Agile Cigar Reviews are cigar assessments where we use a lightweight, shorter format. These will never take the place of our comprehensive reviews. They are only used on blends we have previously assessed. This might be a blend we are re-scoring or giving a score for the first time. It might be a blend we are looking at in a different size. Today we look at La Palina Illumination in the Robusto size. This is a cigar we last assessed back in March 2017 in the Toro size when it was known as Bill’s Blend.

La Palina Illumination Robusto

Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder: Ecuadorian
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: United States (El Titan de Bronze)
Robusto: 5 x 52

In 2016, La Palina Cigars released a cigar as a part of the 2016 Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) Exclusive Series known as Bill’s Blend. At the time, Bill’s Blend was a limited edition 6 x 50 Toro size cigar that was made at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, Florida. Later in 2016, La Palina unveiled the La Palina Illumination series. This is a regular production line that was based on Bill’s Blend, but was released in four different sizes. At this year’s IPCPR Trade Show, the 6 x 50 Bill’s Blend Toro became the La Palina Illumination Toro and was now being made as a regular production offering. Today, we take a closer look at one of the other sizes in the La Palina Illumination line – the 5 x 52 La Palina Illumination Robusto.

One of the most successful lines to come from La Palina has been its Goldie series (the Cigar Coop 2012 Cigar of the Year). The Goldie is an annual limited production series that also comes from El Titan de Bronze tobacco. One thing that makes the Goldie limited is that it includes medio tiempo tobacco primings. Medio tiempo is the highest priming on a tobacco plant, but it doesn’t grow on all tobacco plants. As a result, it has low yields, and because of limited supply, the Goldie is limited in production.  The Goldie is actually the cigar that is the inspiration for the Illumination series.  The Illumination features the same blend components as the Goldie – namely an Ecuadorian wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers. But instead of Nicaraguan medio tiempo, the Illumination contains a high-priming ligero.

All of the sizes of the La Palina Illumination come in 20-count boxes. The Robusto being assessed today has been aging for at least 14 months.

The Illumination Robusto started out with notes of sweet natural tobacco, cream, and black pepper. The natural tobacco had almost a fruit-like component to it. As the cigar moved through the early stages, the notes of classic wood and cedar emerged as primary notes – replacing the natural tobacco and cream notes. As the cigar moved into the second half, the wood and cedar notes continued to be the dominant ones. There also was an uptick in pepper in the second half.

Strength and body-wise, the Illumination Robusto started out medium and progressed to medium to full in the second half. The strength and body countered each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

When it comes to premium handmade cigars, a tweak to the blend can have a huge impact. That’s the case with the La Illumination Robusto (as well as with my experience with Bill’s Blend). This cigar is simply not the Goldie. The Goldie’s magic depends on that medio tiempo. Unfortunately,  the Illumination just doesn’t give the same experience. I’d recommend trying the cigar and seeing what you think.


Key Flavors: Wood, Cedar, Black Pepper, Cream, Natural Tobacco
Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Body: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Finish: Very Good


Assessment: 2.5-Try One
Score: 87


Previous Assessment: La Palina Bill’s Blend TAA Exclusive 2016
News: La Palina Illumination Makes Debut at 2016 IPCPR Trade Show
Price: $11.50
Source: La Palina Cigars
Brand Reference: La Palina


Photo Credits: Cigar Coop