Love it or hate it—Illusione’s core lineup (Original Documents) has a new look. This overhaul was first showcased at last year’s PCA 2022 trade show, later making its way to market earlier this year. The most notable updates can be found in the Singularé and Original Documents lines, with the former being restricted to a singular blend (pun) dubbed Singularé Origen, and the latter involving the consolidation of five Illusione blends into the Original Documents collection.
The Original Documents now includes the Corojo (aka the original Original Documents cigar), Maduro, Candela, Ultra, and Habano, with each of the five blends using the same core band/graphics, differentiating themselves visually with unique color schemes. The first four of these have essentially always been in the Original Documents line, only now, it’s abundantly clear. This leaves the Original Documents Habano—a cigar that was also introduced in 2022, eventually shipping earlier this year in April.
Click images below for full resolution
Original Documents Habano Churchill Breakdown
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun-Grown Habano
Factory: San Lotano (Nicaragua)
Production: Regular Production
Vitola: 6¾? × 48 (Churchill)
Price: $11.65 (MSRP)
The Original Documents Habano offers a rare change of pace for Illusione, being one of only a handful of occasions where the company has worked outside their familiar manufacturing partner: Aganorsa Leaf (formerly known as TABSA). Instead, Illusione has partnered with A.J. Fernández and his northernmost San Lotano factory, which is located in Ocotal, Nicaragua. According to Dion Giolito, owner/founder of Illusione Cigars, the move was spurred after Alberto Padilla—a familiar colleague of Dion’s—moved from his former position at the Aganorsa Leaf factory to begin managing A.J.’s San Lotano factory. Padilla began working with A.J.’s Nicaraguan tobacco and found some selections that he thought Dion might be interested in, leading to a cigar that Giolito describes as “[not] having that A.J. tobacco fingerprint,” while simultaneously “[keeping] it in line with everything else that I make.”
A Nicaraguan puro, the Original Documents Habano features A.J.’s leaf throughout the blend, being topped with a sun-grown Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. The cigars are rolled in a suite of six familiar sizes found throughout pre-existing Original Documents blends, and are packaged in boxes of 25 cigars.
Corona Minor: 4? x 44 | $8.35
Robusto: 5? x 52 | $10.85
Corona Gorda: 5?” x 46 | $11.05
Churchill: 6¾” x 48 | $11.65
Lancero: 7¼” x 40 | $11.90
Gordo: 6? x 56 | $12.30
And now we find ourselves back at that “love it or hate it” topic mentioned at the opener… Illusione’s thin bands and cryptic numbers/letters that adorned them have been staples in humidors since 2006—an iconic aesthetic, no doubt. At the same time, it was a bit confusing, with each individual size having their own unique insignias (e.g. “88,” “mk,” “mj12,” etc.). The new look makes it clear which cigars belong in the collection, neatly differentiating the various blends with their own color schemes. I think it takes some time to adjust, but the new direction is the best path forward.
For the Original Documents Habano, the cigar has a cobalt blue color scheme, being inscribed with “ILLUSIONE” at the top of the band, and “HABANO” at the bottom. Without measuring, the Churchill size feels slightly thinner and shorter than the conventional format; in actuality, it has the standard ring gauge (technically, it’s one point thicker than the traditional size), though it is indeed a bit shorter than the usual size. The cigar looks to be double capped, showing fine and medium-thick veins throughout the wrapper. The seams are nicely applied, being nearly invisible without a close look. The wrapper is classic natural-leather brown in hue, and is surprisingly smooth to the touch. With a gentle squeeze, it seems to be medium-plus to medium-dense in bunch.
The wrapper has light aromatic notes of musk, cedar, and sweet florals. The foot is similarly light and airy, with clean aromas of basil, sage, and cardamom. With a cut, the pre-light is medium-firm, having added notes of must, wet hardwoods, and barnyard.
Click images below for full resolution
It’s a spicy-sweet start for the Habano, having star anise in the retrohale and a clean natural sweetness through the finish. There are plenty of classic Habano spices, being more fiery than a Cuban but still delicate enough to let the smoke slowly drift through the nostrils. With more frequent draws, the profile shifts to white pepper, while added time cools the profile down towards sage and Smarties candy on the finish. The cigar is clearly flavor-forward, bringing a noticeable sweet sensation from the smoke on the tip of the tongue. This is balanced nicely by the gentle effervescent buzz through the retrohale.
The ash is a mix of medium and dark gray, being a little flaky and holding on for long sections of an inch and a half or so. In terms of palate, the smoke can shift surprisingly quickly from dry to mouthwatering, though it’s primarily the latter that dominates for at least the first half of the experience. The smoke hits the tongue mostly on the tip (sweetness), though you’ll feel it on the front sides and center of the palate as well. In terms of draw, it’s got a little more resistance than I’d like, bringing out a medium-light smoke output on most draws, or a medium amount with a double puff. It’s a medium-full flavor output through the first couple inches, having an overall medium strength and body.
Clean and lingering, the smoke captures your attention without being overbearing. It still has light cabinet spices through the retrohale, with an herbaceous quality that borders on sweet mint leaf. This becomes an area of focus, allowing the cool sweetness to really evolve in the inch or so before the halfway mark. There’s the floral/fruity quality that I liken to the powder coating of Smarties candy; there’s a nuttier edge that sinks into the palate a little deeper, more in the style of browned butter; but the texture continues to thicken, eventually coming across more creamy and hitting notes of almond butter, semi-sweet table cream, and white chocolate. These notes are fairly intense and upfront, fading somewhat quickly on the palate. Then again, with long pauses between draws, I notice a Bisquick quality surprisingly long after the previous draw. It’s a variant of the creamy flavors in the primary smoke—a fitting callback that shifts to grains/salt/shortening and the slightest buttermilk twang.
The halfway point signals a return to spice—being less delicate than its former self. It’s one of those profiles you don’t mind playing with in the retrohale, holding onto the smoke a bit longer to see if any added spices or complexities emerge. With the Original Docs Habano, I find it adds a pungent cumin quality in this portion of the cigar. There’s also red pepper flakes and anise, with the combined sweetness amounting to something close to cinnamon Red Hots candy. The final few inches stop toying with shifts of dry/mouthwatering sensations, instead delving fully into the former. This is felt through dry spices of nutmeg and fennel, having anise and root-like qualities as well. There’s a last hoorah of intensity, blasting with sharp spices along the lines of red pepper and star anise, eventually creeping down the back of the throat into the finish. The cigar finishes out at a medium flavor, medium-plus strength, medium-plus body.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I sure would! In fact, I’ve smoked this Habano in the majority of the sizes, and I can recommend ’em all. In my experience, I did find the Churchill to be my favorite, followed by the corona gorda, the gordo, and robusto.
While I generally didn’t notice patterns of burn issues, one specific sample needed three touchups for some fairly significant canoeing.
Check out Cigar Dojo’s Instagram Reel interview with Dion Giolito from the 2023 PCA trade show here.
I really think Dion nailed his objective of offering a unique spin on A.J. tobacco with this. I think it comes across more as an Illusione profile than an A.J. cigar. This is an interesting shift, as there certainly isn’t a shortage of companies that would rather do the opposite.
With plenty of takes on the Corojo style throughout the Illusione portfolio, this feels like a refreshing change of pace—a welcomed addition to the core lineup.
I’d go as far as to say this may be the most impactful core-line for Illusione since the Fume D’Amour (assuming we’re not counting the Haut 10, which was originally a limited).
Currently on Dojoverse, the Original Documents Habano has a “100% Smokable” score, and sits in the top 34% of cigars (out of more than 4.9k) on the overall leaderboard.
We’re trying out a new summary section with this review, which is the “Sweet Spot Spectrum.” Hopefully, this can provide a feel for a cigar’s best/worst moments at a glance.
Delicate cabinet spice
Smoke Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Pairing Recommendation: Pour-over coffee | Cream soda | Wheat bourbon | Old Cuban cocktail
Purchase Recommendation: Start with the box
Original Documents Habano Churchill
Sweet Spot Spectrum
Clean sweetness of smoke on tongueGreat representation of the spicy-sweet qualities a balanced Habano should haveCool smoke temp allows wiggle room to double puff or hold onto smoke for longer periods through the retro
Some samples had canoe issues (requiring a few touchups)Draw is a touch on the firm side
Originally posted on September 20, 2023 @ 6:18 am