After deciding to talk about plans for his Illusione brand before the start of last year’s trade show, Dion Giolito returned to his normal practice of refraining from talking about things unless he was forced to do so. This meant it was until we stopped by the Illusione booth at the 2014 IPCPR convention and trade show before we could get details regarding Illusione’s newest line, Fume D’Amour.
The name continues Illusione’s use of French with Fume D’Amour translating roughly into to love smoke. The blend is based off of Illusione Corojo (Original Document), although there is a different wrapper.
It’s made entirely of Nicaraguan viso and seco, meaning no ligeros are used. In theory, this should create a lighter blend in strength given the higher priming ligeros are usually stronger than its seco and viso counterparts, which fall lower on the tobacco plant. Giolito indicated that he’s been able to find enough strength and flavor from the mid and lower priming tobaccos in AGANORSA’s tobacco inventory.
Four sizes have been created for its debut: Caprastanios (6 x 56), Clementes (6 1/2 x 48), Lagunas (4 1/4 x 42) and Viejos (5 x 50). All sizes are sold in boxes of 25, except for the Lagunas, which will ship in 50-count cabinets. Pricing is between $6.50-9.50.
- Cigar Reviewed: Illusione Fume D’ Amour Lagunas
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 4 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 42
- Vitola: Petit Corona
- MSRP: $6.50 (Boxes of 50, $325)
- Release Date: August 28, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4
The wrappers seem a bit more vibrant than most with a deeper and more color than most. Aroma from the wrapper isn’t very strong, I imagine due to the cigars being loose and without cellophane. A sweet cedar and nutty combination is present from the foot of the Illusione,fairly rich. There’s an ideal cold draw for the size, slightly tight from the initial pull, but opening up after the original split second. Flavors are centered around nuttiness along with hazelnut, floral, cocoa and a touch of red pepper.
A rough woodsiness is the first thing that comes into contact with my taste buds, quickly joined by saltier nuts and a touch of cocoa in my nose. The finish of the Fume D’Amour adds a controlled pepper and jalapeño salt, while retaining a lot of the woodsy flavor. Less than an inch into the Lagunas and I find a bit of grapefruit trying to works its way in, although it’s overwhelmed by cedar, walnuts and dry cinnamon powder. Creaminess comes and goes through the first inch, never becoming a primary flavor and changing its presence at nearly every puff, although it breaks through the rest of the profile quite well. I do find some variance in the strength, although I’d best describe it as medium-full, but the body of the Fume D’Amour is consistently on the lighter side of full.
The first chunk of ash falls right before the one-inch mark, although when not using an ashtray I can extend it out for nearly half the cigar. Flavor-wise, I am blasted with a sweet peppermint right at the transition point along with hickory and a sweetness in the form of burnt butter. Speeding up the draws can add some grassy flavors to the finish, but overall its nuts and the wonderfully restrained black pepper flavor that has been present from the start. Strength is somewhere north of medium, while the body and flavor are both full.
After a few twists and turns the sweet and creamy touches I was picking up in the middle parts of the Fume D’Amour are now presenting themselves in the form of coffee. With under an inch left, I’m once again able to pick up the peppermint, although it’s considerably less sweet and some dry cocoa that hasn’t been seen from the first inch. It’s very much a building of flavors between the second and final thirds, whereas I would say there was a clear transition between the first and second thirds. While the smoke production slows down, I’m able to easily smoke the Lagunas down to the point where fingers are getting closer to being burned.
- I think you could make the case this cigar could be evaluated in halves as opposed to thirds. There’s a clear transition after the one-inch mark, where as the next three inches are a progression of core flavors with a few exceptions.
- Giolito is very proud of the construction of the Fume D’Amour. His goal is to make it burn “like a stack of dimes.” As he explains it, if all goes well, you should see one ring for every puff, leading to your ash to look like a stack of dimes, or in some cases nickels and quarters. The construction has been good across the three sizes I smoked, but the smaller size is definitely closer to perfect.
- The one size I have not smoked is the Caprastanios, 6 x 56, which is essentially the same vitola as the ~mj12~.
- I like the profile of the Viejos better, as it’s a bit fuller in body, while the overall aspects of the Lagunas would likely lead me to purchase it most.
- The boxes of Fume D’Amour feature the same cut-out for the lid to be mounted on the back of the box as *R* Rothchildes.
- If you struggle finding Fume D’Amour when it first arrives in stores, it’s likely because this shipment will only fulfill a small fraction of the orders placed at this year’s trade show. The cigar is regular production.
- Giolito’s track record has been to introduce a core line and then add vitolas periodically over the course of the next few years. Given that it is somewhat related to Illusione Corojo, I would not be surprised to see another half dozen or so extensions over the course of the next few years that creates a line-up very similar to Illusione Corojo.
- Speaking of Illusione Corojo, its production has moved to TABSA, the Nicaraguan factory responsible for Rothchildes, the three most recent Singularés and Fume D’Amour. I think that’s for the good. The recent TABSA-made Illusione Corojos I’ve smoked have been far superior to my experiences with 2011 and 2012 boxes from Raíces Cubanas, the former factory for the line.
- It’s been a while since I can recall a cigar having the restrained pepper like this has it. It’s a clearly contained secondary note on the finish on the back half of the tongue and does not budge.
- Cigars for this review were given to halfwheel by Illusione, who advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was 55 minutes on average. It’s a cigar that can be smoked in 40 minutes, but I also managed to lengthen one out to well over an hour without any difficulty or issues with the cigar going out.
Update: The original version of this story indicated that only one leaf was changed from Illusione Corojo to create this blend, there was in fact more than one different type of tobacco changed.
A few years ago at the now defunct TheCigarFeed, I wrote Illusione had the best core line in the business. It was a different time and the 2009 and 2010 boxes of Illusiones were generally somewhere between great and sublime. While I am not inclined to make a big deal out of this being the first addition to Illusione’s core portfolio since Ultra, it’s worth pointing out this is a more than worthy entrant to any portfolio. There’s no overt signs of youth, but it’s obvious the tobacco in the Fume D’Amours I’ve smoked has not had years to age and develop, and yet, this is one of the more complex cigars I’ve smoked from Illusione in recent memory. The obvious question remains, is this better than Illusione Corojo? The unfortunate answer is “I don’t know.” There’s no chance I would choose the three Fume D’Amour sizes I’ve smoked over an Illusione with a box date of 2010 or earlier. In the purest form of the test: a Fume D’Amour Lagunas or a 2014-dated Illusione ~mk~? Somehow I find myself wanting the Lagunas.