Illusíone Singularé 2010 Phantom Tuesday, May 24 2011 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Toro 6.0′ x 50 ring

The Phantom is the 2010 version of Illusione’s Limited Edition “Singularé” cigar line. It is a refined looking toro with a handsome wrapper that has the look of fine leather. It is a mild to medium bodied smoke.  Not much spice to be found here which is unusual of a cigar that uses all Nicaraguan tobacco. It starts off light and mild with creamy flavors of cedar and toasted tobacco with a subtle bit of earthiness. Eventually it picks up a bit. The flavors are consistent but develop more body and there is an added floral undertone and a bit of sweetness that adds some complexity. This was an excellent smoke and a very different profile for Illusione.  I found it to be even lighter and more mild that some of the Epernay line. Still mild doesn’t mean flavorless as this stick had plenty to offer. I feel like I use this word a lot when talking about various cigars from Illusione, but it fits so I’ll use it again… Elegant. This cigar has a very refined and elegant feel to it. Grab some if you can still find them.

Illusione ~hl~ (Holy Lance) Maduro Tuesday, Feb 15 2011 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lancero 7.5 x 40 ring

The standard Illusione ~hl~ is a favorite of mine.  I consider it the single best Lancero on the market right now.  Whether you agree with me or not on that point, there is no denying it is an excellent cigar.  Recently Illusione added a Maduro and Candela version of this elegent Lancero.  I smoked a few of the Candelas recently and it proved to be an excellent version of the Holy Lance.  One I enjoyed very much.  It seemed only natural that I finish the cycle and try the third and final incarnation of the Lance.

I really enjoyed the ~hl~ with the maduro wrapper.  The flavors were very rich and very different from the others.  It was earthy with very nice dark chocolate notes and subtle bitter/semi sweet component to it.  It was perhaps not as complex as the other two.  It never really changed much but the thing about is that it doesn’t need to.  The flavors are deep and delicious. It is a great smoke that I enjoyed and never got bored with.  It is a total change of pace from the Rosado and the Candela ~hl~’s.

Illusione ~hl~ (Holy Lance) Candela Sunday, Jan 23 2011 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Candela
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lancero 7.5″ x 40 ring

I have to believe that this cigar is a first in the Modern Cigar Era.  A Candela wrapped Lancero.  I recently reviewed the Illusione ~88~ Candela which kindled a spark of interest for this wrapper that I largely ignored in the past.  Like I said in that review of the ~88~, Candela wrappers seemed to be reserved for use on bad cigars.  The regular Illusione ~hl~ sports a rosado wrapper and is probably my number one favorite Illusione cigar.  The standard ~hl~ is the definition of elegance and balance.  The Candela ~hl~ is a different animal.

I don’t know if the blend of this cigar was tweaked or just entirely different from the blend used for the standard Holy Lance but this green version tastes nothing like the original. The Candela is heavy on the palate with a strong spice.  The Candela wrapper imparts a crispness with a slight grassy note and a subtle sweetness that is almost complete over powered by the spice and tobacco flavors.  The heaviness of the flavors is backed up by a fairly stout punch in the strength department.  I found the ~hl~ Candela to be a bit rough around the edges but still a really good robust smoke.  If you asked me to pick a favorite of the Candelas I think I’d have to give the nod to the ~88~. One I will certainly enjoy again. Still, I thought the Lancero was excellent and offers a different Candela experience.  It is a cigar I will certainly enjoy again soon.  My Local just got a bunch of boxes in so I should be able to stay in good supply.

Illusione ~88~ Candela Wednesday, Jan 12 2011 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Candela
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 52 ring

Green is the new Brown…  Or something like that.  Dion Giolito of Illusione Cigars seems to be single-handedly championing a return of the Candela wrapper to premium cigars.  Once a mainstay of American cigar smoking, the modern smoker tends to look down on the green cigar wrapper as being too mild, near flavorless, or too grassy.  The truth is they are right.  Just about any candela wrapped cigar you find on the market today just isn’t very good.  It turns out that perhaps this is because no one bothers to put the wrapper on a good cigar.  That is until Dion started putting it on his Illusione cigars.  The first to get the green treatment was the lancero, the ~hl~ or Holy Lance.  Now you can also find the Candela on the very large  ~888~ and the beefy robusto ~88~.

When I saw the Candela ~88~ on the shelf and I was intrigued.  I hadn’t tried a Candela wrapped cigar in ages and none I have ever had were any good, but this time the wrapper was on a cigar/blend that I knew I really enjoyed so I had to give it a try.  I was amazed.  The wrapper dramatically changes the cigar when compared to an ~88~ with its normal Nicaraguan wrapper.  It was crisp and smooth.  The Illusione core flavors of Earth and leather are still very much present, but they are expertly balanced with a slight sweetness and tea notes.  Later in the smoke I started to pick up a floral component to the flavors as well.  It was an amazingly good smoke, complex in flavor and visually interesting with its bright green wrapper.   This is one Candela that is certainly worth trying.

Illusione ~hl~ (Holy Lance) Thursday, Oct 1 2009 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lancero 7.5″ x 40 ring

Since Illusione cigars burst on the scene they have been well received and its creator Dion Giolito has reached near rock star status in the cigar community.  I shared some details on Dion and his cigar company in my review of the Illusion ~cg:4~ if you are interested.

The Holy Lance is a good looking lancero.  It has leathery rosado  wrapper with a traditional pigtail cap.  I am a fan of the lancero.  I feel that it is a size that lends itself to the ideal blend of filler and wrapper delivering the cigars true flavors.  The ~hl~ starts off with a blast of white pepper and heavy floral notes with an underlying sweetness that are just fantastic.  My enjoyment of the cigar is enhanced by a heady bouquet of floral aromas.  The whole experience reminds me of sitting down with a fine 16 year old scotch in a way.  The ~hl~ is not as powerful as other Illusiones providing a smooth medium bodied smoke.  Half way through the floral notes are complimented by smooth creamy flavors of nuts and wood.  In the last third it develops a nice spicy bite.

The construction is superb which is hard to do with this vitola that is sometimes prone to draw problems.  The draw was excellent and the burn is dead even.  The ash doesn’t hold for very long which is also common with a lancero so be sure to tap it often or you’ll have ash in your lap.  The ~hl~ is a superb,complex, and elegant smoke.  It is my favorite Illusione.  I have smoked a fair amount of lanceros from Oliva, Pepin Garcia, Litto Gomez, etc…. and I dare say the ~hl~ is the best lancero available today.

Rating – A

Redux: Cruzado Marelas Friday, Jun 19 2009 

Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Size: Perfecto 55/8″ x 46 ring

My first experience with the Marelas was a little disappointing.  However, I decided to hold off giving the cigar a rating and planned to revisit it because I could see a lot of potential in it, plus all the other vitolas I have tried in the Cruzado line have been stellar, especially the Elitas.  The first specimen I tried had an odd bitterness to it that tainted my experience.  This time things were much different.

Right from the start this cigar was smooth and yet powerful, much more like the other Cruzados I have smoked.    It started off with notes of spice and fruit.  As I worked past the bulge of the perfecto it really started to pickup.  Strong robust flavors of coffee and spice mingle with a rich tobacco flavors.  It still wasn’t the power house I found the Elitas to be, but it was much fuller this time, its body on the full side of medium.  As the cigar tapers down it gets spicier and with lots of chocolate and coffee.  it never gets harsh though remaining smooth with a creamy finish that lingers nicely on the palette.  This is more like what I was expecting the first time I smoked this cigar.  An excellent smoke that I highly recommend.

Rating – A

Cruzado Marelas Tuesday, Nov 25 2008 

Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Size: Perfecto 55/8″ x 46 ring

The Cruzado is brought to us by the same people who make the Illusione line of cigars.  I previously reviewed the Cruzado Elitas which I found to be an amazing smoke.  In that review I laid out all the details of the Cruzado line so rather than repeat all that in this review, just click here if your interested in those details.  Today I am smoking the Marelas.  The Marelas is a perfecto and a skinny one at that.  I mentioned before one of the things about the Cruzados is that not a single stick in the entire line tops a 48 ring size and that includes this perfecto, which at its thickest is just a 46 ring.  I am partial to the thinner ring gauges.  In my opinion the 42-48 range for ring size is an ideal size for a cigar allowing for the best balance of flavors between wrapper and blend.

After having such a great experience with the Elitas I smoked a few more of them and each was equally impressive, so when I lit the Marelas I was a little surprised.  Two things account for this.  The first was an initial bast of metallic bitterness on the first few puffs.  The second was that this cigar seems a bit milder in strength and body.  Thankfully the metallic taste went away quickly.  It was replaced by earth and leather.  The aroma is rich and earthy as well.  It has a Delicious sweet finish.  Once I worked past the bulge near the foot, the flavors became rich and creamy, full of sweet spice and a hint of pepper.  This was the best that it would get though.  Unfortunately it became a bit bitter again.   The bitterness kept coming and going in between pleasant notes of earth and leather and this continued all the way until the end of the smoke.  I’m not sure what happened here.  Although the size and shape of a cigar can effect the flavors of a blend, I was expecting this to be at least similar to the Elitas but it was not.  It showed promise when the bitterness was absent, but because of it I didn’t enjoy this vitola nearly as much as the Elitas.  My hope is this was a fluke, and I’ll give the Marelas another try.  If my experience is any different I’ll report back on it.  For this reason I am going to hold off on giving this cigar a rating for now.

Cruzado Elitas Tuesday, Nov 11 2008 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Size: Corona 6.0″ x 44 ring

The Cruzado is the newest creation from the man behind the immensely popular Illusione cigars, Dion Giolito. This new line is billed as being medium-bodied/medium strength in comparison to the full-bodied, powerful Illusione. Apparently to tone down the blend Dion chose to use the viso leaf instead of using ligero. Viso is the priming right below ligero on the tobacco plant.  The Cruzado is made at the same factory as the Illusione, at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras. They are available is six sizes:
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  • Avalitos 4″ x 46 – petit robusto
  • Dantes 5″ x 48 – robusto
  • Domenicos 5 5/8″ x 46 – corona gorda
  • Elitas 6″ x 44 – corona
  • Marios 7″ x 47 – churchill
  • Marelas 5 5/8″ x 46 – perfecto

One thing about this line that immediately jumps out at me is the ring gauges.  Not a single one of these cigars breaks 48 in ring size, not even the perfecto.  I applaud this.  In an age where big, fat, jaw breaker cigars with 50+ ring gauges seem to be all anyone wants to make, I am happy to see a line of cigars made in more traditional sizes.  I happen to think that cigars in the 42 to 48 range of ring sizes is ideal, allowing for an optimal marriage between the filler blend and the wrapper leaf.  I am very excited to see the smaller ring gauges in this line of cigars and I look forward to trying all of them.

First up is the Elitas.  A 6″ x 44 corona, this seemed like the perfect place to start.  Afterall, you can’t get more traditional than the Corona.  I am going to use a word, probably more than once, that I am beginning to feel I over use a bit, but it is the best word I can come up with in those situations that I use it.  Rustic.  The Criollo wrapper on the Cruzado is very rustic looking.  It is rumpled looking, dark, and bumpy.  It has a strange little pigtail on the head.  It almost looks like a half-pigtail.  Like they started to give it a pigtail cap and then just decided, “nah, never mind” and clipped it off leaving just little stub of the tail behind.  The band has a medieval look too it.  The silver looks more like steel and it is trimmed in gold that looks more like riveted brass.  The font used to spell out Cruzado looks like it was lifted off of a knights coat of arms.  All told it is a cool looking stick.  I feel like I should be wearing some shades to be cool enough to smoke it, ha ha.

My initial draw delivers a blast of pepper and spice.  This is supposedly a medium bodied cigar which makes me chuckle because this cigar has the volume turned up to 10, full bodied at least at the start.  As I worked my way into the smoke it does settle down a bit but this is still a full bodied smoke and it packs a nice little punch in the strength department as well.  The flavors are spicy with a slightly sweet finish, full of earth and leather.  There are flashes of chocolate and something else I can’t identify.  Maybe a slight tinge of citrus.  What a complex flavor bomb.  Not even half way through the cigar and I am blown away by this smoke.  Chocolate, spice, earth, and a sweetness I cannot place keep swirling in and out with each puff all capped off with a long satisfying, citrusy finish.  I have never smoked a cigar like this.  It is truly unique.  This is as good as any super premium cigar I’ve tried.  Thick clouds of smoke billow out with each draw and the aroma is rich and decadent.  The Burn and draw were perfect.  The only negative thing I can say about this stick is the that the ash splits and curls off.  tapping it frequently is a must to keep the ash out of your lap.

From start to finish this is an amazing smoke.  This is nothing like an Illusione which is an outstanding cigar in its own right.  Dion has come up with a completely different cigar with the Cruzado and it is a spectacular cigar.  The Cruzado was billed as a medium bodied cigar, flavorful but a little less robust than the Illusione.  If you ask me this is as full and strong as an Illusione if not more so.  This may be the best cigar of 2008 and is possibly the best cigar to come out since the Tatuaje Brown Labels hit the scene.  It is a MUST try.

Rating – A+

Related Posts:

Illusione ~cg:4~ Monday, Apr 7 2008 


Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Corona 5-5/8 x 46 ring

The Illusione line of cigars are a somewhat unknown brand that is rapidly gaining in popularity. It won’t be long before everyone knowns about this Nicaraguan gem. The Illusione is the brainchild of Dion Giolito who is a veteran of the cigar industry. He wanted a cigar that hearkened back to the days before the Sandinistas took power in Nicaragua and nearly destroyed the cigar industry there. Since there was nothing like that available in the market, he went out and created the cigars he wanted. In an unusual twist, this Nicaraguan Puro is made in a factory in Honduras. Just another unique fact about this unique cigar. The Stogie Guys have a great interview with Dion Giolito that is a very good read. I recommend checking it out.

The Illusione ~cg:4~ is a good looking corona with a smooth dark brown wrapper topped with a cuban style triple cap. It is packed full with nicely bunched tobacco giving the cigar a good solid feel in my hand. The aroma of this cigar is rich and decadent. I could spend 5 minutes just sitting here smelling it, but the real fun is smoking a cigar so I put it to flame. Initially it is very spicy and thick. A cloud of white smoke fills the room with an amazing aroma. One of the most striking things about this cigar is how wonderful it smells both pre-light and during the smoke. It really enhances the experience. After the initial spice, my palate was filled with a robust toasted tobacco flavor with notes of leather and an underlying spiciness. In the last third of the cigar it started to develop a unique bite that is hard to describe. The ash is very dark and a bit flaky. I had to correct the burn a couple times when it went crooked and wouldn’t correct itself.

This is a very good smoke that I’d rate as one of the best in its price range, running $6 to $7 a pop. I want to say this is a medium bodied smoke if a bit on the fuller end of medium, but I wonder if that perception is skewed by the amount of full bodied, robust cigars I usually smoke. I have a feeling that to someone who typically smokes milder cigars, they would tell you this is a full bodied, more robust cigar. Whatever you want to call it, it is a top shelf cigar at a mid-shelf price.

Rating – B+

What others say about this cigar:

Keeper of the Flame
Cigar Stars

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