At this year’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Illusione introduced a lot of new cigars. Some were entirely new products while a host of others were based on previously released products.
The Illusione Casa Especiale falls somewhere in the middle.
It’s part of Illusione’s Cigares Privé series, which up until the July trade show was the company’s collection of single store releases. This is the fourth single store release to be banded as a Cigares Privé release, though there are now a total of 10 Cigars Privé.
That’s because at said trade show, Illusione introduced six new cigars as part of Cigares Privé, but those cigars are destined for a wider release.
The Casa Especiale is a release for Casa de Montecristo of Countryside, Ill. It’s a 6 x 50 Nicaraguan puro that the retailer described as a mixture of the Illusione eccj and the Singularé 2014.
- Illusione MC Slam (6 x 54) — R. Field Wine Co. (Honolulu, Hawaii) — Sept. 2014 — 200 Boxes of 25 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Illusione Pactum (5 1/2 x 56) — Smoke Inn (West Palm Beach, Fla.) — Dec. 2014 — 400 Boxes of 15 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Illusione H-Town Lancero (7 x 40) — STOGIES World Class Cigars (Houston, Texas) — Dec. 2015 — 300 Boxes of 15 Cigars (4,500 Total Cigars)
- Illusione Illusione Casa Especiale (6 x 50) — Casa de Montecristo (Countryside, Ill.) — Nov. 2016 — n/a
Last month, Casa de Montecristo released the cigar formally.
- Cigar Reviewed: Illusione Casa Especiale
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $11.95 (Boxes of 15, $179.25)
- Release Date: November 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
It’s interesting to look at the four exclusive Cigares Prive releases, as the first two use relatively dark albeit not identical wrappers, whereas the last two are somewhat challenging to tell apart. Something that isn’t so evident in the picture above is the oils, which are not as copious in person. Aroma off the wrapper contains lots of barnyard, acidity, oatmeal cookie and brown sugar. The foot is reminiscent of chocolate syrup with some barbecue, peanut butter ice cream and wet leaves. It’s got a bizarre vegetal flavor, almost like vodka, on the cold draw joined by blueberry muffins and orange peel.
The plethora of unique flavors continues into the first puff: dry cranberries, earthy, toastiness and some sweeter cereals. There’s a pretty big combination of meatiness, burnt pizza crust and some grassiness. Behind that is some vanilla, powdered lemonade mix, dry cranberries, alfalfa and hay. Of note, there’s a ton of pepper on the lips of the Illusione. The profile doesn’t deliver all those flavors at once, but they come and go throughout the first two inches. Flavor is medium-full, but a bit overpowering thanks to a lengthy finish.
It’s less earthy in the second third, but the Illusione Casa Especiale still keeps its interesting collection of flavors. There’s an array of nuttiness with only pistachios and sunflower seeds really breaking through the mixture, along with some metallic flavors and burnt grill notes, almost like a completely charred hamburger patty. Behind that is some mulch and a touch of sweetness thanks to a mild cream cheese. Smoke production is wonderful, but all three samples have tunneling in varying problematic levels ranging from one correction to three relights.
It takes a while for me to notice, but there’s been a fairly linear decline in terms of the flavor intensity. Given just how strong the finish of the first third was, it’s a welcome change. The profile is still earthy, but it’s now being driven by rye, hay and bay leaves. There’s a weird mixture of creaminess, floral and acidic flavors on the back end. For the first time since the early parts, there’s some black pepper in the back of the mouth along with paprika on the finish.
- The award for most challenging bands to remove for 2016 goes to this cigar.
- The Casa Especiale is a great example of a cigar with a ton of unique flavors, but not a ton of rhythm to them.
- Strength is medium for two of the cigars, one was a bit stronger on medium-full.
- I cannot recall the last time I had an Illusione tunnel. Two samples I smoked were stored mainly in my humidor at home. After the issue arose, I grabbed another sample from the humidor at the office where the box was stored. It made no difference in regard to the burn.
- Draw and smoke production were fantastic so long as the cigar was burning properly.
- Casa de Montecristo of Countryside is an independently-owned franchise store of the larger Casa de Montecristo brand.
- Illusione advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were sent by Illusione.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 10 minutes on average.
- Casa de Montecristo still has the Illusione Casa Especiale in stock.
The Illusione Casa Especiale is a decent cigar, which makes it a subpar Illusione. For better or worse, that's how high the bar has been set by Dion Giolito and unfortunately, this misses the mark by a noticeable margin. Tunneling aside, this lacks the finesse and balance that I've come to expect from Illusione. While our scoring system doesn't punish cigars for being disappointing, it does for burn issues, and unfortunately that along with average flavor create a score that is not so Illusione-like.