Cigar Review: Illusione 88


Size: 5X52, Robusto

Wrapper: Café Colorado

Binder/Filler: Corojo and Criollo

Strength: Full

Price: Box of 25, $195

Grade: 9.0

Known primarily as a boutique blend, Illusione has received some great reviews, including a Top 10 finish on Cigar Aficionado’s 2007 list (again, for whatever that is worth). Produced in the Raices Cubanas factory, Illusione cigars use crops from Nicaragua’s Jalapa Valley in the Esteli region. Utilizing old Somoza fields revitalized by Arcenio Ramos, Fernano, Chandito, and agronomist Jacinto, Illusione employs what some have called a dream team of tobacconists. If nothing else, the Illusione certainly has an interesting story. You can pay them a visit here.

Now I’m ready to toast the foot of this Nicaraguan puro…

Pre-light, 1.8:
Right off the bat, the band on this smoke is very appealing.  The font, the colors, and the overall ascetic, it just looks like a serious smoke that is not for the faint of heart. The wrapper is dark brown with some noticeable veins and tooth. The weight is lighter than I expected but it is a solid stick with no soft spots.  The pre-light aroma is of rustic tobacco with some herbal notes. The cold draw produces some warm cinnamon oil type notes with an aged tobacco finish. Lastly, the triple cap on this stick was beautifully constructed.

Burn, 1.7:
The draw on this bad boy was just right, no complaints there. It lit and toasted well and held a nice ash to about 1.5 inches, before I felt like it was gonna go. The 88 produced a nice amount of thick smoke and the temperature was very pleasant all the way through. The only real burn issue was a ‘v’ that developed into the second third—I didn’t see the ‘v’ coming, it just appeared with no change in draw or smoke production.

Flavor, 2.7:
The first puff on this Nicaraguan puro was a shot in the arm; I could tell right off this was going to be a full ride. The first third produced some flavors of roasted nuts and mint. The finish was pronounced and long, which was nice. The second third transitioned into an earthy or peat type taste and the smoke developed some harshness on the back of the throat. The last third was similar to the second, but the harshness disappeared. Not a complex flavor profile but satisfying nonetheless.

Overall, 2.8:
First things first, this is a full bodied smoke, no doubt. But flavor wise, it was not as deep as I thought it would be. That being said, this is a great smoke at around $8 a stick. The packaging, combined with the strength and construction, make the 88 a winner for sure! Toastable!

(Total: 9.0)