La Palina "1948" Review: A 75th Birthday Party Cigar in a Silk Sumatran Smoking Jacket

Prior to La Palina chairman, Bill Paley, turning 75 years young, a special cigar blend was commissioned for the occasion. 

Fermented and aged years ahead of the big day, but constructed just recently by Oliva, the cigar made its debut at the PCA Trade Show and received quite a bit of attention. Named after the year of Bill Paley's birth, our determination to secure the 1948 by La Palina was only bested by our interest in aging the cigar even further.

An extra two years of age may have been placed on this cigar's Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, but its all Oliva Nicaraguan filler and binder blend seemed like it could benefit from an additional few months of aging in the jolly ol' Klaro walk-in humidor. 

So the cigar sat, both in the humidor and within the folds of the ever-expanding Klaro portfolio, until we felt this box-pressed celebratory cigar was ripe for promoting and smoking. You can thank us later... 

[Buy 5-Pack]

Unlit Impressions  

La Palina "1948" Review

While the backstory behind the blend itself isn't all that impressive, one cannot discredit the styling of this cigar. Broadly squared, much like the box-pressed shape of the stick, it encloses, that bold "1948" typography grabs the eye with its faint sheen and stylishly contrasting colors.

As for the artwork on the band itself, which is rather elaborately detailed, is a representation of what Estelí, Nicaragua, and Manhattan looked like in the year that La Palina chairman, Bill Paley, was born. You'll also see Paley himself on one side, along with some specs on the cigar and a neat little memento printed on the backside of the band. 

On an interesting side note, the pre-production samples of this cigar that I scored at PCA 2023 came in a greenish color that reminded me of a banknote. The production version favors a white background with black ink.

The wrapper is this dark, grayish-brown sheen that is perfectly matched to the cigar band. It's not very oily whatsoever to the touch, but in the light has an attractive luster to it. It smells of brand new, un-oiled leather goods, chalky dry clay, and roasted herb tea. this last part is distinctly Sumatran but subdued to the point where you don't pick it up until the third or fourth snort.

High-spirited scents of top-tier black tea, dried orange peel, and medium-strength sun-grown tobacco stickiness sit waiting within the foot. Cold pulls are less sweet and turn toward tanned leather and bolder earthen notes. 

Initial Smoke      

La Palina "1948" Review

Toasted marshmallow and a sharp, dry woodiness make me think of roasting mallows on sticks around the campfire as a kid. Did Oliva remember to bring the graham crackers and chocolate? Initial puffs refuse to tell. 

I also detect the slightest touch of wild herbage, like desert sage, or marjoram. This is barely detectable until you retrohale, which produces but a pinch more of the savory herbal taste. A very light and easy-going entry, with zero pepper spice or strength to be encountered on all, save for one stick that I smoked, which ended up having a bit more heat throughout.

1st Half    

La Palina "1948" Review

Stronger in flavor, but still just barely above mild in strength, the body of the smoke that swirls around inside your skull in the first half is a nutty mixture that is swimming in smoothness. It is a bit of a chalky start though, with dried baking cocoa powder, chewy granola, puffed sweet rice, and some sun-grown spice setting the tempo.

Upticks in flavor and force are more fixed than frantic, as the Sumatran side of the cigar starts to gradually add zesty citrus, echinacea flowers, and darker, Nicaraguan soil flavors. These soon overcome the start's herbal expressions and make the cigar a full-on medium smoke. An outstanding draw, along with lots of smoke and a nicely formed box-pressed ash all help secure a solid rating for the first hour of this cigar blend. 

2nd Half       

La Palina "1948" Review

Fans of this form of wrapper leaf will likely admire Oliva's ability to turn this 2-year-aged wrapper leaf into such a magnificently slick encounter. Even the milder forms of Sumatran tobacco grown down in Ecuador tend to maintain some level of rugged, funky, spice-heavy cadence, but not this wrapper leaf.

This is not the vivacious spin of the flavor wheel like what you find in many other Sumatran cigars found on the shelf. This is more of a gliding experience than a heavy rotation, as the first third passively pushes your palate from "Point A" to "Point B" down the stick.

Dry up until the final third, sweeter granola gains taste and dark berry notes mark your descent toward parting puffs. The oak-like hardwood tannin overtones are still singing, but not nearly as loudly as before. I feel that some may find this transition to be fairly fluid, while others may deem it too unexciting to merit mentioning. It really just depends on your taste buds.

Many of the identifiable inflections commonly found in Sumatran tobacco strains are apparent, but they are so smooth that it is sometimes hard to believe that this is that sort of wrapper in your hand. So much was the case, that I repeatedly found myself retrohaling entire pulls of the cigar without a single hesitation. It's that finely honed.

Parting Puffs      

La Palina "1948" Review

Darkest of all, but not a bit on the burnt end, the final moments of this premium cigar blend bring you almost to the point of labeling La Palina's 1948 as "bold," but then that aftertaste hits the tongue. Chewy, slightly sweet, and milk tea tasting, those gobs of sticky, spiced orange peel Sumatran resin are both complemented and cleaned up by everything else left in the stick. Definitely a blend to burn down to the point where it burns you right back.

Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw   

La Palina "1948" Review

Uneven burns, ash drops, and flakiness were observed in each stick sampled once the second third started. The review cigar seen here also liked to run a bit hot at times in the first half and held an uneven burn in the second half. That said, parting puffs were a very tidy encounter. 

Final Thoughts  

La Palina "1948" Review

Some cigars benefit from a bit more age, and just like the man's life that this cigar honors, so too does the La Palina "1948" get better with time. The blend was enjoyable back in late summer and even into autumn, but it was a little too sharp upon ignition, and deeper within the final third it turned toward those funky Sumatran flavors that some find unfavorable.

An extra four months or so of aging have done wonders for this blend, and almost all of the off-putting tastes from last year seem to have been smoothed out by the hands of time. This is an enchantingly clean smoke that likes to leave you on the low end of medium post-exhale, with just the right Sumatran tobacco tastes and earthy Nicaraguan depths to keep you coming back for more.

Points were deducted for wrapper issues, with blemishes, bumps, mottling, and the cigar's tendency to form cracks being primary. Secondary came the construction concerns mentioned above. One of the cigars smoked also had far more vanilla to it than the others, which would have been nice to see spread evenly across the board.

But even with these minor mishaps, I will be smoking Bill Paley's birthday cigar once again real soon, suggesting it to others along the way, and doing both with immense pleasure. 

La Palina "1948" Review

Flavor, Aroma & Transitions

Depth & Complexity

Construction, Burn & Physical Appeal

Backstory & Branding

Balance & Repeatability

Bonus Points for Originality

Overall Rating & Stogie Specs


La Palina "1948"


Sumatra (Ecuador)








6" x 52 "Toro" (box-pressed)



Pairing Drink

Homemade Iced Chai Tea



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