widely available. The La Palina Illumination comes in four regular production sizes: Belicoso (6 1/2 x 52), Colonial ( 5 1/4 x 44), Lancero (7 1/2 x 38), and the Robusto (5 x 52) which all come packaged in boxes of 20 running between $10.50 and $12.50 a stick. I picked these up from our friends at Atlantic Cigar.
Size: 5 1/4 x 44
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Pairing: Alesmith Horny Devil (Belgian-style Golden Ale 10% ABV)
The La Palina Illumination starts out with a beautiful, silky smooth light brown/yellowish wrapper. It easily resembles the one found on the Goldie. The wrapper is coated with thick oils while the texture is very smooth and slick with only a few very minor veins running the course of the cigar’s wrapper. The wrapper is laid seamlessly over itself while it showcases some great natural webbing in the leaf leading up to the round triple cap. The cigar is very light, and actually feels very soft in hand while the wrapper is extremely thing and delicate. You may want to handle this one lightly. The cigar is polished off with the traditional La Palina crest backed by dark blue and red along with a secondary band with the name “Illumination” embossed in gold across the front.
The wrapper on the La Palina Illumination gives off some soft cashew and honey while the foot of the cigar is pretty mild only releases some very faint spice and natural tobacco aromas. The cap cut extremely easily using my Xikar double bladed cutter. The cold draw produces some great honey, spice, earthiness, and a bit of saltiness.
The La Palina Illumination starts out with a nice little pepper punch that I wasn’t expecting. After the pepper passes I am greeted with an awesome spice and cedar mixture over honey, cashew, floral, and cinnamon with just a touch of sweetness. I absolutely love the way this cigar is starting out. It’s got a lot more body than I expected. The burnline carries quite a bit of waves while leaving behind a pretty flaky trail of bright white ash which only held on for about a half an inch before falling into my ashtray.
As I venture into the second third of the La Palina the pepper makes it’s presence known again by showing up just enough to tickle my lips and tongue. The leading flavors are still the spice and cedar while the floral, sweetness, honey, cashew, and cinnamon are all still present and rocking pretty hard. The retrohale brings more of the spice and pepper to the front of the palate. The burnline has really started to clean itself up and is now burning beautifully while I close out the second third with almost nothing in the nicotine department. One note is that you may need to puff on this cigar a bit more than normal as it has gone out twice on me already. Not a big deal, but something to make note of.
Into the final third of the La Palina Illumination and this cigar is shaping up to be exactly what I wanted it to be. The flavors have remained bold, and excellent again leading with the spice and cedar backed by pepper, spice, floral, sweetness and honey. This flavor profile is incredible. It took me about an hour and a half to smoke this cigar down to the nub. Keep in mind that I smoked at a slightly higher pace than normal though as the cigar had the tendency to put itself out. I experience no harshness, and no heat build up while only inheriting a very small nicotine kick.
I went into the La Palina Illumination knowing that it wouldn’t be a Goldie, but that it would be similar to it, and boy did this cigar deliver. The flavor profile is absolutely incredible. It’s complex and bold while maintaining very modest strength which is something I really loved in the Goldie. Sure, its no replacement, but for a low-cost full-production blend I can easily see this being a multiple box purchase in my book and expect it to be in my regular rotation for quite some time.
Horny Devil is a year-round offering brewed by Alesmith at their brewery in San Deigo, Californa. This Belgian-style golden ale comes in at a steep 10% ABV. The Horny Devil starts out with a bit of pear, coriander, cinnamon, malt and soft spice with a very light mouthfeel before finishing off crisp with more pear and coriander over honey and floral flavors. the flavors really identified with the existing flavors in the La Palina Illumination while even adding a bit to the mix. This cigar would pair wonderfully with any Tipel, Marzen, or bock.