For those of you that don’t know.

Illusione is releasing some very interesting cigars in the near future (including two new Lanceros with Maduro and Candela wrappers).

However, one of the most interesting recent releases is the Epernay Le Matin, which includes a few firsts for the company. First and foremost, this vitola is the first (and at the moment, the only) box pressed Illusione on the market. It is also the first Illusione to be sold in boxes of 25 (instead of the usual 50 count boxes for the rest of the Epernay line).

The blend of the Le Matin is also interesting, as it is supposedly the same blend that was used in the very limited e c c j 15th release. The Epernay will eventually be sold in four different vitolas, but at the moment is only available in one size (6 3/4 x 46) and from one retailer, the amazing New Havana Cigars. The exclusivity will end in August, when they will be sold through all Illusione Premier Accounts.

But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?

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  • Cigar Reviewed:Illusione Epernay Le Matin
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua Café Rosado
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Criollo and Corojo)
  • Size: 6 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona Gordaish (Box-Pressed)
  • MSRP: $11.25 (Boxes of 25, $281.25)
  • Release Date: June 2010
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

The cigar itself is a sight to behold. It’s Very attractive, and the extreme box press reminds me quite a bit of a Padrón (and the feel of the construction is quite similar as well). The wrapper is quite smooth, is Darkish Chocolate brown in color and has a very strong scent of leather and pepper.

The First Third starts out with some strong pepper and a flavor of leather. There is a wood undertone as well, along with just a hint of something sweet (honey perhaps?) but there was not enough of it to clarify.

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During the Second Third, the cigar started getting noticeably stronger. The profile also got quite a bit more spicy, with some cedar and espresso flavors intertwined, but the sweetness from the first third seemed to have disappeared by this point.

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By the start of the Last Third, the Le Matin started getting very stronger and fairly harsh. It almost overwhelmed the rest of the flavors, which remained pretty much the same.

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Final Notes:

  • This cigar produces a bunch of smoke, an almost overwhelming amount of smoke.
  • (I am basing this comment on a two year-old e c c j I reviewed about two months ago.) The flavors in this blend were almost nothing like the e c c j 15th that the blend is supposedly based on. Where the e c c j was nutty and sweet, the Le Matin was peppery and leathery/woody. However, If the blend is really based on the e c c j 15th, the two years since those have been released have done wonders for the flavors in them, the 15th was definitely harsher when they were first released as well, from the notes I took back then, although I never officially reviewed it when it was first released, and I can only speculate this cigar would have the same reaction.
  • The ash never stayed on for longer than about half an inch, no matter how I tried to keep it on. The ash was not flaky exactly, it just did not want to stay on.
  • Final Smoking Time was 1 Hour and 45 Minutes.

The Bottom Line: I have always been a fan of Illusione cigars, and this is no exception. An amazingly well constructed cigar that is a joy to smoke, but falls just a bit flat in the complexity category. One of Illusione’s great strengths (if you will forgive the pun) is the complexity in their blends, but the Le Matin got quite harsh, especially towards the end, and I think that it needs a little down time to really shine. Honestly, while I enjoyed this cigar, and will be purchasing more to put down for a while to see how they age, I still prefer the smaller vitolas in the Illusione line.

Final Score: 89

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.