Anyone else missing the sun these days? I know I am. Clouds, rain, snow, and wind are in abundance this winter season, but certainly not solar rays. Not having enough light will darken one's mood fairly quickly. I get poked at by the lady of the house who often says "Why do you need so many lights on in this office? You can clearly see everything." Yes, it's true, I could still manage to work with less lumens in my grill. Hell, I'm pretty sure I could see my monitors with only a candle or even nothing at all! Having a well lit office keeps my mood up and helps me stay motivated to continue with what I have in front of me. The human spirit needs illumination! My cigar palate needs illumination too with some good ol' fashioned tobacco tubes. So let's ignite the Illumination and get lit!
Cigar: La Palina Illumination Lancero
Origin: USA - Miami, FL
Factory: El Titan de Bronze
Size: 7.5 x 38
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
El Titan de Bronze is known for having a decent track record regarding consistency. That's why I was a little surprised when I noticed a few cracks along the wrapper. One of them is pretty hefty and can be seen in the pictures above. It was stored well and handled with care on my end, but it is hard to imagine this one getting past QC. Stranger things have happened I suppose. It was wrapped nicely with the seams being flat and has a nice texture. The overall profile is sleek, but there is another issue I have with the wrapper. The color varies a lot and in one area it looks like it's a barber pole. Bands are snugly applied, but the secondary band looks like it was ripped off the roll instead of cut. The backside of it was lined up nicely, it was just all jagged.
In a world of tight draws, I pretty much always expect a strong pull will be needed for lanceros. This one did well though and required no fiddling. I would have liked to be able to puff 1-2 seconds shorter than what was needed, but not having to do any poking is always a plus. I used a straight cut on this noodle.
Within the first 10 minutes the cap slid off. Another thing that doesn't normally happen from El Titan de Bronze. Although it didn't unravel and held together. The skinny ash was dense and started out burning straight. The hairline cracks were minor speed bumps and only a flick of the flame was used to remain straight. That is until the halfway mark which is when things went wild. Corrections were fruitless.
1/3 - The light body starts the session with hay, cedar, and a hint of honey. The retro is very light and pushing through is dry grass and veggies. A few puffs in and notes of almonds and mild vanilla are introduced. Cloves are scattered about as well.
2/3 - Rolling into the 2nd third and the cedar has warmed, bringing in a subtle spiciness. The honey & vanilla are still present, but are now mixed in with green tea. A salty sensation begins to appear in the finish. The first half was pleasant, for being very light, but things take a nose dive quickly. The dry hay & grass notes have turned damp and musty. There is a bitter lemon in the background. It gets worse from there.
3/3 - Remember the fresh veggies from the 1st third? Well they've now been dumped in a dusty attic and lashed with seasoned leather. The bitter lemon note was not content with being in the background and decided to go front row. Dominating the whole scene wasn't enough and it had to morph into full blown Lemon Pledge. I almost gave up on it after the last picture of the burn line. It was literally like I sprayed a mouthful of Pledge. I took the secondary band off, smoked a smidge more, and threw in the towel. It was pretty brutal.
I'm not sure if it's the vitola, the blend, or just that I got a bad sample, but Illumination is a hard pass for me. The cursor is here flashing as I'm trying to figure out what I can say that would redeem this cigar, but I'm at a loss of words. If furniture polish is at the center of your wheelhouse, then give it a shot. La Palina says that Illumination provides a "strikingly similar experience without the constraints of limited production and a lower price tag" compared to Goldie. At this point, I don't even know I want to try Goldie, but perhaps that would be a better pickup than Illumination.
**Number of cigars smoked for the review: 1