Review: Illusione ~hl~ (Candela)
It’s green. No, not that kind of green. Okay, maybe that kind of green. I’ve professed my love, or lack there of, for Candela once before, and my thoughts continue not to change. I’m just not a fan of the wrapper. It’s delicate and has a unique flavor that is just not on the list of things that I enjoy. However, whenever the discussion of Candela comes up, there’s one notable exception, Dion’s original Claro, the ~hl~ Candela.
- Name: Illusione ~hl~ (Candela)
- Vitola: Lancero
- Size: 7 1/2 x 40
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Claro
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Country: Honduras
- Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- MSRP: $9.35 (Boxes of 25, $233.75)
- Source: Gifts & B&M Purchase
- Time in Humidor: 4 Months
- Cut: Palió
- Light: Blazer Single Torch
- Beverage: Coke
- Smoking Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
From all those that question my tolerance of the Candela wrapper, I always hear, “what about Dion’s Candela?” There’s a bit of a controversy regarding the green wrapper, a relative new one, but truth is, Candela has been around for a while, and relatively non-controversially. The problem with Candela, as Dion Giolito, owner of Illusione, has described (I’m sure) over and over again, is that it is a pain in the ass to treat/process/make. Candela barns reach 165° (F), making the process dangerous and just plain difficult. The one bit of a saving grace regarding Candela is that it’s quick, very quick, however difficulty combined with a decrease demand has greatly reduced the amount of Candela, which was once one of the world’s foremost wrappers. The story of the vitola that is the ~hl~, a slightly thicker rendition of El Laguito No. 1, is below, in case you missed the ~hl~ Natural review:
~hl~ – The Holy Lance My Lancero, the lance. Get it? Constantine was the first Christian Emperor to lead Rome. It was fabled that he had possession of the very spear that punctured the side of Jesus while on the cross. He was said to carry this relic into battle and, it was said that it helped him win his many battles. It is an artisan blend and, the mildest of all my cigars
Dion originally only made four-hundred boxes of the Candela and Maduro ~hl~, explaining:
The New lanceros were) Rolled at Raíces Cubanas. I had a bunch of extra ~hl~ boxes, so rather than eat the cost that it took to make them, I’m gonna put some maduro’s and candelas in them. They’ll be available to any authorized retailer ’till they’re gone.
Given how while both sold, Dion decided to continue to produced them. The ~hl~ was the original Candela, joined earlier this year by the ~88~ and ~888~, none of the three Claros are limited editions, but the availability of Candela means these are limited in production. I’ve always wondered why these are packaged without cellophane. I understand for long-term aging and aesthetic purposes, cellophane isn’t necessarily great, but Candela is extremely fragile. It took a while to find a cigar that didn’t have any cracks on the wrapper and its rare to go into a shop looking for a single and to find one that hasn’t developed some imperfections, believe me, I tried, a few times.
Candela is often described as being representative of four colors, Dion’s Candela would fall into the “faded lime” classification. Light and long veins run down the ~hl~, rather apparent because of the texture of the wrapper. Aroma is relatively typical Candela notes, mild with a bit more cinnamon and brown sugar joining that all too familiar aroma. Construction is like it always is with Illusione. A perfect resistance from the Raíces Cubanas creation accompanied by a beautiful roll. The medium-plus aroma from the foot is a perfume over fruits and earth with a touch of pepper and a hickory-like finish.
Triple cap with a pigtail? I think that’s what’s going on. Aroma-wise, this is rather unusual, lots of spice with perfumes and cereal. It’s somewhere south of full and has a heavy, almost velvet like texture, or at least that’s the best way I came up to describe it. Cold draws from the Illusione are a perfect resistance, mild with a bit of hickory introducing a core of earth and an odd sweetness, joined by hints of lemon cake and coffee. Lighting produces aromas that are reminiscent of a BBQ: toasty, hickory, bit of sweetness; side-bar: I could go for a pulled pork sandwich right now. Initial draw is tight with a good amount of smoke, starting with an earth cedar combination that adds grass. Finish is a building spice over earth and citrus. While there aren’t a lot of flavors in quantity, quality produces a very complex medium-full flavor.
This has the typical Candela flavor, which I guess we can call a sweet grassy earth, but it’s joined by oakiness and a heavy black pepper. That pepper makes its way to the somewhat lengthy finish as it dominates over woodsy and toasty. Flavor is medium-full, maybe full; but it’s without a doubt full body. Draw is tight, but the slightly above average smoke is absolutely beautiful with an oaks and toasty aroma.
Complexity decreases slightly as the Candela flavor begins to take over some of the intricacies that the Illusione had in the first third. The end result is a war between the Candela flavor and the black pepper, which also raises its profile. Finish is where the Candela flavor really begins to overtake the pepper, with cedar also emerging. The finish is full, complex and long; an absolutely joy. Strength is strong in the first third, but by the middle point of the ~hl~, this is full strength, fuller body. Draw is slightly tight, but with an improving smoke production. The medium ash generally falls off in small chunks, a far cry to the beautiful artwork it sculpted in the first third.
The pepper begins to die down, allowing the sweet grass to take the forefront, with leather and a bit of coffee bean. Finish is rather similar, although I get a bit of meatiness that joins the full flavor. Strength, body, smoke production and draw are all where they were in the second third. I should point out, while the cigar burns evenly, it’s a bit odd for a lot of people. The green wrapper means that a fairly thick brown line will emerge around the cigar, it’s just a side note, but something that is rather common for Candela.
For the Novice
Candela is supposed to be light, this is not. Move on.
In the End
Is this a completely different Candela? Yes and no. The Illusione ~hl~ obviously still has the Candela flavors that I’m not a fan of, I’d even argue that they are amped up as compared to any other Candela I’ve had. However, there’s an added amount of strength and spice that changes the profile of the cigar, a lot. I’ve said for a while that the ~hl~ Candela is the only Claro I’d smoke, although I think that says a lot about my preferences overall for the wrapper, as opposed to this particular cigar.
84. I still am not a fan of Candela, but this has enough else going on for me. Construction and price are like all Illusiones, spot on.