|Illusione Domenicos Extra – gold foiled wrapped|
Illusione Cigars’ founder, Dion Giolito created the Cruzado blend back in 2008. It is a blend variation of the original Illusione core line. Both the Illusione core line and the Cruzado are Nicaraguan puros that utilize Nicaraguan Corojo and Nicaraguan Criollo tobaccos. From my understanding of the blends, a key difference is the Illusione core line goes heavier on the Corojo while the Cruzado goes heavier on the Criollo. One thing that I’ve found about Illusione blends is that the different vitolas produced result in some very different smoking experiences. While this is the case with most cigar blends, with Illusione this almost goes to the next level. As a result of demand for a bigger ring gauge in the Cruzado blend, Giolito added the Domenicos Extra. I recently got to finally sample this vitola. The end result is that this provided nothing short of a stellar cigar experience.
The Domenicos Extra vitola is consistent with Giolito’s other big ring gauge offerings in his two other core lines, the Illusione mj12 and the Illusione mj12 Maduro. These are all 6 x 56 vitolas. Consistent with the other other lines, the Domenicos Extra is packaged in foil – in this case it is gold foil. This complements the traditional silver foil of Illusione mj12 and the black foil of the Illusione mj12 Maduro.
|Silver foil of the Illusione mj12|
|Black foil of the Illusione mj12 Maduro|
Let’s break down the Illusione Cruzado Domenicos Extra and see what the cigar experience delivered.
As we mentioned in the introduction, the Illusione Cruzado Domenicos Extra is a Nicaraguan puro. It uses a Criollo wrapper and goes heavier on the Criollo in the blend. According to the Illusione web-site, there is one component of Corojo 2006 in the blend. Another difference is the ligero that was a part of the original core line blend was replaced by viso leaves.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo Rosado
For reference purposes, here are the vitolas available in the Cruzado blend. The Domenicos Extra should not be confused with the Cruzado Domenicos – which is a shorter vitola.
Avalitos: 4 x 46
Dantes: 4 x 48
Marelas: 5 5/8 x 46 (perfecto)
Domenicos: 5 5/8 x 56
Marios: 7 x 47
Domenicos Extra: 6 x 56
The wrapper of the Illusione Cruzado is a cross of medium brown and colorado red to it (after all, it has a Rosado wrapper). There are some dark spots on the wrapper, and it has a slight oily complexion. The wrapper also has some visible veins and visible wrapper seams.
|The Cruzado Domenicos Extra – Unwrapped|
The band to the Illusione Cruzado has a black, gold, silver, white color scheme. There is a hexagon-like black field on a silver background. On that black field it has the text “Cruzado” in a large classic silver font. Below that text is “Illusione” in a smaller white classic font. There are two silver crosses on the left and right of the black field. There are also two silver swords to the far left and far right going to the back of the band. The swords are also on a black field on a silver background. Finally the band has gold trim on the top and bottom.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
The first step to smoking the Cruzado Domenicos Extra was to remove the foil. Once that task was completed, the cigar had a very nice cedar aroma from the foot. After placing a straight cut into the cap, the dry draw notes treated me to flavors of sweet cedar spice with some unsweetened chocolate flavor as well. Overall, the Cruzado Domenicos Extra had a very nice pre-light draw experience. The next step was to toast the foot and begin the full smoking experience.
The start of the Illusione Cruzado Domenicos Extra provided a rich chocolate start. The chocolate dialed back quickly and was joined by notes of coffee and leather in the forefront. There was also some pepper in the background.
Early on, the chocolate and coffee notes alternated as to which was the dominant flavor. There were times the Cruzado Domenicos Extra had more of a chocolate profile, and there were other times it had more of a coffee profile. The spice continued to remain in the background. There were times the spice had a cedar quality, and there were other times it had the pepper profile.
Around the 40 percent mark, the pepper joined the chocolate and coffee in the forefront. The spice now was back to the classic pepper spice that I detected at the start. As the Domenicos Extra moved into the second half, I could definitely detect the pepper through my nostrils. As the cigar moved into the last third, the chocolate and coffee notes diminished and the leather notes returned into the forefront – joining the pepper. The cigar had a leathery and peppery finish. The resulting nub was firm to the touch, and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
One reason why larger ring gauge cigars are knocked is because they sometimes don’t burn or draw well. No such case with the 56 ring gauge of the Cruzado Domenicos Extra. The burn was pretty-much straight from start to finish – requiring very little touch-ups. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal from start to finish. The draw was flawless as well – and it made the Domenicos Extra a nice, enjoyable smoking experience.
Strength and Body
I’ll admit, I was a little perplexed with this cigar when it came to strength, but not in a negative way. It is my understanding that the concept of putting viso in place of the ligero should “tone down the blend”. For the most part, the original Illusione core line mj12 was a medium-strength cigar. Yet, with the Cruzado Domenicos Extra, I felt this had a slight advantage in strength over the mj12. The Domenicos Extra starts out medium strength and in the second half it crosses into medium to full strength territory. Perhaps the Criollo tobacco is playing a role here.
The depth of the flavor notes are robust. They definitely are what I classify as medium to full-bodied. The strength and body balance each other very nicely – with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
I always say, when a big ring gauge cigar delivers on all cylinders, it is one of the most satisfying cigar experiences you can have. The Domenicos Extras is one of those cigars that falls into that category. I consider it to be the standout vitola in the Cruzado blend and the best of the three “foil-wrapped” cigars by Illusione. While many cigar purists will still knock 56 ring gauge cigars, I would challenge them to smoke this one. I’d recommend this cigar to a novice cigar enthusiast – not looking for an overwhelmingly spicy experience and looking for something with a little strength and nice flavor. Experienced cigar enthusiasts will appreciate the balance this cigar brings to the table – providing the right amount of strength and body. As for myself, this has renewed my interest in the Cruzado line and I look forward to smoking this again.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Source: The cigar for this assessment was gifted by a friend. Thanks SG of SH.