The man behind Illusione, Dion Giolito, crafted ECCJ 15th for European Cult Cigar Journal back in 2008. A couple years later the cigar world would see a slight variant of the blend return as the Epernay. The Le Matin was the only vitola that was box pressed at the initial release. Since then the Epernay line has grown in numbers, including a few more that are box pressed.
"Before the Flame"
The Epernay is covered in a smooth to the touch Nicaraguan Cafe Rosado leaf. It's a lighter shade of brown with a bit of redness to it. Seams are tight and while there are a couple veins, none protrude out too much. After rendering a straight cut to the head I am greeted with a perfect draw. While I could have used a single flame to get this going, I only used it for toasting purposes then got it going with a soft flame.
1/3 "The Appetizer"
The first swirl of smoke contains notes of honey and cedar. It is a very pleasant flavor combination that I don't experience often, at least not in the way they work together in the Le Matin. As I get a little ways down I begin to pick up some mild earth notes.
2/3 "Main Entrée"
Floral notes are soon detected upon reaching the 2nd third. The mild earth didn't stick around too long at all. The profile at this point is a cedar floral honey. In the background are notes of a medium roast coffee and raw peanuts. As the burn progresses, the coffee becomes more espresso like. At the halfway point the cedar becomes dry and the honey flavor is dwindling away. This is also when a not so spicy pepper note comes in to play.
The pepper note continuously moves forward as the cedar honey falls back. The cedar finds a safe place to land in the secondary zone of flavors, but the honey sweetness continues to fade. The espresso becomes mild and begins to diminish. Sweet earth notes join back in the picture, a bit stronger than they were in the 1st third. This accompanies the cedar and the pepper, which had an uptick in spiciness, until I set it down.
I felt that the body and flavor were both medium-plus and the strength of the Epernay doesn't really peak past medium.
This performed pretty well. I did need to touch it up a few times but not so much that it became frustrating. The largest vein in the wrapper was able to burn correctly alongside the rest of the tobaccos. The Le Matin's burn line is a little off in the beginning but self corrects itself about halfway down. The ash is a nice concrete color, mildly flaky, and doesn't hold all that long. The appearance of the ash does give some warning as to let it be known it's time to ash. Burn rate was ideal for this size cigar. The draw was perfect and with it came an adequate amount of smoke.
If you have ever heard me talk about Illusione's Epernay line it probably was me saying it is my least favorite line from Illusione. With that being said, I thought this was actually really good, and not just good while keeping in mind that palate preference differs from person to person. It was honestly a good smoke that I enjoyed. While I normally wouldn't pick up an Epernay this experience has certainly changed my mindset. Now if I could just get the same out of the ECCJ 20th.
I have smoked more of the 6x46s than any other Epernay line but the ECCJ's are by far much better imho. I used to buy these from the B&M all the time but the last batch they got in had very poor quality wrappers on them, very dull, dry, spotty and no where near the way they were 2-3 years ago (golden/oily).
Great review, great blend!
Thanks a lot brother! I'd like to know what exactly is different in the blend of the ECCJ 20th compared to the Epernay.
From what I hear, the difference is the ECCJ has a bit of ligero in it...the core Epernay line has no ligero at all.
Thanks Sam! I'm really enjoying doing them now. I don't know where I'm headed with it, if anywhere, but I don't have any thoughts of slowing down.