On our visit to FUMARE, Dion Giolito invited us into the Illusione warehouse in Reno, Nev., a plain-looking building in an office park.

It’s somewhat what you would expect. Meticulously organized, clean and full of lots of Illusione. Everything except the latest Singularé was in supply, and plenty: Rothchildes, Epernay, Original Document, Ultra and more.

At the front, there’s personal storage for Giolito, including a few Illusione gems. Sure, there’s boxes of ~eccj~Singularé Phantoms and others, but there’s also a few things never before photographed.

Illusione ~88~ Original

I spotted an interesting looking ~88~ box with a special inscription, “Exclusivamente per FUMARE.” It’s a special box, one of the original 50 boxes that started Illusione. 

Giolito explained it himself.

My life was forever changed when I decided after of two years of college in Oklahoma to come back to Reno in 1988 to be closer to home (Las Vegas) to finish school. I was a theory and composition major back in OK – I wanted to be a film score composer. UNR didn’t have that degree, instead they gave me the same scholarship provided I enroll in the College of Education. Sure, fine I thought. It was shortly after working various part-time jobs that my friend Ansar hooked me up with a gig at the Tinder Box. It allowed me flexible hours for school and allowed me to tour with the band I was in the summertime – I always had a position to come back to no matter what.I started student-teaching and, hated it. I dropped out of school with around 17 credits left to go. Soon after that, The Tinder Box became a full-time gig. I floundered there for years, tried moving back to Vegas – just didn’t work out so, back to Reno, I came to my old job. In 2004 after almost 12 years of working at the Box, I decided to go out on my own. I got a SBA loan, did it on a shoe-string budget and opened my own store. It was the following year that I decided to bring in a cigar that Pete Johnson had bought from Tabacalera Tropical to liquidate and make a couple of bucks on. I bought practically everything he had. When supplies dwindled, I asked him if he could get me more. 50 boxes were the minimum purchase. “F* me!” I thought.” Oh well, I’ll do it.” I had the cliché on the box changed to 88 – the year I decided to come to Reno. I was a BIG fan at the time of the AVO ~22~ packaging. I designed my private label 88 to resemble that type of cliché, even though my packaging was different.  

But that was not all. 

Illusione Epernay Chest 1

Illusione Epernay Chest 2

This is an Epernay War Chest that Giolito toyed with releasing when the line debuted in 2009. Inside would be Epernay Le Petít, Le Ferme, Le Elegance, Le Grande and ~eccj~, the cigar that serves as the base of Epernay.

Illusione Epernay Chest 3

Ultimately, the War Chest project never came to fruition, making this the only one in existence. 

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.