Illusione 10th Anniversary d’Aosta
First of all, thank you to everyone who entered our giveaways the past two weeks! This week, the winner of the 5 pack of Robaina from Fox Cigar is Mitchell! Congrats, I have reached out via the email you provided for your shipping information. Stay tuned as we’ll be doing more giveaways in the near future, but for not, let’s get to the review.
The Good Stuff:
The French-inspired Illusione Epernay has been an all time favorite cigar of mine for quite sometime, so when word of this 10th anniversary blend went out I immediately added it to my radar. While the release has been spotty, and they have been extremely hard to track down, a good friend of mine (Thanks Jason, you rule!) was able to acquire a box from Lucas Tobacco in Las Cruces, NM. The original Epernay was an extension to the ~eccj~ line and was released in 2009. The blend was milder, created to be paired with champagne, and easier to produce as it was slotted for full production. Fast forward 10 years later and Dion Giolito has tweaked the blend slightly with a different binder to celebrate the cigar’s 10th anniversary. Named the d’Aosta after the Valle de d’Aosta region that borders both Italy and France. The cigar is offered in a single 6 x 50 format which Dion says is the ideal format for the blend. The Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta is a limited edition release as it comes packaged in boxes of 10 running $12 a stick.
- Size: 6 x 50
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan
- Binder: Nciaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican Repbulic
- Body: Medium/Full
- Strength: Medium/Full
- Price: $12
- Pairing: Deschuttes The Abby Scotch Barrel Aged 2016 (12.3% ABV)
The Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta starts out with a rustic looking medium brown wrapper with lots of darker areas located around the foot of the cigar and orangish splotches scattered throughout the cigar’s body. The wrapper itself feels very thin and brittle while the cigar as a whole feels nicely packed with a perfect weight and no soft spots whatsoever. The cigar’s wrapper is laid seamlessly over itself as it features a mild tooth, a few smaller veins, and loads of prominent, natural webbing in the tobacco leaf. The cigar’s long body leads up to a beautiful, round, triple-wrapped cap while the cigar is polished off with the amazingly simple, and elegant white and gold Epernay band we have all come to know and love.
The wrapper on the Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta gives off some nice spice and butter aromas while the foot of the cigar carries more earthy tobacco scents. The cap cut clean and easily using my Xikar XO double bladed cutter. The cold draw features notes of butter, creamed coffee, and lots of natural tobacco and earth notes.
The Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta starts off with a very mild blast of black pepper which quickly fades out of the experience allowing the cigar to release loads of sweet honey, creamed coffee, butter, pecan, and cedar. As I continue to smoke through the first third the creamed coffee and butter become more of focal point in the flavor profile. The draw is incredible as each and every little puff kicks out gobs of thick, white smoke which really sits around for quite some time before dissipating with the cigar itself releases an average amount of stationary smoke as it rests in my ashtray. The burn line is razor thin and dead even leaving behind a trail of tightly compacted, light gray ash which held on for 3/4 of a inch before falling into my ashtray.
Into the second third of the Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta and an awesome, deep pine flavor has entered the flavor arena. Along with the pine the butter and creamed coffee still lead the charge backed by soft brown sugar, pecan, cedar, and honey. The vanilla/scotch-forward beer I paired this cigar with has created an awesome butterscotch mixture with the flavors in the cigar. The retrohale brings out loads of cedar and lots of spice which isn’t an present in the standard smoking experience. The burn line is still dead even as I close out the second third with only a very minor nicotine kick.
Now into the home stretch of the Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta and the flavors are completely centered around the butter and honey. The final third is much more sweet the the previous two. I can’t remember ever smoking a cigar with this amount of butter, but I love it. The backing flavors are the pine, cedar, pecan, and creamed coffee. One thing to note is the burn-time for this cigar. at 2 hours it’s significantly longer than the standard Epernay and I love that. I smoked this cigar down until my fingers were on fire. And then I swapped over to my redeemer tool (also gifted to my by Jason!) until there was no more. I experienced no harshness, nor any extended heat as I closed out the cigar with only a very small nicotine kick.
Why was this cigar so hard to track down? Was it worth it? I don’t know the answer to the first question, but the answer to the second is “Hell Yes”. The Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta delivered in every area possible. Construction was flawless, burn was perfect and the flavor profile was complex and incredible. I can honestly say the Epernay is probably one of my absolutely favorite blends ever created by any cigar manufacturer ever. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared that tinkering with the blend could have been a catastrophe, but instead it turned out to be the opposite. I loved it. My only problem with this cigar is how limited and hard to find it is. I cold see myself smoking so much more if only I could get a hold of them.
Ahh yes, the Abyss. A barrel aged “must” each year. Brewed by Deschuttes brewery in Bend, OR this 2016 Scotch Barrel Aged version comes in at a whopping 12.3% ABV. The beer leads with loads of very prominent scotch, chocolate, black licorice, malt, vanilla, and oak with a very sticky, heavy mouthfeel before finishing extremely sweet with more vanilla, scotch, malt, and oak. Being so close to the holidays I was experimenting a bit with this pairing. I knew the flavors would mash up beautifully, which they did, but I was curious if the scotch from the beer and bold butter flavors from the Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary d’Aosta would result in a butterscotch flavor and was completely floored when they did. While this cigar is created to pair with champagne, I really don’t think I could have picked a better pairing for my personal palate.