In late 2012, murmurs started that Dion Giolito would have a new Illusione, the Illusione *R* Rothchildes. It was supposed to be a completely separate project from the La Grand Classe release, which at the time had just shipped. But there were a lot of similarities from the initial details: Nicaraguan filler and Mexican San Andrés wrapper, lower prices and made at TABSA.

In January we posted the following:

Illusione’s newest cigar should be appearing soon according to Dion Giolito. Earlier this year, a post by Giolito indicated the 4 1/2 x 50 Illusione Rothchildes would be available in “the Ides of March,” but a new post today hinted they might be available “sooner than you had planned.” News of the cigar first appeared late last year after Big Smoke, but details remained shaky at the time.

The original post, titled “An Old Beginning,” read:

New is old. Forward is backward. Making arrangements is necessary when confronting the all-kontroling. We have here for the loyal masses – a cigar – ‘Illusione Rothchildes’ – a classic 4 1/2 x 50 ring of long filler Nicaraguan tobacco led by a decadent maduro wrapper. New yet familiar, our new release will please the palate and the pocketbook. A stand alone cigar. A stand alone size. A stand alone brand. The powers that be deliver this cigar to you in the Ides of March.

Now Rothchildes appears on the Illusione website alongside the rest of his portfolio with the following message:

Look here, see everywhere. They will appear sooner than you had planned.

Giolito told halfwheel the Rothchildes, which are made at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, will retail for $3.99 per cigar and sold in cabinets of 50 cigars.

After receiving a small shipment in his most recent container, Giolito has released a small amount of the Rothchildes this week.

As noted above, the cigars ship in cabinets of 50, which look like this:

Illusione  R Rothchildes Box 1

Illusione  R Rothchildes Box 2

Illusione  R Rothchildes Box 3

Illusione  R Rothchildes Box 4

Illusione  R Rothchildes Box 5

Illusione  R Rothchildes 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Illusione *R* Rothchildes
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 4 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $3.99 (Boxes of 50, 199.50)
  • Date Released: March 11, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 5

There are a lot of things to like about this cigar even before lighting it up: price, size, presentation, but my favorite might be the aroma in the box: Gigantic floral notes, leather, great tobacco—if only every box smelled like this. The Mexican San Andrés wrapper is not one known for being the greatest-looking, but there’s plenty of oils on this particular example. While there’s some variance in the box, it’s definitely a lighter and brighter wrapper than what was used on the La Grand Classe, some of which is definitely helped by the oils. Cold draw provides sweet lemon, fruitiness, citrus, floral and some Nicaraguan notes, along with a distinct peppermint taste, although the latter is not consistent.

The first third of the Rothchildes begins with a great cocoa, earth and salty nuts. What’s shocking is the abundance of chewiness, even for a Mexican Maduro. I normally like my draws somewhat tight, but the slightly open draw allows for a ton of smoke both externally and in the mouth. Flavors are best described as the mixture of cocoa and earth with tons of floral notes and a decent amount of pepper on the outside of the mouth. Strength is negligible in the first third, but I have no complaints.

Illusione  R Rothchildes 2

Into the second third and the Illusione is smoothing out in ways that are shocking. There’s a creaminess joining the cocoa, leather and earth. There’s no drastic change, rather a smooth building of flavors, the sort of progression that reminds me of some of the older Original Documents. The sweetness from the Mexican wrapper is present, but the Rothchildes balances it without the use of earthy flavors: rather, it’s the floral and salty notes that provide the contrast.

Illusione  R Rothchildes 3

The final third takes what was present in the second third and amplifies it: creaminess, sweetness, peanuts, saltiness and some earth. It’s a wonderful finish. On an empty stomach, I can feel the strength finally starting to catch up, but it’s not really beyond the south end of medium-full even at this point. To the end, the smoke production and construction is phenomenal: two inches of ash, easy draw and great smoke production.

Illusione  R Rothchildes 4
Final Notes:

  • While the Rothchildes is a classic cigar name, Dion Giolito is a noted wine drinker. On his website, links to some cigar sites are present, along with a few wine companies, including a link to Lafite, formally known as Domaines Barons de Rothschild.
  • If the bands look familiar, it’s because it a mix of a classic Henry Clay band and Giolito’s old Twitter avatar.
  • In a world where bands get more and more complex, these are not only not that, but also significantly easier to photograph, at least according to Brooks, who took all the box shots.
  • Giolito told me that he wanted the “signature Illusione floral aroma” — he got that, in spades. Opening and smelling the box is incredible.
  • Small size or not, the price point is a gigantic breath of fresh air.
  • While accessories and merchandise are in the works, extensions are not. Giolito said that this will be a “stand alone brand, and a stand alone size.”
  • Word to the wise: don’t underhumidify these. Probably best to keep them closer to 70 than 65.
  • Strength is medium plus, maybe even teetering on medium-full at times, but definitely lighter than the Original Document line.
  • The back of the boxes feature an inlet for the lid to stand up and be displayed. Giolito told me he wanted to separate the cigar from the rest of the Illusione line both in the bands and in the boxes. While it’s the first time Illusione has done this, Giolito pointed to a few other manufacturers that have done this, including Cubao. The ridge looks like this:
    Illusione  R Rothchildes Box Ridge 1
    Illusione  R Rothchildes Box Ridge 2 Illusione  R Rothchildes Box Ridge 3
  • The smoke production is as close to Ligaesque as a I’ve seen. Absolutely incredible, effortless.
  • As for the construction itself, it’s great. At one point in the final third, I let one sit for a good five minutes, came back and the cigar was still burning.
  • This is the third consecutive release from Giolito from the TABSA factory.
  • The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Illusione.
  • Final smoking time was on average just under one hour.
92 Overall Score

While there can be some debate about the recent release of ~ULTRA~, it's my belief that Rothchildes—regardless of price—is the best cigar Illusione has released since the 2010 Singularé. There's no doubt the past few years haven't been the brightest of Illusione's history, but Rothchildes is enough for me to completely get over my disappointment from Singularé 2011 and 2012. Great branding, great price point, but most importantly, a great cigar. None of Giolito's regular Maduro releases have impressed me, until now. I imagine these aren't going to be the easiest to find, but seeking out a few Illusione *R* Rothchildes is definitely worth it.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.