March 30, 2018

Cigar Review: Illusione ~68~ & Illusione ~f9~

~68~
You may be wondering why I am reviewing these two cigars, wondering what do they have in common? Well the reason is that I am tired of reviewing cigars by Illusione, and I want to get the reviews over with. No, I am just kidding Dion, that was fucked up. The real reason I am reviewing these two cigars is because they share the same ring gauge and they both have been smoking wonderfully to me lately. While one is a petit corona and the other is a Lonsdale, the two are different and at the same time very similar. Typically when cigars share the same ring gauge they are going to offer a very similar flavor profile because of the filler to wrapper ratio no matter the length, and these cigars do, but the way each are blended they are both very unique and different. Right now these two cigars are my preferred smokes in the Illusione core line, and if you have not had the pleasure of trying these two cigars, you need to smoke them as soon as possible.
~f9~

While everyone knows there is a story behind each vitola in the Illusione line, I feel that these two vitolas offer great stories and meanings, possibly better than the others. the ~68~ stands for the year in which Dion Giolito was born. In describing the story line, Dion makes reference to the fact that this cigar is the smallest because it reflects the year in which he was born, but he also makes references to Paul Garmirian and Zino Davidoff, who he says were large influences in him making his first line. I like to smoke this cigar as a tribute to Dion Giolito, because without him we would not have these fabulous cigars. The ~f9~ gets its name from two things, the F standing for finesse. When Dion was blending this cigar he was speaking with Arsenio and Romai down in Nicaragua and Honduras, and he said that if they could make the perfect blend for the vitola "it could rule the world." The 9 stands for the ninth planet, Pluto. Well we all know its planet privileges were revoked, and so does Dion, but it appears he is not a fan of the reasoning. I am with him on that one, I mean who cares if its mass is insufficient. Calling it a "dwarf planet" is just mean spirited, and I am all for the little people/planets out there.

Like all the cigars in the core Illusione line, the cigars are Nicaraguan puros, and they features Corojo '99 and Criollo '98 tobacco. The wrapper is Cafe Colorado Corojo, and they are typically very dark, almost maduro in coloring. All the Illusione cigars are made in the Raices Cubanas Factory in Honduras, and are rolled in the Cuban style, and finished with a triple cap. The ~f9~  measures 6 1/4" with a 44 ring gauge, and falls into the Lonsdale category of cigars.The size gets its name from Hugh Cecil Lowther, The 5th Earl of Lonsdale, who was a large fan of this size. He liked the thinner ring gauge, but wanted a cigar longer than the typical corona vitola. The ~68~  shares the same ring gauge as the prior, 44, but has a length of 4". I would say this cigar falls into the Rothschild category, and this get the name from the Rothschild Family which was a prominent banking family in Europe for many years. Well, with all of that said let us begin with the review of the ~68~.
~f9~ wrapper and band
Holding this Lonsdale in hand, it has a slightly dark wrapper; not as dark as the ~68~, but still dark. I would say it falls into the Colorado Maduro coloring side of things, slightly more Colorado. There are some definite veins present with the cigar, and it is this marbled chocolate brown coloring. The cigar has a great cold draw, and there is an aroma of coffee, cocoa, nuts and rich earth. Upon lighting the cigar I get a nice tight cool draw, and there is an abundance of flavors present. I am picking up lots of coffee, cocoa and rich earth on the forefront, and there is a nice finish of wood, cinnamon and other Asian spices. I would say the strength of the cigar in the first third is slightly over medium, and it is burning wonderfully and producing a nice solid gray ash.

When I get into the second third of the cigar I begin to see an emergence of some more flavors that I see in Illusione smokes, but still fairly similar to the first third. There are those core flavors of cocoa, coffee, rich earth, wood and Asian spices, but there are subtle hints of nuts and stone fruit as well. The second third of the cigar is very complex, and finesse is a good word to describe this cigar. It is really offering a lot of great flavors, there is a nice bit of strength to the cigar, and it is performing perfectly. With the medium full strength level in this third, I am getting a great burn line that is leaving a solid gray ash, and a good amount of smoke rings. This cigar has definitely hit the sweet spot, and I hope it remains this good through the final third.

I am in the final third of the cigar now and as expected, the cigar is smoking wonderfully. I am still getting that razor sharp burn line in this third,and it continues all the way down to the nub. It is leaving a solid gray ash that is sturdy on the cigar, and I have only tapped the ash off the cigar a couple times. The strength of the cigar is at that solid medium full level, perfect for me anytime of the day, and where it excels is in the flavor profile. There is this lovely mocha flavor profile, along with nice notes of tobacco and wood, and I am also getting those rich earth flavors as well. The cigar has a nice finish of plums and cherries, with those Asian Spice notes as well. This was truly a magnificent cigar that should never be overlooked.
Cafe Colorado Wrapper on ~f9~
Cafe Colorado Wrapper on ~68~
Because of the size of the ~68~, I will be reviewing this cigar in halves, I could do thirds, but it would be so condensed that it would almost be overlapping. To begin with, the cigar has an incredibly dark wrapper, practically Maduro in coloring, and is very rustic in appearance. There are some hints of dark red in the cigar, but it is mostly a dark marbled brown. The cigar is very firm, and it has a beautiful triple cap with a few veins present. The cold draw is perfect for me, and I am getting flavors of spice, barnyard and earth on the draw and aroma. As I light up the first half of the cigar it starts off very full and rich. There are some nice strong flavors of coffee, cocoa, wood, earth, leather and stone fruit. There is a great burn line with the cigar, and it is leaving a nice dark gray ash.  

I am getting tons of smoke from this cigar, and it is offering great smoke rings which are always fun when smoking. Throughout the first half the strength of the cigar was around medium full, and this is a perfect cigar for me anytime of the day; a great morning cigar though. When I get into the second half of the cigar, I am getting those core flavors from the first half; bits of stone fruit, spices, barnyard, earth, coffee and cocoa, but I am also getting bits of coconut on the finish as well which is very pleasant. The strength of the cigar is still at that medium full level, and burning perfectly. I smoke the ~68~ all the way down to the nub, and even on the last draw it is cool and flavorful. This was really a great smoke that is short and enjoyable. I really took my time on this cigar and smoked it in an hour or so, but you could smoke this in forty-five minutes or less.  
Illusione ~68~
Looking back on these cigars it is hard not to give them perfect scores. They both delivers so many flavors, performed wonderfully, and were such great cigars that it is hard not to love them. I know a lot of people are gravitating towards large ring gauge cigars, but it is so sad, because these two cigars are amazing and have a ring gauge of 44. I prefer cigars with ring gauges between 46 and 50 anyways, and when I have a cigar that has a ring gauge underneath a 46 I want it to have a wonderful wrapper that is flavorful. These cigars possess that quality, and because of that they are fabulous. I know the ~68~ is carried by most Illusione retailers, and a lot of the time the ~f9~ is not in stock. Hopefully that means a lot of people are buying them, because they should, but if not that retailer needs to get this cigar. More often than not I will smoke the ~68~ over the ~f9~, just because of the time need to smoke that size of a cigar, but I will have to say that the ~f9~ is slightly better as a cigar. I am going to give the ~f9~ a 95, and the ~68~ a 93. Both cigars are tremendous and worth smoking, but the ~f9~ is really something special, something unique and refined. Enjoy the smokes and great job Dion!
Illusione ~f9~
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