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.

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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.

El Triunfador Lancero (original release) Monday, Dec 20 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lancero 7.5″ x 38 ring

This is a rustic looking lancero. It has a very dark brown wrapper that is veiny and oily. The cigar is bumpy looking and topped off with a small pigtail cap. The draw is excellent for a Lancero. Don Pepin has some skilled rollers because he seems to put out a consistently good lancero no matter what line of cigars it is a part of. I saw online somewhere that this version of the El Triunfador is basically a Cabaiguan Maduro. I don’t know about the accuracy of that assertion, but I can tell you this is a darn good smoke. It packs a nice punch even after spending about 2 years in my humidor. It is a smooth smoke with strong flavors of wood and earth. It mellows a bit in the middle becoming predominately earthy with a bit of a coffee flavor in the background. The last third or so picks up again with lots of wood, earth, spice, and a subtle bit of licorice on the finish. I only have one more of these excellent cigars left. I’ll need to pick up a couple of the more recent vintage and see if they can live up to their forefather.

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Lancero Monday, Jul 26 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan and Costa Rican
Size: Lancero 7.0″ x 38 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The fact that this line of cigars was re-blended by Don Pepin Garcia should leave it as no surprise that a Lancero was eventually added to the card.  Pepin has a reputation for being partial the old-school Cuban way of doing things and he seems to have a love of the traditional connoisseur vitolas  like the Lancero.  Not only that, but he seems to have a special talent for masterfully blending for the Lancero as his Lanceros tend to be the best on the market in my opinion.  That said I have been looking forward to trying this cigar given how much I have enjoyed the other larger sizes in the line.

Like a lot of Lanceros it isn’t the prettiest cigar.  It is a bit bumpy and lumpy looking but the draw is excellent and the burn is razor sharp.   It starts off a little peppery before falling into a woody/nutty core complimented with leather and occasional subtly sweet caramel notes.  There weren’t any dramatic changes in flavors but rather shifts in intensity between the present flavors and a build up of black pepper near the end of the smoke.  Watchout for the ash on this one.  It is a little flaky and falls off easily.  If you don’t pay attention you’ll be wearing it.  All in all the Nestor Miranda Special Selection Lancero is an excellent cigar that I will smoke again.

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

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