It doesn’t seem possible that the Illusione cg:4 could be improved upon, but that’s no excuse for not trying. Last year, Dion Giolito went back into the lab and emerged with a new species. By replacing the inimitable corojo wrapper on the “original document” with a maduro leaf from Mexico’s San Andres valley he has essentially re-engineered the cigar. But can the younger sibling can escape the shadow of its glorious brother? Maybe… if it can do something that Big Brother cannot.
Like all the other Illusione (with the exception of the Singulare) they are made at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras.
The Maduro line does not cover the entire spectrum of sizes, but most of the classic vitolas are covered:
~hl~ lancero 7 1/2 x 40
~88~ robusto 5 x 52
~cg:4~ corona gorda 5 5/8 x 46
~888~ churchill 7 1/2 x 48
~mj12~ toro gordo 6 x 54
The maduro wrapper on the cg:4 is not much darker than the natural, but the fermentation and aging process results in the leaf appearing much more mottled. The oily texture of the cigar is still quite appealing, but maybe this impression is the result of experience more than aesthetics.
The roll is firm, the cap is picture perfect, and the draw is right in the zone. It burns beautifully (even for a maduro) and leaves a long dirty gray ash. Pretty typical for Illusione.
Overall construction: excellent.
The maduro cg:4 starts in much the same way that the natural does: it’s bright and zingy, establishing the flavors that the “original document” made familiar many years ago. The difference with the maduro is the hallmark of San Andres maduro leaf: the distinct flavor and scent of chocolate and dark-roasted coffee.
The core of the cigar is earthy with some cedar notes sneaking in between the coffee and cocoa bean flavors. The sharp acidic and woody flavors with which the cigar opens gradually fade without disappearing altogether. The maduro incarnation of this blend seems to be a little smoother than the natural while remaining in the medium-to-full bodied range.
The last third of the cigar is spicier and comes with a sneaky punch. It feels like being the last one at the bar. (I know this feeling from reading only the best dimestore detective novels.) It’s last call and the doors are swinging shut. Even the regulars have stumbled out into the misty early morning. Your glass is dry, your wallet is empty, and the bartender is giving you the evil eye. The sweetness of the maduro has made a hasty escape and now it’s time for you to do the same.
The Maduro version of the cg:4 is an immensely satisfying cigar, but the question that always arises is the one that nobody really wants to answer: is it better than the natural? It’s like choosing who is the favorite of your children. You don’t want to do it, but in the deep recesses of your crooked little heart you do it anyway.
I guess for me it’s still the natural. The Maduro is priced the same as the natural, around 8 USD per stick. Not an everyday cigar for me, but not out of reach either. In any case, the price to value ratio is about right. It’s an excellent smoke.