The full-bodied Ultra brand from Illusione is now available in two new formats—a short robusto and a Churchill—and brand owner Dion Giolito is using hypnosis and subliminal messages to get you to try it. Not that he has to. Seeing how the Ultra Op. No. 9 took the No. 6 spot on Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 cigars of 2015, that alone should be enough to mesmerize, or at least entice, cigar smokers to try the new sizes.
Close your eyes and repeat after me: The Op. No. 3 measures 4 1/4 inches by 50 ring gauge and retails for $8. The larger Op. No. 8 is a 6 3/4 by 48 Churchill and retails for $13. Both were introduced at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show. Still not swayed?
They're packaged in cabinets of 20, but lucky smokers might come across the limited-edition 48-count boxes of the short robusto. Only 300 of these boxes were made, and each box is adorned with a curious reprint of some advertising ephemera: a vintage ad for lessons in hypnosis. The picture boxes were made to celebrate Illusione's 10th anniversary in business. They're also a less-than-subtle nod to kitschy mysticism and pseudo-science.
Now that production of the Illusione Ultra line has been completely moved from Raices Cubanas in Honduras to the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Nicaragua, Giolito has more control and more of a hands-on approach to the manufacturing of Ultra and all his Illusione brands.
By now, you should be completely relaxed.
Unlike most of the Ultra line, which is box-pressed, the two new sizes are traditional parejo shapes, rolled in the round. Box-pressed or not, some smokers swear that the shape makes a perceptible difference in the way the cigar tastes. Others believe it's merely the power of suggestion.