While Illusione’s portfolio is certainly sizable and could take up a fair amount of space in most retail humidors, Dion Giolito isn’t known for just cranking out new releases, which is why when he does it’s fairly big news.
At the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Giolito added a completely new line to the Illusione catalog—the first new blend in three years—and one that while based off the Original Documents line uses a different wrapper and would be lacking something that is a staple—and sometimes bragging point—of nearly every cigar: ligero.
For Fume D’Amour, which translates as to love smoke, Giolito used only viso and seco tobaccos, which come from the middle and lower thirds of a tobacco plant, respectively. While both offer flavor, they are generally not as strong as their higher-priming counterpart, though Giolito said he was able to find both strength and flavor from the leaves in AGANORSA’s inventory.
The line debuted in four sizes and almost on cue the call for a lancero vitola began to emerge.
- Illusione Fume D’Amour Lagunas (4 1/4 x 42)
- Illusione Fume D’Amour Viejos (5 x 50)
- Illusione Fume D’Amour Caprastanios (6 x 56)
- Illusione Fume D’Amour Clementes (6 1/2 x 48)
- Illusione Fume D’Amour Juniperos (7 1/2 x 40)
- Cigar Reviewed: Illusione Fume D’Amour Juniperos
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 7 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 40
- Vitola: Lancero
- MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 25, $237.50)
- Release Date: August 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
As with pretty much all vitolas, there are a few sizes that qualify to be called lanceros, and my first impression of the Fume D’Amour Juniperos is that it pushes the length aspect a bit, as it feels like quite a long cigar in the hand, while the ring gauge is a bit more familiar, and if anything doesn’t feel like a 40. The wrapper is very smooth with a nearly flat vein structure and a matted caramel color to it. The roll looks very good with flat but visible seams, no visual irregularities and uniform firmness throughout. I still get the apple pie note off the foot that I remember getting when the line debuted, as well as a bit of barn wood in the the background. The cold draw ranges from near perfect to just a bit tight but not problematic and is somewhat underwhelming in flavor; the pie crust seems to be there as does varying amounts of green apple sweetness but nothing in the way of pepper or spice.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call the start of the Fume D’Amour delicate, it’s certainly not going to jump out and overwhelm the senses unless you have a particular sensitivity to a bit of pepper, which is more prevalent in the nose than on the palate. A bit of cedar—particularly in the aroma—stands out in the early goings, as does a touch of that apple sweetness that I’ve come to associate with this blend. The ash on this cigar isn’t terribly strong, something I learned quickly as a small clump fell off and dispersed itself in a surprisingly large area. With that gone the pepper starts to build and become the most noticeable note, and after the second such clump comes off, the pepper appears in both flavor and aroma, bright but not overpowering for a couple of minutes before fading back for a bit and making way for a very smooth, almost oily-textured smoke that is subtle and complex with touches of wood and fruit sweetness, with the pepper still present on the back end of each puff but much less dominant than it was previously. Other than the finicky ash, I have no complaints about the cigar in the first third; the burn line has been sharp and even while smoke production has been more than sufficient.
One thing I took note of heading into the second third is the difference between the retrohale and a puff in terms of the profile; the former is much more pepper-driven than the latter, while the two provide an interesting back and forth approach to the Fume D’Amour Juniperos. If only puffing on the cigar by this point, you’ll likely notice a fairly significant drop off in both flavor and pepper, and while the smoke maintains its oily smoothness, there isn’t a ton going on, until you add in the almost unabashed white pepper that the nose picks up. The combination is where the Juniperos really shines; if you only puff on the cigar you’ll miss the strength of the pepper and the pleasing tingle it delivers in the nose; nothing but retrohales and you’d likely be overwhelmed and miss the subtleties that the tongue is able to detect. Together though, you get the interplay of the senses and everything the cigar has to offer. The cigar continues to burn beautifully with no touch-ups needed and pretty much everything I could ask for in terms of construction and smoke.
While the second third was largely about the duality of palate and nose, the final third brings them together; pepper is now much more prevalent on the palate without compromising the subtle sweetness and yes, warm apple pie note that I’ve brought up a few times already. In the nose, pepper still leads the way but now there is some green apple with it that further brightens an already crisp sensation, yet again falls short of being overpowering and heavy. The flavor picks up a good bit of smoky character to it in the final third, becoming firmer in its pepper presentation and more robust overall thanks to a slight drying of the flavor. Once the band comes off, I get a smokey, almost slightly peaty note that evokes memories of some flavorful coffees as well; it’s particularly appealing in the nose and takes the Juniperos in a new direction that I certainly wasn’t expecting, and I’m comfortable saying is the best part of the cigar so far and a fantastic way to close it out.
- The first time I tried the Fume D’Amour line was during the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show but it was at the well-known Circle Bar in the Venetian, with the most memorable flavor that of warm apple pie. I commented to Giolito about it and as you can tell, that flavor has stuck with me.
- I cannot stress enough how frustrating the ash on this cigar can be. While I don’t advocate knocking your ash off on a regular basis, in this case I do; otherwise it will end up on your lap, computer, in between the cushions of the seat you’re in, on the floor, and numerous other places other than the ashtray.
- Charlie Minato reviewed the Fume D’Amour Lagunas in August 2014. In that review, he noted that Giolito’s track record has been to introduce a new line with a handful of vitolas and then introduce several more in the coming years. He also noted he wouldn’t be surprised if Fume D’Amour ended up with a vitola lineup similar to that of the Illusione Corojo.
- Prior to Fume D’Amour, Illusione’s most recent new line was ~Ultra~.
- Final smoking time was about two hours on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Illusione, which advertises on halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar and Serious Cigars both carry the Fume D’Amour Juniperos, while STOGIES World Class Cigars carries the Fume D’Amour line.
The cry for lanceros is one heard often in the cigar world, one that is occasionally heard and with varying results when it comes to the final product. In the case of Illusione’s Fume D’Amour, the question of whether or not a lancero works in this blend is an unquestionable yes, and while I’d need to do a vertical tasting to see just how it compares to the other sizes, it would almost certainly be the first one I reach for, time allowing. The flavors are strong without being overpowering, pepper is used with incredible discretion, the interplay between aroma and flavor is fantastic, and the construction—minus the flaky ash—is as good as any. If there was ever a no-doubter of a cigar, this could very well be it.