It was announced in early fall of 2021 that Jeremy Piven, best known as Ari Gold from the HBO series Entourage, had teamed up with Illusione Cigars to release his own cigar. This cigar is the Illusione Piv Robusto. Since this cigar is part of the “Jeremy Piven Collection”, it likely will be the first of multiple projects from Jeremy Piven and Illusione Cigars. Aside from being an interesting collaboration, this cigar also is utilizing an increasingly popular Corojo 2012 leaf from Aganorsa.
Traditionally speaking, I am not one to seek out celebrity endorsed cigars. Firstly, there has not really been one that has piqued my interest, and secondly, I often am concerned more attention has been put into the marketing than the cigar itself. However, I am intrigued by anything Illusione, as Dion Giolito is one of my favorite blenders. Actually, with the exception of Old School, I have never really watched a full show or movie that starred Jeremy Piven. At least not that I can recall.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacos de Valle Jalap S.A.
Vitola: 5 x 52
Release Date: November 2021
Company Website: www.illusionecigars.com
I am expecting a sweeter, creamy medium-full flavor and body cigar at a medium strength level. There will likely be some subtle peppers and woods. If other Illusione cigars are an indication, it will also likely become stronger and more earth and wood forward in the final third.
I love the design of the primary band and the gold and white color choice. The cigar is slightly spongy and quite weighty. The wrapper has some minor imperfections but is velvety and has that classic Illusione look and shade. The cigar has no detectable scent beyond a mild tobacco. The cold draw is reminiscent of a Strawberry Creme Saver.
First light brings lots of medium bodied smoke with medium to full flavors of some oily wood, pepper, and a very faint traditional Aganorsa sweetness. The retrohale shows off more pepper upfront but brings in a lot of cream on the finish. Very quickly I had to touch up one side of the wrapper. Midway through the first third the draw flavors are showing more cream, some brighter coffee notes, and a very subtle tannic wood note that causes salivation back the sides of the tongue. Closing out this third the flavor profile has remained unchanged. The performance improved after the earlier touchup and the draw has been perfect. Interestingly, the body is still medium, but the smoke has a very dense feeling to it. The flavor is medium as well and I haven’t noticed any strength to this point.
Soon into this second third the cream has taken on some sweetness, becoming like a Starbucks sweet cream. There is a bit of nuttiness that becomes more like an almond on the finish. Hitting the halfway mark the flavor and body are near full. The sweet cream is still present, that slightly tannic wood note is reappearing, and the nuttiness has a bit of a tang to it. It reminds me of a particular nut but I cannot seem to place it. The retrohale has a very bright, sugary sweetness and a touch of pepper. The ash dropped at the halfway point and almost immediately one piece of the wrapper started lagging and needed a touch up. The second third closed with the wood becoming more prominent and a bit of an earthy component appearing.
This third is seeing a ramp up in wood and earth to start. The retrohale is still showing some cream and there is a berry note that is in there as well. It is not as distinctive as the Strawberry Creme Saver note from the cold draw, however. I had to perform another slight touchup to a piece of wrapper that was lagging. Hitting the secondary band, some cream and the tangy nuttiness has reemerged to balance the wood and earth very nicely. The flavor and body are still near full and I believe I can detect just a bit of strength - around medium I would say. Hitting the primary band point I am starting to get that classic Illusione shift. There’s some slightly charred wood, earth, a bit of tannins, and a bit more pepper. There is still some cream in there that really balances it out well. Nearing the end, the wrapper has split a bit and the cigar is becoming harder to burn and is requiring frequent double puffs. I performed a slight touch up with less than an inch remaining because I am enjoying this portion still and want to keep it going. This helped the burn settle and reduced the frequency of puffing. Coming to an end, there is a resurgence of the sweet cream on the draw. There is still some wood, earth, and pepper as well.
I thoroughly enjoyed this cigar and found it to be quite dynamic and interesting for the hour and 40 minutes it burned. The backbone of the profile was cream and nuts, which I really enjoyed both in conjunction with sweetness and with wood and earthiness. The first two thirds showed great medium flavor, medium body, and mild strength nuances with some nice transitions to keep it interesting. The final third brought up the flavor, body, and strength but maintained a wonderful balance between the bolder flavors like pepper, charred wood, and earth and the softer flavors of sweet cream and nuts. The negative things I have to say about the cigar are that there were multiple touch ups. These were not major and did not impact the flavor or experience. Also, the price may be a bit higher than I’d expect, however, it’s definitely not too high to say it’s not worth the price. All in all, I think this was a great first release in the Jeremy Piven Collection and I am curious to see if there are more releases to come.
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