About three months ago, Dion Giolito of Illusione posted a few interesting tweets on his Twitter account (@vudu9) that he would be releasing a very limited number of Holy Lance (~hl~) Lanceros in both maduro and candela wrappers. According to Giolito, the first production was limited to 400 boxes of 25 for each blend, with more to be produced, but how many more depends on how well the first batch sells, among other things. From a post of Giolito’s:

(The New Lanceros were) Rolled at Raices Cubanas. I had a bunch of extra ~hl~ boxes, so rather than eat the cost that it took to make them, I’m gonna put some maduro’s and candelas in them. They’ll be available to any authorized retailer ’till they’re gone.

While the maduro wrapper was expected eventually, the candela wrapper was a surprise to many, myself included. After all, in recent years, the candela wrapper has been thought of as a “joke” cigar, something that you try once and then forget about.

However, the history of the Candela wrapper in relation to American cigars cannot be denied. An article in Cigar Aficionado explains:

Green cigars are latter-day oddities, but they once were the preferred smokes of Americans, so popular in the United States that cigars with candela wrappers became known as American Market Selection. (Natural cigars, the ones that make up the vast majority of today’s cigar market, were dubbed English Market Selection.) From about 1958 to the early 1970s, Americans smoked billions of cigars, and nearly all of them were as green as your front lawn after a May rain. The popular tint was not a function of the use of underage leaf, however. It resulted from a unique process by which the wrapper tobacco was being cured. The Hulk-colored cigars went out of favor in the early 1970s, replaced by cream-colored smokes with Connecticut-shade wrappers, and were all but absent during the cigar renaissance of the 1990s.

In order to produce the green-colored wrappers, the wrapper is essentially cooked to a temperature of about 165 degrees in a barn. After about 65 hours of this, the chlorophyll has been locked into the leaf, causing the shade of green that is the hallmark of the candela cigars.

Illusione ~hl~ Candela 1.png

And, just as a comparison, here is a photo of both of the new Holy Lance blends, the Maduro on the left and the Candela on the right.

Illusione ~hl~ Candela 2.png

  • Cigar Reviewed: Illusione ~hl~ Candela
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 40
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $9.35 (Boxes of 25, $233.75)
  • Date Released: 2010

The cigar itself is very green. I mean, you expect that from a candela wrapper, but I felt kinda weird smoking it. It is an obviously extremely well made stick, with veins visible, but not very prominent and also a very dry feeling to the wrapper. Interestingly, while I did get a sweet grassy scent from the wrapper, it is not as overwhelming as I expected.

Illusione ~hl~ Candela 3.png

The main flavors in the cigar are a sweet grass, but like the wrapper, this is not an overwhelming flavor at all, some oak and leather notes, and a small hint of cinnamon heat. Especially towards the end.

Illusione ~hl~ Candela 4.png

There is also a surprising amount of spice throughout the entire smoke, definitely more so than in the regular ~hl~ blend. It was a very nice addition that really bumps this candela blend over any other candela cigars on the market, in my opinion. The cigar also got quite a bit stronger as the smoke went on, and while I would only put it at about a medium-plus, it was a fairly noticeable nicotine hit.

Illusione ~hl~ Candela 5.png

Final Notes:

  • This is by far the best of the Candela cigars I have smoked. Better than the Arturo Fuente 8-5-8, the Camacho and the Don Tomas candela.
  • It is fairly obvious to me that this was a well thought out, high quality release, and not just a “joke” cigar that is being released for the novelty of the different color, and I would expect nothing less from Giolito, of course.
  • As I mentioned, this cigar had a noticeable increase in spice from the regular ~hl~ blend and interestingly enough, more than the Holy Lance Maduro which I have smoked as well. I wonder if the blend is different between the wrappers, and if this was done on purpose to try and diffuse the obvious grassy note from the candela wrapper.
  • The burn and draw were perfect for the entire cigar, never had to worry about them.
87 Overall Score

Honestly, I was not expecting much from this cigar. I don't smoke many candela cigars on a regular basis and the ones I have tried have ranged from just ok to mediocre, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. While there was a sweet grassy note to the profile, it was not overwhelming at all and the spice that was present for pretty much the entire cigar was a very nice surprise that really made the whole experience better. It was not the most complex of cigars flavor-wise, but I would not hesitate to use it as a change it up cigar, or for specific holidays that call for green colors.

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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.