Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Size: 6 x 50 Toro
Price: $10.95 ($1.25 less online)
I bought this cigar a year ago. It got a small handful of reviews during its release period. They are regular production so they can be found everywhere. I’m very curious to see if the cigar holds up.
Factory: La Corona Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
According To Cigar Dojo (12-10-2019):
“La Familia Robaina Cigars (formerly White Hat Cigars) has announced that they have now begun shipping their Ilegal cigars to retailers across the country. Ilegal made its debut at this year’s IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas, featured as a trio of cigar blends in identical sizes and similar price range.
“Ilegal is the Spanish spelling for Illegal, sporting the tagline, “It’s so good, it should be Ilegal.” Ilegal takes a unique approach, with all three cigars being blended by various members of the LFR team and close acquaintances. This includes an Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped blend, crafted by Sales Manager, Adrian Acosta (whose father was once the head agronomist for Davidoff’s TabaDom facilities in the DR); a Connecticut Shade-wrapped cigar, blended by LFR owner, Spence Drake, and Omar Gonzales; and a Mexican San Andrés-wrapped blend that was spearheaded by Esteban Disla, co-owner of Fabrica de Tobacos Nica Sueño (of RoMa Craft fame).
“Each of the three blends have been rolled at Omar González-Alemán’s La Corona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The cigars arrive in Robusto (5½” x 54), Toro (6″ x 50), and Gordo (6″ x 60) formats, with prices ranging from $9.95 to $11.95 MSRP per cigar.”
SIZES AND PRICING (MSRP):
Robusto 5.5 x 54 $10.95
Toro 6 x 50 $10.95
Gordo 6 x 60 $11.95
This is not a pretty cigar. It is lumpy and bumpy throughout. Lots of veins. Some seams are tight and others are sloppy. The Habano wrapper has those hints of orange, copper, and Sunny D. There is a nice oiliness in place. The triple cap is nicely applied. The cigar feels amply filled. No hard or soft spots. Lastly, it has a closed foot.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Notes are faint: Floral, milk chocolate, raisins, caramel, malt, black cherries, cedar, espresso, barnyard, black pepper, a tiny hint of citrus, and some creaminess.
The cold draw presents flavors of malt, chocolate, espresso, licorice, barnyard, cedar, caramel, dried fruit, black pepper, and vanilla pudding.
The first draws are enticing. I can sense the extra naked aging I gave the cigar. It has mind melded with all my other cigars in my humidor.
There is a warmth and balance right out of the gate. There is orange citrus, caramel, black pepper, creaminess, dried fruit, espresso, and chocolate. Nice.
The draw is spot on. I will use my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool another time.
The spiciness begins to ramp up. Not sure if this is good or bad yet.
Smoky the Bear would not endorse this cigar as plumes of smoke pour from the foot.
Savory v. sweet begins.
Strength hits an immediate medium.
I smoked one of these sticks a month after I procured them. Nicht gut. I put the other one away and forgot about til yesterday.
There are slim notes of Captain Crunch, cinnamon bun, beef jerky, red pepper, vanilla ice cream, and toasted nuts. Hopefully, the spiciness relents enough to allow these subtle flavors to strut their stuff.
A sip of water and the orange citrus and creaminess make it a 50/50 Creamsicle.
This is a nice cigar. It must have flown under the radar during its release period because with only a few reviews, word of mouth in B&M’s must have pushed sales. Reinforcing this is the fact that the price has not plummeted online. Still pretty much the $11 it started with.
Complexity kicks in with only an inch burned. Transitions begin. The finish sees the spiciness calm down and the nuance parade begins.
Unfortunately, I have no idea where in the year long humidor time, this cigar became ready for review. I’m sure that all of my dear readers have found some kind of gem they never knew existed in their humidors.
Sometimes, its like finding two prizes in your box of Cracker Jack.
The burn is doing just fine thank you. I never remove a closed foot’s leaves. Burn right the hell right through it. Sometimes it causes a temporary burn issue, but not today.
Creaminess ramps up now. There is a slight root beer influence…brought on by the accelerating creaminess. Pretty cool. A sip of water to see if its real, or I’m just having an acid flashback. Nope. It’s real…but fleeting.
The stick moves into sophisticated range. It looms large. Gives me excitations that the second half is going to give me a coffee enema.
Not a flavor bomb. But a coagulation of finely tuned elements that coat my palate like butter schmears your toast. Very complex and still reaching for the brass ring.
Still hanging at medium strength.
The beef jerky juts its Dudley Do-Right chin heavily into the mix. The different flavor nuances are delicious but move on in just moments. Then replaced with something totally unexpected…like beef to citrus to cream to chocolate to nuts to dried fruit to caramel to macadamias to a beer infested with malt. Constant movement.
I gotta’ look through my humidors for more gems like this one.
The we get the debut of graham cracker crust, soaked in butter.
Who knows how you will interpret this blend? Trust your palate. No need to get wrinkles trying to find my flavors. The point being is that this is an excellent blend that opens doors for your palate to receive the signals being sent by the cigar.
At medium, it is a nice morning cigar. I’ll eat those words later in the review.
It was a good 25 minutes to get here but went by in a flash…signifying this is an interesting cigar.
The Grateful Dead are on Pandora. I never got this band. Going back to the early 70’s. Yes, they were all fine musicians. Still, their music never caught my interest. Well, there goes 30% of my readership.
Nothing linear going on here. The cigar continues to grow its intensity. The complexity continues to impress. And without giant flavor bombs.
Another good cigar that anyone with a palate will enjoy; regardless of your sophistication. Good is good.
What a nice surprise. I was concerned that a year of naked humi time may have lessened its demonic powers. And after my review of the Perdomo cigar last week, it’s nice to report on something better than decent. BTW- Nick Perdomo unfriended me on Facebook. I’m crushed to the marrow. I find it so hard to believe that cigar mavens just don’t like me very much. Unless I give their blends a stellar review.
And that best cigar of 2021 from Tobacco Business Magazine that came out in June? I discovered it is a Czech publication in English. That info was left out on all the ads breast beating by the Perdomo folks on Facebook. No idea what that says about the Czech Republic’s taste in cigars…or what is even available to them.
Damn. The Ilegal Habano is making me plotz. Holy shit this is a great cigar. No stasis happening…like a shark, it must keep moving forward.
The cigar is burning nice and slow…allowing for some true savoring.
There is a Maduro and Connie blend of this series. Must snag some. Be back atcha’ in a year.
Disclaimer: Being in my humidor for so long is showing. The cigar was a little beat up when I decided to review it. You’d never know it had any effect on the flavor.
Each puff is a delight. No shit. This blend blows many of the finest cigars out of their boxers. I don’t mind paying $11 a stick when it is worth that and maybe more.
The Ilegal Habano has put me into a state of entropy. I’m ready to have my head removed and put into cryogenics next to Walt Disney’s head.
No new flavors. Everything I’ve described is present and accounted for. Some have even become subliminal adding to the overall deliciosity.
I crave sips of water as each time I take a sip, my merkin finds itself on the cat’s head. I had him a comb.
Strength makes its move to medium/full. I hear car alarms going off in the parking lot.
The char line has been a champ. I’d take a photo to prove it but I’m lazy. Plus, I wouldn’t lie to you. In fact, the ash is hard as nails. It takes a ball peen hammer to remove the ash before it tries to find a place in my lap.
The halfway point is resting easily. The sweet spot takes a bow.
Man, this cigar is better than most of my go-to sticks. And it rivals my best sticks.
It is going to be 154 ° with 102% humidity.
Went to my grandsons’ birthday party on Sunday. The oldest turned 4 on July 4. And the baby turns 1 on the 10th. The kids threw a massive party at their home and backyard. They are masters at party throwing. But all the women, wearing summer clothing, burned like a marshmallow. Charlotte and I couldn’t take it any longer after 4 hours. The young’uns stayed all evening and got properly sloshed. Ever been to a party where most of the men, and some of the women, are cops? It’s like they know Charlotte and I smoked a doob beforehand. When you are surrounded by tactical and SWAT cops, you have to do something.
Summerfest in Milwaukee is the biggest outdoor festival in the U.S.16 days of exotic food and all the best bands in the world. I found out talking to one of the cops that he, and others, are placed in second floor HVAC vents with sniper rifles along the length of the festival. I will never smoke a doob on the thoroughfare ever again.
I love that the Ilegal Habano is taking its time. Plenty of time to savor and enjoy.
The flavor profile does not change…doesn’t need to. The balance is so perfect that it reminds me of the first time I had sex with an Amsterdam prostitute. (“Is it in yet? Can’t you cum? Huh?”). I asked if I could play with her boobs. “That will cost you another 5 Guilders.” I explained my wallet was across the room. So, she let me put my hand down her blouse…forcing my elbow into her face. Sex doesn’t get better than that.
Jesus Alou and Manny Mota. The blend is a coming to Jesus affair. I’m willing to convert. Do I have to give back my foreskin?
A nice slow roll. One hour and 15 minutes in.
Strength remains at medium/full but here comes the nicotine. I strap in.
For a blend that is by no means a flavor bomb, the intensity is mind blowing.
My hypothesis for why there are so few reviews is that the cigar was just not ready. It needed that extended humidor time.
The graham cracker, creaminess, and chocolate have become the elusive S’more. The savory v. sweet component is in perfect tandem.
Flavors such as citrus, nuts, black cherries, jerky, espresso, malt, and root beer are subtle and provide a wonderful backdrop for the tobacco’s innate goodness.
Baking spices show up for the first time…nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove bend the profile just enough to heighten the experience.
The spicy element lays back enjoying the show from the balcony. No overbearance. Perfect symmetry.
I am nearing the end. No changes. No harshness is exhibited. Smooth.
The Ilegal Habano is worth your time. But patience is demanded.
Complexity is through the roof.
And now for something completely different:
If you haven’t seen the 2019 released documentary, “Echo in the Canyon,” you should be ignoring me and finding it on Prime Video, Netflix, or Apple TV right now.
It is about the 1960’s music scene in Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. And how folk-rock transformed the music scene forever.
From the Greenwich Entertainment website:
“Echo in the Canyon celebrates the explosion of popular music that came out of LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s as folk went electric and The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and The Mamas and the Papas gave birth to the California Sound. It was a moment (1965 to 1967) when bands came to LA to emulate The Beatles and Laurel Canyon emerged as a hotbed of creativity and collaboration for a new generation of musicians who would soon put an indelible stamp on the history of American popular music.
“Featuring Jakob Dylan, the film explores the beginnings of the Laurel Canyon music scene. Dylan uncovers never-before-heard personal details behind the bands and their songs and how that music continues to inspire today. Echo in the Canyon contains candid conversations and performances with Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn and Jackson Browne as well as contemporary musicians they influenced such as Tom Petty (in his very last film interview), Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor and Norah Jones.”
One very important name left out of the all-star lineup is Fernando Perdomo. Check out his website here. He was one of the main band members in the star-studded lineup. He is on the album and shows up in the documentary both on stage and in the recording studio.
Fernando is an accomplished guitarist and bassist, as well as composer, engineer and producer. His playing is the style most guitarists would kill for. He is a true musicologist. While only 41, there isn’t a music style he is not deeply rooted in.
We became friends on Facebook a while back. I can’t remember how exactly. But then I am 71 and he is 41. He probably better remembers.
We’ve talked about music and axes and the Greats.
Since I am from L.A., “Echo in the Canyon” hit home…hard. I was a teen doing all the things discussed in the movie. I saw all those people perform live. Met some of them. Cruised Sunset and Hollywood Blvds. I was chin deep in Peace, Love, & Understanding. And I was a working bassist.
I’ve told the next story in combinations with other stories, but I want to focus more on the time and place of Laurel Canyon and the music that was born from that community. I plan on doing a small series of after-review stories about that time.
Some of you may not know who the people, or groups, I will mention. I know that most of these bands saw their heyday come and pass. But their greatness lives on, and you cannot avoid hearing them on classic rock radio.
It was 1967. The Byrds were playing at the tiny venue, The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. Maybe 300 people. Right on the beach. One of the hallmark places for live music. Only the best got to play there.
The Byrds booked two shows per night there for four nights. Tickets sold out in minutes. My friend, Elliot, and I were crushed. Back then, you snagged your tickets by trying to get through on the phone the moment they went on sale. Or standing in line at the box office. But this was The Byrds. And most of the audience was music industry insiders. They didn’t have to stand in no stinkin’ line.
The morning of the gig, I called The Golden Bear. As it turned out, I got to speak to the club’s manager. I lied to him and told him I was the music critic for the Long Beach Press Telegram. And I wanted stage passes for me and my photographer. Gratis.
He said he’d pass on the message.
An hour later, their manager, Larry Spector called me at home.
He asked me a few questions and happily invited me to that night’s gig.
Thank God he never asked my age. Or even checked with the newspaper to verify my story.
I cleaned up my Sony tape recorder so it shined like the sun. I grabbed my Kodak Instamatic camera just so I’d look professional.
I gussied up in my finest high school dance duds. My come-hither clothes meant to attract teen girls. I was alone a lot.
Elliot and I headed south for the 20-minute drive to Huntington Beach.
We got there early, and the stage manager let us in. I mean someone had to know this wasn’t kosher. We were 17. We acted as professional as our brains allowed, but still…
The backstage area was small. And the enclosed dressing room couldn’t have been bigger than 10 x 15. It had a small couch, some cheap chairs, and a couple plush leather chairs.
Guitars were all over the floor. The entire band was there with 4 super model beauties. That’s it. No one else. No leeches that cling to famous bands. Just The Byrds and me and Elliot.
The band took to us right away. They had to know we pulled one over on their manager. But they never busted us.
They treated us like gold. We were invited to sit down, and we plopped. Some of the band members had girls sitting on their laps who mostly found their jobs to just giggle at whatever a Byrd said.
I spoke to Roger McGuinn first. But I barely recognized him. On his previous albums and photos, he had that long hair from Elizabethan past. Now he had short hair and a goatee beard. I didn’t think it was him. Plus, he was Jim McGuinn last time I checked. Who was Roger McGuinn?
But right at his feet was an open case with the infamous Rickenbacker 12 string. It sparkled like the Yellow Brick Road.
I looked at him and smiled. I asked if I could hold it? He said yes.
I cradled it in my arms like it was the Holy Grail.
I know he was speaking to me, but I heard nothing but ambient sounds. This guitar played Mr. Tambourine Man, Eight Miles High, and Turn, Turn, Turn.
It was time for the band to go on stage.
I stood at the side door and watched.
They blew the room away immediately. I stood there in awe.
I had my Kodak Instamatic in my hand, and I just wandered to the front of the stage from the floor and began taking photos. I stood in front of patrons that paid good money. I didn’t care.
Then I returned to the side of the stage and took it all in.
Between shows, the boys were amped.
I also had a very expensive, for the time, Polaroid camera. David Crosby took it from my hands and said, “Kid, look and learn.”
He managed to take double exposures by covering one side of the lens while taking a photo and then covering the other side and took the same photo again. It worked.
The pictures were very psychedelic. Someone in Laurel Canyon had to have shown him how to do this.
Chris Hillman, I believe, got two of the girls to sit on each of my knees. I stared up at their beautiful faces while their boobs were in my eyes. No one that paid for a ticket got this experience.
We hung around until the next show an hour or so later. Again, just us and the band. Where were all the hangers ons?
So, we talked shit and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my puss.
After the last show, I pulled out my Sony and Roger agreed to do what he said he would do; give me an interview on tape.
So, for 30-45 minutes, we talked about music. From The Beatles to classical to modern jazz. It was magical.
It was really late when it was time to say goodbye. I didn’t want it to end. I felt like I was hanging around The Beatles.
But goodbyes were said, hands shaken, pats on the back were doled out. And off they went.
I took the tape and made copious notes. Took me a week to write up everything McGuinn said. Once finished, I submitted it to Tiger Beat Magazine. I was very proud of myself.
Two weeks later, my article was returned, and some editor had cut their jugular all over it. Corrections aplenty.
At the top of the first page, it read “Nice. But not cozy enough.”
I slapped my forehead hard enough to cause a 3.2 earthquake in Laurel Canyon.
One last thing…McGuinn’s guru had just talked him into changing his first name because he really wasn’t a Jim to the Universe. He was a Roger. It couldn’t have been Lancelot or King Lear; no, it was Roger.
A little-known fact…at the start of The Byrds’ recording history, they used the L.A. Wrecking Crew session players. My dear friend, Hal Blaine, was the drummer on “Mr. Tambourine Man.” If you want to hear how the raw recording went, check it out on YouTube right here.
At the end of the evening, I asked McGuinn for an autograph and he didn’t seem to mind one bit.
At the top of the paper, he wrote this huge sloping “J.” And then he stopped.
Underneath, he wrote: “It was fun Phil. All the best, Roger McGuinn.”
I wish I had that piece of paper to show my musician friends today. McGuinn wasn’t quite sure who he was at that moment in time. And I had proof.
Next review: Hanging with Buffalo Springfield in 1967. Neil Young was a trip.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS