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Illusione doesn’t release new cigar lines every day, let alone every month. Yet in 2016, spurred by the rapidly approaching FDA regulation, Dion Giolito’s company released more cigars than any fan or follower might expect, almost as many as has been released in the past three of four years combined.

Among those was a new extension to a cigar launched in early 2013, the *R* Rothchildes. In this case, Giolito swapped out the original’s Mexican San Andrés wrapper for an Ecuadorian Connecticut version, with Nicaraguan tobacco used for the binder and filler. Like the original release, it would only be released in a single, 4 1/2 x 50 vitola, and would be priced at a wallet-friendly point: $5.50 per cigar. Giolito would once again put them in 50-count boxes, priced at $275.

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While that may sound appealing enough, this Rothchildes became Illusione’s first venture into the world of Connecticut wrappers, albeit coming from Ecuador as opposed to from the U.S. Giolito said that he was never a fan of Connecticut, but was influenced to using the wrapper both on Rothchildes and on its bigger ring gauge sibling, Gigantes, by way of the Gigantes CT.

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  • Cigar Reviewed: Illusione Rothchildes CT
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Nicaragaua
  • Filler: Nicaragaua
  • Length: 4 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $5.50 (Boxes of 50, $275)
  • Release Date: Aug. 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

At first glance I wasn’t enamored with the color choice for the Illusione Rothchildes CT band, but after closer look I appreciate just how well it correlates with the wrapper, which has a slightly oily caramel hue. There are a few veins but nothing distracting, and it’s easy to see that this top leaf is on the thin side. Roll-wise the cigar looks good, is capped well, and is firm but has a bit of give, especially when squeezed a bit more intensely. The foot is slightly sweet with a corn flake core and just a touch of pepper, while the cold draw is a bit more sweeter but also more complex, reiterating the corn flakes but with a touch more thick sweetness, while the cedar and lumber fight to be the dominant wood note as airflow is a touch loose if anything.

While the Illusione Rothchildes CT is billed as a Connecticut, the upfront wood and pepper of the fist puffs will certainly have you quickly realizing that this isn’t a mild smoke. The cigar pivots fairly quickly, about five minutes in or so, and picks up an interesting chicken stock flavor that is unfamiliar but not inherently bad. The cigar pivots again and picks up a bit of sweet cream that melds well with the wood and pepper, and thankfully doesn’t seem to be sharing space with the chicken stock note from just a few puffs prior. Cake donut also comes in and immediately summons the thought of breakfast to mind; at least the thought of a donut and latte, if you consider that breakfast. There’s a very pleasing and far-from-bashful white pepper in the nose on my first retrohales, and by the time the first clump of ash comes off just shy of an inch in, the cigar has mellowed a few ticks from where it began, clearing the way for the creaminess to become the lead note. While the ash is a bit flaky, the cigar has performed quite well in the early going.

The Illusione Rothchildes CT continues an interesting dance of flavors, returning a bit to the chicken stock note from earlier, seemingly dancing around the palate and picking a different partner every few puffs. Pepper has been left in the background, still tapping its proverbial foot but farm from being in the spotlight of what the cigar is offering as the midway point approaches, but by the time the center point gets crossed there is a very clean black pepper back in the profile that isn’t shy about reintroducing itself to the senses. The flavor picks up a bit of char in the final puffs of this section, either on the wood component or via a bit of mineral that comes in heading into the final third, and while there hasn’t been a need for a relight or touch-up, the burn line begins to waver just a touch.

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The final third kicks off with the smoke getting noticeably warmer and even downright hot when the cigar is puffed on too quickly, turning the flavors harsh and biting. Fortunately a bit of rest for the cigar cools things back down and allows the creaminess to return in a slightly lesser quantity. Provided the smoke stays cool, pepper and a slightly rocky undertone come through, and I’m drawn back to the idea that this isn’t the Connecticut I was expecting.

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Final Notes

  • One of my favorite quotes from the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show comes from Dion Giolito, who said that “it seems like it’s a race to the end, but in fact it’s not; it’s a race to the beginning for us.”
  • I ran into a few issues with the wrapper bursting, something I’m not surprised by given how thin it is, but it happened both outdoors and indoors. Thankfully neither instance seemed to affect the performance of the cigar.
  • One of the things I remember most about the original *R* Rothchildes is that they seemed to be very hit-or-miss depending on the sample. The CT version seemed a bit more consistent, at least in these three samples.
  • Illusione has produced some milder, nuanced cigars—I think of Fume d’Amour in particular—that I thought this would be more in line with. It is much fuller and more pepper driven than that, something I was fine with resolving after the first sample.
  • Illusione advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 25 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar and JR Cigar carry the Illusione Rothchildes CT.
89 Overall Score

I'm a bit on the fence of the like/love debate when it comes to the Illusione Rothchildes CT; there are certainly parts where it is a tremendous cigar, and there are a few that are head-scratchers, and the start of the final third is the most challenging due to the quick change that the cigar takes because of the heat. All that said, it's still quite a flavorful cigar and certainly stronger than the CT label might suggest and one that deserves at least one or two chances to see how it sits on your palate. I have a pretty good feeling I'll be steadily smoking these in the coming months.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

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.

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