We’ve seen a number of projects that have put the names of media outlets either on cigars or close to them, and in October 2020, another release joined that list: the Illusione ~cg:4~ Candela.

The cigar is formally known as the Illusione Kaplowitz Media Candela, a nod to the blog of the same name. It’s a Nicaraguan puro highlighted by a mix of criollo 98 and corojo 99 tobaccos, and like the other ~cg:4~ varietals, measures 5 5/8 x 46. Those other varietals are the original, which uses a corojo rosado wrapper, and the ~cg:4~ Maduro, which uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper.

It is the fourth of Illusione’s Original Documents line to get the candela treatment.

The first three of the trio are all regular production, however the Illusione ~cg:4~ Candela is limited to 500 bundles of 10 cigars, priced at $99 per bundle. It was sold through The Vault in Meridian, Idaho.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Illusione ~cg:4~ Candela
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Candela)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: NIcaragua
  • Length: 5 5/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona Gorda
  • MSRP: $9.90 (Bundles of 10, $99)
  • Release Date: October 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Bundles of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

It’s green, that’s for sure. There’s a little bit of gloss to the wrapper, a slightly waxy feel, along with very some small veins. It’s also a fairly firmly rolled cigar, though given previous experiences with candela leaves I’m not inclined to squeeze the cigar too much. The aroma from the foot has very little grassiness or other stereotypical candela aromas, instead leaning much more bread-forward, with a soft white bread the most prevalent and consistent aroma. There’s a bit of pepper that shows up, and when it does, it imparts a pretty impressive tingle. The cold draw is a bit firm and a bit more vegetal, with a bit of skin-on cucumber leading the bread flavors, with hardly any pepper to be found. It’s a flavor from which I could draw a line to a gin and tonic, though minus both the liquid and cold components.

The Illusione ~cg:4~ Candela opens up with what I think of as aspects of the original ~cg:4~ blend hitting the palate more distinctly than those of the candela wrapper, meaning more pepper, earth, and general robustness. That said, the green leaf seems to be toning them down a touch and giving a very slight vegetal sweetness to the profile. Retrohales and the occasional whiff of the resting aroma are very beneficial, adding some pepper to the experience and giving the profile more depth. The candela component is a relatively minor percentage of the profile, but it offers a fair amount to try and unpack and identify. When doing that, I find hay, a bit of dry grass, some sweetness and just a bit more of the cucumber flavor, and possibly some herbs I’m not familiar enough with to name. It’s an interesting way to try and find some depth in a very specific part of the blend, but it does have some rewards. After the first clump of ash drops, I get a bit of creaminess on the palate while it’s much more prominent in the nose where it combines with bright white pepper. Flavor is around the medium mark, body has been a bit under medium until the transition to the second third, while strength is a tick over mild. Construction has been very good thus far.

The creaminess backs off a bit as the second third gets underway, bringing the profile back to where it started and once again setting the opportunity to explore the core profile. There’s a bit of woodiness in the non-candela portion of the blend, and at this point I would venture to guess that the blend has a bit more criollo in it than corojo, as I don’t get that latter varietal’s bolder flavors. While it has been some time since I’ve smoked the regular ~cg:4~, there are a few spots where I could make the case that if smoking this cigar in the dark, I could be convinced it is that original blend as the candela portion minimizes just enough, or my mind simply overlooks the flavors it is offering. As I knock the ash off around the midpoint of the first sample, I catch wind of an aroma that at first reminds me of an Altoids can but is much more complex and broad upon a second smell, almost like walking into a vintage candy store. While the sensation varies from sample to sample, the back half of the second third are one of the most interesting to dive into as the flavors seem to be combining in a completely new way. The final puffs of this section bring about an increase in the flavor and body, both for the positive as there’s just a bit more of the earth, pepper and the candela flavor. Flavor ticks up to medium-full, body is medium-plus, and strength is a tick below medium.

There’s a bit of mint in the profile as the Illusione ~cg:4~ Candela, begins its final third, a reminder yet not an outright giveaway of the candela wrapper, as I have tasted mint in plenty of non-candela blends. The flavors of the wrapper and the rest of the tobacco seem to be separating just a bit, as it’s easier to discern their individual contributions, at least compared to where the cigar was earlier. That means a bit of chalk coming from the earthiness as well as a bit more white pepper. The flavor continues to intensify, and at some point—probably due to a bit of over-smoking—the profile can get a bit sharp in the throat, so I won’t be doing that going forward. That keeps the flavors largely on track, with the closing flavors still going somewhat in their own directions, including some of that cucumber note I picked up earlier. The flavor and body finish medium-plus, while strength never gets much over medium-plus. Construction is still very good, with only an occasionally firm draw meriting a mention.

Final Notes:

  • Kaplowitz Media has a podcast co-hosted by Dion Giolito called disILLUSIONE dePROGRAM. This episode talks about the release of the Illusione ~cg:4~ Candela.
  • I doubt I can say this enough, but there is a lot to be gained from retrohaling this cigar, as well as spending some time with the full experience of taste and smell.
  • That candy store aroma was really unique, as it’s not something I do very often but the aroma almost instantly transported to the places I have visited.
  • The ~cg:4~ vitola is also known as the White Horse,
  • Both Charlie Minato and Brooks Whittington have reviewed the Illusione ~hl~ Candela, reviews that came from TheCigarFeed.com and Smoking Stogie.com, respectively, the predecessors to halfwheel.
  • Prior to reviewing this cigar, I reviewed three cigars in a row that all had covered feet. I would be intrigued to try a candela-wrapped cigar with a covered foot to see what that initial hit of flavor would taste like.
  • None of the three samples gave me much of a nicotine hit.
  • Illusione advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 55 minutes on average.
  • The Illusione ~cg:4~ Candela is available exclusively from The Vault (208.901.0217) in Meridian, Idaho.
88 Overall Score

I’m definitely impressed by what the Illusione ~cg:4~ Candela has to offer, which, in a simplified summary, is a different spin on what is still one of the staple blends in any humidor. I’d almost compare it to switching up the brand of spirit in your favorite cocktail; it still has some of the same key characteristics, yet the changes are there to be noticed as well. If you’ve been hesitant to smoke candela-wrapped cigars because of past experiences that have yielded an overly grassy or vegetal note, there is nothing to fear here as this cigar offers very little in that regard. There are some of those notes but they are much more supporting flavors rather than the stars of the show, and I would venture to say that you’ll find many puffs where they barely register on the palate, if at all. Whether the juice is worth the squeeze to you to pick these up is a personal decision, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you do.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.