Cigar Ratings & Reviews

#nowsmoking: Illusione 88 Robusto Candela

Reading Time: 4 minutes

#nowsmoking: Illusione 88 Robusto Candela Cigar Review

Illusione 88 Candela Cigar Review – Robusto

Factory: TABSA – Estelí, Honduras
Size: 5” x 52 
Strength: Mellow-Medium 
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Candela 
Binder & Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo 98 and Corojo 99 

Presented in boxes of 25, 5-packs & singles.

#nowsmoking Illusione 88 Robusto Candela cigar review at Famous Smoke Shop

The Illusione 88 Robusto Candela Back Story 

Illusione 88 Candela cigars reviewed

Originally released in 2011, there are a number of reviews on the Illusione 88 Candela but not so much on the line itself. However, almost every review of this particular Candela I was able to find gave it a very high scoreone even as high as 93. And speaking of numbers, “88” stands for the year Illusione Cigars founder, Dion Giolito, returned to his home town of Reno, NV. But I did find out a little about the very illusive Illusione Cigars.  

Illusione 88 candela robusto cigar ash

Dion Giolito started on the retail side of the business as the owner of his own cigar store in Reno. In the mid-2000s, he launched Illusione cigars, and today they are one of the most popular nationally distributed boutique cigar brandsSince then, the Illusione line and its subsequent brand extensions have received a ton of high ratings and awards, including many of the annual Top 25 Cigars of the Year lists.  

Illusione 88 candela cigar and whiskey stave cigar holder

“We Are Not Industry Standard”

That’s the Illusione Cigars company motto. And if you follow them or smoke their cigars pretty often, you already know what that means. (Visit Illusione’s website or social media pages if you don’t.) Being from Nevada, the state that gave us “Area 51,” the Illusione brand echoes imagery of conspiracy theories, alien investigations, secret societies, masonic symbols—even the brand name comes from the Illuminati.  

Illusione 88 candela robusto cigar and box

Giolito’s knowledge and experience with cigar tobacco runs deep. Hespecially loved the flavor of 1970’s-vintage Nicaraguans made before the war with the Sandinistas. They became his inspiration and goal for Illusione. Now made at TABSA using Aganorsa farm-grown tobaccosIllusione cigars include EpernayFume d’Amour, Ultra, One-OffHaut 10, Cruzado, and Singulare, to name most their selections. 


nowsmoking Illusione 88 Robusto Candela Claro cigar review by Gary Korb
#nowsmoking @famoussmokeshop:  The Illusione 88 Robusto Candela offers a rich-tasting, Nicaraguan puro with a mellow profile. The smoke is well-balanced and creamy, revealing notes of cedar, sweet tobacco, and spices with some underlying earth and pepper.  


The Basics At a Glance 

Construction: Well made. Firm up-and-down its length and skillfully wrapped in a chameleon-colored Candela leaf. Affixed with a triple seam cap, the wrapper bares only a few noticeable veins; otherwise, it’s a really pretty leaf, but it’s also very delicate. The smell off the wrapper is a bit grassy, while the aroma at the foot is sweet. Using a double blade cutter, the cap came off in a perfect circle, and the draw had just the right amount of pull.   
Cold Draw: Earthy and slightly herbal. 
Toasting and light: No problems, but I suggest you keep the flame at a safe distance from the foot so as not to scorch the wrapper.  
Base flavors: Earth, cream, cedar, sweet tobacco, various spices.  
Aroma: Slightly floral. 
Retrohale: Smooth, but with a white-pepper spiciness. 
Burn & Ash: Excellent. My pre-video 88 Candela sample’s wrapper was a little dry and developed some cracks, yet it still burned well revealing a firm, mostly grey, cone-shaped ash (see my pix). My on-camera cigar was amazing. It was better humidified, too, with no wrapper issues and a perfect burn from end to end. 



Illusione 88 Candela cigar review part 1

The first few puffs start out very peppery and earthy for this puro, which was not surprising given the filler. Shortly afterward, the cigar rounded-out to a nicemellow smoke with some earthiness and a slight grassy note. Once you get in an inch or two, the primary flavors remain somewhat earthy until it transitions to a sweeter, creamier smoke with a little cedar in the mix. 



Illusione 88 candela cigar review part 2

Impressively mellow and creamy with a more mellow body than medium. More cedar is also present in this section and the flavors are well balanced. So far, the cigar is very enjoyable, and occasionally a note of cinnamon leaks into the mix. I’m also getting a faint floral note which is more present in the cigar’s aroma. 



Illusione 88 candela cigar review part 3

Pretty much like the mid-section in terms of flavor. The cigar has also been very consistent in its being exceptionally creamy. It’s also developed a more medium body. I noticed the cigar becoming a little sweeter in this section, too, which was a nice reveal, and made it a nubber. 


What can I pair with this cigar besides coffee?  

Illusione candela claro cigar pairing with Tullamore DEW

I chose the Tullamore D.E.W. more for the St. Patty’s Day thing, but it does make a nice match-up. Certainly, the Illusione 88 Robusto Candela is quite mellow, so any good whiskey or bourbon that’s not too heavy should do the trick. Wine drinkers might want to opt for a fruity Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc 

(Find more cigar and drink pairing combinations here.) 


Final Thoughts. . .  

Illusione 88 candela cigar smoking nub

As I said in the video, I don’t smoke a lot of Candelas, which decades ago were very popular, and referred to as American Market Selection cigars. As for this Illusione 88, the flavor profile was well-balanced and mostly creamy, woodsy, and sweet, with some underlying earth and spices. But since the wrapper is so mellow, the Nicaraguan core is the real star of this show. So, for smokers who like mellow Nicaraguans, I think they’ll want to smoke the Illusione 88 Candela Robusto more than just one day a year. Better yet, it may even be a great way for newer cigar smokers to taste how prime Nicaraguan tobacco really tastes.  


#cigaradvisor #cigar #cigars #cigarlife #cigarlifestyle #cigarsociety #cigarporn #cigarreviews #cigarphotography #botl #sotl #nowsmoking #menwhosmoke #thecigarculture #relax #luxury #ultimateluxury #luxurylifestyle #luxury #gooddeal  #smokeability #rockypatel #rockypatelcigar #patelwintercollection #friendsoffamous #diongiolito #illusione88candela #illusionecigars #aganorsaleaf 

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and Executive Editor of Cigar Advisor. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

Show all Gary Korb's Articles
cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review west tampa tobacco white - cover

#NowSmoking: West Tampa Tobacco Company White

Reading Time: 4 minutes Former CAO brand ambassador Rick Rodriguez now has his own premium cigar brand, West Tampa Tobacco Company. In this review of the West Tampa White Toro Gary called it “a real finger burner.” Was he just being nice? Check out his entire review now.

Read More
cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review (video) sixty by rocky patel - cover

#NowSmoking: Sixty by Rocky Patel

Reading Time: 4 minutes With flavors like cocoa, toffee, and vanilla, it seems that Sixty was the perfect blend to commemorate the start of Rocky Patel’s silver years. Find out why it’s instantly one of Jared’s favorite Rocky cigars in his full #NowSmoking cigar review!

Read More
cigar advisor #nowsmoking cigar review - macanudo vintage 2010 cover

NowSmoking: Macanudo Vintage 2010

Reading Time: 4 minutes Travel back to the classic “Connecticut” cigars of yesteryear as Gary gives his review of the Macanudo Vintage 2010 Torpedo. Built on a 10-year-aged U.S. Connecticut Shade capa see what this cigar’s mellow character and nuanced flavor set have to offer.

Read More
best cigar humidors under $50 Cigar Advisor Cover

2019 CA Report: 5 of the Best Cigar Humidors Under $50

Reading Time: 6 minutes Humidors come in all shapes and sizes, and that means a wide range of prices, too. For the cigar smoker who wants a traditional cigar humidor at a fair price, Gary highlights five of the most affordable homes on the market for your cigars: the best cigar humidors under $50.

Read More