Illusione OneOff | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.375 x 46 Corona Gorda
Strength: Medium
Price: $14.95 MSRP

Today we take a look at the Illusione OneOff.

Released: June 2018
Regular Production
“Originally launched in the early 2000s by Andrea Molinari, who operated the Cigair lounge and restaurant in Milan, Italy. OneOff was born out of an attempt to get a cigar brand of his own made in Cuba. After exhausting seemingly every possible avenue, Molinari eventually turned his attention elsewhere, eventually connecting with the Plasencia family to create his cigar at the Segovia Cigars S.A. factory—now known as Plasencia Cigars S.A.—in Nicaragua.

“The cigar became iconic for its simple packaging and banding, an orange-ish piece of paper bearing simply an off-white peace symbol, with the boxes plain and bearing the same symbol on a sticker with the word ONEOFF printed beneath it.

“From its launch until 2004, U.S. distribution of the line was handled by Felipe Gregorio Cigars Inc., until it was transferred to Paul Giacalone in 2004. Eventually, the line would end up in the hands of Cuban Crafters, the Miami-based retailer also known for its humidors and cutters, before being acquired by its current owner, Dion Giolito of Illusione.

“Giolito purchased the line from Cuban Crafters in 2017, though he also tried to acquire the trademark in 2011 before ultimately abandoning that particular effort.

“While the relaunched OneOff line will still be made at Nicaragua, it now comes out of the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory, using all Nicaragua-grown tobacco from AGANORSA. Giolito knew Molinari “on occasion” and said he understood his vision for the cigar, which formed the basis for the relaunch of the brand. “I took that same ideology, or the spirit of what he wanted to create,” said Giolito, adding that he was able to add his fingerprint to the relaunched brand based on the tobaccos available to him.

“At the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Giolito said that +53 Super Robusto is “a little different” than the others, though declined to go into any specifics. Shipping for that size is slated to begin in August.”

Canonazo 6.125 x 52 $16.95
Cartuchos 3.875 x 52 $11.95
Corona 5.5 x 42 $12.95
Corona Gorda 5.375 x 46 $14.95
Julieta 7 x 47 $17.95
Pyramides 6.125 x 52 $16.95
Robusto 4.875 x 50 $14.95
+53 Super Robusto 5.75 x 48 $30.00

An oily cinnamon/ginger colored wrapper full of tooth makes for a pretty cigar. Seams are hidden. But oh those veins. They look like Richard Nixon’s legs when he had phlebitis. I must assume there is a triple cap condition at hand because the striations designating each cap are indistinguishable. The peace symbol on the cigar band takes me back to my younger years. I missed Woodstock but I did see Strawberry Alarm Clock at Recreation Park in Long Beach, Ca. Literally, tens of people showed up.

From the shaft, I can smell super sweet things running amok among the savory. There is deep floral notes, caramel and vanilla toffee, café au lait, dark cocoa, sweet tea…and for the savory side of the blend: Malt, nuts, black pepper, cream, cedar, and barnyard.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell all of the above.

The cold draw presents flavors of bubblegum, cocoa, coffee, cedar, barnyard, caramel, floral notes, and sweet tea.

Welcome to the aftermath of the 2018 IPCPR trade show. Step up everyone and lay down the paperwork for your second mortgage. Every cigar is guaranteed to be in the mid double digit pricing arena. Every year, prices go up exponentially. Wages don’t go up for the folks who are farmers and cigar makers. The cost of tobacco is always in flux as is it is every year. But wait…it’s the PR machine in full bore. The fancy boxes. The brand new 2018 cigar bands that look like the old whorehouse sized Gurkha bands of the mid 2000’s. And plain bloody greed.

I must honestly admit that there are plenty of manufacturers that take no pleasure in raping their customers’ wallets. Kudos to them. But for the rest of you greed mongers, Ptooey!

I just reviewed a Bespoke cigar blend that is the exact same price as this OneOff. And it received a 100 rating. Perfect blend.
Therefore, I am allowed to assume that this Illusione blend will knock my socks off with brilliance and passion. Let’s see.

I skimmed a few reviews and the consensus seems to be lots of disappointment and partial joy. All that hogwash about the history of this blend and name don’t mean squat once I light this cigar.

The draw is awfully tight. Big plug near the cap. I use my PerfecDraw cigar poker tool to ream its innards. I puff again and it’s still not as clear as I prefer. Once again, I ream the cigar. Now, finally, it is smokable. So right off the bat, it has construction/roller issues. Nicht gut. I had a second cigar that I smoked a couple weeks ago and it had the same exact issue with the draw. At least it’s consistent.

Flavors don’t mess around. They get to work in the salt mines immediately. Doughnut holes of black pepper, malt, chocolate, espresso, salted nuts, cedar, and assorted unidentified sweet things pop in and out.

There is a distinct hay element I’m not fond of. This normally occurs when a cigar has not aged to the point of attaining the blender’s intent. I’ve had my sticks for around 6-7 weeks. Ask any cigar manufacturer (And I have)…and they all tell you their blends are ready to smoke in 2-3 weeks.

Sometimes I wonder what planet they live on. I get sent samples and a week later I get an email asking why I haven’t reviewed their product yet? I just smile, write a polite email, and put the cigar at the end of my review list.
Strength is a mild medium.

No complexity shown at the 1” mark. Transitions are minimal. The finish doesn’t exist in this time zone.
It’s not bad…but for $15, I expect my testicles to fly out of my asshole and knit a sweater.
The $14 Bespoke Gran Mareva Gold I just reviewed exploded from the very beginning. The Illusione OneOff is taking its time. I’m not getting any sort of blender’s passion showing up at this time. I will check back tomorrow.

The burn is not razor sharp which coincides with the several plugs I went to battle with. A $15 cigar should not have construction issues.
At this juncture, I would equate the Illusione OneOff as a good $7 cigar. Expecting not much at the start but definitely expecting to see the second half take off.
The burn is totally unacceptable.

I was concerned that I might be reviewing this cigar too soon. But then there is a whole bevy of cigar reviews for this cigar online. Unless they received their lot months ago, which is not usually the case for Illusione, they got their sticks around the same time I did. So is it “I want to be the first on my block to review this new cigar”….or is it that we all got fooled again. No fucking idea. Oddly, the first stick I smoked a couple weeks ago was better than this second stick. The wonders of nature and coffee enemas.

Smoke time is 20 minutes.

The char line won’t cooperate. I have half a mind not to correct it so you can see what a finely constructed $15 cigar should look like when #3 rollers are used so as to facilitate the profit margin. Fuck the #9 rollers. They cost too much. But if I don’t fix the burn line, the cigar will disassemble like a bad bowl of Russian borscht.

Flavors are minimal. There is low lying fruit of creaminess, malts, chocolate, nuts, cedar, and coffee.
Strength is now a solid medium.

If I had found zero reviews of this cigar, I would have waited. But I found more than a dozen reviews so I assumed it was safe to put pen to paper. Or claws to keyboard.

Supertramp is playing. Back in the late 70’s, I got invited to their rented Beverly Hills house they used to rehearse and live in prior to kicking off their tour in L.A. Good guys and they showed me their rehearsal space. I was invited to jam. I picked up the bassist’s Fender P and we played for 30 minutes. But this fucked up expensive house had a low ceiling in the rehearsal room. As I removed the bass from my person, I slammed the headstock into the ceiling and cracked the neck. Oops. My backstage passes never materialized.

I’m killing time waiting on the Illusione OneOff to take off and for me to be seriously impressed.

I detect some very warm flavors that include creaminess, chocolate, caramel, malts, cedar, nuts, vanilla, and a hint of black pepper.

That’s what is missing….pizazz! I need some spice in my cigars to liven things up. This blend chose not to be blessed with a touch of the wild side. The lack of some zest leaves the blend wanting for some decent interaction.

I must admit that I’d be taking a different approach if this were a $7 stick. But when each size is $12.00-$30.00, I expect fireworks. Instead, I’m getting wet liver and onions.

Hopefully, the cigar shines in the second half.
Complexity took the morning off. Transitions are moving like the 405 freeway in L.A. at 3:00pm. The finish is short and uninspired.

I’m really bummed out, folks. After reading some good reviews and some highly critical reviews, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But when the pendulum swings so erratically, something is wrong.

Could be as simple as every reviewer, including me, jumping the gun. Could be this blend needs 8 months of humidor time. Just once I’d like to see a cigar manufacturer inform its customer base about the length of humi aging their cigars need to achieve what the blender had intended you to experience. But none of them do this so they can sell as many cigars as possible. No balls and no respect for their customers. Fear of the bottom line runs amok.

Halfway point arrives and guess what? Sho’ ‘nuff…the blend moves into premium territory. Complexity arrives swinging its arms yelling, “I’m here, I’m here…I missed the #4 bus and I was mugged and then I got loaded and forgot where I was supposed to be.”

Strangely, the transitions don’t make that same move. The finish is on the cusp of being a tepid baby’s bath.

C’mon. Man up, OneOff.

I love to gush about a great cigar. I dislike writing a review like this one.

Illusione is a mainstay of the cigar industry and they have produced some monster blends….just not this one. All the brouhaha over this release made it clear from the start, in my mind, that it went so overboard that it is drowning in its own PR.
If you decide to spend your month’s mortgage on a box, put it away and forget about it til Valentine’s Day.

The damn cigar just won’t kick in. We all want something new from Illusione to be spectacular. Maybe it is. Maybe I have the dreaded palate disease called Palatitis Interruptus. Maybe it releases all the goodies at some point in the future. Where is my Hoverboard?

If I had blind taste tested this cigar, I’d say it was a good knockaround cigar. Not complex. Limited in its transitions. The balance is nothing to write home about. It’s smooth with a medium strength. And the finish is embarrassingly missing. Where is the chewiness? Where is the bridge?

At the very moment I write that last sentence, Zep is on playing “Kashmir.” Page and Plant have made no secret that this was their favorite LZ song.

The cigar goes out.

If a blend isn’t Jiffy Popping by the second half, all is lost.

There is no way to avoid the fact that this is a $15 cigar. So was the Bespoke I just reviewed and they are light years apart in quality and passion. What a bloody shame.

The cigars were a gift from a reader and now I have to write him and apologize. He was kind enough to spend the nutty amount of shekels on these cigars and then I go ahead and diss the blend. My bad.

I spent an afternoon at my local B&M, Havana Lounge and Cigar, on Thursday. Matt Booth just happened to show up to talk to Tyler and discuss carrying some new stuff. That was interesting as the place was fairly empty mid-afternoon; so it was just us. Booth gave me one cigar. I kissed his ring while kneeling at his feet.

Tick tock…Did everyone jump the gun on this blend? And why? Illusione is one of my all time favorite blenders. Since Dion has never responded to any of my messages or emails, I guess I don’t have to worry about being taken off his Xmas card list. Still, I do have enormous respect for the dude.

Smoke time is an excruciating one hour.

I’d love to provide a laundry list of flavors but no tickie, no washy.
If this was an inexpensive cigar, I’d have put it down by now. But darn it, I’m going to finish it even if I have to bitch slap Sammy afterwards.
There is an uptick in the blend’s complexity at this point. Transitions begin to flow slowly. The finish arrives with 2-3 chewy flavors.

I had to stop writing and re-check the other reviews. There is a whole lotta love out there for this blend. It’s like we are smoking completely different cigars. I did notice that a couple reviews mentioned they never take into account the price point of a cigar when reviewing it. Wrong. If I smoke an $18 cigar, I want fireworks. I want a pearl necklace on the top of my toupee. I want my Depends to fill with joy and corn. I want to be transported to another time in an alternate reality. And I want to have a good time.

OK. I must be wrong about this cigar. Most reviewers love it. I don’t. I gotta remember never to eat peyote before reviewing a cigar ever again.

1-1/2” to go and we have manna from the gods. Sonovabitch. This is what I expected from the get go. So maybe I’m right. Time. The Chambers Brothers were right. Maybe those other reviewers got their sticks months before I got mine. Or I’m just a fuck up. But I would never spend the kind of dough OneOff wants for a cigar that doesn’t kill at the green light.
The blend is chock full of flavor now. Complexity is sky high. Transitions are like a tweaker explaining analytical geometry to a bear. Wha’ happened?
I’m finally enjoying the shit out of this cigar. Thank goodness I had a corona gorda and not some huge stick. I’d be cursing like an iron worker that dropped a 7/8″ A490 HSB on his foot.

What can I tell you? I’m going back to bed and meditate on this whole michegos.


And now for something completely different:

I’ve never told this story before. And there is a good reason; but enough time has passed that it should be OK.
Back in the Curved Air days, Miles Copeland Jr. loved to visit us when we played in London.
Copeland was an American and one of the founders of the American OSS in WWII. He was a trumpet player in the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Army decided he was too smart to be a fucking horn player. So, they snagged him for the intelligence division.

After the war, he helped conceive the CIA. And spent time as station chief in Lebanon helping to overthrow governments in the Middle East.

As a result, all three brothers: Miles III, Ian, and Stewart grew up all over the world while dad took down governments and their mother; a famous archaeologist, took them to digs all through the Middle East.

Yet all three boys had American passports even though mom was a Brit.
When CA formed, Stew was at Berkeley in California.

I met Pops at a gig and then saw him a lot. He had retired from the CIA and had become a special analyst for the BBC. He wrote books in which he hung CIA tactics out to dry. And he wrote books praising Bush Sr.

He would visit Miles III house all the time and I would leave the rehearsal room in the basement while the band worked out a new song. I was never invited to be a part of the creative process. So, I would schmooze with Pops.

He carried a gun. He also owned the biggest dog I’ve ever seen in my life and was always with him. You could not approach him unless Copeland allowed it. The dog had to weigh 300lbs. I don’t know what the fuck it was. Probably a bear.

Miles Sr. was a smart, jovial guy and he and I became friends. We talked about his background a lot because I was fascinated and he enjoyed talking about it.

He also found out I was a Jew. Back in the day, there were very few big rock players that were Jews. Instead of my landsmen playing, they ran the show.
And here is where it gets thick. He didn’t leave the CIA entirely. At least that’s what he told me. He told me that the sons thought he was retired.

We talked about Israel a lot and I told him about my summer trip there back in ’65. He had a lot of connections to Israel.

One day, a week before leaving on a 6 week tour of the Continent…he came over to Mile’s house in St. John’s Wood; where the band practiced.

He took me aside and gave me a small package. He said it was a book and since the band would be in Munich within a week, his friend would find me at the hotel and I could give it to him.

I didn’t ask why. I never suggested that he just mail the damn thing. I thought I was caught up in some intrigue. But I also worried about whose side I was playing on. He used to tell me about double and even triple agents.

The famous Brit double agent, Kim Philby, was supposed to be at a Copeland dinner party but instead was whisked away by a Soviet submarine to Russia. Miles and his family had become close friends with Philby and his family.

In 1963, Philby was revealed to be a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing secret information to the Soviet Union.
Philby literally left his family for good at the Copeland’s. Never to be seen again.

This little bit of espionage went on for a year. Copeland had found the perfect agent: An afro haired rock star. And then things escalated.

I met Mossad agents. Why Mossad? They had names like Aharon, Zev, Uri, Asher, Tuvia, and Avi. Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

I even had lunches and dinners with this guy named Otto. But not before they had me checked out. At one dinner, one Israeli told me everything about my life. My jaw spent the entire meal on the floor.

One time, after dinner, two Israelis suggested we go to a club. I said OK. My band of misfits I played with wouldn’t miss me.
It was some horrible disco place and the lights gave me a headache and the house music made want to gag.

But we sat and drank and then one guy put something in my coat pocket. I looked down to see what it was but before I could find out what it was, he jerked me up and we all left the club together at a dead run.

We ran down the streets of Frankfurt like crazy people. At first, one guy had pulled a pistol out and ran in the back; constantly looking backwards as we ran.

We ran for almost a mile; all the time me yelling “Let’s get a cab!!” And being ignored the whole time.
This was fucking nuts now.

I had a bass playing career and now I’m playing “Bond…Moshe Bond.”

On return, I told Miles Sr., that this was scaring the shit out of me and he said it was OK and he never asked me to do another thing.
And it was over just like that.

But every time we played on the Continent, I was a nervous wreck looking for strange faces that didn’t belong around the band.

If you want the whole skinny about Copeland, Wikipedia does a fine job. Mind you, contributors make Wiki work so some of the information provided is not from an insider’s point of view. In other words, some of it is bull shit. But still, you get a nice photograph of the man’s life.

Note: All the companies that the brothers formed were an homage to Pops. I.R.S. (International Record Syndicate) Records, F.B.I (Frontier Booking Intl) Booking, and of course, The Police.
Call me Secret Agent Uncle Katman.


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11 replies

  1. Hey Buddy, This was an awesome review. Sharp! I hope you’re doing well.

    Joey Holub 720-808-2150

    On Sat, Aug 18, 2018 at 9:16 AM Cigar Reviews by the Katman wrote:

    > The Katman posted: “Wrapper: Nicaraguan Binder: Nicaraguan Filler: > Nicaraguan Size: 5.375 x 46 Corona Gorda Strength: Medium Price: $14.95 > MSRP Today we take a look at the Illusione OneOff. BACKGROUND: Released: > June 2018 Regular Production From Halfwhe” >

  2. Yeah, I love a lot of the Illusione cigars, and I didn’t think this was a bad cigar (it was solid), but for the price… My expectations are pretty high. For around the same price, I can get the Haute 10, which I prefer.

    Hope all is well with you, brother.

  3. I agree 100%. I reviewed the Haut 10 and it got a 96. Plus it made my #4 cigar of 2017 list.
    This OneOff comes no where close to the same neighborhood of passionate blending.

  4. “It’s not bad…but for $15, I expect my testicles to fly out of my asshole and knit a sweater.”

    This is the kind of statement that completely justifies the price of admission around here. It’s also one of the main reasons I keep coming back.

    You just can’t find this type of straightforward honesty from other reviewers. Is it anywhere near anatomically correct or even biologically possible? No, of course not. But honest? Heck, yeah.

    Keep on keeping on, Katman.

  5. Hey Eric…thank you. I believe I owe you a phone call to straighten you out…My bad.

  6. Interesting review. There are several Illusiones I love to age, but none are overly disappointing fresh either. Maybe a cautiously speculative 3-single purchase for now — one to try, two to age.

  7. Phil, you would have been a hell of a Mossad agent. Instead your mission in life is to call out shitty overpriced cigars. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, Brother!

  8. Who said I retired? You can’t trust whatever I say. You should all know that by now.
    Need your neighbor to finally mow his lawn and get his ’71 Ford Fairlane off his lawn?
    I can make one phone call…

  9. 720? I take it you are in Denver?

  10. Right on the money with your assessment as usual, sir. Absolute sensory deprivation until the last quarter of the cigar. I had such high hopes…

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