As smooth as a baby’s butt…that’s how I’d describe the new box pressed Epernay cigars. Not only in the feel of their leathery wrappers, but also the quality of their smoke. We are talking about three new cigars from Illusione: the Epernay Le Taureau (5.5×56); the Epernay L’Alpiniste torpedo (6.75×56); and the Epernay La Vie (6.75×56). All three are absolutely gorgeous cigars.
The Epernay is the lighter side of the usually dark cigars of the Illusione line. Although I never considered the Illusione to be a particularly strong cigar, I understand that the original Epernay differed in that the line contained no ligero leaves. This, in turn, made for a true medium strength cigar of great smoothness and aroma, with a floral flavor profile. But with the advent of the new box pressed Epernay sticks, the intensity and flavor seems to be kicked up a notch; a departure from the traditional Epernay line. (More on that later.)
I’ve loved Illusione cigars since I smoked my first stick some years ago. The consistent quality of their products has not lapsed to the present day and there’s no mystery as to why. Made at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras (my personal favorite), from the best tobaccos on the planet (thank you Arsenio Ramos), the Illusione brand is one of the most respected in the business. I’ll smoke any cigar these guys make, and always keep a lookout for new offerings. When NewHavanaCigars.com announced the new Epernay box pressed cigars, I jumped at the opportunity to try their pre-sale sampler.
Flawless…that’s the only way to describe the construction of the Epernay box pressed cigars. From foot to perfect cap, these cigars are beautiful. And making a box pressed cigar is not easy. To create the box pressed shape, cigars are compressed into a square mold. This could result in a cigar with a very tight draw. To allow for compression, manufacturers use less tobacco than would fill a standard round parejo. But here in lies the challenge: if under-filled, a box pressed cigar can turn out soft, with an uneven burn. This has caused some otherwise tasty cigars to be less than enjoyable. In the case of the new Epernay line, the draw is perfect, the burn even, with no soft spots at any point along the length of the stick. So here again, Raices Cubanas has excelled in making yet another beautifully constructed cigar.
In the article The Flavor-Color Connection: do we taste cigars with our eyes?, we discussed how lighter colored cigars have a very different flavor profile when compared to cigars of darker pigment. This correlation is certainly true when we compare the standard Illusione line to that of the Epernay. With flavors of caramel, honey, and cappuccino, the box pressed Epernay retains much of the original character of the original line. But these sticks seem stronger, with a spicier core. Although still mild enough to smoke at one sitting, they have a presence that can make your head spin. No, these cigars are not ligero powerhouses; but rather well balanced cigars with enough punch to be satisfying. Right to the nub these cigars deliver, with each puff as good as the last. And with its longer length and bigger ring size, the new box pressed Epernay line gives us a lot to enjoy.
The bottom line:
The box pressed Epernay is a great new edition to the Illusione line, and not just another rendition of what’s already been done. The added boldness and size makes for a new smoking experience, one that will satisfy both newbies and seasoned smokers alike. These cigars are examples of just how good a cigar can be, and once again, Dion Giolito has proven himself to be one of the best cigar makers on the planet. I can’t wait to see what he’ll cook up next.
Brand: Illusione – Epernay
Vitola: Le Taureau (5.5×56); L’Alpiniste torpedo (6.75×56); Epernay La Vie (6.75×56)
Wrapper: Café Rosado (Nicaragua)
Flavors: Caramel, honey, cappuccino
Manufacturer: Fabrica Tabacos Raices Cubanas
X Factor: 9.6
Strength: Medium – Full