Illusione ~eccj~ 20th | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo ‘98, Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99
Size: 6.25 x 48 “Corona Extra”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $13.00
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Today we take a look at the new Illusione ~eccj~ 20th.

It made its debut at the 2014 IPCPR trade show.
It was released in January of this year.
The cigar comes in one size only.

The cigar is produced at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua. Only 30,000 cigars were made. And come in boxes of 15.

The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th is a rough looking stick. Seams are funky. Loads of veins. But as I visually inspect all 5 sticks, I see a great inconsistency in the construction. I chose the best looking one for this review.

The wrapper is a chestnut golden brown with some nice oiliness and feels very smooth.

I clip the cap and find aromas of barnyard, citrus, peanuts, leather, cocoa, wood, and coffee.
Time to light up.

The draw is very good. Sweetness first and then a blast of pepper. Each puff brings a new flavor to the table: cocoa, coffee, leather, nuts, floral notes, herbal notes, green tea, and earthy tobacco. Pretty impressive for the first couple of minutes after lighting a cigar.
There is a hay element as well.

I found out that Giolito had to recall about a one fifth of the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th produced due to complaints about construction. Mine look funky but no serious structural problems.

Strength is medium body.

The sweetness is a combo of syrupy and fruity components.
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Half an inch in, in the words of my hero Moe Howard, the cigar says: “Spread out!!!”

The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th is very close to hitting complex mode.

The coffee and wood elements co-exist with the spiciness and creaminess nicely. There is a marzipan flavor that is subtle and intoxicating. The citrus started out as lemony but changes up to orange citrus. This is most definitely a kitchen sink blend. It’s also a Nic puro which allows for a compendium of flavors to drip over the pot and run down my leg.
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The cigar is excellent so quickly that has really surprised me. This is the first one I smoked. And had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th is similar to the Illusione Epernay. But then all Illusione blends have a single thread running through them that is sort of a trademark for Dion Giolito. You can recognize the taste of an Illusione a mile away. It should be called the Illusione Twang.

I admire blenders that strive to keep some similarity in all their blends. It is like a good rock band that has their “Sound.” Illusione has its “sound.” Just like the Eddie Ortega blends. All different but that singular thread runs through his blends as well.

The sky is very overcast. The sun should have been out by now. This cigar band has the dreaded shiny white background and shiny, tiny gold lettering. I’m having a bitch of a time getting a photo in which the whole thing isn’t washed out.

A caramel sweetness arrives after burning a bit over 1”.
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I check the weather forecast and it says sun at 9am. That is 33 minutes away. Drat. Time to write the after review story and come back to the review when the sun is out.
They lied. No sun.

On with the review. As you can see in some of the photos, there are some wrapper issues. I tried to pick the best of the lot but I picked wrong.
I notified Andrew at SBC and he is replacing them. A real mensch.

The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th is extremely flavorful. I’ve burned 1-1/2” and it is gearing up for something.
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The chocolate and creaminess and the caramel and fruit are working together as a team. Vanilla enters. The cigar tastes like a chocolate Twinkie now. The vanilla and creaminess give off that super sweet cake taste that enslaves people to Twinkies.
twinkie

The strength remains at medium body.

The nuttiness enters and becomes a peanut butter element. We are beginning to go Elvis with the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th. All we need is some banana and two pounds of butter.

The char line, which has been pretty good up til now, needs a big touch up.

The second third begins.

I can’t get the Twinkie image out of my head.

The wrapper issues are worsening. Most are near the foot and I hope to burn through them.
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I found a photo online that nails that flavors. See below.
smoothie

I’m getting some cinnamon now as the spiciness begins to exit.

And now the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th shifts again. I can taste a touch of maple syrup. Or maybe more like those maple doughnuts.
Maple-Bar

The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th has turned out to be a very interesting flavorful cigar but a disappointment at the same time because of construction issues.
The price point. $13.00 is a lot of dough for a single cigar. You can buy 50 Quorums for that. Granted, the price drops if bought at Small Batch Cigar, to $11.00. Is the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th worth $13 or even $11? This is a unique blend. No BS there.

I just don’t get the limited edition greed factor. You know that any number of good blenders can produce a similar cigar for a lot less. The fact that only 30,000 cigars hit the shelves in January and here it is March and you can still buy them says something. I bought a 5 pack because Giolito ain’t sending me no samples. And I have to stay as current as possible.

The problem with the wrapper is of great concern. A $13 stick should be better than outstanding. And this stick is folding like a cheap suit on me. So I guess you know where I’m going with this. This is a real shame. Buying cigars on my budget makes each purchase an important one.

Flavors are cruising: Creaminess, cocoa, peanuts, vanilla, caramel, wood, leather, cinnamon, maple, spice, and coffee. The blend is perfect. The construction ain’t.

I’m now burning through the fucked up wrapper.
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One of the wrapper cracks is just above the cigar band. Once I remove it, I might be able to glue it.

I shouldn’t have to spend half my review pissing and moaning about the construction of an expensive cigar. I should be fawning over it and singing its praises. So you naysayers out there who think I only go overboard, here is a perfect example of me telling you the truth from a different point of view.

The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th moves to medium/full.

A big chunk of wrapper comes off at the cap exposing the binder. Jesus Alou.
The irony of this is that I picked the best looking stick of the bunch.

I reach the halfway point.

I’m guessing that there is a real possibility all of my sticks are like this one.
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If the price point were different, I might have a different attitude. But at this price, there is no way I can recommend the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th.

The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th tastes so good. I’m really bummed out. The flavor combination is very unique and oh so interesting. The experienced palate will really enjoy this blend.

Small Batch Cigar is one of the last online stores to carry the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th. And if you want to at least taste it before they are gone then you better strike now because SBC only has three 5 packs and three boxes left.
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The flavor profile makes a quantum leap with 2-1/2” to go. This blend oozes great instruments of flavor.

The last third begins.

The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th moves to full body with a dose of nicotine.
Flavors continue to be true and delicious.

Meanwhile, the cigar is coming apart in front of me.

The last 1-1/2” sees the spiciness return in spades. My tongue burns.

This was a very frustrating experience. On the back side of the cigar, it looks like a disaster. On the other side, it looks perfect.
Flavor wise, this is a superb blend. Construction wise, a total flop.
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And now for something completely different:

Status of my new bass.
This will be probably be only interesting to my fellow musicians.

I’ve been trying to get a hold of ESP, the company that makes my bass. And after a few days they got back to me.

I also phoned 6 String. They are the guitar shop that is the biggest seller of ESP guitars and basses and is just north of L.A. where ESP is located.
ESP is lame in that they don’t provide a user manual with the bass. You have to go online to their web site and open up a generic manual for both guitars and basses.

I have 5 control knobs on my bass. The user manual is out of date and doesn’t show anything with more than 4 knobs. And I don’t have a clue what they do.

I’ve always owned passive basses. That means no active electronics.
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This bass is both. So there is a 9 Volt battery in the back of the bass.

It turns out that the two big knobs on top are volume control and balance control between both pickups.
The bottom three knobs are bass boost, mid boost, and treble boost.

Once I had that info, I got the bass to sound how I like it.

The other thing that confused me is that the bass has round wound strings. You never put those on a fretless. It is too top heavy on the treble. Round wounds are good for slapping. Flat wounds are what are needed. They give you a mellower, deeper tone. And you get the “growl” of an upright.

I called 6 String and I had a good tech that explained things to me. Things have changed a lot since the last time I bought bass strings.
I had no idea what to buy because there are a gazillion options.

I decided on getting the D’Addario ECB82 Chromes Bass Guitar Strings, Medium, 50-105, Long Scale.
strings

This means the strings will be too long but I can cut the top end off because you should never have to wrap the string more than three times around the tuning peg.

The 50-105 is the gauge of the four strings. Starts at .50 for the G string and goes up to .105 for the E string. This is referred to as medium scale gauge.

My Line 6 combo amp took a shit and died. Now all I have left is my Rampage 30 watt practice amp. So I can still practice and hear the bass.

I’m working on understanding the neck. Because they are new strings, they continue to stretch and go out of tune.
But as the days go by, that happens less and less.

With the strings perfectly in tune, I can close my eyes and play. With a fretless, it’s all about the ear. Frets are inconsequential especially if they are fake embedded ones like mine.

Another couple weeks and I should have it down pat. There is a real learning curve with a new axe and even more so with a fretless.

I’m now going to save up for a decent rig to play out of. Used, of course.

And then I will seek out a band minus a tyrant band leader.

And so goes the saga of your Uncle Katman’s bass adventure.

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