In 2021, Illusione Cigars would release its first cigar to the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA)’s Exclusive Series. There were 13 different manufacturers that produced 15 different cigars for the 2021 TAA Exclusive Series, but the only manufacturer that participated for the first time in the series would be Illusione Cigars. Today we take a closer look at Illusione’s TAA debut, the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021.
The TAA Exclusive Series consists of cigars made by leading manufacturers that are exclusively sold at TAA member retailers. The TAA is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80. The TAA describes itself as:
The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.
There are 15 cigars released for 2021 as a part of the TAA Exclusive Series:
- CLE Signature THT-EKE 03/17
- Crowned Heads- The Lost Angel TAA Exclusive 2021
- JC Newman Brick House Beginnings Natural
- JC Newman Brick House Beginnings Maduro
- Diesel Disciple TAA Exclusive 2021 (Scandinavian Tobacco Group)
- E.P. Carrillo TAA 2021
- Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive
- Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021
- Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Edición Americana
- Kristoff 685 Woodlawn Box Press
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 50 Oro Edicion 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Natural
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 50 Oro Edicion 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Maduro
- La Palina White Label Toro
- Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas Bala
- Villiger TAA Exclusive 2021
The following is a complete list of the Illusione TAA Exclusive releases.
- 2021: Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021
- 2022: Illusione TAA Exclusive 2022
Without further ado, let’s break down the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The Illusione TAA Exclusive Cigar 2021 uses 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos from the Aganorsa farms. Production comes from the TABSA factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacos de Valle Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
The Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021 comes in one size – a 6 3/4 x 52 vitola. The cigars were presented in ten-count boxes with a total production of 3,500 boxes. This is one of the larger TAA allocations that has been seen in a TAA Exclusive release.
The Nicaraguan wrapper of the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2001 had a Colorado tint to it. This is a cigar that had a slight box press to it. The surface of the wrapper had some oil on it. There were some visible wrapper seams and some thin visible veins.
A straight cut was used to commence the cigar experience of the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered a mix of sweet natural tobacco, baker’s spice, and a slight amount of pepper. While this wasn’t a negative pre-light draw experience, it didn’t have me doing handstands. Since the pre-light draw is not incorporated into the score or rating, there was no loss of points here. At this point, it was time to toast up the foot of the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021 and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The start of the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021 delivered notes of baker’s spice, citrus, wood, and natural tobacco. There was no dominant note early on. As the cigar moved through the first third, the citrus and natural tobacco moved into the forefront with the baker’s spice and wood settling as secondary notes. The citrus notes had an astringent quality to them which wasn’t all that pleasant. Eventually, the natural tobacco settled in the background and was replaced by a bread note. The natural tobacco joined the baker’s spice, wood, and some newly emerged black pepper notes. Meanwhile, the retro-hale delivered additional layers of wood and black pepper.
During the second third of the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021, the bread notes remained grounded in the forefront. The pepper notes increased and joined the bread notes before the cigar reached the midway point. The citrus settled in the background with the wood, natural tobacco, and baker’s spice.
There wasn’t much change in the final third of the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021. The bread and pepper notes remained primary. In the background was the citrus (which still had astringent qualities), natural tobacco, wood, and baker’s spice. The primary notes were not exciting and the background notes couldn’t help round out the profile. The Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021 closed with a soft nub that was cool in temperature.
The Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021 required frequent touch-ups to maintain a straight burn path. While the touch-ups did the trick, there were more frequent touch-ups than I prefer. The burn line seemed to have a slight amount of jaggedness to it. The resulting ash was silver-gray. This wasn’t the firmest ash, but it wasn’t overly loose or flakey either. The burn rate and burn temperature maintained ideal levels.
The draw to the Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021 performed quite well. The draw had a touch of resistance to it – which is a preference of mine. At the same time, this was a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
One thing I should mention, this cigar had about a year of age on it when it was reviewed. I was surprised how bold this cigar was. This was a cigar that started out medium to full in both strength and body. The strength level had a nominal increase during the smoking experience, but in the end, remained in the medium to full zone of the spectrum. The body increased enough to move to full-bodied by the second half.
In terms of strength versus body, the body maintained the edge throughout the smoking experience.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
An interesting banding design is that the TAA logo on the Illusione is the primary band. The secondary band is Cigares Privé. Cigares Privé was branding that Illusione originally came out with for private label/shop exclusive offerings. From a branding standpoint, it makes sense the TAA would be branded as Cigares Privé since these cigars are exclusive to the TAA. My opinion is that the banding layout worked nicely on this cigar.
I’ll cut right to the chase – this was not an enjoyable cigar. As I mentioned this cigar had a year of age at the time of the assessment, but I did smoke this when it first came out and it wasn’t enjoyable then. Illusione is capable of producing as good a cigar as can be seen on the market, so I know they can do better. It’s also another miss for a TAA Exclusive – and the TAA has missed a lot with the 2021 TAA Exclusive Series. Flavorwise this cigar just did not deliver. This began with the astringent citrus notes and mostly became bland and bitter as the cigar went on. Simply put, I cannot recommend this cigar. I’ll have faith in Illusione’s track record they will do better with the 2022 TAA Exclusive (that I still have yet to smoke).
Key Flavors: Bread, Natural Tobacco, Citrus, Baker’s Spice, Wood, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Value: Not Recommended
News: Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021 Released
Brand Reference: Illusione
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop