It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the new La Palina Illumination in the Robusto size. This 5×52 stick is touted as “a Goldie for half the price.” I don’t know the exact blend yet, but Bill Paley of La Palina has stated it is the same blend with Ligero replacing the expensive Medio Tiempo leaf. If this is the case, it would be made with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
On the cold draw, I pick up salty citrus notes. The wrapper produces a rich tobacco and leather aroma, while I smell raisin out of the foot. Once lit, I pick up nutty earth and cedar. Through the nose, sweet caramel and cedar pair with toast. The finish gives me more nuttiness with a hint of leather and more toast.
After thirty minutes, the first third comes to a close. On the draw, I pick up toast with a delicious peanut and almond mix alongside hints of citrus. Through the nose, I’m treated to salty pretzel and light floral earth. Sweet caramel and a hint of leather delight on the finish. Strength and body settle in at the medium mark.
The second third ends at one hour. I find salty popcorn on the draw complemented by spicy leather and more citrus. On the retro-hale, floral earth continues to come through with some toast. The finish sees the introduction of citrus alongside additional leather and slight black pepper spice. Strength and body continue to float at the medium mark.
The final third finishes at one hour and twenty-five minutes. On the draw, black pepper ramps up with vegetal earth and more leather. Through the nose, pretzel returns with a spicy caramel. There is no change to the finish. Strength and body make a jump to the medium-to-full mark in this final third.
The La Palina Illumination is a wonderful smoke. Is it the Goldie? Yes and no. From my recollection, the flavor profile of the Goldie is nearly identical to the first third of the Illumination. That being said, the last two thirds are reminiscent of the Goldie, but they’ve got a lot more oomph and some bolder flavors than I remember in any Goldie. Regardless. It’s still an excellent stick with a lot of complexity and a price that doesn’t make your wallet cry. If you like the Goldie, this one is a must try. If you couldn’t afford the Goldie, well, hop on this one right quick!