Cigar Brand: Illusione
Cigar Name: ~88~ Robust Maduro (aka “88 Maduro”)
Country of Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: San Andreas
Ring Gauge: 52
Cost: N/A (received in a bomb, but retails for around $9)
Where purchased: N/A
Drink Pairing: Boddingtons
I generally really enjoy the cigars that Illusione makes. I think their Rothchildes is one of the best values around, and everything I’ve had from them has been good if not great. I’m expecting more of the same from this Illusione 88 Maduro. This cigar looks beautiful. A very rich, deep dark color that I love.
This cigar feels great. No soft or hard spots, just an overall good feeling. The wrapper is nice and smooth with minor veins for the most part and nothing physically detracting from the overall beauty this cigar presents. I love their simple bands too, letting the look of the cigar take center stage by only using a thin strip of information to identify the smoke.
On the cold draw I’m getting a taste I can’t put into words. It’s something I’ve tasted before, but I’m not sure what exactly. It’s sort of a dance of tastes around caramel and, primarily, raisins. In fact, I’m now realizing the overwhelming taste is raisins. Which I don’t like.
The cold draw is a little on the tight side, and it visually looks it. This thing looks packed full of leaves. I’m tempted to recut it to try to open the draw up, but instead I’m going to wait and see if it gets better once lit.
I love my Xikar EX soft flame lighter. Lighting a cigar with that is always much more of a task than using my Xikar Axia dual flame torch. It requires patience where the Axia requires you only keep your fingers far enough away from the foot to avoid getting burned.
Not a lot of smoke output in the first five minutes. The draw has definitely improved and, while still a little snug, is close enough to perfect that I’m going to leave it be for now. I’m getting some pepper on the retro in the first few pulls, a slight burn in the nose but not terrible.
It’s a little windy outside and the burn is going a little wavy. Not terrible but I’m going to proactively touch it up all the same. After about a half inch in the retro turned super smooth with no burn. It’s matching the creamy Boddingtons I’m drinking quite nicely in that regard. The caramel I got on the cold draw has stuck around but, thankfully, the raisins are nowhere to be found.
I just moved into a new condo over the last week and there’s only one thing I know about my upstairs neighbor: she vacuums at least 3 times a day. Right now being one of those times. It’s a slight intrusion on the otherwise peaceful atmosphere of birds and air conditioning units of my backyard. At least the vacuuming is short lived.
I’m getting bad juju that this baby is tunneling. Not sure, but based on the draw and burn it’s a hunch. I’ll find out shortly when I knock the first ash off.
Fueling my speculation is the lack of smoke I’m getting in my mouth when I pull in. That lack of smoke is turning into a lack of taste and is really unfortunate. To get a decent taste I’m having to pull in several times in a row — not the end of the world, but not great either.
That black hole in the middle is a pit more than a tunnel. Additionally, if I let it sit for more than 90 seconds it keeps trying to go out. Something is wrong here.
Ending the first third I touch it up by trying to burn some of the wrapper away, hoping to get it to catch up to the filler. It’s still not burning strong, there’s still not much smoke, and it still requires about five quick pulls to get a fair bit of smoke. I’ve still got some of that sweet caramel, but I no longer have high hopes for the rest of this. In fact, if it doesn’t shape up quickly in the second third I’m going to end it early so I can go stuff my face with some Vietnamese Pho.
I’ve spent so much time nursing this cigar that I’ve ignored my Boddingtons. I like ignoring a drink because I’m so happy with the smoke, not for these reasons. The burn is continuing to go loco and the wind is no longer present, so I can’t even blame the wind.
Again, despite some serious CPR being performed this sucker wants to die. I love Illusione normally, so I’m half tempted to turn on the sprinkler, drop to my knees, and start screaming “WWWHHHHYYYYY?!” in the makeshift rain. That’s probably not a great first impression on the neighbors though.
Bleh. It’s done. I’m going to eat.
Not good. Very wavy, weird tunneling like a mine shaft. Couldn’t get it to consistently stay lit or produce much smoke.
This was obviously not a great smoke. The flavor was great when it was there, it just wasn’t there much. I spent way too much time fighting to keep it burning and maintaining it. Likely just a single dud stick so I’ll have to try another example and see if I get the same.