Today we’ll be reviewing the Illusione *G* Gigantes, one of the newest releases from the boutique manufacture. There are some interesting points to discuss in regards to this cigar, but I’d like to first share a story, if I may:
Cigar King was hosting a tasting event one Friday evening, and for this particular event we had the owner of the company present. I’ll refrain from naming names out of respect for their privacy. As the event was winding down, I found myself walking through the humidor with the owner of this company discussing what we felt were the strengths and weaknesses of the various marketing strategies employed by manufactures. While I don’t remember his words exactly, he said something to effect of “These dudes are insane if they think their brand is going to have any presence if they’re not out there promoting it. Giving samples, doing events, interviews, shaking hands.” It was at this point that we passed by a shelf of Illusione products, at which point this man came to an abrupt pause. “Except for Illusione though. I don’t know how that dude does it. Not the industry standard…F*** bro, they are not the industry standard.” We both had a chuckle and agreed that Illusione’s success is indeed quite the phenomenon.
I found that encounter to be amusing enough in its own right, but that’s not why I chose to share the story. I think that story illustrates just what makes Illusione so interesting. The brand has a life of its own. Call it an ‘it’ factor, if you must. The brand has ranked in Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 four separate times since Illusione’s inception in 2005.
The brand itself is the brainchild of a man named Dion Giolito, owner and operator of FUMARE, a cigar shop in Reno, NV*. Dion is hands down one of the most off the wall characters in the industry. His branding is filled with references to all sorts of conspiracy theories, biblical references, and general tinfoil-hattery. A quick glance at Illusione’s website will give you a good idea of what he’s all about.
More specifically an image regarding the Illusione *G* Gigantes:
Dion Giolito is also responsible for my favorite magazine ad of all time:
Those familiar with the Illusione *R* Rothschild will likely find the Gigantes familiar. However, Dion Giolito would like to stress that the Gigantes is not merely a larger version of the Rothschild. Technical details on their differences aren’t clear, but Dion Giolito describes the Gigantes as being fuller and deeper than the Rothschild.
- Cigar: Illusione *G* Gigantes
- Size: 6 1/2 x 56
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
- Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo 98 (Esteli), Corojo 99 (Jalapa)
- Filler: Nicaraguan, Aganorsa leaf
- Factory: TABSA – Esteli, Nicaragua
- Price: $7.95
- Production: Ongoing
Appearance and Pre-light Aroma:
One look at the Illusione *G* Gigantes reveals almost immediately how this cigar acquired its name. While Dion Gioloto has stated that the Gigantes is not merely a larger version of the Rothschild, it’s near impossible to not look at the Gigantes and not think “Rothschild on steroids.”
The word rustic comes to mind as a good descriptor for the Gigantes. The wrapper is a washed-out charcoal color, with a large number of small veins and a bumpy surface. Thick tooth runs throughout the cigar from top to bottom, giving the Gigantes a dry and coarse texture. Oils on the wrapper are moderate.
A quick whiff of the Illusione *G* Gigantes’ foot yields a deep and rich scent. The profile is fairly straightforward: cocoa powder and cinnamon, light earth, soft leather and a muted citrus note. The draw has surprisingly distinct notes of dried apricots and maple.
The first puffs of the Illusione *G* Gigantes produces voluminous mouthfuls of smoke with little effort. Hearty notes of dried meat, muted citrus, minerals and heavy leather envelop the palate, with an extremely floral finish. There is virtually nothing in the way of pepper, although there is a slight spice in the finish. A retrohale shows a sharp floral citrus note with a creamy feel through the nostrils. The Gigantes is considerably sweeter than anticipated.
The draw is phenomenal. Smooth and linear, with just the right resistance.
As the Illusione *G* Gigantes progresses further much stays the same, albeit with a few notable changes. This far in it becomes fairly clear that the entirety of the Gigantes is built upon two core flavors – smoked beef and a floral sweetness. Strength, flavor, and body all sit firmly at a medium, although the Gigantes is just a pinch stronger than earlier on. The body is bit less creamy, and the sweeter flavors seem to have receded to only really being present in the finish. Leather and floral earth are more pronounced than in the first third, and a flavor most akin to damp cedar is also present. While pepper was largely absent in the first third, there is a bit of a peppery undertone in this stage, but it is fairly uneventful. Through the nose, the Illusione *G* Gigantes is virtually identical to the first third.
As we draw into the tail end of the Illusione *G* Gigantes we find several changes, mostly in a reorganization of the core flavors. The earthy flavors – leather, black pepper, soil and meat – all shine through as you savor the smoke. The more nuanced sweet flavors keep somewhat of a low profile until the finish; at which point they steal the show. The profile is less floral than earlier on, and a tangy cedar flavor has taken precedence over the muted citrus flavors from earlier on. At the nub, the Gigantes continues to burn at a good temperature, and virtually zero in the way of bitterness has developed.
Burn and Construction:
The burn was razor sharp every single time. I feel like I’ve been smoking a lot of really finicky blends lately, so the burn of the Illusione *G* Gigantes really stood out.
The construction was excellent as well. There really isn’t much else to say beyond that.
I enjoyed the Illusione *G* Gigantes quite a bit; more so than I was expecting actually. I’ve liked just about everything Dion has put out, including the *R* Rothschild. Both the Rothschild and the Gigantes serve as budget-friendly entry level products for Illusione. Working in a shop, particularly Cigar King, I can more or less shoot for the top when I want to smoke an Illusione and not worry about price points. It’s a bit like having the entirety of the Porsche lineup available to you 24/7. Seldom are you inclined to hop in the Cayman when you can drive a 918. That being said, I gained a new found appreciation for just how good of a cigar the Illusione *G* Gigantes is, regardless of price. It’s a rich and meaty, full flavored cigar that has a great set of core flavors. It sits comfortably with a nice bit of complexity and balance, and the Gigantes evolves its profile seamlessly from the first third to the final third. I’d be hard pressed to find a better day to day smoke.
8 out of 10