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Cigar Review: Illusione OneOff Corona Gorda

28 May 2019

Eighteen years ago, Andrea Molinari—proprietor of Casa del Habano in Milan, Italty—introduced his own cigar line called OneOff. He originally wanted the brand to be made in Cuba but was turned away. So he ended up entrusting his venture to one of the world’s most prominent tobacco families: the Plasencias.

At first, OneOff was only available to a select few accounts in Europe and Asia. Many surely thought the line—adorned simply with an orange band sporting a peace symbol—was truly a one-off limited production run. But OneOff found its way to the U.S. market in 2002, earning a cult status reputation and making quite an impact on a young Dion Giolito, who credits OneOff as the inspiration for Illusione.

Flash forward to 2009. Molinari is out of the OneOff picture, and so are the Plasencias. The cigars now go by “OneOff Doble Capa” and are produced and distributed by Cuban Crafters as a catalog brand. Then Giolito bought OneOff from Cuban Crafters in 2017. And here we are.

Today, OneOff is made for Illusione at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory in Nicaragua using 100% Nicaraguan tobacco from Aganorsa. The eight OneOff vitolas are each packaged in boxes of ten and retail for $11.95 to $17.95: Cartuchos (3.9 x 52), Corona (5.5 x 42), Robusto (4.9 x 50), Cañonazo (6.1 x 52), Pyramides (6.1 x 52), Julieta (7 x 47), and Corona Gorda (5.4 x 46). (The eighth size is called +53 Super Robusto and retails for $30; the tobacco origins are undisclosed.)

The Corona Gorda is a firm, oily cigar with a triple-cap and a few prominent veins. The cross-section of tobaccos at the foot shows a snug fit of generously packed filler leaves. The pre-light aroma is smoky (I’m tempted to cite mesquite) and the cold draw is on the stiff side.

Once an even light is established, the introductory profile that emerges is dry, bready, woody, and slightly spicy. Individual flavors include cedar, cinnamon, cereals, and some black pepper. The cedar and pepper fade pretty quickly; they are replaced with sweet cream and roasted cashew. This combination is both complex and delicious.

At around the midway point, the cream and cashew fade, and the cinnamon and cedar pick up where they left off. The spice intensifies in the final third, and the Corona Gorda becomes hot and—at times—harsh.

In terms of combustion characteristics, the burn is set-it-and-forget-it straight and the smoke production is average. The draw—while a bit tight for my liking at the outset—opens nicely after a quarter of an inch. The ash does not hold well off the foot, however.

OneOff is a tale of two cigars: the interesting, complex, balanced cigar in the first half; the hot, sometimes harsh cigar in the second. This dichotomy played out across all three samples I smoked for this review. And that’s ultimately why I can’t award the Illusione OneOff Corona Gorda anything higher than three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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