Votila: f9 Finesse
Ring Gauge: 44
If you have been living under a rock for the past several months, you may not have heard the incredible amount of buzz going on around the Illusione line of cigars. Illusione cigars are a product of Fernandez y Fernandez, a subsidiary of Tabacalera Tropical.
The brand is a creation of Don Giolito and is modeled to mirror the world class tobaccos of pre Sandinistas takeover of Nicaragua in 1979. It is said that Nicaraguan tobacco fields have been rejuvenated over the last several years by Arcenio Ramos of Cuba.
Each Illusione cigar is made with a blend of first generation Corojo ‘99 and Criollo ‘98 fillers and a grade one Café Colorado wrapper. Cigars are available at select brick and mortar (B&M) cigar shops and come packaged in boxes of 25.
The Illusione line is available in twelve formats which include; 888 (48 x 6.75), 4/2g (49 x 79.50), 68 (44 x 4.00), f9 (44 x 6.25), 66 (52 x 5.00), 23 (culebra: 33 x 6.50), cg4 (48 x 5.575), m7 (58 x 6.50), 2 (52 x 5.25), 1 (48 x 9.25), mk (42 x 5.125), and the hl (40 x 7.50).
After a few shorts seconds of digging to the bottom of my coolidor, I pulled out a five finger bag with a single cigar remaining. The last cigar in the page was an Illusione f9, compliments of our good friend Chris (Ceedee). While looking over this cigar I found it to be just as attractive as the three I smoked previously.
The wrapper has a deep brown base color with a reddish hue. From head to foot there were a few medium sized veins, none of which protruded enough to make the stick feel rough. When pinched, the cigar was firm and consistently packed with tobacco, with the exception of a single soft spot near the mid point.
Looking at the foot gave me the impression that the draw may be a little on the firm side. I went ahead and opened up the head to check the draw and my thoughts, to which I found the draw to be good. There was some resistance behind it but not enough to make me feel as though I had to work to get a decent draw.
Just like last weeks review of the Avalon Juke – Ebony, I decided to go ahead and light my cigar in the same fashion. I began toasting the foot until the cigar was evenly lit and did not take a puff on the cigar until the torch flame was removed. The result was a cool smoke that didn’t overwhelm the palate and an evenly lit cigar. Lighting in this way is heavy on the butane, but I think the results far outweigh the cost of an extra can of butane every now and again.
After a few puffs the Illusion f9 quickly comes into its own and stands out as something much different from your average cigar. The smoke has a very crisp sort of taste to it that is refreshing. The body starts off in the medium range while the finish is mildly creamy. After the smoke has been expelled and the palate is allowed to rest for about a minute, the creaminess passes and I’m left with a nice crisp and clean feeling.
In the flavor department I am picking up a combination of black licorice, black pepper, and a bit of saltiness as the primary flavors. While this flavor combination seems a bit odd on paper, it works out quite well. So far the cigar stands out as a medium bodied, full flavored cigar that is getting off to a unique and enjoyable start.
As I progressed further into my Ilusion f9, the body progressed as well. There was a slow, but smooth, transition from medium to medium-full. The finish remains mildly creamy and continues to provide that same crisp feel that I got back in the first third. The difference at this point is before the crisp feeling kicks in I get a thick, almost syrupy, texture on the tongue and walls of my mouth that lasts a minute or so.
The flavor changed up a bit as I worked my way deeper into the cigar. The black licorice flavor from the first third seems to have transitioned into a tart flavor that comes on after the initial wave of flavor. That initial wave is along the lines of black pepper, sweet spice and a natural Corojo tobacco flavor. The change up in flavors are keeping the cigar complex and loaded with character.
The burn has slowly become a little problematic. From time to time the burn line becomes wavy but generally corrects itself after a few minutes without the need of a touch-up. The burn line itself is thin and dark black. The burn rate is good while providing a minimal amount of resting smoke. The draw is decent and provides a mouthful of thick and flavorful smoke with each and every puff.
As I rounded the eighty minute mark, I found myself into the final third of my Illusione f9. Just as before, I was seeing a slow and gradual build in body. While it remained in the medium-full range, it moved towards the full line. The finish has transitioned from a mildly creamy texture to a thick and heavy texture. After resting for a minute or so, the heavy texture faded and I was left with the familiar and enjoyable crisp feel on the palate.
The flavor didn’t change much this time around. The flavors of rich Corojo tobacco and black pepper remained dominant while there was a pleasant sweet spice when the smoke was passed through the sinuses. While the flavors themselves didn’t change from one taste to another, the richness and complexity of the flavors were picking up. This only added to the already rich and complex smoke I was experiencing.
At this point in the cigar I ran into my only significant problem. Like mentioned in my article entitled when good cigars go bad, I ran into an issue where there seems to be a void in the filler tobaccos. All of a sudden the sheer volume of smoke was dramatically reduced and it became very airy. Aside from this issue, the burn line has corrected itself and has been well behaved ever since. The burn rate continues to be impressive but due to the filler issue, the smoke is easily becoming hot and a bit harsh.
When it was finally time to set this cigar down to rest, looking back on it I really enjoyed the Illusion f9. The flavors were complex and full of character which made it easy and enjoyable to smoke. I believe that the issue I had with the void in the filler was a fluke and if I were to smoke ten more, I probably wouldn’t run into that problem again.
The entire Illusione line of cigars is a little tough to get ahold of due to Dion’s incredibly strict quality control standards. The availability is low and it is easy to see when out and about trying to track them down. After the first day of the IPCPR trade show Dion was sold out and had signs all over his booth to make that clear.
If you happen to come across these cigars in your local shop I wouldn’t hesitate to pick one up and give it a shot.
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