August 24, 2012

Cigar Review: Illusione ULTRA OP. NO. 4

~ultra~
What can I say about Illusione that I have not already?...The answer is nothing, so let us begin by talking about the ULTRA line.Named after the project performed by the CIA, Project MKULTRA, the idea behind the project was to perform human research on Canadian and American citizens without their knowledge. LSD was a main part of the testing, and of course it was all illegal. There are some beliefs that Project MKULTRA was involved with Sirhan Sirhan and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and even the Peoples Temples, and theJonestown Massacre. That is some heavy shit, so when you take that into account, and that Dion has named a line after the project; you know the smoke is going to be heavy! Last year Dion released the first vitola in the line, the MK ~ultra~, and with that we were suppose to see three additional vitolas. The releases were delayed a year, but they are on shelves now, and people are grabbing them left and right!   

For this review I chose the smaller of the three new releases, and chose the OP. NO. 4. The cigar is almost a cross between the Rothschild and robusto vitola, and measures 4.75" with a 48 ring gauge. It is nicely pressed, and is one of those box-pressed cigars that is severely pressed. It has a great triple cap to it, and I just know that the wrapper has been stretched so well that I will get tons of flavors from that tobacco leaf. The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro, and has a beautiful Corojo wrapper. Dion has specified that the cigar has filler tobacco from predominantly two regions of Nicaragua, Jalapa and Esteli, and that the tobacco is mostly ligero. The wrapper has a beautiful color to it, and it is really that of a Colorado Maduro in coloring. There are some definite veins present in the cigar, and it has a texture of thick silk. It is very smooth in the hand, and when you get a whiff of the foot you pick up lots of spices, damp wood, pepper, leather and strong tobacco.  
Nicaraguan Corojo
Lighting up the cigar I felt like I entered the kitchen of Emeril. BAM! From the get go you get tons of dark and heavy flavors, and the cigar is all over the place. I was picking up some burnt sugar cane, anise, dark and heavy tobacco, damp wood, heavy spices, and with that some intriguing herbal notes. The flavor profile is incredibly entertaining, and because of the unique and powerful flavors, there is some balance to the incredibly strong cigar. The cigar is easily full bodied, and the great aspect to the cigar is that the strength is somewhat hidden behind the flavors. I am getting a solid burn line, not perfect, with the cigar, and it is leaving a dark gray ash. The cigar is really a slow smoking cigar, and you really need to take your time with it, while making sure it stays lit.

When I get into the second third of the cigar the flavors are still very powerful and present, and I am also seeing a rise in a couple wonderful notes that are present in Illusione cigars. There is a beginning emergence of cocoa notes in this third, and with that some black cherry notes. They are really pairing wonderfully with the heavy tobacco and damp wood notes, and along with that there are still those herbal, burnt sugar cane and anise notes to the cigar. I don't see any point in mentioning the spice and black pepper notes I am getting, as that is expected. It is still smoking full in body, and with that producing that dark gray ash that is holding on to the cigar firmly. There is a ton of smoke being produced with the cigar, and it is going head to head with the strong Malbec right now. I am not going to lie, right now I am feeling this smoke.
OP. NO. 4
In the final third of the cigar the strength and nicotine level has just shot up through the roof. Before hand I was plugging right along, and now I am wondering where the hell I am. "Hey Alice! Did I just fall down the fucking rabbit hole?" I use to be a huge fan of these cigars that could rock your world, but a year or so back I started looking for cigars that were simply more flavorful than strong. I would rather smoke an elegant and complex lighter cigar than a cigar that is just strong. However, though I say that statement, this cigar is incredibly flavorful while it is strong. I am picking up those wonderful dark cherry notes in this third, and with that some cocoa and spice notes. There is still a ton of black pepper notes present, and the finish is that of anise, herbs and damp barnyard. The cigar burns wonderfully all the way to the end, and even with the powerful strength level and full flavors, the cigar is cool in terms of temperature on the last draw.

I have smoked many of these sticks, and each experience was a little bit different. The problem I faced is that I was smoking them all at different times, and with that lighter or heavier meals. This is definitely a cigar that you should smoke in the evening or late afternoon, and smoke it after having a decent sized meal. I usually drink water with the cigars I am sampling, but I found that this cigar basically told the water "to fuck off." I began pairing it with some Malbec, Zinfandel and Shiraz wines, and it was then that I really found the cigar to be cruising. The great aspect to this cigar was that even though you could pick up all the signs of a full bodied and strong cigar, it was also very flavorful at the same time. If you are a fan of the Epernay line, and that is your strength level then I would not recommend this, but if you are typically a smoker of the Illusione "Original Documents" line then you could definitely gravitate to this playing field. Overall I would smoke this from time to time, but would smoke the "Original Documents" or Epernay line more often. I give this cigar a91 and under certain circumstances. At the end of a big meal with a nice heavy red this cigar would get a 91 and as Dion told me on Twitter, "smoke with a quad latte." 
ULTRA OP. NO. 4
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