Illusione Ultra Op. No. 9
Factory Location: Nicaragua
Dimensions: 5 1/2" by 56 ring gauge
When Illusione brand owner Dion Giolito released the Illusione Ultra line, they were the most full-bodied cigars he had ever blended. Big and box-pressed, the cigars came in near-black wrappers and were made in Honduras. That was three years ago and Giolito has made some changes.While the cigars are still indeed dark in appearance, they aren't quite as close to black as the originals, and the Ultras aren't made in Honduras anymore. Giolito moved the production to the TABSA factory in Nicaragua, citing logistical reasons. But a change in factory can have a significant effect on a cigar. In the case of the Ultra, it seems to have been a change for the better. The cigars performed so well and so consistently that the Ultra Op. No. 9 made it to the No. 6 spot on our list.The cigar is an imposing toro and one of this year's best examples of a strong, spicy Nicaraguan blend that also has some of the qualities of a pint of coffee stout. The smoke is dense and chewy, and leaves a reverberating peanut-and-caramel aftertaste that sticks to the palate. Since it was first released, Ultra was intended to be a full-bodied offshoot of the core Illusione line. Giolito makes fewer Ultras than any other brand in his repertoire.