Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero (Esteli & Jalapa)
Size: 5.5 x 56 “Gordo”
Today we take a look at the Illusione Ultra OP No. 9 Toro.
This is a regular production cigar. The original was launched in 2010. And the box press was launched in 2011.
The cigar is made at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras.
If ever a cigar looked like a chocolate candy bar, this is the one. It is a crisply performed box press. Invisible veins. And few veins. The wrapper is light brown with a reddish tinge in the sunlight. One side is silky smooth while the other is toothy. And to finish it off, a superbly applied triple cap.
There are four sizes:
OP No. 1 Double Corona 6.75 x 56 $12.00
OP No. 4 Robusto 4.75 x 48 $10.00
OP No. 7 Parejo Gordo 6.6 x 58 $12.50
OP No. 9 Toro 5.5 x 56 $11.50
I clip the cap and immediately find aromas of floral notes; orange blossoms to be exact, barnyard, small bits of cocoa and coffee, spice, leather, cedar, and some fruity sweetness.
Time to light up.
After yesterday’s debacle with the cold affecting the wrapper’s integrity, my fingers are crossed today because I only have the one stick.
The draw is good on this monster. The first puffs have a sweetness to them. It is super toasty. But no spice yet. It quickly grabs a hold of my palate and provides a nice long finish of chocolate, coffee, and savory components. Very meaty.
The more I puff away, the more definitive the flavor profile becomes.
Here they are: Sweetness, dark baking cocoa, savory, earthy tobacco, wood, and some exotic spices. The sweetness reminds me of caramelized sugar you find on top of fancy desserts. There is also a hint of black licorice. Nice.
The cigar burns at a glacial rate. This will be my first 40,000 word review. I just don’t know when to shut up. I see heads bobbing up and down out there in agreement.
The black licorice goes from a faint flavor to an instrumental one that is directing the course of the flavor profile. It moves ahead of the cocoa and savory-ness.
I got an email from an old friend who works for Miles Copeland in London. He used to make sure I got my royalties. When he left the company, they began to screw me out of what was due me and only sent me the royalties from German sales of the CD. Is that ridiculous or what?
Anyway, new management has settled in at Miles Copeland and there seems to be hope now. This is the email from buddy Nick Berry:
Greetings. This is Nick Berry writing in from London – I’m sure you remember we corresponded a few years ago with regard to royalties payable by BTM Records. It’s a few years since I’ve worked with them but I hope they are looking after you.
“I have recently been approached by Curved Air’s new management who tell me are in receipt of royalties due to you and are accordingly keen to make contact. May I pass on your contact details, or would you prefer to reach out directly?
My fingers are crossed that they are going to come across with all the back money they owe me. That would be wonderful. Believe it or not, the few Curved Air albums I played on still sell today. A lot of them.
I told Charlotte on New Year’s Eve that 2015 would be our year to take us back to normalcy. The last 15 years have been sort of cruel to us. But so far, things are falling into place and all of them positive.
Back to the Illusione Ultra OP No. 9 Toro. I’ve reached the 1” mark and it’s only taken 13 minutes to do so. I may be here all day.
I get my first taste of black pepper. This is by no means any sort of flavor bomb. Flavors are subtle and nuanced. A slow roll.
Flavors begin to blossom big time. There is that smoky meatiness again. Black cherry. Black licorice, dark chocolate, espresso, cedar, exotic spice, black pepper, wood, leather, earthiness, and orange blossom wafts in the air.
The strength is a hefty medium/full now.
It took a full third of the Illusione Ultra OP No. 9 Toro to ramp up.
The char line ain’t too pretty. And needs occasional touch ups.
The price point. The sheer size and beautiful construction might warrant the $11.50.
But Small Batch Cigar sells them in 5 packs for $43.00. That’s $8.60 each. Minus the 10% coupon code and you have them for $7.74. That’s a huge marginal difference. This is where you should buy them. You won’t find them cheaper anywhere. It also means you can buy the equivalent of a 20 count box for $155 instead of the retail of $230. Although, most places sell a box for around $210. That’s a massive savings.
SBC has the OP No. 1, OP No. 4, and OP No. 9. But only 2, 4, and 3 left in the same order.
I wouldn’t pay $11.50 for the Illusione Ultra OP No. 9 Toro. Why? The crappy char line. Granted, I only have one cigar to judge it by. But it also doesn’t have a kick ass flavor profile. But for $7.74? Hell, yeah. And I’d take my chances that this burn line issue is a fluke.
It is a very, very pleasant cigar. Flavors are well-rounded, balanced, and have a nice long finish. The black pepper has risen to the occasion. I like that. I’ve reviewed a lot of Illusione blends. And I’ve found them to be hit or miss. Some are fantastic and others are like this one: So so. The Illusione Ultra OP No. 9 Toro should be in the $7-$8 range. Not the $11-$12 range.
I’m very miffed from constantly fixing the burn line. Although, I have to hand it to the wrapper. It stood up well. The cap too.
The flavor profile takes another leap forward. Everything I listed earlier is still there but more potent now.
The strength hits full bodied +.
I grab the crash helmet.
While writing this review, I checked my emails and the company now dealing with Curved Air’s royalties got back to me in a flash.
They confirmed I was cheated out of a lot of dough. And it was Sonja’s fault as the record companies were giving her the money and allowing her to deal out the money to the band members as she saw fit.
So the bitch fucked me.
NOTE: 2 hours later. I received an update now saying that Sonja did not cheat me. They sent me the royalty statement going back to April, 2011. It is a total of £299.80, That’s $451.30. The statement is written on Universal Music UK stationery. Yeah, Universal Studios didn’t get the nick name of the Black Tower for no reason. They cheated me while in the band and they continue to do so now. Why would a record company give the rights to a band member to distribute the money to the band members? That just cannot be legal. And considering what I’ve written about her in the past, I’m lucky I saw anything at all.
Meanwhile, all the albums I played on 40 years ago are still selling big time all over the world. Ahhh…show biz. LOL
The damn burn line will not burn evenly! I feel as though I’ve burned half the cigar away in order to keep the char line even. This just ain’t right. But again, I could have gotten a bum cigar. Without more to compare it to, I just won’t know. I guess I’m going to have to snag some from SBC and find out.
I stop writing and pull the trigger on a 5 pack from Small Batch Cigar. But this time, I snag the OP No. 4 Robusto 4.75 x 48 $10.00 which SBC sells in 5 packs for $35.00. After free shipping and my coupon code, it comes out to $31.50 or $6.30 per stick.
I think that the Robusto will have a different tale to tell.
I want to, once more, thank Andrew of SBC for allowing me to kiss and make up. He is a good guy.
Creaminess appears for the first time. It boosts the other flavors. The licorice is gone. The exotic spice element is gone. What we have left is chocolate, coffee, smoky meat, wood, sweetness, black cherry, floral notes, and cedar.
Once I receive the Robustos from SBC and give them a chance to rest, I will return to this review and update you.
The last third is definitely the sweet spot. It has passed from being a pleasant smoke to an excellent smoke. Flavors have diminished in quantity but what is left is screaming laughter.
I think that the Illusione Ultra OP No. 9 Toro is worth your time in spite of the burn issues I had. But not at $11.50. Despite the burn issue, the rest of the construction was outstanding.
And while I feel like I’m spinning in my chair from the strength of the cigar, I’m having a good time.
The Illusione Ultra OP No. 9 Toro finishes out nicely. Smooth is the secret word on this. The flavor profile was interesting. But I think a smaller size will have a more intense profile. And I like the presence of black pepper that stays at the same level throughout most of the cigar.
Tell Andrew at SBC that the Katman sent you.
And now for something completely different:
Now this story is for you musicians out there. I am a bass player. You know that.
Back around 1972-1973, I discovered the great bassist, Stanley Clarke. This man turned the bass over, under, sideways, down. He even had a piccolo bass made for him so that he could play lead line. I wasn’t a fan of that style. Leave that to the guitarists. In fact, I’m not a fan of bassists that think they are the lead guitarists. I’ve seen bands play where the bassist just dominates like Germany taking over the Sudetenland. I look at the bass the way the Funk Brothers did back in the heyday of Motown. Lots of groove, in the pocket, and interesting, solid riffs. That’s me. I’m a solid, in the pocket bassist. I can take off if I have to but I prefer to work hard in conjunction with the percussionist. Tower of Power is one of my favorite rhythm sections.
I became a bassist because I like that huge punch to the gut that a good bass and amp rig will give you.
As a kid in junior high school, I’d go to the Friday night dances and just stand right at the front of the band stand staring at the bassist. I loved the way the low notes slammed into my chest. I was born to be a bassist.
But Stanley was the first one since Jack Bruce (Cream) and before him, McCartney, taught me things. His attack was different than anyone on the scene at that time.
He was my hero.
Playing like him was a bitch. Back then, if you wanted to hear a bass line clearly, you had to slow the record down. That’s what we all did back in the analog age.
Stanley would play 64th notes on his bass. 4/4 is standard rock n roll. 1-2-3-4. That’s a rock beat. 4 beats to the measure.
Clarke could play 64 notes in the same time it took you to count to 4. Yeah. Nuts.
In 1979, I found out that Clarke was at St. Mary’s Hospital, in Long Beach, having his appendix removed. One of my best friends was a surgical tech and was in the operating room. He also would visit Clarke in his room to talk music. Even though my buddy was a lowly clarinet player.
He asked a favor of Clarke. He asked him to call me and say hello. Apparently, Clarke is a very nice guy and agreed.
At that very moment, my girlfriend told me we needed something from the market. It was around 7-8pm. I got my lazy ass of the couch and slipped some shoes on and left.
Two minutes later….Yep, you guessed it. Clarke called. My girlfriend spoke with him for 10 fucking minutes!!!!
When I got home, the bitch said to me, “Guess who just called?”
Stanley never called back.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS