Illusione ~mj12~

Dion Giolito has been a busy man. I don’t have an official count of all his new cigar offerings, but I know it’s around half a dozen if you count each of the Epernay vitolas. The cigar up for review today, the mj12, is one of those new offerings. In fact, I believe it’s the latest to hit the shop shelves.

The official word, confirmed by Dion on Twitter is that the mj12 is actually a replacement of the existing m7 “Magdala” figurado-shaped vitola. The rumor going around is that he had issues with the m7, but I don’t have details on what those issues were. As the mj12 that replaces it is essentially a toro, I suspect it may have had more to do with the hassles of creating the salomon shape of it’s predecessor.

One of the things I always find fascinating about Illusione cigars is the cryptic naming system. It’s definitely a change of pace from the tradition of giving cigars Spanish names. Of course, this means I had no choice but do to a little detective work for this review. As of the time of this writing, the mj12 had not been added to the Illusione Cigars website, and I wasn’t able to find the official word on the meaning of the cigar’s name anywhere online. So what follows is an educated guess.

The name appears to be a reference to the “Majestic 12” (aka MJ 12). The Majestic 12 is supposedly the code name for a group of scientists, politicians and military personnel that Harry Truman put together in 1947 to investigate UFO activity after the infamous Roswell incident. (For more information and associated conspiratorial stuff, check out the wikipedia page on it.) Lending credibility to this theory is the silver wrapping the cigars come in. It brings to mind the super-special space metal/weather balloon material that Roswell witnesses claimed to have found at the crash site. Or it could be the cigar equivalent of a tinfoil hat. Dion’s a clever guy, I can’t imagine it’s a coincidence, if I’m right.

But enough about all that. It’s time to peel back the shiny wrapper and determine whether or not this cigar is outta this world.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 x 54
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 2 1/4 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: MSRP $8.70

The Pre-Smoke
For some reason, the cigar appears to grow in size once it’s out of the silver foil. I understand the reason behind it, but I kinda like to be able to see my cigars when I buy them. On the other hand, I didn’t find cracks in the wrapper or foot damage on of any of the mj12’s I lit up for this review. I can’t say the same for the rest of my Illusione cigars. (Naked sticks in my humidor have a tendency to get a little dinged up. It’s been said I have all the grace of a cow tipped on a muddy field in the wee hours of the morning.)

As said, I didn’t find any obvious flaws in the slightly reddish, rustic wrapper on the mj12. The cigars were a little on the veiny side but were mostly smooth and tended be about as hard as rock.

The wrapper had a pungent aroma that reminded me very much of a particular cheese I really enjoy. And I noted a little bit of cocoa and coffee in the cold taste.

The Burn
In my exchanges with cigar people on twitter, I heard anecdotes about mj12’s that wouldn’t stay lit in later stages. I’m happy to say I had no such issues. However, one cigar burned considerably slower than the others and was pretty crooked toward the end.

There was never an issue with the draw in any of the cigars, and the ash was light colored and reasonably solid. Though I was surprised a couple of times by how quickly it dropped. (A couple of times at around half an inch. But it was solid.) This might not be the cigar to pick for a long ash contest.

The cigar I elected to photograph for the Tower of Burn had the nicest burn of the bunch, and achieved several unplanned ash stands.

The Flavor
The mj12 got things going with a rich combination of chocolate, leather, and interestingly, a flavor reminiscent of Earl Grey tea. In fact, I noticed that when leather was present I often tasted some of this tea flavor. The cigar didn’t burn too much longer before the it became nutty and chocolaty with some honey sweetness. This third ended tasting like honey and nuts. (Must… resisting urge… to mention Cheerios…)

Leather, which had been mostly absent since the beginning of the first third was back briefly to kick off the second third. Cocoa and darker chocolate played a bigger part of the flavor composition of this third, with nuts, coffee and a touch of pepper making guest appearances.

The final third was more dark and sweet chocolates with a little bit more of that tea/leather combination. I also noticed a surprising bit of cherry sweetness in one cigar near the end.

The Price
I paid a good deal more than MSRP for these sticks, and would probably hesitate to buy more at that price. However MSRP seems reasonable for the mj12. It’s a tad more than the ~88~ (which I buy frequently) and it’s a tad bigger.

The Verdict
Overall, the mj12 was an enjoyable smoke, but I don’t think it’s my favorite Illusione. The combination of the fatter ring gauge and that occasional tea-leather flavor fusion didn’t really do it for me. I’ve never been much of a tea drinker, and never acquired a taste for Earl Grey. But again, even with these issues, I’m still giving this cigar the thumbs up. There are just too many enjoyable rich flavors to in this stick to not like it.

If the smaller, thinner sizes of the other Illusione cigars have dissuaded you from trying them out, now you don’t have an excuse. And if you already are a Illusione fan, well, you probably don’t need me to recommend it. You’re gonna try one anyway.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Maybe, but I like other Illusiones more.
Recommend It: Yes

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.