Cigar Review: Illusione Epernay

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Size: 4.5×44, Le Petite

Wrapper: Sun grown Corojo ’99 (Café Rosado)

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Strength: Medium

Price: Cabinet of 50, $332.50

Grade: 9.4

Illusione is of course well known in the cigar industry – Dion Giolito is responsible for the Illusione, Epernay, Cruzado, and the mixed filler Cuchillos Cubanos.

The Illusione Epernay from Dion debuted in 2008 and was patterned after a special release in honor of the European Cigar Cult Journal’s 15th Anniversary, the eccj – the eccj came in one size, a 5 5/8×46 Corona Gorda. The Epernay is a milder cigar than the eccj and has a more extensive size line, with a sixth vitola introduced in 2010. The available sizes are all sold in Cabinets of 50:

Le Petite – 4 1/2 x 44
Le Ferme – 48 x 5 1/4
Le Elegance – 5 3/4 x 40
Le Grande – 6 x 46
Le Monde – 6 1/4 x 52

* And new for 2010, is the Le Matin, a box pressed 6.75×46 that is sold in boxes of 25 rather than Cabinets of 50.

The Epernay is named for the center of France’s Champagne region, and is said to be a blend that pairs ideally with the bubbly drink, although I did not test this theory. The Epernay is a Nicaraguan puro with tobacco from two farms and a shade grown Corojo ’99 wrapper. It is produced in the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras, like other Illusione cigars.

Be sure to check Illusione out online and follow Dion on Twitter. Also, for more Illusione reviews from us, click on the following: Cruzado, 88, cg4, and the mk.

Now, on to the review.

Pre-light, 2.0:
The wrapper on the Epernay is stunning – a silky smooth, chocolate brown wrapper with a flawless roll, minimal veins, a perfect triple cap, no soft spots, and dark, leathery spotting – flawless. Despite the petite size, the cigar has a nice weight to it. The draw is open and produces a muted profile for the most part. The aroma on the stick is the same from cap to foot – very rich and full, with a velvety profile, sweet cedar notes, and some mustiness along the edges. Overall, this is one of the best looking sticks I’ve ever held.

Burn, 1.8:
The burn produces a plentiful amount of smoke with an effortless draw and a cool temperature from start to finish. The ash is well colored, but a bit loose and flaky along the edges, though this is not abnormal for the ring gauge size.

Flavor, 2.8:
The spice on this cigar is as it should be (according to my flavor palate) – mild, unpronounced, and a compliment to the rest of the flavor profile. Due to the size, this cigar works more into halves, with a mild spice and woody profile running the full length of the cigar. The first half produces creamy notes of honey, graham cracker, and a buttery cedar, while the second half brings a dryer profile with cedar and some bordering oak notes. As the cigar progresses the profile becomes less erratic and creates a calm, gentle, and smooth finish.

Overall, 2.8:
Is this the ultimate mild experience? It’s close, I’ll say that. With a gorgeous wrapper, an effortless burn, and a complex flavor profile, the Epernay is quite an experience. There is however one problem for me – the Epernay line is only sold in singles, five packs, and cabinets of 50; even at the cabinet quantity, the single price is still over $6.50 for a 30 minute smoke – these aren’t cheap. I’ve seen quite a few forum posts for cabinet splits, so there is always a way around it if you really enjoy the stick. This is definitely something I plan to keep around at all times in my humidor, but I don’t see myself investing in a Cabinet just for myself.

(Total: 9.4)

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