About La Palina Cigars

In an industry where just about every brand is trying to grab your attention with loud labels, outrageous names, ginormous sizes, and exotic blends, it’s refreshing to see a cigar brand that just wants to create a great cigar. La Palina Cigars is just that brand.

Founded in 1896 by Sam Paley as the Congress Cigar Company in Chicago, Illinois, the nascent company’s first cigar was the called the “La Palina” which was named after the founder’s wife, Goldie Drell Paley. In 1910, Sam Paley moved the company to Philadelphia. Soon after, his son, William S. Paley joined the company as its Vice President of Advertising.

William S. Paley sponsored a radio show called “The La Palina Hour.” The sponsorship helped increase cigar sales. It also got William S. Paley more and more involved in the broadcast industry. After acquiring a few radio stations, William Paley went on to become the founder of the Columbia Broadcasting System, better known by its acronym CBS. Sam Paley eventually retired and the La Palina Cigar line was retired too. But not for long.

Sam’s grandson, William C. Paley, aka as Bill, a successful serial entrepreneur, had a strong desire to bring back an important part of his family’s rich history. In 2010, Bill was able to reacquire the rights to the La Palina Cigars. Armed with a hand-picked dream team of cigar industry heavyweights, Bill has not only been able to resurrect, but restore La Palina Cigars to the well-renowned brand it was over 120 years ago.

Recently, Sam Phillips, President of La Palina Cigars, along with Patrick Vivalo, his Regional Sales Manager visited Neptune Cigars’ Little Havana store, and sat down with me for a little Q&A.

Neptune: So Sam, tell why do you think Bill Paley wanted to revive the La Palina brand?

Sam: It was a simply a matter of wanting to return to his family’s roots. Bill’s father had become a broadcasting giant made possible in part by his grandfather’s success in the cigar business. Bill also wanted to bring back the fine art of crafting a great cigar. It was all about family pride.

Neptune: La Palina that’s an interesting name. How did it come about?

Sam: The founder named the cigar in honor of his wife Goldie Drell Paley. It literally means, “The female Paley”. Goldie’s image appears on the cigar bands and boxes. The Goldie cigar was also named in honor of Bill Paley’s grandmother.

Neptune: What is La Palina’s focus?

Sam: La Palina Cigars is not interested in how many cigars we make or how many we sell. At La Palina Cigars, our goal is create a great cigar.

Neptune: A lot of cigar brands work with only one or two factories. Or they are vertically integrated, meaning the company owns the farm, the factory and the brand. How does La Palina compare to the other guys?

Sam: We believe that by working with only one farm or factory limits you in the assortment of cigars you can offer your customers. La Palina works with various manufacturers from Nicaragua, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and the United States. For example, the Mr. Sam cigar (named after La Palina founder Sam Paley) is made in El Titan de Bronze Cigar Manufacturer right here in Miami, Florida which is not too far from Neptune’s Little Havana location. The La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro is made in Nicaragua by AJ Fernandez. The point is by working with various factories we are able to offer a greater variety of flavor profiles.   

Neptune: Speaking of flavor. What can you tell us about La Palina’s flavor profiles?

Sam: We blend for flavor first. When creating a new cigar, we first determine the flavor profile before anything else. We work in steps. We don’t want to create cigars that are so similar in flavor and price that they start to compete with each other. La Palina does not release a cigar just to release a new cigar. What we’ve done in refocusing the company is to create steps in flavor profiles while keeping the consumer in mind. For example, La Palina Goldie is a premium cigar that is perfect for special occasions. The La Palina Classic is a great cigar for everyday smokers or budget minded cigar lovers. As you can see, we have something for everyone.

Neptune: How about strength?

Sam: La Palina is more focused on flavor than strength. Except of course for the Kill Bill cigar.

Neptune: The Kill Bill cigar?  Is that a nod to the Quentin Tarantino movie?

Sam: On the contrary. When the La Palina El Diario KB was being developed, the initial blend was so strong that when Bill Paley tried it thought it was going to kill him. So we jokingly referred to it as the Kill Bill, the name stuck.

Neptune: Most cigar brands lean towards creating bold and elaborate packaging. La Palina’s packaging stands out as being subtle. Why?

Sam: La Palina is all about the cigar. When it comes to packaging, we like to keep things clean. We’re not too big on fluff.

Neptune: So are there any new releases in the horizon?

Patrick: Yes. During IPCPR 2018, we released the TAA limited edition La Palina Blue Label which is a medium bodied cigar that is packed with flavor. Since Neptune Cigars is a member of the Tobacconists Association of America, your customers will be able to enjoy this delightful cigar. We are also doing a pre-release of the La Palina Purple Label which will be available through Neptune Cigars.

Neptune: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Sam: La Palina is making some really great cigars, and we’re having a great time making them.  

Patrick:  We’re proud of what we’re doing, and we hope that people give us a shot.



By Luzzie Normand
Co-Founder & Editor; Neptune Cigars Inc.
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