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Stogie Reviews: Illusione 2

4 Jan 2010

“And crowned of thorns. No explanation here is really needed. 2 is the son of God doing battle against evil, the enlightened one, the soul-saver, all forgiving.”

Illusione 2That’s the explanation Illusione creator Dion Giolito gives on his website about the name of this belicoso-sized cigar. Each of the 12 vitolas in the original Illusione lineup have unique names—including cg4, 888, and hl—and each refers to either Giolito’s faith, a significant year in his life, or his favorite numbers at the craps table in his native Las Vegas. The Illusione name itself is a nod to conspiracy culture.

Whether you’re enchanted or annoyed by The Da Vinci Code-esque nature of Illusione, odds are you’re a fan of the cigars themselves. I rarely hear such universal praise for a brand from tobacconists, reviewers, and cigar enthusiasts alike. That accounts for the buzz surrounding the company since it was founded a few years ago.

In an interview conducted almost two years ago, Giolito told us he established Illusione to replicate the flavor of pre-Sandinista Nicaraguan cigars. “Nicaraguan tobacco has always had my attention from the beginning,” he said. “Joya de Nicaragua was, and still is, one of my favorite cigars, particularly the original blends.”

To recreate that flavor—and, as Giolito put it, “to be able to look someone in the eye when they ask me what my favorite cigar is and tell them it’s the one I make”—he built a Nicaraguan puro. The tobacco is grown from first-generation criollo ’98 and corojo ’99 seeds and wrapped in a reddish Colorado leaf. It is manufactured in Honduras.

The Illusione 2 (5.25 x 52) is mottled and oily with a fair amount of large veins and noticeable seams. It features a sweet pre-light aroma of milk chocolate, a firm feel, and a carefully crafted triple cap.

Once lit, it becomes immediately clear that this cigar is a Nicaraguan puro. The first half inch is characterized by a heavy black pepper taste with plenty of spice. Smoking slowly alleviates some of the strength, but the profile is definitely full-bodied.

The remainder of the cigar, to its credit, is more subdued. Flavors include roasted nuts, coffee, leather, and a hint of sweetness. Well-balanced and creamy.

In the final third, notes of charred steak occasionally overpower the Illusione’s complexity. Still, there’s no mystery why this blend has such a fervent following. With decent construction, and with limited production, the biggest drawback is lack of availability. So don’t think twice if you have the chance to grab an Illusione 2 for its asking price of $6.50-9 apiece. Delicious and savory, it earns four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate