At the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show I was told a plan had been hatched.
The plan: Illusione had agreed to be the latest entry into STOGIES World Class Cigars’ ever-growing H-Town Lancero Series. That alone would likely make many readers of this site, including me, excited; but the plan was even better. The lancero they would create would be based on an Illusione great: Singularé 2010 Phantom.
Singularé is a single farm vintage and Illusione and its tobacco supplier AGANORSA didn’t stockpile away leaves from the original production meaning this cigar is not an identical blend. It is, like the original, a Nicaraguan puro using a corojo 98 wrapper, criollo 98 binder(s) and Nicaraguan fillers.
Since 2010, Illusione has moved almost all of its production to Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua and that’s the factory responsible for producing the H-Town Lancero.
This is the ninth entry into STOGIES’ H-Town Lancero Series. Jorge Ahued, co-owner of the Houston-based retailer, is known for his love of the lancero vitola and has commissioned 10 manufacturers to produce a lancero exclusively for his store. The project began in late 2013 and should finish up in early 2016 as RoMa Craft Tobac has been announced as the final manufacturer for the series.
- Room101 Namakubi Ecuador H-Town Lancero (7 x 38) — Dec. 19, 2013 — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars) — $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
- Alec Bradley Nica Puro H-Town Lancero (7 x 40) — August 2014 — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars) — $7.95 (Boxes of 20, $159)
- Fratello H-Town Lancero (7 x 38) — February 2015 — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars) — $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)
- Quesada España H-Town Lancero (7 x 38) — March 2015 — 300 Boxes of 20 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars) — $8.95 (Boxes of 20, $179)
- La Palina H-Town Lancero (7 x 38) — June 2015 — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars) — $8.95 (Boxes of 10, $80.55)
- Tatuaje H-Town Lancero (7 x 40) — September 2015 — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars) — $10 (Boxes of 20, $190)
- Four Kicks H-Town Lancero (7 1/2 x 38) — 500 Boxes of 12 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Nomad H-Town Lancero (7 x 38) — 200 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Illusione H-Town Lancero (7 x 40) — 300 Boxes of 15 Cigars (4,500 Total Cigars)
Illusione has begun to produced single store releases with a bit more frequency and as such, it has developed special branding, known as Cigars Prívé, private cigars.
- Illusione MC Slam (6 x 54) — Sept. 2014 — 200 Boxes of 25 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Illusione Pactum (5 1/2 x 56) — Dec. 2014 — 400 Boxes of 15 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Illusione H-Town Lancero (7 x 40) — Dec. 2015 — 300 Boxes of 15 Cigars (4,500 Total Cigars)
The Illusione H-Town Lancero uses this branding, and only this branding, making it the only H-Town release to not feature special H-Town branding.
- Cigar Reviewed: Illusione H-Town Lancero
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 98
- Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo 99
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 40
- Vitola: Lancero
- MSRP: $9.95 (Boxes of 15, $149.25)
- Release Date: Dec. 4, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 15 Cigars (4,500 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Not to say that the rest of what Illusione produces is ugly, because it’s not; or the rest of the cigars in the H-Town Series are not attractive; because they aren’t—but the Illusione H-Town is simply pretty. The wrapper is an ideal mixture of browns, mustards, reds, oils and shines. It’s not flawless in terms of veins or bumps, but as far as the hue goes—it’s downright impressive. Out of the cellophane, there’s some peanut butter cookie, a generic grain alcohol and a touch of leather from the H-Town Lancero. The foot is fruitier with the peanut butter cookie infused with some sweet cocoa and some spices. The cocoa has the intensity that reminds me of some older AGANORSA tobaccos. As for the cold draw, the sweet cocoa is still present, but restrained, and now joined alongside some raw peanuts, leather, some grains and a bit of spices towards the back end.
As is so often the case, the draw tightens up on the first puff. Flavor-wise, the Illusione begins with some toastiness, nuttiness and a lot of burnt butter in the mouth. Through the nose, there’s some rougher floral and fruity flavors although they are fairly light in what is barely a medium-plus flavor profile. An inch in and the profile has a defined peppermint, peanut and coffee mixture, lots of cedar, dry salty crackers and some mild spices. Flavors ramp up fairly quickly to medium-full and seem to be increasing with each puff in terms of intensity. The draw quickly reverts to the sweetspot it was in during the cold draw and construction is otherwise fine, except for the ash, which like many lanceros struggles to make it to the inch mark.
There’s a noticeable increase in strength towards the middle portion of the H-Town Lancero, which I’d now peg as medium-full. Flavor-wise, there’s an equally notable change: creaminess and French bread combine to an extremely smooth flavor, without being overwhelm sweet. Behind that there’s more coffee—now tasting like High Brew’s cold brew—fruitiness towards the back and a more refined floral flavor through the nose. The fruits in the mouth are distinct from the more generic sensation through the nose with the mouth having some peach notes. After the midway point, the finish turns much nuttier with sourdough bread replacing the French roll flavor from before. Both the body and the flavor are now full and while the flavor is complex, it’s much bolder and far from what I would call delicate.
The peaches break through quite a bit and are now easily defined as the last two inches burn down. Also increasing in intensity is the coffee note, which continues to remind me of High Brew’s dark chocolate mocha, and a sharp black pepper. While the flavor is still very much full, it lacks some of the aggressiveness from the middle portions. Still, my tongue is worn out from what has been two hours of intensity in nearly every part of the tongue. Strength remains full, although it’s also no more than where it was in the middle portion of the cigar.
- Dion Giolito told me that they settled on the 7 x 40 size because it tasted better. Illusione’s other lanceros are in the 7 1/2 x 40 size.
- There’s plans for more Cígars Prívé releases next year, but I honestly can’t see Illusione ever doing more than three per year.
- Giolito has said he’s done adding Epernay vitolas, although I suppose a cigar based on the Epernay lancero under the Cígars Prívé banner could happen. I’d also love to see what an Ultra lancero would taste like, particularly with the box-press.
- Dion Giolito just cringed reading that.
- For those wondering, Singularé 2015 will not be out until 2016.
- The cigar starts medium-plus and ends full. It’s not heavy in strength, but there are some puffs that are notably stronger than others.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by STOGIES World Class Cigars, which advertises on halfwheel. Illusione also advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and five minutes on average.
- You can preorder the Illusione H-Town Lancero from STOGIES here. The cigar, like every other Illusione, is already on the shelf at Giolito’s FUMARE retail store in Reno, however, FUMARE does not ship any Illusione product.
Is it a Singularé 2010? No. Is it better than the Singularé 2010? No. The Singularé 2010 Phantom is the greatest cigar I’ve smoked with an Illusione band on it, which is saying something given just how good Dion Giolito’s portfolio is. The H-Town Lancero is very good, on par with the ~eccj~ 20th as the best Illusione I’ve had this year, but the STOGIES exclusive is not legendary, yet. It’s full, it’s complex, it’s almost overwhelming in terms of how it coats the palate, in short, the H-Town is very much an Illusione. STOGIES H-Town Series has delivered some surprises, some disappointments, but this just meets the expectations, the very high expectations. I suspect due to the quantity produced, the reputation Illusione has and the fact that Jorge Ahued has already smoked through a handful of boxes, the Illusione H-Town Lancero will sell out before any of the other eight exclusives released for the series. Get ‘em while you can.