Dion Giolito is a human lancero.
He’s taller by a foot than pretty much any one of his rollers. This means that he sees farther than others, and makes him a visionary.
Of course, it just isn’t what he sees – it’s what he tastes. As the owner of Illusione, he’s shown an amazing gift for picking out interesting tobaccos and blending them into world-class cigars. It all seems so simple, though. When he’s onsite to create a new blend, an array of leaves from various farms will be offered to him. He’ll smell them and maybe roll them up, one by one, taking in their aroma and smoking some crude puritos (a basic smokable roll of tobacco) until he finds one that grabs his fancy. Then, he blends around that, striving for a flavor worthy of sharing with the world.
Only a few leaves are ever impressive enough to be the core of a cigar.
In general, he seeks multidimensional smokes, but never strength for strength’s sake. He explains that “strength is a by-product of blending. What I look for, first and foremost, is flavor. Personally, I prefer cigars that are mild to medium bodied. There must be flavor and complexity within the material."
Whatever he’s seeking – he usually nails it like very few can. After launching Illusione cigars, he was off to the races as the years went by, hitting high on Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars of the Year list again and again for the breakout cg:4, elegant Epernay, masterfully restrained Fume d'Amour, and spicy full-bodied Ultra Op. Each line revealed the tastes and sensibilities of a born master blender.
Perhaps it’s because his third eye is a bit more open than most?
Giolito has always had a fascination with conspiracy theories, UFOs, and mysticism. The names of his cigars reflect a desire to bring a similar element of intrigue and imperceivability to his cigars. For example, the “mk Ultra” is named after the CIA program that tested various drugs on human subjects seeking methods of mind control, improved suggestibility, disruption of self, and development of truth serums. Or the “hl” cigar, named for the “holy lance” that was used to pierce the side of Christ on the cross, and may exist today in various locations meant to house legendary relics.
In a sense, Giolito has always marched to the beat of a different drum – sometimes literally – like when he toured with the punk band the Atomiks, banging the skins for unruly crowds in a bunch of American cities. His day job at that time was at a cigar shop. The shop ultimately folded, and when he couldn’t buy it, he made a move to open a shop of his own.
Fumare opened its doors in 2004 in Reno.
If you could see past the massive piles of Davidoffs he purchased to kick things off, you might see a few boxes of a blend called “Illusione 88.” Giolito had worked through Tatuaje’s Pete Johnson to create his very first house blend. He was inspired by the prime Joya de Nicaragua smokes of the 1970s, and wanted to produce core blends from Nicaraguan Corojo-seed tobacco. Why that era and blending style? Well, Giolito has often felt like he belonged to a different time, perhaps even the era where guys on their way to the racetrack would grab a handful of whatever cigars were cheap to chomp on while the ponies gobbled up their paycheck.
His pompadour would certainly fit in there.
It’s clear that he’s doing his own thing, whatever it may be, and it’s working out very, very well. Exactly how he makes it happen so consistently is, of course, a mystery. Maybe even a conspiracy of a kind…