Cigar Reviews

Illusione ~hl~ Maduro – 2010 Limited Release

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Today’s cigar is one I’ve been waiting to get to for awhile. Not exactly sure why I let it sit for so long but I was down to my very last stick of these in my humidor and decided to get a long awaited review done of it! This is the Illsuione ~hl~ Maduro, also dubbed the “Holy Lance”.

Now let’s make sure we don’t confuse this with the new release of Maduro cigars that Illusione has put out recently. The new ones are easily noticable by their red and gold band, which signifies the maduro line. A couple years ago in 2010, Dion Giolito, the mastermind behind Illusione cigars, released a limited run of the ~hl~ lancero cigar in a maduro wrapper. There had the same band as normal, but with the obvious difference of the maduro leaf.

You may have also stumbled upon a limited release of the ~hl~ in a Candela wrapper at the time as well. I wasn’t able to get my hands on any of those, but the maduro version caught my attention a lot more anyway. From what I understand, the filler and binder remain the same in this limited release which includes some Corojo ‘99 and Criollo ‘98 lead. Only the wrapper was swapped for a San Andreas maduro leaf from Mexico.

If you’ve checked out some of other Illusoine cigar reviews, such as the ‘888’, Singulaire, ~mk~, ~88~, or the Epernay, you will know that each cryptic name has a special meaning behind it. I won’t reinvent the wheel here, this is Dion’s explanation of the ~hl~ name directly from the Illusione website:
My Lancero , the lance. Get it? Constantine was the first Christian Emperor to lead Rome. It was fabled that he had possession of the very spear that punctured the side of Jesus while on the cross. He was said to carry this relic into battle and, it was said that it helped him win his many battles. It is an artisan blend and, the mildest of all my cigars.

Cigar: Illusione ~hl~ Maduro
Drink: Ayinger Celebrator
Vitola: Lancero (7.5 x 40)
Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $9.75
Burn Time: About 1 hour

• The Illusione ~hl~ Maduro is wrapped up by a very tasty look dark chocolate leaf that is extremely toothy
• The texture of the wrapper is like sandpaper and it’s a bit bumpy in some areas but the veins few and the ones you can see are all fairly small
• The entire cigar has some firmness to it when squeezed, it has almost no give from end to end
• The cap is finished off with a sort of pigtail, I’m not sure if all mine were damaged but it seemed like a bit of the pigtail is always broken off
• It’s easy to see that the foot is very well packed and neatly finished
• Even though it seemed a little tight on the pre-light, the draw is actually very good

• The toasting was fairly quick and easy given that the ring gauge is pretty small on this cigar
• Burn has been spot on through the first couple of inches, no complaints to be had here so far
• I’m very happy with the burn on this cigar for the most part, I tend to have bad luck with lanceros
• I did need to make one correction just past the half way mark as the cigar started burning unevenly
• I needed a couple more small corrections as the cigar continued, I think the cold is factor here today too, hovering at 34F right now…

Smoke & Ash:
• I’m having no problems getting a big mouthful of smoke from each draw, it’s not too thick though
• The ash is quite nice for this lancero vitola, staying clean and strong and holding out for just over half an inch
• The color on the ash is interesting as well with some white and nearly black zebra striping happening
• The resting smoke is moderate and fairly consistent, it pushes out a nice line of slightly sweet smelling smoke
• Subsequent ashes held on to about a half inch each time and stayed clean without any flaking

Tasting Notes:
• The wrapper on this cigar has a nice sweet chocolaty aroma to it
• The foot has an even more interesting aroma, more sweet chocolate with an addition of cinnamon and nutmeg
• The pre-light draw on this Illusione ~hl~ Maduro brings more of the sweet chocolate but this time with a more peppery spice instead of the lighter cinnamon and nutmeg I got on the foot aroma
• The initial draws brought out a strong coffee flavor to mix with the stronger spices, definitely a burst of flavor at the start here but it might be a little bit charred
• After only half an inch, the flavors seemed to balance out a bit more and the charred flavor disappeared. I’m left with a smooth cocoa and coffee profile with hints of spice peeking in here and there
• The coffee flavors definitely seem ot be developing nicely as the spice slowly drops off
• The retrohale at this point still has a bit of bite to it but the finish is smooth and sweet, very tasty and mostly in the mild-medium range
• The nutmeg and cinnamon flavors started making a comeback in the middle of the cigar, adding another nice dimension to the experience
• All of the flavors continue to be awesomely balanced and taking turns being the prominent ones, there’s also some woodsiness in there too now
• The creamy finish really is the icing on the cake here, makes each draw very enjoyable
• In the last third of the Illusione ~hl~ Maduro the body started picking up into the higher medium range and all the favors started getting more intense
• The intense sweet coffee, cocoa and spices are really making for an enjoyable last third here, they balance together so nicely

Final Thoughts:
Well it’s no surprise to me here but this is another rock solid stick from Dion Giolito of Illusione cigars. It’s no secret that Tony and I are fans of his cigars and from my experience with the ones I’ve smoked he has an excellently high ratio of great sticks. The Illusione ~hl~ Maduro lives up to my past experiences and offered me an interesting and multi-dimensional flavor profile that I think could be enjoyed by a very wide range of cigar smokers. It feels like one of those sticks you could hand to a new smoker or an experienced smoker and get a positive experience either way. Remember that this one has been aging for nearly 2 years so if you tried it earlier I’ve heard they used to pack a bigger punch. The price I paid for mine seems to be around the average price and this is one of those times when I can say the nearly $10 price tag is almost worth it. If i did have one complaint it would be that the cigar didn’t last long enough, I wanted it to keep going, lol!

Tony pointed me in the direction of this brew awhile back. At that time I was only able to track it down while I was vacationing in Florida. But recently I stumbled across it at my local store and immediately stock up on a few of their 4-packs. The maker is the very popular German brwery called Ayinger and today’s offering is the Celebrator. It’s a very interesting dark ale that comes pretty close to almost being a stout. It’s official style is called a “Doppelbock”. Basically, a Doppelbock is a stronger, maltier and comewhat creamier version of Germany’s traditional strong ale, the “Bock”. The flavors in this bottle are overflowing! there’s definitely a ton of maltiness which I really enjoy, theres a helping hand of coffee, some dark chocolate sweetness and a very smooth creamy finish. What a great brew! Did it go well with the Illusione ~hl~ Maduro? Of course it did, and it would go well with a huge variety of other cigars as well. they complimented each other very well with similar flavors. A nice cup of coffee or a stout would have also made a great pairing here today.

Daniel T. (a.k.a. Dalamscius) is an IT Professional from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He enjoys cigars, scuba diving, hockey, fishing, nature and anything that challenges his mind. If he's not sitting on his big comfy couch or at work you can usually find him in a boat on top of the water or 100ft under the water enjoying a dive. He is engaged to a wonderful Fiance and looking forward to his wedding. Feel free to contact Daniel anytime via email (dalamscius[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter


  1. cjrio

    February 10, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Have to ask, whats with the bowl of ice? Just for decoration in the back?

    • Dalamscius

      February 10, 2012 at 11:22 am

      haha cjrio! It’s just some decorative plate with crystals or something in it. No ice. We’ve been pretty lucky with snow/ice this year but we have some arriving this weekend…

      Thanks for the read! Hope to see your around more often

      • cjrio

        February 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm

        love the website- its my new go to for cigar reviews

  2. TADD

    February 10, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Now I am an -illusione- fan boi, so I am extremely biased when I say I love this stick! I need to get more of the OR. Not my favorite stick of Dion’s, but still awesome! Great review, I think they have mellowed a bit, but have never really been a powerhouse stick. The complexity and changes in flavor keep you excited. If I was stranded on an island…. an -illusione- would be the one stick I would have for sure…..Thanks for your great review of a great lancero.

    • Dalamscius

      February 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks Tadd, I gotta agree with you on the killer brand that is Illusione, they pump out some awesome cigars!
      I need to get my hands on some of the newer ones to see how they compare!

  3. jjo

    February 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I have to admit I have not yet had an Illusione, something I’ll have to rectify. I do love a well constructed lancero. Great work, as usual.

    I thought maybe that was a bowl of rock salt left over from clearing your sidewalk. 😉

    • Dalamscius

      February 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      lol jjo, I don’t have any rock salt left. It’s all over my driveway right now! We had more snow this weekend.

      Get yourself some Illusiones! Go buy them now! lol

  4. Emjaysmash

    February 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    When I smoked this stick, I think I had high expectations for it. Not that It wasn’t good I just expected something more. I wish I had read that this is Dion’s mildest stick.

    • Dalamscius

      February 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      I think if you are a full-bodied smoker this might not be your cup of tea but like you said, it’s still a good stick for that type of smoker as well.

  5. DaByrdman33

    February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Just smoked one of these yesterday. I have about a half a box left and I am rationing them. Really good with a morning cup of coffee. Great review.

    • Dalamscius

      February 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      That does sound like a nice pairing in the morning! Will have to stock up and give that a try! Thanks Byrdman!

  6. Swede214

    February 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Have smoked the”888′, very good, at least it was for me,enjoyed it.

    • Dalamscius

      February 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Is that the only Illusione you’ve tried so far? You should try some of the other ones, they all seem to be unique in their own way and very tasty.

  7. Peter Glad

    February 13, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I love the Illusione epernay, I know there are some HLs at a local shop, after reading this review I feel like picking a few up for my humidor and keeping them on hand. Great review, loved it.

    Peter G

    • Dalamscius

      February 13, 2012 at 10:40 am

      Thanks Peter! Let me know your thoughts when you pick them up. I’m curious to hear how some of the fresher batches compare.

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