Wrapper: Grade One Nicaraguan Cafe Colorado
Binder: Corojo ’99 (Nicaraguan?)
Filler: Criollo ’98 (Nicaraguan?)
Size: 7.5 x 49
Price: $10.00 (Actually, prices are all over the place.)
Amazingly, there are very few reviews out there on this cigar…maybe a handful. And half of them don’t care for the cigar. Those reviews also complain about the construction in that the cigar canoes on them. The other issue is that Illusione cigars take a while to get to the point where the blender’s intent is ready to unveil itself; in other words, the damn cigar has to sit in your humidor forever…or for what seems like forever.
I bought a 5 pack 6 months ago.
The crazy part is that the prices are all over the map. I’ve seen them as high as $16 and average about $10. I paid $6 on Cbid.
It seems to be common knowledge that the blender, Don Giliotto, wanted to make a cigar that harkens back to the pre-Sandinista days of Nicaragua…prior to 1979. Now there is no way for me to verify this but Giliotto is a respectable man and his word is good enough for me.
The construction is quite good. The stick is as solid as a rock but has a perfect draw. There is no shortage of veins but the seams are tighter than a prostitute’s corset. The triple cap is flawless. There is only one soft spot and it’s at the foot. There are two types of this blend. A box pressed version called the Slam and the normal round version. The cigars are produced at the Raices Cubanas factory in Nicaragua…made in small batches. There is a slight oily sheen with a bit of tooth.
Giliotto is known for his high powered sticks. Only a small percentage of cigar smokers can handle the strength as it starts out full tilt and never lets up. But the cigar remains well balanced with a long finish. All Illusione cigars are Nicaraguan puros.
I sniff about and detect some powerful sweetness. Earthiness is right up there as well. There is also an abundance of your typical Nicaraguan cocoa at the foot.
These cigars are shipped without cellos. That’s OK in my book. Gives them an edge in character development. And most Illusione cigars are ready to smoke right away. Of course, aging them properly only increases the enjoyment. The only downside to smoking a stick right away is that there is a bit of harshness felt in the back of the throat.
I V cut and light up.
The first puffs taste of wood, cocoa, spice, and leather. The power is at a high medium right away. There is a serious red pepper component. The stick brings out a dose of cocoa and creaminess. And then I have a burn issue. It is nowhere near canoe proportions but I will have to be diligent to make sure it doesn’t get away from me.
And then it does at around an inch in. I am forced to tighten up the char line as it is heading towards a scenic canoe ride.
Due to its strength, I allow for a couple hours to smoke this baby. I don’t want to do the Ha Cha Cha from a nicotine buzz halfway through the stick. At that pace, it takes me a good 2 hours to finish. (I wanted to re-print the lyrics from Captain Spaulding’s opening number in the Marx Brother’s film, “Animal Crackers”..but I don’t)
Actually, since this is a lengthy cigar, an anecdote to soothe the savage breast…”Animal Crackers” is my all-time fave MB film. There is a bit in there that cracked me up so much that I acted upon it. I was 22 at the time.
It is a bit between Groucho and Zeppo. Zeppo is playing Groucho’s secretary.
Groucho: “Take a letter Jameson. Send it to the law firm of Hunga-Dunga, Hunga-Dunga, Hunga- Dunga, Hunga-Dunga & McCormick. Read that back.”
Zeppo: “To the law firm Hunga-Dunga, Hunga-Dunga, Hunga-Dunga & McCormick”
Groucho: “No you imbecile! You left out a Hunga-Dunga….and you left out the most important one!!”
Yes, it is juvenile humor, but that’s just me.
So I went to a professional sign maker and spent $40 in 1972 for a sign about 18” x 12” that had only the three Hunga Dungas plus the McCormick. I had left out the most important one. The sign was gorgeous and I have placed it outside my porch at every house I have ever lived in since 1972.
And no one….no one…has ever asked, “What does that mean?”
Du-oh! (As I slap myself in the forehead) How can that be?
I have put it in my will that I will be buried with that sign. But first, at the viewing, it will be hung from my open casket. And I bet you a dollar; no one will ask my wife what that is.
The char line looks pretty good and fingers crossed it stays that way.
The first third ends without event. The leather, pepper, cocoa and creaminess are about it. The cigar has a nice balance and is very pleasant. It has that deep earthiness that the Illusione blends have.
The second third ramps up the power. The sweetness aroma manifests itself in the taste arena now. It is a dried fruit taste. And a bit of coffee shows its little head. The cocoa is on a continual rise so I grab my Diet Coke. Each swig manifests itself into an egg cream that only the Eastern seaboard probably knows what I am talking about…Google it.
There is no complexity at this point. It bears the fruit of the Nicaraguan profile. The cocoa and creaminess become stronger. But no remarkable flavors show up to the party. So if after 6 months of aging, this is what I taste, this is all I will ever taste. While some of the components to the cigar are a secret, it has all the profile of a Nicaraguan puro.
Don’t get me wrong. I like this stick. But then I like almost all Nicaraguan puros. The cocoa and the creaminess and the coffee and the nuttiness with subliminal flavors of leather and cedar and its deep earthiness are trademarks for this blend. And it is all very nice. Just not remarkable.
The draw is just OK. The cap completely falls apart. I remove the mess with some scissors. The char line just won’t behave. It is getting closer to the point where I will have to correct it again.
I correct the burn line once more. A cigar at this price point should not require constant correction of the burn line.
The last third is on full tilt in the power department. My vision begins to blur. A toasty component shows up. And a bit nutty. The cigar finishes up being pretty much a one trick pony. While it is pleasant to smoke…it doesn’t sway me. This cigar is not cheap. And I can think of a lot of cigars at this price point that are a lot better. To me, this is an old school cigar. It needs a long time in the humidor to develop. So smoking the cigar early is merely a tease. Six months in your humidor will taper the corners of the flavor profile and removes all harshness that can come from smoking it too soon.
And now for something completely different:
My best friend, Skip, and I met up in Florence, Italy with our squeezes. Skip was supposed to stop in Amsterdam and pick up our musical gear. But upon meeting him in Florence, he tells me it wasn’t there!
Holy shit! I had my gear custom made for the trip. 18″ speaker encased in 24 ply Swedish wood. And an amp of whose manufacture I can’t remember.
We grabbed our Eurail Passes, left the women, and jumped the train to Amsterdam. Skip wanted to bring some hashish along in his ruck sack but I told him no. We’d be going through several countries and there are lots of police jumping on and off the train looking for drugs….especially from Hippie looking guys like us.
We found a compartment full of people and they made room for us. That evening, as we passed through Germany, the Gestapo crashed into our compartment with automatic weapons and sneers…and a desire to send me to Buchenwald. The leader immediately pointed at Skip and yelled, “HASHISH! HASHISH!!”
We all stood up and Skip shook his head no. The leader used his FMC to point up to the rack above our heads used for storage, and specifically at Skip’s ruck sack. Skip grabbed it and brought it down. The leader screamed in German for him to open it. (I took 2 years of high school German).
Skip carried a high school 3 ring binder with one of those zippered pouches for carrying pencils and erasers. It was milky opaque but you could see everything in it….and in it, was a nice big, hash pipe… with hash in it….not even wrapped in foil or anything to conceal it.
We are all standing in the compartment like a Marx Bros movie. Can’t move. But I’m swinging my arms thinking we are going to German prison.
The leader points at the folder gesturing to open things. My arms are flapping hard enough that if there was an air current, I could attain lift off. Right in front of my eyes, with the Gestapo leader watching intently, Skip grabs the hash out of the floppy container and puts it in his back pocket.
I’m ready to pass out. All I could think of was the move, “Midnight Express.” And how I would be some Turk’s bitch.
And with a “whoosh”, the German Polizei leaves the compartment and left it as when they arrived. No one was rushed to jail.
We all stood there staring at Skip in horror. What just happened? He removed hidden hashish, not 12″ from the SS leader, and the SS didn’t see it.
HE DIDN’T SEE IT!!
Skip reaches around to his back pocket and brings out the pipe with a shit eatin’ grin on his face.
I snatch the pipe away, open the moving train’s window, and toss it. Skip screeches in horror. “Are you fucking insane?” I ask him.
Everyone sits down with a huge sigh.
I glare at Skip the rest of the trip.
We change trains and it’s packed to the gills. Not a single place to sit. We stand in the corridor for hours before Skip ventures towards the area between the trains and plops himself down on the moving platform where there is a thunderous noise.
The train stops again and we have to transfer. We find a car with no one in it and grab a seat. Just before the train leaves, a conductor asks us if we know we are on a train heading for East Berlin?
We run to the right train and, again, must stand. The train brings us into Amsterdam about 18 hours after we departed. No sleep. No food. Hardly any money.
We head to the train storage area and, there, in the middle of the room, is our fucking equipment. Just as pristine as we left it. I look at Skip like the next movement from me is to strangle him.
He is now flapping his wings and puffing out un-intelligible sounds. I am so pissed. We grab some food before we head back to Florence an hour later. We figure that someone who worked in the storage facility “borrowed” our shit and had some fun. But managed to get it back in time for this trip.
Skip wants to go to the Paradiso Club to buy more hash. I do all but karate chop him in the neck.
The trip back to Florence is uneventful other than the fact that Skip now has a bad cold and sits the entire journey between cars with snot hanging from his sagging head to the floor. I, on the other hand, stand for about 16 hours.
It’s funny now….sort of.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS