Due in large part to the impact the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has had—and will continue to have—on the industry, there have been a large number of pre-2007 defunct cigar line that are being reintroduced, since they qualify as grandfathered products to the FDA’s predicate date.
One of those releases is OneOff, an early 2000’s brand that Illusione owner Dion Giolito acquired from Cuban Crafters in 2017. The original owner Andrea Molinari operated a La Casa del Habano store located in Milan, Italy, and had failed to get a cigar brand of his own made in Cuba after multiple attempts. Eventually, he contracted with the Plasencia family to roll his creations at their Segovia Cigars S.A. factory in Nicaragua, and OneOff was born.
Patrick Lagreid explained the remaining history of the brand in his review of the OneOff Corona Gorda:
From its launch until 2004, U.S. distribution of the line was handled by Felipe Gregorio Cigars Inc., until it was transferred to Paul Giacalone in 2004. Eventually, the line would end up in the hands of Cuban Crafters, the Miami-based retailer also known for its humidors and cutters, before being acquired by its current owner, Dion Giolito of Illusione.
While the original blend incorporated a Honduran wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers, Giolito reblended the OneOff line using all Nicaraguan tobacco at Aganorsa Leaf’s Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.(TABSA) factory in Estelí, Nicaragua and decided to release the updated cigars in eight of the original 16 vitolas packaged in 10-count boxes, seven of which began shipping to select retailers in June.
However, while the seven sizes that shipped to retailers first all feature the same blend, Giolito told halfwheel that the +53 Super Robusto vitola is slightly different, although he refused to elaborate further. That 5 3/4 x 48 vitola is also packaged in boxes of 10, but features an MSRP that is close to double that of the next most expensive size in the line, the 7 x 47 Julieta.
There are now eight different vitolas available in the OneOff line.
- OneOff Canonazo (6 1/8 x 52) — $16.95 (Boxes of 10, $169.50)
- OneOff Cartuchos (3 7/8 x 52) — $11.95 (Boxes of 10, $119.50)
- OneOff Corona (5 1/2 x 42) — $12.95 (Boxes of 10, $129.50)
- OneOff Corona Gorda (5 3/8 x 46) — $14.95 (Boxes of 10, $149.50)
- OneOff Julieta (7 x 47) — $17.95 (Boxes of 10, $179.50)
- OneOff Pyramides (6 1/8 x 52) — $16.95 (Boxes of 10, $169.50)
- OneOff Robusto (4 7/8 x 50) — $14.95 (Boxes of 10, $149.50)
- OneOff +53 Super Robusto (5 3/4 x 48) — $30 (Boxes of 10, $300)
The +53 refers to the country code of Cuba when you make a phone call.
- Cigar Reviewed: OneOff +53 Super Robusto
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- MSRP: $30 (Boxes of 10, $300)
- Release Date: Aug. 9, 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Visually, the OneOff +53 Super Robusto is hard to miss, featuring a somewhat mottled reddish brown colored wrapper that is silky smooth to the touch with an abundance of oil present. There are a number of very obvious veins running up and down the length, and I really love the covered foot. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sweet leather, black pepper, nuts, hay and manure while the cold draw brings flavors of cola sweetness, creamy cedar, dark chocolate, espresso beans, earth, cinnamon and a slight floral.
Starting out the first third, the OneOff +53 features an interesting choice of flavors, including a dominant combination of creamy oak and leather, followed by other notes of hay, bitter cocoa, bread, cinnamon and slight lemon citrus. There is also a noticeable floral note on the retrohale, which combines well with a bit of Bailey’s-esque sweetness that I am picking up on the finish. While there was an explosion of spice on the retrohale early one, it began to dissipate fairly quickly, although it is by no means disappearing anytime soon. The burn is uneven and not great visually, but not bad enough to have to touch up—at least not yet—and the draw features just the right amount of resistance, while smoke production is well above average off of the foot. Strength-wise, the +53 starts out medium, which is also where it is by the end of the third.
As the second third of the OneOff +53 Super Robusto starts, the Bailey’s-esque sweetness on the finish has increased noticeably, while the spice on the retrohale as decreased noticeably. In addition, there is a very obvious asparagus note that makes itself known on the retrohale that surprises me with its aggressiveness for a while before beginning to wane after the halfway point. The dominant flavor shifts as well, becoming more of an almond creaminess interspersed with other notes of bitter espresso, toast, leather, hay, cinnamon, cocoa nibs and floral, all of which rise and fall in varying strengths. Construction-wise, both the burn and draw continue to impress, while the smoke production continues to pour off of the foot like a grass fire. The overall strength easily hits the medium mark by the halfway point, but seems to stall there, not going much further by the end of the second third.
The final third of the OneOff +53 Super Robusto is similar to the first third, with the familiar combination of creamy oak and leather, although there is also an added distinct nutmeg note as well as more of the asparagus on the retrohale. In addition, the Bailey’s-esque sweetness on the finish has been reduced to almost nothing, while the spice on the retrolale continues in about the same amount. The burn has started to waver a bit, forcing me to touch it up before it gets out of hand, but the draw remains excellent and the smoke production remains high. Not surprisingly, the strength passes the medium mark early on in the first third, but fails to go much further by the time I put the nub down with about an inch to go.
- I am not sure that I would classify a 5 3/4 x 48 vitola as Super anything, but I do like the fact that the Robusto vitola is offered in the traditional Cuban robusto 4 7/8 x 50 size instead of the more ubiquitous 5 x 50 size.
- The price discrepancy for this vitola fascinates me, and I really would love to know the reason that it exists: does it incorporated tobacco that is higher quality or processed differently than the other sizes, or is it just marketing?
- Every time I see the logo on these cigars, I immediately think of a peace sign, although there have been comparisons of the logo to an airplane as well, since the original owner of the brand was also the ceo of an Italian airline named Lauda Air S.p.A. for a time.
- If Lauda sounds familiar, the airline was a project of F1 driver Nikki Lauda and the main brand operated until 2013.
- Do not puff too hard on this, it will punish you with overwhelming bitterness that takes a while to dissipate. Take it nice and slow and you will be rewarded.
- Illusione advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- This is an extremely slow smoking cigar, with the final smoking time averaging two hours and 18 minutes for all three samples.
- If you would like to purchase any of the OneOff +53 Super Robusto, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Cigars.com, Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar, Serious Cigars and Thompson Cigar all have them in stock.
In my recent review of the Tatuaje 15th Anniversary Ecuadorian Rosado Claro I stated that the profile was so different from the vast majority of Pete Johnson's normal releases, and the OneOff +53 Super Robusto is in the exact same boat. It is unlike just about any other Illusione release I have ever smoked. Where most of Dion Giolito's blends are complex, nuanced and balanced—almost to a fault—the OneOff +53 is in your face aggressive, with flavors that are so obvious they are almost harsh at times. While the amazing construction is not unusual by any means, time and again I found myself noting a flavor that I had almost never tasted in one of Giolito's blends—most notably asparagus. Of course, none of the preceding points change the fact that the +53 Super Robusto is an extremely expensive cigar, and while people will try to compare it to cheaper blends from Illusione, it is unique among the cigars that Giolito has released so far.