Illusione 88 Maduro

Shortly after the 2011 IPCPR, I had the opportunity to sample the Illusione cg4 Maduro.  This was a maduro wrapper version of Illusione’s popular cg4 vitola.   In the past year, Illusione founder Dion Giolito has expanded his core line of his popular Illusione Cigar line to include both  candela and maduro wrapper versions for several of these cigars..  In my opinion, Giolito has done a great job at carving his own niche in the maduro cigar market.   One thing I have always found interesting about the Illusione core line is how each of the vitolas have their own nuances when it comes to the smoking experience – therefore, I was excited to try some other Illusione Maduro vitolas.  The Illusione ~88~ Robust Maduro (or simply the Illusione 88 Maduro) showcases this blend well.  At the same time, the Illusione 88 Maduro has its own identity separate from the other vitolas in the line.

I always find the naming of the Illusione cigars fascinating.  Here is some information on Illusione Cigars’ web-site on where the 88 name came from.  This name comes from Giolito’s personal life experience

No secret here. It harkens back to 1988 when I made that fateful decision to leave Oklahoma to come to Reno for College. “Robust” was just something different than Robusto. It speaks more for the body of the cigar than the nature of its size.

When I previewed the Illusione Maduro line, I mentioned that each cigar in the Maduro line is essentially a similar blend to its core counterpart, but utilizing a maduro wrapper.  From a packaging standpoint, Illusione has made a change.   The new maduros will not contain the white and black bands that are so identified with Illusione.  The Illusione maduros will have red background and gold lettering (except for the foil-wrapped  mj12 that will feature a darker foil wrap from its core counterpart).

Let’s take a closer look at the Illusione 88 Maduro.   I’ll also draw some comparisons to my experience with the cg4 Maduro – another Illusione Maduro I assessed

Blend Profile

The Illusione Maduros feature a San Andreas wrapper. As I’ve said many times, tobaccos from San Andreas make for some of the best maduro wrappers.  Giolito seems to have integrated this wrapper well with his blend.

Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

The Maduros won’t cover the whole core line.  In addition to the 88, here is what else is available:

88: 5 x 52
cg4: 5 5/8 x 48
hl: 7 1/2 x 40
888: 6 3/4 x 48
mj12: 6 x 54

Box of the Illusione 88 Maduro

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my 88 Maduro, I placed a straight cut into the cap. When I started the pre-light draw,  I detected flavors of chocolate and spice – similar to what I got on the cg4 Maduro.  The difference with the Illusione 88 Maduro is that I got more spice on the prelight than with the cg4 Maduro. I will admit, at this point I had a tough time pinpointing what this spice exactly was. After a satisfying pre-light draw, it was time to fire up my Illusione 88 and see what would come to the table.

Flavor Profile

The difference of the 88 having more spice than the cg4 continued when I started the smoking experience of the 88 Maduro.  After a few minutes, the chocolate notes began to get richer and eventually moved into the forefront with the spice.

Around 10 percent into the smoking experience, some sweet notes emerged.  Like the cg4 Maduro, this sweetness on the 88 Maduro definitely had a taste of raisin.  It was also at this point that the signature tea notes that are common with the Illusione core line began to surface as a secondary note.  The flavor notes of chocolate, spice, raisin, and tea each complemented each other very well.  

On the second third, the spice began to kick up a little more.  By this point, the spice had more of a classic baker’s spice.  The chocolate, raisin, and tea notes now played more of a secondary role.   On the last third, the tea notes joined the baker’s spice in the background.  The finish had a bit of a spicy kick.  The nub at the finish of the Illusione 88 Maduro was soft, but cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

The burn of my 88 Maduro was good.  I do admit I though the cg4 Maduro had a better burn as the 88 Maduro seemed to require more touch-ups. The burn rate and temperature were ideal.   As for the draw, it was flawless – making the 88 a pleasure to smoke.

Strength and Body

From a nicotine standpoint, Illusione core line cigars are not going to overwhelm you and the Maduro blends are no exception.  Like the cg4 Maduro, I would categorize the 88 Maduro as medium in strength.   From a body standpoint, the flavors were had some nice depth to them.  This easily lands as medium to full when it comes to body.

Final Thoughts

The San Andreas wrapper truly works some magic on this blend  While I’ve mentioned the cg4 Maduro quite a bit, I must also say the HL Maduro lancero is an outstanding cigar – and ranks as the best lancero as I ever had (I didn’t compare this to the 88 because I felt the HL Maduro was a very different smoke).  Overall, the 88 Maduro was a good cigar, but probably not the first vitola I’d reach to in this blend.  I preferred some of the richer chocolate flavors I got on the cg4 Maduro. If you prefer a little spice, the 88 Maduro might be the vitola in this line for you.  Still this is a cigar that will appeal to both experienced cigar enthusiasts and novice cigar enthusiasts looking to graduate to a maduro blend.  It’s definitely worth checking out.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium to Full

Assessment: Nice to Have

Source: This cigar was purchased from Empire Cigars in Raleigh, North Carolina.