In December 2007, Sasja van Horssen debuted the first of what would be come an annual release of cigars to honor his brother, who passed away the previous year at the age of 36. The van Horssen family owns The Longfiller Co., which happens to be one of the largest importers of cigars in the Netherlands, and thus has access to quite a number of large names in the non-Cuban cigar business. As a result, the commemorative cigars—aptly named the Ilja—have been made up a who’s who of manufactures, including Arturo Fuente, My Father Cigars and Padrón to name a few.
Last year’s version of the annual release was produced by Joya de Nicaragua in its Cuatro Cinco blend in a size unique to the line. However, while the 7 x 52 size is new, the blend remains the same as the other Cuatro Cinco cigars, namely a Nicaraguan habano wrapper from the Jalapa region, a Dominican binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos that includes five-year-old Nicaraguan ligero aged in oak barrels that previously held rum. As with the rest of the cigars in the Ilja series, there were only 418 cigars produced, packaged in boxes of 13.