|Illusione ~eccj~ 20th|
Back in 2008, Illusione Cigars launched a limited edition cigar to commemorate European Cigar Cult Journal’s 15th anniversary called (appropriately) the Illusione ~eccj~. The cigar quickly became one of the most sought after limited edition cigars released by Illusione. Following the release of the ~eccj~, the company would launch its Illusione Epernay line in 2009. This would also develop into one of brand owner Dion Giolito’s most popular lines expanding to ten vitolas. This year, Giolito has decided to bring back the ~eccj~ to coincide with 20th anniversary of Cigar Journal (the new name for European Cigar Cult Journal). The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th introduces a new size of the ~eccj~, but with a new size and a tweaked blend. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the ~eccj~ 20th. While I’ve not an an opportunity to smoke the original 15th, I can say the ~eccj~ 20th is an outstanding cigar and one to keep an eye on.
The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th was showcased at the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show. It is also expected to get some attention this month’s Inter-Tabac show in Dortmund Germany. The 20th comes in a new size, a 6 1/2 x 48. This is larger than the 5 5/8 x 46 Corona Gorda size of the Illusione ~eccj~ 15th edition. Giolito told Cigar Coop the blend was optimized in the ~eccj~ 20th for the new size.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th and see what this cigar brings to the table. Given this cigar experience is based on a pre-release sample, we will default to our pre-review format to share our thoughts and perspectives. Once this cigar hits retailer shelves we will revisit this cigar and provide an assessment rating and score.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Cafe Rosado
As mentioned, the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th is a 6 1/2 x 48 vitola. The cigars are packaged 15 to a box.
The Cafe Rosado wrapper of the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th has a nice cinnamon color to it. There is a light coat of oil on the wrapper. There are some visible veins and the cigar itself has thin wrapper seams.
The band to the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th is a variation of the band of the Illusione Original Documents line. It has a white background with gold font. On the background is the text “illusione ~eccj~ illusione” . There band has a gold trim border across the top and bottom.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up my Illusione ~eccj~ 20th, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut. After removing the cap, I proceeded with the pre-light draw phase. The dry draw provided notes of wood, butterscotch, and a slight floral spice. Not only did I find this to be a unique pre-light draw, but I also found it to be a satisfying one. At this point I was ready to light up the ~eccj~ 20th and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The start of the ~eccj~ 20th brought notes of nut, floral, and an underlying natural tobacco sweetness. I also detected white pepper notes in the background. The white pepper was also present on the retro-hale. In both cases the white pepper was more subtle than overpowering.
In the early part of the first third, the nut and sweetness took over as the primary note. As mentioned Illusione Epernay has ties to the ~eccj~ 20th line. Epernay pays tribute to the champagne region of France. Whether its power of suggestion or not, I can say this sweetness very much had a champagne -like sweetness to it. At the same time, this cigar very much had a tobacco taste. The pepper remained secondary.
At the start of the second third, the nut and champagne sweetness remained in the forefront. There also was a slight smoky quality present in the forefront. It was an intangible flavor, but added to the unique profile of the ~eccj~ 20th. Meanwhile in the background a cream note surfaced and soon began to move toward the forefront. By the latter part of the second third, the cream became a primary note displacing the nut and sweetness which were now secondary with the white pepper.
In the last third, the ~eccj~ 20th maintained its creamy profile. The pepper was not close to the forefront, but still was playing more of a subtle role. The sweetness and nut in the background still kept the flavors interesting. This is the way the flavor profile held until the end. The resulting nub was a finger-burner – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The construction to the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th was excellent and this was reflected in both the burn and draw. The burn line remained straight throughout the smoking experience of the ~eccj~ 20th requiring occasional touch-ups along the way. The resulting ash had a salt and pepper color. The ash was firm and was not prone to flaking along the way. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
|Burn of the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th|
The draw performed very well. It was not too loose and not too tight. There was an ample amountt of smoke produced from the ~eccj~ 20th. Overall I found this an enjoyable and low maintenance cigar to puff on.
Strength and Body
One thing I have always wanted to see with the Illusione Epernay line is a cigar with a little more in terms of strength and body. The Illusione ~eccj~ 20th definitely fulfilled this request. It’s still not going to be an overpowering cigar in this area, but its going to deliver just enough strength and body to work with this flavor profile. Strength-wise, I found the ~eccj~ 20th started out mild to medium. By the last third, the strength of the ~eccj~ 20th progressed into the medium range. In terms of the body, I found the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th to be a medium-bodied cigar from start to finish. Throughout the smoking experience, I found the body of the ~eccj~ 20th had an edge over the strength.
I’ll admit, despite the popularity of the Illusione Epernay line, those cigars have not been go to cigars for myself. Smoking the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th is definitely making me take another look at that line. I was amazed by the unique flavors, complex profile, and terrific construction of this cigar. As I mentioned above, I was really happy to see a little more in the way of strength and body with the Illusione ~eccj~ 20th. Like the original Illusione ~eccj~ 15th, I think the 20th will also be a huge hit for Giolito. This is a cigar I’d recommend to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast who is looking for something on the milder side. As for myself, this is a cigar I really enjoyed and will definitely be one I am seeking out when it hits the shelves.
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st 2/3), Medium (Last third)
News: Illusione ~eccj~ 20th (Cigar Preview)
Source: Samples provided by Manufacturer
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