La Familia Robaina’s newest release is not illegal, but it sounds like it should be.
That is because the company named the new blend Ilegal—with one l, which also happens to be the Spanish word for illegal—and gave it the tagline “It’s so good, it should be Ilegal.” However, there is another interesting fact about the cigars, namely that all three versions were blended by various members of either the La Familia Robaina team or close acquaintances.
There are three different blends under the Ilegal moniker and while the filler and binder components are undisclosed, the names of each blend indicate which wrapper it was made with. This includes an Ecuadorian habano-wrapped version that was blended by La Familia Robaina sales manager Adrian Acosta as well as a Connecticut shade-wrapped cigar blended by both Spence Drake—owner of La Familia Robaina—and Omar González.
However, the review today concerns the Ilegal San Andres which is made with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper and was thought up by Esteban Disla, co-owner of Fabrica de Tobacos Nica Sueño factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The regular production cigar is available in three different vitolas packaged in 20-count boxes that are being rolled at Omar González-Alemán’s La Corona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua
According to the company, all three blends featured over six months of age before they were shipped to retailers on Dec. 9, 2019.
“This is a line of cigars that we are truly proud of,” said Spence Drake of La Familia Robaina in a press release. “We leaned on a couple of friends to help out with some of the blends. Adrian Acosta helped blend our Ecuadorian Habano and Esteban Disla of Nica Sueño helped us out with the Mexican San Andres.”
- Ilegal San Andres Robusto (5 1/2 x 54) — $10.95 (Box of 20, $239)
- Ilegal San Andres Toro (6 x 50) — $10.95 (Box of 20, $239)
- Ilegal San Andres Gordo (6 x 60) — $11.95 (Box of 20, $259)
- Cigar Reviewed: Ilegal San Andres Toro
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Corona
- Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Undisclosed
- Filler: Undisclosed
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $10.95 (Box of 20, $239)
- Release Date: Dec. 9, 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Visually, the Ilegal San Andres is covered in a dark, almost black wrapper that is sandpaper rough to the touch but with some noticeable oil. While two samples have no issues, one of the cigars has two very obvious soft spots, but the closed foot on all three is a nice touch. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong manure, earth, leather, almonds, raisin sweetness and black pepper while cold draw brings flavors of oak, leather, baker’s spices, hay, dark chocolate and fresh ground coffee.
Immediately after lighting the foot, the Ilegal San Andres starts off a with a dominant combination of both dank earth and dark chocolate, followed by lesser notes of hay, barnyard, leather, roasted peanuts and creamy oak. The raisin sweetness from the cold draw is noticeable on the retrohale, but not nearly as strong as I was hoping, and there is also a significant amount of black pepper and spice on my tongue, both of which seem to be getting more aggressive as the first third burns down. Construction-wise, the draw is a bit loose after a simple straight cut on all three samples—albeit still within normal standards—while the burn gives me issues right out of the gate, forcing me to correct it before it gets out of hand. Overall, the strength starts off fairly mild, but picks up noticeably by the time the first third finishes, ending up close to the medium mark.
Although the raisin sweetness does become a bit more obvious in the second third of the Ilegal San Andres, it is still far from being strong enough to have much effect on the still-dominant and aggressive flavors of gritty earth and bitter dark chocolate. Other notes of hay, espresso beans, peanuts, leather, oak and slight floral flit in and out as well, while the black pepper on the retrohale and spice on my tongue has actually increased in strength. The draw continues to be a bit loose for my taste, but the burn has evened up nicely, while the strength has continued to increase enough to hit a point just above the medium mark by the time the second third ends.
The final third of the Ilegal San Andres continues to the trend of the previous two thirds for the most part, with the same bitter dark chocolate and gritty earth combination easily strong enough to retain their dominant flavor status, interspersed with other notes of nuts, leather, hay, coffee beans, floral, cinnamon and slight citrus. Unfortunately, the only major change in the profile concerns the raisin sweetness, which has faded a bit, which in turn means less complexity overall; however, that fact is somewhat mollified by the fact that both the black pepper and spice on my tongue have receded in strength, allowing the secondary flavors to gain a bit of distinctness in the profile. The burn and the draw continue to give me no issues through the end of the cigar, and although the overall strength does increase in the final third, it only reaches a point between medium and full by the time I put the nub down with less than an inch remaining.
- Somewhat predictably, typing Ilegal cigar into Google brings up some interesting results.
- It is not very often that I find a soft spot in a cigar, but I can count the number of times I have found two on the same cigar—as I did with one of these samples—in the last year on one hand.
- La Familia Robaina changed its name from White Hat Cigars just before the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
- If the Fabrica de Tobacos Nica Sueño factory sounds familiar to you, it is probably because that is where RoMa Craft Tobac cigars are produced.
- The combination of black background, logo and sliver foil makes me think of a Jolly Roger for some reason whenever I look at it.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 31 minutes.
For me, the Ilegal San Andrés turned out to be the tale of three very different cigars: one with not-so-great construction—but decent flavors—one with amazing construction but more pedestrian flavor notes, and one that combined an amazing profile and better-than-decent construction into a cigar that featured more of the total package. The general profile is dominated by earth and dark chocolate flavors, with a curious lack of sweetness considering the San Andres wrapper that could have helped balance everything out. At its best, the Ilegal San Andrés can easily hold its own against any number of cigars on the market, but at its worst, it does not come close; the only question is which one you will get.