Illusione ~888~ Maduro
Today’s cigar is one I’ve been waiting to do for awhile. I think it’s pretty clear from some of my past reviews that I’m a pretty big fan of Dion Giolitto’s, especially his original Illusione line up. So when I heard there was going to be a few Maduro blends added to the lineup I knew I had to get my hands on a few. If you check some of my older reviews you’ll see I typed one up for the ~hl~ Maduro awhile back, but that blend was a special spin-off and not a full production line. So I naturally wanted to test these out.
I did review the original line Illusione ~888~ Slam and had nothing but praises to sing for it, and so began my hunt for the Maduro version! It’s pretty challenging to get these up to Canada since so few retailers are willing to ship them but I did manage to land myself a few of the ~888~ Maduro (Churchill size) just before the wedding. With all the craziness that happened around that time I never got a chance to sit down and enjoy it fully for a review so I’m finally getting to it now after smoking through a few of the ones I purchased.
The story behind the name of the ~888~ Maduro is the same as the original label so I encourage you to check out my review of the original line ~888~ Slam to learn about what the numbers mean. I love how Dion has incorporated meaning into each blend and tweaked all the blends individually to suit the vitolas.
As I sit down for tonights review, it’s pretty darn evident that fall is here and winter is not far away. We’ve had a week full of rain and another week of rain ahead of us. The nights have been dropping to 50F and my new residence is not very well equipped for winter smoking, so I’m starting to worry where I’m going ot get to enjoy my cigars soon. I’m sure I’ll figure something out but if anyone has a nice heated space that they’d like to share, please let me know! lol
And with that last bit of whining, lets just jump right on into the review and see how the Illusione ~888~ Maduro measured up!
Cigar: Illusione ~888~ Maduro
Drink: Fullers 2011 Vintage Ale
Vitola: Churchill (7.5 x 48)
Wrapper: Mexican San Andreas
Price: About $9
Burn Time: Just short of 2 hours
• The wrapper on this Illusione ~888~ Maduro is a thing of beauty, it’s dark, oily and super toothy!
• The cigar itself is pretty firm from end to end, not much give when squeezed here
• From the foot, this cigar looks to be very well packed, and that backs up the reason for firm feel throughout
• The triple ca is expertly applied, very clean and blends in perfectly
• The simple no non-sense bands on all the Illusione cigars give them a clean sort of elegance that I always admired
• The draw on this cigar is a little tighter than I would have liked, it’s taking a couple extra efforts to get a decent smoke volume
• A little past the halfway mark, the draw opened up perfectly. Too bad it didn’t start out this way
• Toasting was easy and even and didn’t take very long to get the foot glowing nicely
• Through the first bit, the cigar is burning at a nice pace and despite a bit of a wobble it’s keeping somewhat even
• The burn line managed to even itself out just after the first inch and is now burning razor sharp!
• As I burn past the halfway mark, I’m getting nothing but razor sharp awesomeness here it’s burning at a good pace for me to kick back and enjoy every bit of it
• Right around the spot where the draw opened up, the burn when very lopsided and needed a couple of corrections to get it back in line
Smoke & Ash:
• Due to the tighter draw, I’m not getting a ton of smoke here
• The resting smoke is fairly light, just a thin steady line that’s giving off a nice burnt wood aroma
• The ash is starting off a bit flaky so I’m hoping it cleans itself up a bit as it burns further down
• The color of the ash is very light grey with some zebra striping happening, looking fairly strong as well other than the bit of flaking
• The flaking stopped after burning through the first bit, probably just some damage to the foot that caused it
• First ash managed to last about an inch before I tapped it off. Probably could have gone longer but it’s a bit windy out here tonight
• The wrapper aroma is very light, maybe just a touch of sweet tobacco here
• The foot is a totally different story, I’m getting lots of bitter cocoa and peppery spice aromas here
• The cold draw brings a very tasty sweet cedar and cocoa flavor to the party
• The first few initial draws are pretty bland so far, just a touch of pepper and a bit of a charred type of flavor, really hoping this turns around quickly
• The charred flavor slowly disappeared and the cocoa notes I picked up earlier are starting to come around, really glad to see the this!
• The body started off right in the medium category so I’m anticipating a full bodied smoke by the end here
• The retro-hale has a nice cocoa spice to it, maybe some nutmeg or cloves mixed in there, and a smooth cedar and cocoa finish
• Coffee flavors are also starting to creep in and making for an excellent and well balanced profile now
• A bit of the pepper, nutmeg and clove flavors are sneaking back into the mix
• I really have to applaud how nicely balanced this cigar is, there are a nice array of flavor all around and they are mixing very well together
• As I get into the last third, the flavors and body are really starting to pick up
• The coffee and spices are taking the front seat right now, really increasing in intensity
• Despite the definite ramp up in flavor intensity, the cigar did not get bitter or harsh right to the end
It’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of *most* of the Illusione line up. I’ve only really had 1 that I didn’t enjoy (read my experience with the ~mj12~ here ) so I had some high expectations going into this review. The rocky start had me pretty scared but the Illusione ~888~ Maduro managed to pull itself out of the hole and finish strong with some excellent flavors and a great burn. I’m not sure I would pick this up over the original blend but it is nice to see some variety in the Illusione line-up and it’s definitely worth a try if you are a fan of the original line.
So I found this brew hidden in the back of my fridge this weekend and decided to dig it out. It’s been there for over a year but this is a special Limited Edition Vintage Ale from Fullers and it comes ready to be aged! The bottle date is sometime in 2011 but it’s suggested to be aged as far as 2014. It weighs in at 8.5% which is why it can age so well. I must say that time spent aging has been good to this brew! It’s like a deep, dark and rich flavor bomb in your mouth. It has a sort of stout type of thickness to it but mixes in flavors such as blackberry, vanilla, toffee and a bit of a caramel note. Very good stuff, too bad I can’t find it anymore. It’s made for an excellent compliment to the lllusione ~888~ Maduro. Other suggested pairings here would be a hefty stout or a nice bottle of port.