April 1, 2012

Review: PRE-RELEASE Illusione ULTRA Robusto

Tonight's cigar is one that was on display at last year's IPCPR show, but as far as I know, has yet to be seen on any retail shelf. Unlike the MK ULTRA, which was released once before a few years ago and again this year, this extension to the ULTRA line is a completely new release from Illusione.

My friend Dan from New Havana Cigars told me that he expects to get a small shipment of these shortly, so I thought it was finally time to smoke the one sample I have been holding onto for some time. The MK ULTRA was the number one cigar I was looking forward to in last year's releases and it delivered. Time to see how one of it's big brothers performs.

Vitola: Robusto
Length:  5 
Ring Gauge: 50ish
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $?
Smoking Location: my back deck
Beverage: water

The ULTRA is an intimidating looking cigar. It had a very dark wrapper with some pretty good size veins. Even with the big veins, the cigar felt nice and smooth to the touch and didn't have much tooth. The shape of the cigar reminded me a lot of the new "bench pressed" Epernays that Illusione released earlier this year and felt heavy in weight. I could tell with a little squeeze that is was packed full and would most likely burn slowly. The pre-lit aroma was a mix of black pepper (especially at the open foot) and cedar. The cold draw was nice, free, and had a floral and dried fruit taste. I must mention that the black ULTRA band is simple but looks bad ass.

First Third   
My ULTRA banged right out of the gate with a lot of peppery spice that instantly woke up my taste buds. The flavor was strong and spicy but not hot or harsh in any way. After the first few puffs, more of the flavor profile started to come through with a lot of leather and sweetness on the front, which then gave way to a clean citrus finish. The finish was not very long at in this part of the cigar; it was more clean and crisp. The nicotine strength was in the upper medium range, but the flavor strength was completely full. The burn was slightly wavy, but did not require a touch up through the first third.
Second Third  
The second third of my ULTRA had the black pepper flavor back off a bit and make room for what I consider to be the classic Illusione flavor, black cherry. This is the flavor I love in Dion's cigars and something that I think is very unique to his blends. The finish on the cigar also changed up a bit and had a of meaty, salty taste. I have heard/read people saying they get this taste in cigars a lot. I personally don't tend to pick it up very often, but in the ULTRA is was pretty obvious. The saltiness of it made my mouth water and kept my palate from feeling dried out or burnt between puffs. During the second third, the nicotine strength of the cigar increased significantly. I would put this now solidly in the full range. It's not a head spinning strength, more of a body buzz. Something also to note, that I mentioned in my review of the MK ULTRA, is just how dark the ash is. Again, it's a little intimidating to look at, but was very tasty up to this point.
Final Third and Final Thoughts 
Full flavor and full strength is what best describes the final third of my ULTRA. The black pepper returned (especially through the nose) to mix in nicely with the black cherry taste on the front. The finish was still the same salty meaty flavor, but even more pronounced than before. I caution my fellow smokers to take this stick slowly through the final third, as it was very strong to me at this point. Not overwhelmingly strong for seasoned smokers, but could put a hurting on someone who smokes mild to medium sticks. The construction, although a little wavy on the burn at times, never needed a touch up or relight and the draw was consistently good throughout the smoking experience.

My final thoughts on The Illusione ULTRA? This is how to do a full power stick and not have the flavor lost in the punch. I've smoked and heard about a lot of cigars released recently that will hit you in the head/kick you in the gut with nicotine strength, but fail in the flavor department. The ULTRA is not one of this sticks. I think this is a perfect cigar for after dinner, to wind down the day. Another winner that will be added to my rotation. 

Would I buy it again? Yes, without a doubt.

Would I buy a box? I'm sure this is not going to be a low cost stick, but I think it is box worthy.



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