Illusione Epernay Le Monde
Posted on March 22 2021
Smoking Time: 78 Minutes
Cigars Smoked: 3
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Illusione was founded in 2006 by Dion Giolito. The imagery of the company is wildly unique, often using code words or names hinting towards conspiracy theories. Such as one of Illusione’s first blends, MKULTRA, a different version of the Ultra No 8. Known for being a boutique brand that does not stay inside the boxes of societal norms, Illusione will provide you with a pleasant experience, and quality Nicaraguan cigars, and if nothing else, very interesting instagram posts. Illusione has landed on many publications “top whatever” lists, and will continue to do so. “Deep In Flavor, Deep In Your Mind.”
Visual Inspection: At first glance, this is a beautiful cigar, and upon further inspection, I am reassured of it. Veins are minimal and noticeable, with smaller ones breaking off, running through in a honeycomb fashion. The wrapper is a light brown, that of coffee with half and half in it, topped off with a sturdy triple cap. There is oil present on the wrapper, giving it a sheen. When squeezing the cigar, it doesn't have much play, but more importantly does not reveal any soft pockets.
The aroma off of the foot is very strong, notes of barnyard and floral sweetness. Using my Colibri V Cut, I clip the head with no problems to the cigar. The barnyard is prevalent in the cold draw as well as flavors of vanilla, green tea, and honey.
First Third: Epernay received flame very well but the burn line started off wonky to say the least. Flavors are muted, and truly a bit hard to identify right away. After pondering it, notes of citrus, nuts, and hay are most identifiable. As I move along the nut flavors are more prevalent, and growing stronger.
Draw is ample, possibly loose but not too much so. The burn line is cleaning itself up, but i'm not sure if it will fully correct. I am quite surprised how mild the Nicaraguan Habano wrapper is. I have not received any spicy notes, and more so resembles an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. While still gaining in profile and flavor, the Epernay is mild, but bringing in flavors of pecans, half and half, vanilla, and green tea. A retrohale brings a slight hint of charred wood.
Second Third: While still maintaining its mild profile, the Epernay is getting more creamy, and is pleasantly met with the familiar pecan and vanilla. The draw has tightened up enough, and leaves a nice solid ash, but it is flaky. It doesn't want to come off when I knock the cigar, but instead prefers to leave small flakes on my desk. Nothing more than a slight inconvenience.
Certainly starting to get spicier, bits of black pepper are peaking through, but not that of a habano wrapper. Notes of lemon zest also show up and compliments the ever prevalent flavors of pecan, half and half, and vanilla. Closing out this third, it has gotten much more bold, a retrohale brings black pepper back into play, and flavors of earth, and oak have arrived.
Last Third: This is one of the slowest growing cigars i’ve had. Now I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing, I’d say it helps make it more of a unique experience. Flavors have shifted away from sweet, but still retains its creamy profile. Notes of walnut, oak, earth and dried hay, have taken the reins. When resting, the cigar puts off a lot of clean slate colored smoke. The color of the ash has been consistent, a dark grey, and is still firm but flaky.
The pepper is still becoming more prevalent, now tingling my tongue. While the burn line has corrected itself, the whole time it has varied immensely. Still fluctuating in profile, the sweeter flavors have returned. Vanilla, green tea, and honey are met with a powerful pepper retrohale.
Final Thoughts: Habano wrappers tend to have a very unique quality, and most often, easily identifiable. Not the Epernay however, it is very subtle. If you like a slowly progressing cigar this is a great option. Definitely in my top 5 sticks from Illusione’s portfolio, the long progression, and interesting habano characteristics, are what makes this a unique cigar. It is a stretch, but this really tastes like a poor man's Atabey. I would pass this cigar out to someone who is a fan of Ecuadorian Connecticut wrappers, and those who like habano wrappers but with a disclaimer. While the burn line was odd to say the least, the quality of the cigar is good. There were no problems with the wrapper, and the ash was more or less firm. This is a great start to Illusiones growing options, and will come and go in my humidor.