Illusione ~hl~ Holy Lance Lancero (Natural) | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan AAA Grade Corojo Rosado
Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo ’98
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99
Size: 7.5 x 40 Lancero
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $11.20


I realize this stick has been on the market a long time. But I got a fiver on Cigar Page for $8 per stick. I have reviewed a total of 19 Illusione blends over the years but never got around to this stick. Why? If I knew, I’d tell you.

90% of the online reviews were done in 2008-2009. So, why not an update. Word is that this is Giolito’s favorite stick. After smoking my first last night, I thought I would add my two cents.

The sticks are widely available online. Don’t know about the B&M status.
The cigar exists under the umbrella of the “Original Documents” heading when you seek it out.
I checked the Illusione website for more info, but it is all of two sentences. Highly kept secret or just good P.R.

BACKGROUND:
Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
From Halfwheel.com (May 3, 2011):
“It’s Dion’s Lancero. That’s about all I got for the intro. It’s one of the most highly touted cigar lines that a lot of people have yet to smoke, and I’m a bit puzzled why. Still, of the three wrappers Dion offers the ~hl~ in, I have to imagine this is the most overlooked. The Candela is green and cool; the Maduro is about as dark as a Tootsie Roll and then there is this.”

From the Illusione Cigars press release:
“The Holy Lance. My Lancero, the lance. Get it? Constantine was the first Christian emperor to lead Rome. It was fabled that he had possession of the very spear that punctured the side of Jesus while on the cross. He was said to carry this relic into battle and, it was said that it helped him win his many battles. It is an artisan blend and the mildest of all my cigars.”

APPEARANCE:
Lanceros are a tough shape to roll. All in all, Illusione did a fine job. But…it is a bit lumpy and bumpy, but it matters not. The original 2008 versions all had pigtails on the cap. Mine do not. Possibly done so to keep the price down. The triple cap is very nice. The cigar seems to be filled nicely. Last night’s version felt a bit tight on the cold draw, so I used my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool to open it just a bit more to satisfy my snobbish needs.

The wrapper is nice but not outstanding. In room light, it is brown copper penny. In way too much light, the golden fleece glistens with oils.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Very fragrant with mild hints of vanilla, espresso, creaminess, cinnamon, cedar, banana, barnyard, and baking spices. All very cohesive.
The cold draw presents flavors of creamy cinnamon bun, milk chocolate, mint, citrus, malt, vanilla, espresso, baking spice, and cedar.

FIRST THIRD:
Immediately complex. Flavors are buttressed between two slices of brioche bread. The balance is spot on, which at this point is amazing. All of the above aromas show up as flavors; although, they are milder than the aromas.

I’ve had these sticks for only a month. Last night, I wondered what I should review. I got home from work and picked this cigar to use to wind down. The Cosmic Muffin made the choice for me.

The cinnamon replaces any hints of pepper. There is a lovely natural sweetness that slathers my palate. I would need to do a DNA test to figure out their origins. And a savory component is present helping with the impressive balance. It is too early to detect the source of the savory elements. But I have 7” to go to find out. (Just once I’d like to say that to a woman, or my wife…as opposed to listening to “Is it in yet?”)

The draw is a bit tight but I’m always afraid to use my PerfecDraw on a Lancero. I have successfully completed the task many times, but it is nerve wracking and I’m all out of Propofol.

Strength is an easy going medium.

The smoke output belies the diameter of the cigar. The room fills with fragrant clouds, and I look like Pig-Pen from Peanuts.

I need to adjust the draw. In goes my long PerfecDraw and it easily slides to the hilt and back again. The sucking motion is now minus the experience of feeling my cheeks collapse on every draw.

Graham cracker, cinnamon, vanilla ice cream, warm banana, beef jerky, lime citrus, cedar, strong coffee, nutmeg and clove, and dried fruit are in lockstep. All balanced and nuanced. Nice.

After smoking this stick last night, my first thought at completion was this is my new fave Illusione blend. It wreaks of screaming laughter.
The roll is very slow and relaxing. The cigar makes no attempt to rush things along. It yells out, “I’m not a cigarette, so respect me you cad.” This will easily be a 2-hour smoke.

I gave notice at my job. I need some serious mental stimulation. And wonders of wonders, I got an interview for a structural engineering gig last week. And I have others planned. It went from 0-60 out of the blue. My age is a total buzz kill for employers. My cover letter begs them just to call me so I can prove I’m not a geezer. Plus, the dough is a lot better than being a greeter. And I miss geometry, trigonometry, calculus, physics and metallurgy. Yes…I am insane.

I have four shifts left at the store and then I’m free at last. Pacing for 8 hours on concrete is not the prescription for a long life for a septuagenarian. Everything hurts. But I do get to look at beautiful women, both customers and employees. Construction is a man’s world so I will just need to find a gay guy to ogle.

The intensity of the blend kicks up a notch. Strength increases. Flavors expand like half a parabola seeking the answer to the universe.

The complexity gets a well-earned kick in the ass. The hl is now in gear. I’ve smoked 1-1/2”.

My palate is bathed in sunlight. Or klieg lights at a movie premiere.

Meanwhile, the cat is playing with my nuts which are lying on the floor because I’m writing this review in my boxers. As long as he doesn’t bite, I’m OK.

The blend has become a banana cream pie with chocolate shavings. The meatiness of the jerky creates the alternate reality which keeps the savory v. sweet thing in check.

It’s one thing to smoke a good cigar after spending all day talking 90mph to customers. It’s another to enjoy it as the first stick of the day. I can do a perfect Froggy impersonation at the end of every shift.

Parameters widen. The hl is exploring without a flashlight…and finding wonderful delicate notes that are unidentifiable to my palate but add to the elaborate mystery of this beautifully blended cigar.

Even at MSRP of $11, this cigar is a steal. At the $8 I paid; it is unbelievable. Yes, I’m hung up on pricing. Step out into the alley if you have a problem with me. I’ll be waiting in the bathroom in the fetal position.

The char line is a thing of beauty. Hey Jeremy, you should add this cigar to your go-to list.

SECOND THIRD:
40 minutes to get through 2-1/2”. Lovely…in a good way.

A touch of butterscotch appears. The cinnamon turns into a candied apple.

The creaminess spreads its wings and flies in a million directions. Graham cracker has become Ritz crackers. The dried fruit is expressed in dates and raisins. The black espresso maintains an even keel and provides a nice backdrop. A floral aroma emanates from the stick that makes me feel like I’m in an Amsterdam whore house.

The cigar does not become soft as cigars are wont to do in such humid weather.

Strength approaches medium/full as I feel my vision draining from a scoche of nicotine.

I will tell you, my dears, that if you haven’t smoked this stick in a while, it is time to stock up again. There are a lot of online reviews, but all occurred 12-13 years ago. The maduro version received a lot more attention. I will seek it out.

Clearly, the tobacco is nicely aged. Any other blend would need months to achieve any comradeship to the hl.

“Sweet Melissa” by the Allmans. What a perfect soundtrack for this cigar.

Complexity is constantly on the rise. No steps backwards. Yet the balance never wavers. Gorgeous synchronicity.

My first sip of water and my eyebrows shave themselves.

I’m not going to miss my first ever retail job but I am going to miss a lot of nice people. There are a couple of young ladies that could be my granddaughters working there who find me entertaining. I know. I know.

Yesterday, I was standing at the fortress entrance drinking a Starbucks Cold Brew. It comes in a dark brown glass bottle. I saw a woman who runs produce or deli…can’t remember which…as she entered the building. I stood close to the entrance and made sure the label was invisible. I took a sip as she passed me and I asked if she wanted a sip of my beer. She was horrified and just said no. But then I caught her spending the day snooping on me from afar. The woman has a rep for a zero sense of humor. Yeah, she’s really popular amongst the employees.

One thing I adore about this blend is that there are no sudden jerks in the flavor profile. They appear in nuanced doses on a mission from the conspiracy theory gods. This is a stick that screams out, “Savor me!” I comply willingly.

I find that it is becoming more difficult to find my wiener when I hit the head at work. I spend a good 2-3 minutes digging around before I find it. Yet my ears are not growing larger as they do as one gets older. Seems unfair. Shrinkage.

The next time and space continuum makes its leap. The cigar enters new territory of intensity. Another inch before I reach the halfway point.
Flavors do not change or diminish.

Humidity is already nearing 70% and the cigar becomes a bit softer. The draw is affected.

Now the halfway point is reached. At this rate, the review will end up being 32,000 words because I don’t know when to shut up.

I look forward to smoking my next hl in a few months. The extra humidor time should make a difference on the plus side.

Charlotte watched some show with contestants and drummer Stewart Copeland was introduced. The contestants look baffled. “Who?” The master of ceremonies reminded them he played in the iconic band, The Police. Again, “Who?”

Their legacy is fading somewhat as it has been nearly 40 years since their heyday. And Millennials are only aware of music that has occurred during their lifetime. I gave up trying to impress the kids with my background. To them, I’m a dinosaur. But they do produce a chuckle when I show them a photo exhibiting my afro splendor.

Medium/full is now in full force. It was gradual and easy to swallow.
Remember the first time you got Linda Lovelaced? Me neither.

The humidity causes the cigar to go out now and again. Lighting it up again causes a rush of flavors that my inner demons find pleasurable.

Van the Man. “Days Like This.” Love that guy.

I betcha’ the last third ties everything up in a tidy knot.
Sweet v. savory could not be more spot on. Such a delicious cigar.

The Stones “Gimme Shelter” is playing. I played that song in a cover band 50 years ago. Gawd, I’m old.

LAST THIRD:
I haven’t used the word fuck once. Very proud of myself.

Sure enough, the blend makes its next leap. It is officially a flavor bomb.

The dried fruit is upfront. Followed by creaminess, cinnamon, and jerky.
Transitions are running wild in the streets. The finish is nearly overwhelming. The complexity sprints to the checkered flag.

A new flavor of lemon citrus appears. The slight tartness with a custardy finish is a welcome addition. A treacly clotted cream on strawberries bowls me over.

The hl is a traveler. It attacks my palate with extreme prejudice. Oh, the horror.

The nicotine is totally acceptable. It does not attack my walnut sized brain.

Cinnamon is replaced with red pepper. A slight sting on my tongue.

I’ve been remiss in being regular with my reviews due to my work schedule. I’m damn near working full time now because I’m one of the few reliables.

Even on the occasional day off, I’m so exhausted that I can’t muster a review. This will change after I complete four more shifts and I’m done. Should I score a full-time gig as an engineer, weekend reviews will be the only days left to spew my opinions.

I plan on keeping an eye out for specials as I dearly want a bunch more of these cigars.

While some online stores are selling them at full price, there are many more that have reduced the price to the better than affordable range. You need to do your homework if you try to save dough on your sticks.

When is the last time you needed to take a shit while high on acid? I highly recommend excoriating your bowels prior to indulging. Having your asshole become the center of the universe is not as pleasant as one would think.

I’m nearing the end. Not a lick of harshness or diminishing returns on the flavor profile.

I’ve had a beard for years. Wearing a mask for 8 hours at work made me a crazy man. I shaved it off but left the mustache. 3 days later, the mask mandate was lifted. I grew my ‘stache in 1967 and kept it ever since…except for the few years when New Wave music was popular in the early 80’s.

I used an eyebrow pencil to fill in the blanks as a teen. Didn’t fill out for a couple years. I went to a party of my peers and a game was played where you get on all fours and knock over a deck of cards with your nose. My pencil fell out of my shirt pocket and the girls all screamed bloody laughter. Replenishing my supply of pencils was more embarrassing than buying condoms.

The Illusione hl has been a pure delight.
I recommend you snag some at your earliest convenience.
Carry on…

RATING: 95



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

Tags: , , ,

6 replies

  1. Excellent, just as I’m getting into the groove with Giolito’s wares. Thanks for the heads up, I’ll look for some extras to save for my lancero buddy’s Xmas stocking.

  2. Cousin Phil, I’m rooting for you to get that structural engineering job because I need to see a fellow altacocker get a real job. I spent 30 years building a career as a copywriter only to see age discrimination is real. Go get ’em young fella!

    • Hey Petey,
      Fuck yeah, it’s real.
      I have a friend who just retired at 65 and was head of HR at a huge company headquarted in Milwaukee.
      He told there is absolutely no chance anyone will hire me, or him…due to age.
      Liability. Health coverage costs. You say you’re lucid? Really? Etc.
      But I’ve had two more interviews just yesterday.
      It’s hard not to over sell myself in these interviews as I try to cram 50 years of experience in 30 minutes.
      As soon as my last day as a retail stooge on the 27th happens, I will get serious. It’s hard because I must say exactly the right things…not too much nor too little and I have to be of sound mind to do this. Standing all day with my mouth never stopping wears me out.

      But I have hope if I dig my heels in. I will make this happen. Someone will realize I am a valuable asset who can help the cpmpany.
      I see the demeaning jobs as just good physical training to task me in being ready when the opportunity arises…which usually happens when least expected.
      I wish you all the luck in the world in finding the right gig. Don’t give up.
      Do anything in the meantime to stay active. The body is active, then so is the brain…even in not the way you had hoped.
      All the best,
      Phil

  3. I hope you get the new job you applied for. As always, great review.

Leave a Reply to AmazingChicken Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s