Illusione Epernay Le Monde review and pairing
For this pairing I chose something that should work well with the winter season a Illusione Epernay Le Monde 6 1/2 x 52, and the 2011 Samuel Adams Winter Lager. We try to review cigars if it is our first cigar of the day, and only drink water during a review to ensure an accurate flavor assessment. However some have asked for reviews in this format and as always we aim to please.
The Samuel Adams Winter Lager is know for its notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange, because of the hops this lager has the bitter sort that is close to an IPA.
Dion’s concept behind Illusione Cigars is to recreate a taste profile from years past, in this case before the Sandinistas took over Nicaragua in 1979, Nicaragua had been growing some of the best tobaccos. Illusione cigars are made from the prized fields in the Jalapa Valley and Esteli region. All of their cigars are made in small batches and deliver a taste and quality rarely found.
The Illusione Epernay Le Monde lives up to the concept. The wrapper is beautiful, there is a sheen of oil, it is almost milk chocolate in color, and the note of the wrapper is a sweet cocoa. The foot of the cigar smells of chocolate and a slight coffee, leaning more towards latte.
The prelight draw is perfect, and tastes of cocoa and latte. The first puff is very rich and creamy, the smoke is medium bodied with a delicious mix of flavors, the most notable being cocoa as expected.
During the first third of the cigar the aroma of chocolate fills the air around me with undertones of coffee. The draw is excellent and there is a constant flavor of cream, and latte with an after taste of cocoa. The smoke from the cigar has an almost blue tinge to it. The strength is very mild, and the body remains medium, the overall flavors combine to taste something like a hot chocolate, perfect for the end of a cold day. The beer is providing a stark contrast because of the bitterness of the hops and the zest of the citrus.
As I move into the second third the cocoa seems to back off, and the taste of milk chocolate blends in. The smoke is still extremely creamy and rich and the flavors seem to meld perfectly together. Overall I’d describe this third with a single word, smooth. The draw is still perfect, the burn became wavy. The strength of the cigar picks up a little, becoming more medium. I was surprised to find the Winter Lager beginning to compliment this third, the flavor of the bittersweet chocolate in the cigar and the creaminess of the smoke helps to back off the bite of the hops, and the citrus flavor seem to refresh the palate.
Moving into the final 3rd the flavor of the bittersweet chocolate disappears being replaced once again with cocoa. The strength and body remains steady at a medium. It is just as rich and creamy as before, a very pleasant smoke. During this third I can taste the flavor of latte more acutely, leaving me very satisfied with the flavor profile. I smoke the Epernay down to the nub. Finding myself lost in the flavors, reality sets in with that finger burn at the last moment of my enjoyable smoke.
Overall I’d say I really enjoyed this cigar. It was rich and creamy for its entirety with the flavors of latte, chocolate, and cocoa fading in and out. With a bit years of aging the tastes have blended well together and make it an excellent cigar, the construction was fantastic, with minimal touch up. The beer did not pair as well as expected, the older Winter lager from Samuel Adams, which was more of a Bock mixed with malts and chocolate and far fewer hops would have most likely complimented this cigar better. The new version of the Winter Lager did provide an interesting contrast with the bitter taste of the hops and the citrus zest, however the contrast was a little too vast.