Illusione Epernay Le Elegance
This Epernay was actually gifted to my by Agent 24 over at cigarspy. I have been trying to get my hands on a few Illusione’s for quite sometime, but no local shops anywhere near me whatsoever carry the line, nor do they plan to in the near future. (so if you have a few extras, let me know, we’ll set up a trade). I honestly couldn’t wait not only to smoke the Epernay, but to get a review done on it as well. Dion has a massive following, and his strength as a cigar manufacturer is quickly building up.
The Good Stuff: Illusione is a company founded by Dion Giolito, who started the company with hopes of creating a cigar that resembled old Nicaragua. Dion produced the Illusione line of cigars with only the best tobacco grown from Jalapa Valley, and Esteli Nicaragua. These cigars are perfectly constructed using Corojo from 1999, and Criollo from 1998 seeds that are then wrapped in Cafe Colorado with a near perfect cuban style triple cap.
Size: 5 3/4 x 40 – Wrapper: Café Rosado – Filler/Binder: Corojo/Criollo – Origin: Nicaragua
Prelight: The Illusione Epernay is a bit different than most vitolas. This cigar sports a very long, slender shape. Honestly, I forsee this as a possible problem for the draw. It has a long way to travel, and not a lot clearance to go by. Luckily Dion knows his stuff and to compensate the Epernay is very loosely wrapped. The cigar is a bit soft, but nothing to be concerned about. I found one small soft spot directly in the center of the cigar, hopefully it won’t be too much of a pain once I get there. The Epernay is very light, and creamy brown in color. It looks similar to a pecan sandie, and even smells a bit like one too. The first scents I pulled off of this cigar were grassy, earthy, with hints of nuts, vanilla, and honey. The triple cap is completely evident, you can even see it through the blur in the above picture. 99% of the time this is where I personally run into issue with wrapping, so a triple cap is more than welcomed. Outside of the soft spot I mentioned earlier the cigar seems to be constructed perfectly. There is only one really visible vein, but it’s tucked nicely it and shouldn’t cause me any problems. The Cold draw was a bit surprising. I picked up on massive notes of spice right away. Seemed almost a bit Christmasy with hints of nutmeg, honey, and cinnamon. This cigar was cut using a Cuban Crafters double bladed “perfecto” cutter, and lit pretty quickly under my single flame colibri torch.
First Smoke: The one thing on my mind was the draw. How was the vitola going to affect it?! Honestly, if anything, it improved it. The Epernay produces a massive, massive, draw accompanied by very thick, large clouds of smoke on the exhale. This is a perfect cigar for retrohaling. It’s smooth enough not to bother you, yet flavorful enough to be worth the effort. Right from the start The Epernay starts to produce a very strong, spicy, pepper taste. Paired with the pepper are grassy, woodsy, flavors with touches of honey, and caramel. This Illusione is producing a slight pepper after taste that is actually tickling the back of my throat. The burn line is quite consistent, and the Epernay produces almost no stationary smoke. The smoke itself isn’t the best of aromas so it’s not going to be a very welcome cigar by non-smokers. The ash is very pepper colored, and fell off about an inch into the cigar.
I thought the ash would hold on longer than it did, so I didn’t get my usual snap just before it ashed. But, you get the idea.
Halfway There: Halfway through the Epernay there is a drastic change up in flavor. The pepper has simmered down quite a bit, and there is a slight chalkiness overpowering it. Don’t take that the wrong way, it is in no way dis-tasteful and actually brings a great balance to the cigar. The honey is a bit stronger and there are small hints of grassy/floral/nature mixed in with it now. I am starting to get waves in the burn line but, for sake of the review, I refuse to correct them unless it’s a matter of life or death. Along with the burn line the draw itself is acting up a bit. It seems as though the filler is burning a bit faster than the wrapper thus, making it harder to get a good draw after the cigar has been stationary for some time.
Shortly after snapping this picture the Epernay actually put itself out. I wasn’t babysitting this guy either. The wife wanted me inside to watch a movie so I wasn’t taking it lightly. After ashing before the relight, I realized it was in fact the filler burning much faster than the wrapper. I burned a chunk of the wrapper and continued on.
Finish: As I got further and further into the smoke, the pepper diminished more, and the cigar became much smoother, and creamier. This is how I wish all cigars would end. The honey/floral arrangement of flavors remained consistent through the end, and after the relight I didn’t have any further problems with the burn. The Epernay did get me slightly light headed upon standing up, but until that point I felt little, to no sign of any nicotine in the smoke.
Overview: Dion came through just as I hoped he would. The Epernay is an incredible cigar that I would LOVE to have in my regular rotation (if I could just find them). This cigar is complex enough to recommend to any cigar afficianado, and smooth enough for even the most novice of smokers. I’m not too sure on the price point on these bad boys so I can’t talk about value, but if it’s anything less that $8 a stick then you’re golden.