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Guest Review: Illusione 88 Candela

21 Feb 2011

[Editors’ Note: The following is a guest review authored by Chris Verhoeven, a friend of who is a cigar enthusiast extraordinaire.]

When I think of candela cigars, I usually think of sweet grass and caramel flavors with a dry bitterness. But that’s not what you get with the Illusione 88 Candela.

Apparently, when Dion Giolito was making his limited release Illusione Maduro cigars, he decided to make an even smaller batch of candelas to prove that it’s possible to make a good one. The Illusione Candela 88 and hl are the result. I was intrigued by the idea and picked up a 5-pack of the 88 (reputedly the better of the two) to see if he had succeeded. Being exceedingly rare, I went to my go-to rare cigar hookup at Uptown Cigar and purchased them for $8.50 per stick.

Visually, this is a stunning cigar. This robusto-sized smoke (5 x 52) features the standard white Illusione band which plays nicely off its deep olive wrapper. The veins, compared to the delicate wrapper, are rugged and give an otherwise smooth cigar some character. The head is finished in a beautifully executed triple cap.

The cigar bolts out of the gate with a strong spice—not a typical black pepper spice, but something new and difficult to explain. This quickly takes a backseat and becomes a tingle on the palette. The rest of the first third is dominated by a creamy taste with undertones of peanut.

As it progresses into the second third, the creamy profile remains but the distinct peanut flavor regresses into a less recognizable, but still enjoyable, general nuttiness. The tingling on the palette almost disappears at this point.

The final third brings hay flavors with a mild sweetness that seems familiar from the early parts of the 88 Candela, as if they had always been there, hiding in the background. Although the cigar has some of the dryness I’ve come to expect from other candelas, this dryness is in no way overpowering or unpleasant.

Despite its composition, the cigar has a respectable medium body and produces bountiful smoke, which holds my interest for the full hour it takes to smoke the stick. All the while the burn doesn’t waver much and the ash holds firm.

It seems Dion Giolito has proved it’s possible to make a whole-heartedly enjoyable candela cigar, and I hope he considers releasing more of them in the future. My only complaint comes in the form of the final third of the cigar, where the profile loses some of its complexity. Despite that fault, I’m confidently awarding the Illusione 88 Candela four stogies out of five and announcing that this cigar is well worth the effort to track it down.

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

Chris Verhoeven

photo credit: Stogie Guys

4 Responses to “Guest Review: Illusione 88 Candela”

  1. Tweak Monday, February 21, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    Candela cigars have never done it for me, and I sort of doubt this will change my mind.

    That said, given the positive reviews this cigar has gotten, I'll look for a single to buy. But I'm not even going in on a 5-er until I can smoke one.

  2. Chris V Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    They don't usually do it for me either usually, but this is TRULY a fine cigar. It's pretty un-candela from my experience.

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