At the IPCPR show in Las Vegas last July, Illusione showed off a new line of cigars based off of one of their most popular releases to date. The ~ULTRA~ line, named after the 2006 MKULTRA, started with the new version of the Corona, ~ULTRA ~ MKULTRA, which was shipped to a few retailers right after the show. Although three other vitolas were shown at the show and were supposed to ship around October of last year, they have just now started showing up to stores.
Here is what Dion Giolito had to say about the new ~ULTRA~ blend:
It’s a full bodied blend of Ligero from Jalapa and Estelí, Nicaragua. It’s strong but not strong in the fact that it makes you feel like you swallowed a hair brush like many other strong cigars do. Its due in late fall, regular production. Not 100% Ligero, just a decent amount.
With the exception of the MKULTRA, the ~ULTRA~ line is box-pressed.
With the three new vitolas, there are now four different sizes in the ~ULTRA~ lineup, all in boxes of 20 except for the MKULTRA, which is sold in boxes of 25. They are:
- ~ULTRA~ OP No. 1 — Double Corona — 6 3/4 x 56 — $12.50 (Boxes of 20, $250.00)
- ~ULTRA~ OP No. 9 — Toro — 5 1/2 x 56 — $11.50 (Boxes of 20, $230.00)
- ~ULTRA~ OP No. 4 — Robusto — 4 3/4 x 48 — $9.95 (Boxes of 20, $199.00)
- ~ULTRA~ MKULTRA — Petit Corona — 5 1/8 x 42 — $7.80 (Boxes of 25, $195.00)
And here is what a box of the Illusione ~ULTRA~ OP No. 4 looks like:
- Name: Illusione ~ULTRA~ OP No. 4
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Size: 4 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $9.95 (Boxes of 25, $199.00)
- Release Date: April 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Release
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4
The Illusione ~ULTRA~ OP No.4 is quite a sight when you first lay eyes on it. A dark espresso brown wrapper that is totally seamless and completely smooth to the touch is wrapped around a cigar that has an extreme box-press. It looks almost like a dark chocolate candy bar. When squeezed, the cigar is rock hard. The Nicaraguan wrapper smells very strongly of barnyard, pepper and leather.
The first third of the Illusione ~ULTRA~ starts out with a strong chewy, meaty profile, along with flavors of hay, dark chocolate and just a touch of sweetness that I can’t distinguish as of yet. In some regard, it’s kind of like eating a steak. There is the smallest amount of spice on the tongue, but more pepper is present on the retrohale than in my mouth. Construction is excellent through the first third with a perfect draw and great burn. The strength ends at a solid medium by the end of the first third, but it is only getting stronger.
Coming into the second third of the OP No. 4 and the strength is increasing by leaps and bounds. The profile shifts a bit and there is more of an espresso and chocolate flavor dominant, although that meaty note is still hanging around, along with quite a bit more pepper, both in the mouth and on the retrohale. Other notes of leather and wood come and go. The sweetness from the first third also gets stronger and I can finally tell it is a molasses flavor, which pairs quite well with the espresso note. Strength of the Illusione ends the second third as a very strong medium, and shows no signs of slowing down.
The final third of the ~ULTRA~ No. 4 continues the trend of increasing strength and ends at a full minus. The spice and pepper start to wane quickly at the start of the final third, until they both totally disappear by the end of the cigar. The profile is more meaty, almost creamy in places, with notes of strong leather, espresso, and the aforementioned molasses, which actually increases noticeably before dying down at the nub. Construction ends the way it began, excellent.
- I have to say, I absolutely love the white on black bands of this series. Classy, understated and they give you the impression that this is a strong cigar before you ever even light it up.
- According to Dion, the OP in the name stands for Operation, as in Operation No. 4.
- Although the wrappers on the MKULTRA and the other three vitolas in the ~ULTRA~ line are quite different in color and shade, they all use the same wrapper.
- I also really love the box-press on each one of the vitolas, as it makes them quite a bit easier to smoke. I do think it would be a bit odd to box-press the Petit Corona and I am happy with the shape of that vitola as well. I was also told that the MKULTRA was not box pressed, partly due to the fact that the original release was not box-pressed and partly due to the fact that box pressing such a small vitola “just does not work well. “
- Interestingly, the sweetness that is present in this blend is consistent, i.e. there is always a sweetness present, no matter which size, but to me, the flavor of the sweetness changes dramatically with the vitola. In the ~ULTRA~ MKULTRA, the sweetness comes across as a plum note, while in the No. 4, it is more of a molassas. In the No. 9 and the No. 1, it is a graham cracker note.
- All three of the new ~ULTRA~ vitolas come in boxes of 20, but the MKULTRA is sold in boxes of 25.
- I have said it before, and will keep saying it: I truly appreciate that Illusione dates all of their boxes. I only wish that every cigar manufacturer would do the same.
- The first samples of the MKULTRA that were shipped right around the IPCPR show in July of 2011 seemed extremely wet based on my box that I bought, as well as other reports online, and as a result, the cigar was plagued with some bitterness and tight draws unless you waited to smoke them, or dry boxed them first. I was a bit concerned with these vitolas, but need not have worried. These are not wet and every one of them had wonderful construction. As a side note, the current MKULTRAs are smoking wonderfully.
- The construction of all of the new vitolas was excellent, and I had absolutly no problems at all.
- These cigars put out a copious amount of smoke. Not quite Liga levels, but more than I was expecting.
- This cigar seemed to be packed with tobacco and the final smoking time for the Robusto was right at one hour and 15 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the new Illusione ~ULTRA~ line, site sponsors Federal Cigar, Atlantic Cigar and Casa de Montecristo are all Illusione dealers, and either do have them in stock (Federal) or will have them in stock shortly.
The Bottom Line: For me, the ~ULTRA~ lineup is easily Dion’s best new release to date. The Robusto is complex without being overwhelming and strong without being overbearing. Having said that, after smoking each of the different vitolas for this review, there is no doubt in my mind that the ~ULTRA~ MKULTRA is the best of the line by a wide margin. The Robusto is an easy second, but the Toro and Double Corona seem to be a bit overwhelming strength wise at times and just not as complex profile wise. If you like strong, dark and meaty profiles, with a bit of added sweetness, than this line is for you.
Final Score: 89