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Cigar Geeks Geek Critique

Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary D’Aosta Toro
Written by Cigar Geeks Member: Brlesq
85
Cigar Geeks Rating

A new, regular-production size that commemorates the Illusione brand’s 10 years on the market. It’s also the 12th cigar in Epernay’s portfolio. Epernay is named after the Champagne-producing town in France whose effervescent wine inspired the sweet and floral character of the cigar. Lighter in body than the core Illusione brand, Epernays contain no strong, ligero tobacco, as brand-owner Dion Giolito wanted to emphasize balance and finesse over power and richness. Unlike the rest of the Epernay series which all have French names, D’Aosta is Italian, referring to the mountainous region of Northern Italy where Giolito’s family is originally from.

Length:
6
Ring Gauge:
50
Country Manufactured:
Honduras
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Corojo
Nicaragua
Color:
Colorado
Strength:
Mild-Medium
Shape:
Toro

Pre-Light: 9 Points of 10 Possible

Wrapper was a light brown, Colorado-claro, slightly oily in sheen with a few veins. It had a nice triple cap. The band is simple and clean. Pre-light aroma was a sweet tobacco odor, reminiscent of a Cuban cigar.  Upon cutting the cigar with my Xikar, I noticed the stem end of a leaf had been rolled into the head of the cigar and hidden by the cap.  This caused a few construction issues after trying to clip it clean and later extricate it.

Light & Burn: 14 Points of 15 Possible

The cigar easily and stayed lit for breaks of up to 5 minutes without a draw or puff, and required no re-lights while I enjoyed it.  The burn line was straight, the ash was a light gray color and held to 1" to 1.5” each time before being tapped off.  The draw had just the right amount of “tug” to it, and it produced nice quantities of white smoke.

Construction: 20 Points of 30 Possible

Cigar was solidly rolled with no soft spots or immediately visible imperfections. However, hidden under the triple cap was the stem end of a leaf that had been rolled into the head of the cigar and covered with the cap. I tried to clip it clean, but it still protruded a little and inhibited a comfortable mouth-feel for the cigar.  As it softened, I attempted to carefully pull it out, but that damaged the head and the wrapper a little bit, which later resulted in little pieces of tobacco in my mouth towards the end of the smoke time.

Flavor: 42 Points of 45 Possible

Upon lighting, the cigar opened up with a sweet woodiness.  It began to develop some mustiness and creaminess, with only a hint of black pepper in the retrohales. I would call this mild-medium in both body and strength at this point.

By the beginning of the second third, the cigar began to transform, and notes of gingersnap cookies, some nutty qualities and maybe graham cracker joined the already present sweet and musty creaminess. Still hints of black pepper on the retrohale, but not strong by any means. The flavors were really hitting their stride, and the strength remained mild-medium while the body inched up to a solid  medium.

As the last third began the cigar changed again, this time by becoming less sweet, and a bit drier, with some saltiness and fermented baking flavors entering the scene, which immediately brought hard sourdough pretzels to my mind.  Some woodiness and something nutty remain in the background. Gone is the mustiness and any trace of black pepper. Its now medium-full in body, and medium in strength.  It ends as a great cigar.

Summary

The Illusione Epernay is a wonderfully complex cigar, and I’ve smoked other sizes before, each one producing slightly different results.  This 10th Anniversary D’Aosta Toro is probably my new favorite among those sizes.  If I hadn’t experienced the construction issue of the stem in the head of the cigar (which distracted from my overall enjoyment and cigar experience), this would have been scored 8 points higher. (I'm going to assume this was an anomaly and not typical of the construction.) Highly recommended for both new and seasoned cigar enthusiasts looking for a cigar with lots of flavor, but not a lot of strength or pepper qualities.



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