Cigar Reviews

Illusione ~mj12~ ‘The Majestic’

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You want some free cigars? Of course you do! Go take some free cigars from Tony’s humidor, he’s giving them out at this link!

Tonight I’m revisiting a cigar I got as part of a Mobster Movie blind review series not too long ago. If you take a look at that review you’ll see that I wasn’t overly impressed with the cigar. After talking to a few people it seems there are some mixed feelings about the Illusione ~mj12~ and I wanted to give it a full out review to see if my experience would be any different. So here it is finally, I made sure to let the ones I have rest and acclimate properly before this review since the blind stick might have been a little fresh from transit.

So after smoking a few more I’m lighting up one of the Illusione ~mj12~ cigars for review tonight. Now I’m a pretty big Illusione fan and I’ve also enjoyed a few of his other lines including the Cuchillos Cubanos and the Cruzado’s (Tony actual posted a review of the Cruzado Dantes awhile back). In case you didn’t know, the person behind the Illusione brand is Dion Giolitto. We also have a few reviews up for the Illusione line such as the ~88~, ~888~ “Slam”, Epernay Le Elegance, ~mk~, and Singulaire Phantom. Now you’ll see from those posts that both Tony and I really enjoyed the cigars. Knowing that, I have to admit I’m coming into this review with mixed expectations. I have high hopes due to other Illusione’s I’ve enjoyed but I also have concerns because of my experience with the blind version of the ~mj12~.

If you haven’t visited his website before I’d highly suggest checking it out over at He has a great section called “The Illusione Story” where he talks about his personal history and a little bit about the meaning of the names behind each of the cigars. It makes for an interesting read. Now I was slightly disappointed to see that Dion did not include a little blurb about the meaning behind the ~mj12~ name. All I can find was it’s nickname which is “The Majestic”. On the section of the website for the ~mj12~ specifically the only information it offers up is the following paragraph:

“A classic connoisseurs’ cigar revealing hints of leather, cinnamon and a long finish.”

So of course I started scouring the web to see what else I could find cause I love learning more about the sticks I review.

What I did find was somewhat limited but still interesting. The cigar is a Nicaraguan Puro and the specific seeds used are Corojo ’99 and Criollo ’98 finished with a Cafe Colorado wrapper. Each of the cigars is also handmade in the Raices Cubanas factory which is located in Nicaragua of course. The cigars come in boxes of 20 and are surrounded by an interesting silver foil wrapper. Warning: You are supposed to remove the foil before smoking! 😀 Wanted to get that out there just in case, you never know sometimes!

Now being the little investigator that I am, I curiously typed “MJ12” into Google and came upon an interesting Wikipedia article. Apparently, “MJ12”, or “The Majestic 12” is “the alleged code name of a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, supposedly formed in 1947 by an executive order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman”. Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories or anythign so I’ll leave it at that, but interesting nonetheless!

Ok so enough of my detective work and blabbering away, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the review before Tony comes back and cracks the whip! 😉

Cigar: Illusione ~mj12~ “The Majestic”
Drink: Southbrook Wineries 2006 Triomphe Cabernet Merlot
Vitola: Toro Gordo (6 x 54)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: About $10
Burn Time: A little under 2 hours

• The wrapper on this cigar has a wonderful dark chocolate brown tone with just a slight oily shimmer to it
• I did notice a few cosmetic imperfections such as a small knot and water spots but no major veins that look concerning
• Near the cap and foot, the cigar is fairly firm while being almost mushy in the middle. The softness there worries me and could produce some tunneling or a hot burning cigar
• The triple cap on the head of this cigar is applied with extreme precision, it is super smooth and blends right in
• From the foot’s perspective, all you see is well packed tobacco leaves
• The cap was pretty firm when clipped with my double bladed guillotine but it still left a clean cut

• Toasting was a surprisingly long process but left me with an evenly glowing foot
• Unfortunately, the perfect toasting did not lead to a perfect burn, I’ve already had 2 canoeing issues within the first 1.5 inches 🙁
• Sadly, I’ve had 2 more relights before reaching the halfway mark
• More and more burn issues that needed correction throughout the cigar, looks like it did not differ much from the blind stick I received
• A little past half way the cigar actually went out completely, I took that opportunity to give it a nice complete re-light and lets hope we get a better burn now
• My hopes for a better burn were shattered quickly as it almost immediately started to tunnel…
• More constant relights as I get to the nub of this cigar

Smoke & Ash:
• Tons of smoke from each draw right from the start of this cigar
• The ash is looking to be moderately strong and holding together
• Fro a visual standpoint, the dark grey color of the ash is not very pleasing and it’s probably related to all the relights
• I was surprised to see very little resting smoke on the cigar, it all but disappears within seconds of laying it down
• The first ash lasted nearly 2 inches before I tapped it off
• Second ash got near 2 inches as well before tapping off to relight

Tasting Notes:
• The wrapper on this cigar has a super attractive bitter cocoa aroma to it
• The foot on the other hand carries more of a barnyard scent with a kick of spice on the nostrils
• The pre-light draw brings a little of the barnyard flavor but it mixing in some coffee adn woodsy notes
• The first few draws were not impressive to me at all, I got a heavy tobacco taste from them but luckily that went away quickly
• Afterwards, the profile is mostly in the burnt woodsy area with a touch of leather
• After about 2 inches the cigar is still mostly woodsy and leathery, I’m starting to pick up a touch of peppery spice now and then
• Retrohale is bringing a wonderful cedar finish and a small little bite, very nice
• Just like most Illusiones I’ve had the retrohale is always significantly more enjoyable than the smoke, I stand by my previous comments that if you don’t retrohale an Illusione you are probably missing out on a lot
• After each re-light I’m getting the expected harshness for a couple draws, it’s ruining the experience for me
• As I pass the halfway mark the profile is mostly the same although I am picking up a bit of sweetness when I’m not fighting the relight harshness
• For the most part this cigar stayed in the medium bodied range although it seems to be picking up a bit in the last third
• The sweetness I was picking up is turning into a sweet coffee type flavor which is a nice addition to the wood and leather, hoping it develops a bit more
• The only thing that really developed towards the end was a little more bite on the retrohale, which is still super good
• The rest of the cigar tapered off in sweetness and built up some harshness to the end, mostly due to the relights I’m sure
• Had to set the cigar to rest early, the harshness and relighting just got to be too much

Final Thoughts:
Let me start by saying I REALLY wanted to enjoy this cigar. It has a wonderful visual appeal to it and I’ve enjoyed mostly every Illusione I’ve had. Sadly though the ~mj12~ yet again failed to meet my expectations. I know it has potential though, the profile when I wasn’t relighting was pretty tasty. And the retrohale was very enjoyable. It’s the terrible burn that lost all the points on this cigar. It made it difficult to enjoy and ruined the flavors for the first couple draws after a relight. If I had this cigar without burn issues I probably would give it a glowing review but I’ve smoked through about 5 of these from different batches and I had the same issues every time. Maybe it’s just my luck cause I know a lot of people really enjoy them, but for me, I’ll stick to other vitolas in the Illusione line before looking at these again.

On the flip side, I happened to discover a wonderful wine last time I took a road trip to Niagara. The Southbrook name was actually a farm not far from my house many years ago. They used to do the typical fruits and vegetables with awesome fresh baked pies and a hay maze for the kids in the fall. Pumpkin picking too of course! When they closed the farm they opened a winery out in the Niagara region so I had to visit them. The wine I’m pairing with tonight is from 2006 and is a blend of a Cabernet and Merlot, which are 2 of my favorite wines from this region. It has a fantastic smooth flavor to it and a nice medium body. It’s got a surprising amount of fruity notes, in particular I’m getting black cherries and blackberries mostly. It also has a smooth oak finish to it from the barrel aging process that comes through very nicely. This is a great cigar pairing wine and would hold it’s ground against a variety of medium and full bodied smokes. It did very well with the Illusione ~mj12~. Other pairings with this cigar could be a coffee with milk, an brown ale and of course, Port!

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. czerbe

    October 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Yo Dan, great reviews and your pictures are turning out very nice. I have heard the same thing about this stick on other sites and from talking to people, its a shame but I guess not every single one of their products can be a home run. Or in your sport a Hat Trick!!! have a great weekend Go Flyers

    • Tony Casas

      October 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      GO FLYERS?!?! GO…FLYERS?!?!?! coughcough GO DEVILS!!!!! hahah sorry man I’m a huge hockey fan and even a bigger Devils fan (hockey fan in the desert, yes I know, strange). I actually like the Flyers a lot too. Just not tomorrow ;p It’ll be a good game though. The Flyers look VERY good this year, and I am just hoping we can do more damage then the crappy year my Devils had last year. PS. Daniel is a Pens fan. He thinks Cindy Crosby is “dreamy”.

      • czerbe

        October 9, 2011 at 7:53 am

        Well Tony how do you like them Flyers now!!! hahah Shut out!!!!

        • Tony Casas

          October 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm

          hahaha, I never said I didn’t like the Flyers 🙂 They are one of my top teams actually, just not when they play the Devils. We really have a hell of a lot to make up for and I am just hoping we can get into the swing of things early. As for the Flyers, now that they have good in-goal presence they are going to be one of the teams to be this year. I expect to see them make it VERY far.

    • Dalamscius

      October 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks Czerbe, glad I’m not the only one with this problem.
      As for your team, I’m gonna have to side with tony here. Pittsburgh is my team and Philly is a long-time rival! Devils, meh. We’ll see how far they get this year. What place did they finish in last year Tony? Can you remind me? That’s right…

      • Tony Casas

        October 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm

        Haha they had the best second half of the season then any team! Plus, parise is back! Plus, from dead last to a hair away from making the playoffs? They did good 🙂

  2. jjo

    October 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Hmm. Humidity issue? Maybe that foil wrapper isn’t allowing the cigar to breathe properly? Whatever it is, it doesn’t sound like much fun.

    Too bad we don’t get much in the way of Canadian wines here. Protectionism for Washington state wineries, I guess. About all you see are ice wines.

    Solid honest review, Daniel.

    • blane

      October 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Brooks from Smoking stogie will be on Kiss my ash radio saturday morning at 10 am.I cant wait to hear the show.

    • Dalamscius

      October 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      I thought the foil might be a problem too jjo, but the blind one I had in the Mobster Series didn’t have any foil on it and it was sitting in my humi for a few weeks. The results were the same so I guess it didn’t have any bearing on the end results.

      I’ve had a few Washington wines and some are very good, but I like to support my locals :). The Ice Wines are good but you can only have so much of them, super sweet. Try and find some Niagara wines if you can, they are very good.

      Thanks again Jeff!

      • jjo

        October 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm

        Yeah, the Ice Wines are a once in a great while thing for me. We make our share of them here, too. I do want to try some of that wine made from apples frozen on the tree if I ever see it. Although I haven’t really checked lately, I think that most of the Canadian wines we get here are from the Okanagan due to proximity. Or maybe you guys are drinking up too much of the domestic stock to have enough to export. 😉

  3. Tadd

    October 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Now I am a self procclaimed illusione junkie and of all the vitolas and labels… The -mj12- is my least favorite. I would rather smoke a -nostoros-…. The stick is just too big and muted for mwe to enjoy. I really really love Dion’s work, I just think there is too much filler and it really takes away from the flavors, I smoked one thispast Wednesday and it did burn pretty straight. However I would much rather smoke an -mk- or -88-….Thanks D!

    • Dalamscius

      October 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm

      Totally agree with you Tadd! Now that you bring up the Nosotros I still have one left over, I may have to spark it up soon to see if age did anything good for them.
      ~88~ and ~mk~ are two of my favorite smokes, this vitola just doesn’t sell the Illusione line very well.

  4. Tim

    October 8, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Illiuaione 88’s are the first boxof cigars I ever bought. Tough to follow up that bar they amset for value/quality!

    • Dalamscius

      October 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      The 88’s as your first purchase is definitely a tough act to follow! haha

  5. Jay

    October 14, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Love photography # 3. Good job ! MJ12, decent but not as special as other describe. I take Epernay, MK or CG4 over MJ12 any day. 88, 888 were decent. Need to smoke through other at some point.

  6. Bill Hibbler (@BillHibbler)

    May 18, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    I had similar issues with needing to relight the cigar so I asked my friend Chris at Heroes & Legacies here in Austin about it. He suggested removing the foil and waiting at least half an hour before smoking it. The foil has a negative effect. I know that your first MJ12 didn’t have foil but, in my case, I’ve had no problems since letting it breathe before lighting it. Also, the maduro is far superior, imo, than the other two MJ12’s.

    Also, I wondered why Illusione put foil on the MJ12 when none of their other cigars have it. It turns out that it’s a tip of the hat to the whole Majestic 12/Roswell Area 51 story behind the name… the tin foil hat people.

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