Illusione 88 Candela | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Candela
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5 x 52 “Robusto”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $8.80 MSRP
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In keeping with the St. Patrick’s Day theme, this is the third Candela I have reviewed this week. The first was the Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan which I found to be lacking. And the second was the La Flor Dominicana Double Claro which was an excellent cigar.
Back in July of 2013, I reviewed the Illusione 888 Claro.

Illusione makes three versions of the claro cigar: 88 Candela, 888 Claro, and the hl.
The 88 is made in one size only: 5 x 52.

As I am a big fan of Dion Giolito and Illusione blends, I have high expectations.

Construction goes from good to dicey. The thing that I liked about the LFD Candela was that a thicker wrapper was used.

This is very thin and shows off every imperfection. Seams are good but not excellent. One vein looks like a post mortem chest scar. The triple caps are done well but easily seen and counted. The wrapper feels sandy and smooth depending on the area touched.

And this is the only one of the three reviewed in which the wrapper has a slight oily sheen.

I clip the cap and find aromas of spice, sweetness, creaminess, grass, and floral notes.
Time to light up.

The first puffs are meaty and spicy. Like me. A wonderful creaminess shows up immediately. And there is no sign of the grassy flavor so many candelas have. This is very much an Illusione blend with signs of cocoa, sweetness, heavy cream, cedar, nuts, and fruit.
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The black pepper sees no end in its forward momentum as the cigar becomes a pepper bomb. Now, I liked the LFD candela very much. But it didn’t start out with a bang like the Illusione does. The flavor profile is so intense that in a blind taste test I don’t think I’d catch the candela wrapper as being part of the cigar.

I checked around and most online stores sell a single for a buck less than MSRP and $6 a stick by the box of 25.

This cigar has not passed the half inch mark and it is a spectacular flavor bomb. The creaminess is, by far, the most potent flavor in line.

The char line is a bit wavy but I intend to leave it alone.
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The sweetness has a little indescribable oomph to it. It is not honey. And since I have not consumed concentrated sugar in over 30 years, I am having trouble placing it. If my memory serves me right, I taste a light brown sugar. That’s it. I’m sure.
The second third begins.

The flavors are just explosive and well defined. The balance is great. And the finish is long. Lip smacking good.

At this point, I cannot tell what the influence the candela wrapper is having on the stick’s flavor profile. Maybe making it sweeter?
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The cigar continues to see the creaminess and sweetness levels taking me higher. The spice has moved to middle ground. Cocoa…the same place.

So far, the char line remains wavy but never out of control and I haven’t felt the need to touch it up.

I cut back the cap the smallest amount possible because being a chomper on a green wrapper is ugly.

At the halfway point, I detect peanuts. I smoked one last night to see its readiness for review and I tasted the same element. This gives the cigar a whole new twist. The peanut flavor moves up to third behind the creaminess and sweetness.

By the box, pricing is great. By the single, too much. A 5 pack only brings the price down a buck each.

I want to thank Atlantic Cigars. Good guys.
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If you join their VIP Club, you don’t have to go to Cbid or cigarauctioneer.com any longer. There is that much impact on the pricing on most cigars. Anything brand new or cutting edge; not so much.

The last third begins. Strength has been medium bodied to this point. Now it has reached medium/full.

Flavor profiles have not changed. There is not a big list of flavors but then this cigar is very complete without a kitchen sink list.

Here are the flavors, in order: Creaminess, sweetness, brown sugar, peanuts, cocoa, spice, and a bit of wood.

I am truly enjoying this cigar and make the claim of the three candelas reviewed this week, this is the best one; with the LFD a close second and the Filthy Hooligan a distant third.
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With less than a couple inches to go and the strength at medium/full, I detect not a sign of nicotine kick. It is smooth and delightful. This stick also debunks the myth that all candelas are mild in body…turning off a lot of serious cigar smokers.

With a little bit to go, the flavors make one last push to impress me. Every flavor is bolder. I finally get to the point where the char line needs a little help. No big deal.

I highly recommend this cigar. Flavorful, full of character and nuance and a very nice balance. Even so, the cigar doesn’t reach a deep complexity. I don’t mind that at all. The exuberant flavor profile more than makes up for that.

It finishes out cool and without a bit of harshness. Only the slightest bit of nicotine shows itself.
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And now for something almost completely different:

From Wikipedia:
“Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”) is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated annually on 17 March, the death date of the most commonly-recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461).
Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe, and the wearing of green attire or
shamrocks. Christians also attend church services, and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.”

The band was scheduled to tour Ireland back in 1975. Things were really bad between the British government and the IRA. The winter of 1974 saw a bombing in downtown London every day for 14 days during the Christmas holiday. It was the scariest thing possible. Bombs were placed in trash bins and if you happened to walk by one when it went off, well bye-bye.

This following incident will stick with me til the day I die.

I had left Curved Air. This guy contacted me telling me he was associated with Ringo Starr and he was putting a band together and would rehearse in L.A. And Ringo wanted me as his bassist.

The guy’s name was very familiar. But I just couldn’t place it.

Our first meeting was to take place at the London Hilton lobby at 1pm on a Monday. But that meeting never happened. Exactly 24 hours before, to the hour, a huge bomb went off in the Hilton lobby killing dozens of people. I was in shock. For the grace of God, I could have been there.

A week passed and this guy was giving me excuses about meeting with Ringo. He told me that he was a member of the English band, “Badfinger.” These guys were big for a while but had broken up before this guy contacted me.

I went to record stores trying to find Badfinger records but they were out of print. I couldn’t verify this guy.

So I made a bold move and called Apple Records and asked to speak to Derek Taylor. He was their press agent and the press agent for the entire time the Beatles were together. Everyone knew who this guy was.

Derek took my call and I asked about this guy. Derek said this guy was never in Badfinger. And then we chatted. He told me some inside Beatles stories and I was on Cloud 9.

I had been had.

I got on the phone with this guy and called him a fraud and it was the last time we spoke.

A month later, I was looking at the back of the Curved Air “Live” album and noticed something. Down at the bottom were credits. And here was this guy’s name as a production assistant. The fucking fraud!

The music business is everything you think it is. Corrupt and full of bull shitters.

It was for that reason that at the age of 34, I gave it up and threw in the towel. I went back into commercial construction.

I was no longer in big time music biz but I continues to play in bands that played out to make some extra dough right up until a couple of years ago until the damage caused by my skydiving accident took its toll and I could no longer hold my heavy bass for four sets a night.

It was a great ride.

A short anecdote….Once our daughter was in grade school, she loved telling her teachers that I played with Eric Clapton. I have no idea where that came from and was totally untrue. I never even met the man.

So it was really uncomfortable during teacher/parent meetings when the teacher gushed over me because of what Katie told her. It didn’t matter that I got to play with some of the greatest rock musicians of all time…I didn’t play with Eric Clapton.

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