Cigar Reviews

Illusione ‘888’ Slam

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On the agenda today we have a cigar I’ve been waiting to review for awhile. This particular stick was sent to me in a trade and I’m glad it was cause I had none left to review! lol. Seems I had smoked all the ones I had and forgot to save one for a review… oops!

But despite my silly oversight, I managed to get one to review for everyone’s enjoyment! The cigar I’m referring to happens to be an Illusione ‘888’ Slam. This particular cigar is not entirely full production at the time I write this. Dion Giolitto, of Illusione Cigars, released this as a prototype blend and it seems it was well received all around!

Although the name is mostly the same, the Illusione ‘888’ Slam is not the exact same blend as the Illusione ‘888’. The main difference is a single type of filler leaf that was removed to help make the “bench” press process possible. The bench press style of this cigar is where the “Slam” in the title comes from. The Illusione ‘888’ Slam is a Nicaraguan Puro, meaning all the leaf in the blend is sourced from Nicaraguan tobacco. The one thing that doesn’t come from Nicaragua in this cigar is the production, it’s actually rolled in the Honduras factory.

As with each of the Illusione blends, they have a little catchphrase associated with each blend. In this case, the catch phrase is “Neccesary and Sufficient”. The name and numbers have roots in Dion’s faith and I would recommend reading about the meaning on his website. The addition of the meaning behind each name is a very interesting addition in the cigar world.

Cigar: Illusione ‘888’ Slam
Drink: Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin
Vitola: (6.75 x 48)
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: About $11.00
Burn Time: A little over 1.5 hours

• This is a long bench-pressed cigar with an appealing cinnamon brown wrapper
• The wrapper appears to have a couple of small water spots but there are no substantial veins to be seen anywhere, it’s very smooth
• The cigar has a soft feel to it when squeezed but it’s nicely consistent from end to end
• The top is finished with a clean triple cap while the foot appears very well packed
• The cut was pretty easy although it made a bit of a mess in the ashtray

• The toasting on this cigar was super easy, the smaller ring gauge and bench pressed shape helped it to glow evenly with little effort
• Through the first bit the cigar is burning razor sharp as well as nice and slow
• May have spoke too soon once again, started getting some very slanted burn now
• I let it go for a bit hoping for a self correction but it needed a little intimidation from my lighter
• Had another lopsided burn situation that needed correction just past the halfway mark
• In the last third the wrapper actually stopped burning and I needed to touch it up a couple times, this might have been due to the 94% humidity outside?

Smoke & Ash:
• Lots of smoke coming off each draw, very full and enjoyable
• The ash is a very light grey and has some dark black zebra striping
• It only lasted about an inch, started to go all lopsided so I decided to tap it off
• Despite it’s weakness, the ash stays nice and clean with no flaking
• Ashes continue to be about an inch but the few touchups made it weaker and I had a few miss the ashtray and go for a dive to the floor
• I had pure butter fingers with this cigar tonight and kept losing my ash! Oops!

Tasting Notes:
• The wrapper has a light and sweet aroma to it, maybe a touch of cocoa in there
• Pre-light draw brings a heavy flavor of cedar and earthiness
• Right from the initial draw I’m getting a big burst of spice on each draw with an earthy undertone
• The retrohale right off the bat here is fantastic! It’s got a nice helping of cedar, a mall bite of spice and the finish is super unique. The closest I can compare it to is the type of grapes used to make wine with. A very unique tarty sweetness that I’ve never found in a cigar before
• Body is starting off in the low end of medium so far
• The spice settles down after a couple inches and left me with mostly earthiness and some cedar, the retrohale remains super tasty!
• As I get to the halfway mark I’m getting a nice roasted coffee flavor that’s balancing very nicely with the cedar and spice
• The finish throughout this cigar has been extremely smooth and not drying at all, you could probably smoke this whole cigar without a drink, it’s that smooth
• Getting into the last third that tarty sweetness I’m getting on the retrohale is making an appearance in the normal draw, very nice touch
• As I get into the last couple of inches the spice is making a big comeback, each draw gives a very interesting texture on my tongue, it’s thick and chewy and almost feels like I just sprinkled black pepper right on my tongue. Very cool!
• The cigar did not get harsh at all near the end, just some huge bursts of spice and still a smooth finish

Final Thoughts:
The Illusione ‘888’ Slam was awesome! That just about sums it up! Do I need to continue? ok fine… The most enjoyable part of this cigar that I can’t emphasize enough is the retrohale. If you don’t run the smoke through your nasal passages I think you would be missing out on a huge part of this cigar. You would probably think that I’m crazy and the cigar was just ok. Without the retrohale, it’s an ok cigar. But with it, it’s fantastic. The burn was nice and even for the most part and draw was spot on. The price is a tad high but this is a long vitola and makes for a fully enjoyable experience. the price may make it hard for a lot of people to opt for a full box, but definitely reach for a 5-pack if you can, they are worth it in my opinion.

Tonight’s pairing choice is from Wychwood Brewery in Oxfordshire England and is called Hobgoblin. Seems I’m picking up a lot of English brews lately, not on purpose though, it just seems to be what I find at the store. I actually posted up a full review of this beer awhile ago during the colder months, you can read it here. The beer has some seriously tasty hoppy bitterness and lots of malt. On top of that you can pick up some light berry flavors. It’s definitely enjoyable on it’s own and I’ve found it to be an excellent pairing with quite a few cigars as well. It paired nicely with the Illusione ‘888’ Slam and I think the main reason for this is because of it’s straightforward profile. It doesn’t have too much in the way of other sweet flavors and prides itself as a traditional Ruby Beer. This makes it a good palate cleanser and doesn’t mess with the cigars flavors very much, allowing you to enjoy the cigar for what it is. Other great pairings here would be a full stout, my favorite tawny port or a nice cup of coffee.

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


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