Illusione Haut 10
I took a bit of a break to spend some time with family and friends during the holiday season, and I hope everyone else got to do the same. Now, we’re back in the game brining you my last review of 2016, Illusione’s Haut 10 paired with a bottle of Prairie Artisan Ale’s Christmas Bomb!.
The Good Stuff:
The Haut 10 was created by Dion Giolito of Illusione to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary. The cigar made its debut at this year’s IPCPR trade show and hit shelves quickly, before the FDA regulatory deadline. The Illusione Haut 10 comes in a single 5 1/2 x 52 robusto Extra format with features a Nicaraguan cafe Clara AAA grade wrapper, over a Nicaraguan binder and filler featuring seco dominant criollo 98 and corona 99 which is produced at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A., or TABSA factory in Nicaragua. The Haut 10 comes packaged in boxes of 12 running $15.95 a stick. As with the trend, the Haut 10 is slotted to be a regular production release. These were actually pretty hard to track down, but I did end up scooping up a handful from our friends over at Cigar Federation.
Size: 5 1/2 x 52
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Pairing: Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb! (Imperial Stout 11% ABV)
The Illusione Haut 10 starts with an absolutely gorgeous medium brown wrapper. While the wrapper is very consistent in color, it does give off a nice orange glow when light reflects off of the cigar. The wrapper showcases some thick, natural webbing in the tobacco leaf and only a few very minor veins. The wrapper feels semi-dense, but does have some give as I squeeze the cigar between my fingers. The wrapper is coated with oils leading up to the stubby, pigtail-styled cap. The cigar as a whole feels very heavy and thick, while the construction looks flawless as the wrapper is laid seamlessly over itself. Polishing off the cigar is a beautiful, simple, elegant silver band with the words “Haut 10” embossed across the front in white ink and “Illusione” in the back in black.
Immediately after taking the Haut 10 out of the cellophane I am greeted with a very bold, sweet, cedar and cashew aroma from the wrapper of the cigar while the foot of the cigar is a bit more grainy with some soft spice mixed in with natural tobacco aromas. The cap cut clean and like butter using my Xikar double bladed cutter. The cold draw kicks out some creamy coffee, nutty, sweet cedar flavors with again, more natural tobacco.
The Illusione Haut 10 starts off with a nice little cayenne pepper blast which quickly fades away as the cigar begins to reveal some strong cashew, cedar, honey and vanilla over some creamy coffee and natural tobacco flavors. I actually wasn’t expecting this cigar to start off in the medium/full arena, but it did. It’ll be interesting to see where things go from here. The draw is flawless. Each tiny little puff gives off a massive cloud of thick, white smoke which hangs around for a significant amount of time before dissipating while the cigar gives off very little stationary smoke as it rests in my ashtray. The burn line is sharp, but pretty wavy. I haven’t had to pull my torch out yet, as it looks as though it may start correcting itself here. The ash left behind is an odd mixture of both flaky and compacted in random spots. The ash did hold on for about in inch though before falling into my ashtray.
The pepper has completely disappeared from the Illusione Haut 10’s flavor profile and I am left with some spicy cedar, musky vanilla, honey, cashew, and earthiness. While the flavors have balanced out, they are still pretty bold and the body remains in the medium/full range. The retrohale really helps bring out the spice and cedar. In fact, the retrohale is very smooth and crisp, as I find myself doing it very often with this particular smoke. As suspected, the burn line completely corrected itself and is now burning solid, like a champ. I close out the second third with a very minor little nicotine kick.
The body and strength of the Illusione Haut 10 are really on display here in the final third. The flavors have ramped up a ton bringing the cigar into the full arena now. The main flavor is a sharp cedar and spice backed by cinnamon, cocoa, and vanilla with subtle clove notes as well as coffee and lots of natural underlying flavors. I can really get into the flavor mix. It took me two hours to take the cigar down to the nub. I experience absolutely no harshness nor any extended heat while I did get a slight little nicotine buzz as I closed out the experience.
I am a big Illusione fan, and while that means I generally enjoy their cigars, it also means I can get critical of them really quick if they don’t live up to my set standards for them. Not only did the Haut 10 live up to those standards, but it blew them away. This cigar has it all, bold flavors with a balanced profile I really enjoyed, flawless construction, and perfect burn. The price is a bit steep, but the outcome from what Dion put into this cigar is evident. This is how Anniversary cigars are done. Congrats to 10 years Illusione, I can’t wait to see what’s next for you.
Brewed at the Prairie Artisan Ales Brewery in Oaklahoma, Christmas Bomb! is Prairie’s Signature Imperial stout brewed with cinnamon. Coming in at a whopping 11% ABV the Christmas Bomb! leads with a ton of sweet honey and vanilla, cinnamon malt, and cocoa with a very heavy mouthfeel before finishing even sweeter with a ton of vanilla and cocoa and a hint of booze and chile. The vanilla, cocoa and sweetness really mashed up with to the flavors in the Haut 10 and even helped them reach a whole other level of awesomeness without overpowering the cigar, as the Haut 10 holds it own. I would love to pair this cigar with a bold Belgian Quad or a nice, spicy tawny port.