This “Sessions” review will be highlighting a tasty and powerful little smoke - the Illusione Ultra OP No. 3. I had some cleaning up to do in the barn and with the cooler nights popping up here, I need to make the pigs a straw bed. Hence the title of “Barn Work Sessions”. This is a cigar I have had a couple times before, coincidentally I recall the other times were also while doing some stuff in the barn. This is the second “Sessions” review in a row (see the Patina Habano review here) that was a petit robusto vitola. I find I really enjoy these types of vitolas while I am working on things because I find they usually require less maintenance, do not get in the way if I want to hold it in my mouth, and since I often smoke slower while working on things, they last plenty long.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo Colorado Rosado
Filler: Nicaragua (Criollo ‘98, Corojo ‘99)
Vitola: 4 ¼ x 50 Short Robusto
Price: $8.95 MSRP
Release Date: July 2016
Company Website: https://www.illusionecigars.com/
This little guy has some heft to it. The pack is very firm underneath this veiny, oily wrapper. There are some imperfections in the wrapper. I always enjoy the simplicity in Illusione’s bands and this is no exception. I also like the black band and white font against the milk chocolate colored wrapper. This cigar smells like vanilla pipe tobacco and the cold draw has some pepper spice that hits the back of the throat as well as some cedar. First light brings full body and flavored smoke with notes of oily wood on the draw with some baking spice and pepper on the finish. The retrohale is super easy going despite the fullness of the body and flavor and adds some citrus and vanilla to the profile. The wood and baking spice quickly meld into a flavor I can’t quite describe. This note has not been this prominent in the other Ultras I have had. I have noticed this note in other cigars but have never really tried to name it. In tobacco terms, it is something I associate with Ligero leaf. Between this flavor note and the level body and flavor, I am guessing there is a good chunk of ligero in the blend. Throughout the first third this note remains prominent. To me it is reminiscent of some type of earthy or vegetal spice, somewhat bitter, but not in an overwhelming or bad way. Maybe turmeric? There is some pepper on the draw and finish as well. The retrohale shows a lot of citrus and, if you search for it, vanilla. At the end of the first third the mystery note has moved towards the finish and added a slight char. The draw has taken on the citrus and vanilla. There is definitely some strength starting to poke its head in. Pretty early into the second third there is a flavor shift. The vanilla on the draw is more prominent and the citrus is becoming more like a black cherry. Some oakiness is there on the finish. The citrus is back on the retrohale and there is a creamy taste and texture associated with it. I tapped the ash at about halfway. The draw and performance have been great so far. There have been a couple times the burn seems like it wanted to go wonky, but it saves itself. Moving into the final third and the flavor and body are full and the strength continues to ramp up. The draw flavors are still vanilla and oak with a fruit component still there that keeps me guessing between cherry and citrus. Some pepper has joined in on the draw and the retrohale is peppery and creamy. Overall, the smoke is super oily and thick. Nearing the band the flavors have remained relatively unchanged with the only difference being a little char on the finish that lasts between puffs. Ending at about an hour and 18 minutes in, the only noticeable change was the strength reaching full.
This is the only vitola of the Ultra I have had, and I am a fan. This cigar brings a lot of flavor and complexity, something Dion is great at doing in his blends. He is also pretty good at adding a creeping strength component to his blends, this is no exception. Interestingly, after I finished the cigar and my notes, I went to the Illusione site to get the blend information and it notes in there that the blend uses ligero from 2 regions in Nicaragua. This matches up with the Ligero-like flavor I was experiencing in the first third - Also, I did some searching while typing this part, and that note I was getting could maybe be what some people call out as tannins - Anyway, back to the blend, this cigar would be a great one for someone to smoke to experience Nicaraguan ligero because this cigar showcases more distinct ligero flavor at first, then displays how it can add body and fullness to a complex flavor profile, then it does not ramp up and hit you with a strength kick until near the end, in which case you could bail out and have already gotten your money’s worth. In closing, this is definitely a cigar I will continue to return to.
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