18 Oct 2010
“The name Jesus (IhsouV) adds up to 888 in Hebrew numerology called Gematria. Each letter is assigned the corresponding number. ‘Necessary and Sufficient’ both describes the balance and profile of this cigar. It also represents to not go wanting, He is all I need, He is necessary and sufficient.”
That’s the explanation Illusione creator Dion Giolito gives on his website about the name of this Churchill-sized cigar. Each of the 12 vitolas in the original Illusione lineup have unique names—including cg4, 2, 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 mysterious 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.
In a 2008 interview, 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.”
The Illusione 888 (6.75 x 48) is an oily, milk chocolate-colored beauty that is visually striking. It is dense yet easy to draw on with faint pre-light notes of cocoa.
After establishing an even burn, a task that takes hardly any effort, a flavor of dry earth, leather, and spice emerges. Creamier tastes of chocolate, marshmallow, and oak add depth in the second third. As the cigar progresses, it intensifies in spice and boldness, smoking more and more like the Nicaraguan puro that it is. All the while, though, the profile maintains a harmonious, complex balance that’s far from overbearing.
I smoked three 888s for this review, two of which exhibited poor burn lines that required a fair amount of maintenance. The third was just about perfect—on par with what I’ve come to expect from Illusione. Great burn, solid ash, and an effortless draw.
When this cigar is smoking properly it’s one of the finest full-bodied Churchills available for less than $10. I always seem to have a few in my humidor as they make excellent post-dinner companions on slow, relaxing nights. So, despite some constriction flaws, the Illusione 888’s outstanding flavor earns it four stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys