In August of last year, at the PCA 2021 trade show in Las Vegas, Dion Giolito made a surprising announcement. He would be partnering with actor Jeremy Piven, crafting the PIV Robusto as the first cigar in The Jeremy Piven Collection.

Piven is best known for his role as Ari Gold on the HBO series Entourage, and he is certainly no stranger to the premium cigar world. He is a self-proclaimed daily cigar enthusiast, and he has also appeared on the cover of Cigar Aficionado on two occasions. This led to a desire to create his own brand, contacting Giolito on the recommendation of the staff at one of his local cigar lounges in LA.

Dion, being the owner of Illusione Cigars, is known throughout the industry for his sharp palate, and Jeremy gravitated toward his blending style. He is quoted by Cigar Aficionado as saying, “I’m just a consumer. I know what I like. And I like this. I’m honored to work with a guy who is such a legend in the game.”

It’s no surprise that Piven would reach out to Dion; what’s more fascinating is that Dion would work with Piven. Illusione is known to play it close to the vest, releasing new cigars on a slow and calculated basis. The brand’s only real collaboration came in 2010, partnering with Drew Estate for the Nosotros. This cigar had extremely high expectations and was notoriously not well received, leading to its discontinuation shortly thereafter. But the PIV Robusto is not billed so much as a collaboration—more along the lines of a contract brand for Jeremy Piven by Dion Giolito. It’s likely that Dion saw Jeremy’s passion for premium cigars and realized the project’s positive potential for the entire industry.

Regardless, the PIV Robusto shipped in early November, being the first release under The Jeremy Piven Collection. Dion has also hinted that more could follow, including the possibility of new sizes and perhaps a maduro addition.

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PIV Robusto Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo 2012
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Aganorsa Leaf (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 5″ × 52 (Robusto)
  • Price: $14.95 (MSRP)

The PIV Robusto is rolled in a singular 5″ x 52 robusto format, with the initial batch consisting of 3,000 boxes of 10 cigars. The project is among the first to showcase the AGANORSA farms’ new Corojo 2012 tobacco, used within the binder. This leaf is described as bringing rich and consistent creaminess to Illusione’s balanced, often sweet character.

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Appearance

It’s hard not to picture Davidoff when presented with the gold-on-white palette of the PIV. It’s a proven look, immediately conveying a sense of luxury—I like it. However, I’m not the biggest fan of the logo itself. The thought process of dissecting it goes something like, “Okay, the ‘P’ makes sense, but what’s an ‘L’ have to do with this? Oh, it’s a ‘J’ that’s been flipped horizontally. So what’s the bit underneath the ‘P’? Is it an ‘I’? No, because then we’d need a ‘V’. Well, it must just be a design element that provides balance for the dot on the backwards ‘J’. Got it…” In my opinion, there are certain letters that can be flipped in order to aid in design (see: ReviveR) and others that can’t. This  falls along the lines of the latter for the reasons outlined above. Overall, it’s a really nice, clean layout—the type that I would be drawn to, even without knowing the cigar’s backstory.

The cigar looks very well rolled, having light veins and tight seams that lead up to a triple cap. The wrapper is darker than your standard Habano, having a soft and fuzzy feel and showing virtually no oils. It’s a firm bunch, feeling like papier-mâché when squeezed. The wrapper gives off notes of sage, bell pepper, and light leather. Meanwhile, the foot brings earth, roasted nuts, and hay. The robusto gives a near-perfect draw with a straight cut, having flavors of sunflower seeds, cedar, and nutmeg.

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Smoking Experience

This is a flavorful smoke from the get go. I notice it hitting the bitter and sour taste buds first, backed by a nice tartness from the cut tobacco on the lips. Vegetal flavor leads into mineral, with sourdough helping to brighten up the former two. There’s a generic barnyard hay vibe, with a pinching spice through the retrohale and a subtle sweetness below the surface. It’s mild in strength, medium in flavor, and mild to medium in body.

Further along, the nuttiness found in the pre-light edges into the mix. Interestingly, small puffs offer a candy-like sweetness, while larger daws veer toward peanuts. With a little back and forth, this makes for an enjoyable peanut brittle profile that would be hard not to embrace. At an inch in, the draw is slightly snug, giving a medium-light smoke output. The burn line cruises right along, producing a solid, near-white ash. Following along with the nutty vibe, roasted chestnuts and sunflower seeds can be found.

Ilusione PIV Robusto review

Unfortunately, on multiple samples, a charred bitterness seemed to take over inexplicably around the one-inch mark. Sharp mineral and burnt nutmeg dominate, only leaving enough room for the faintest hint of sweetness. This lasts close to an inch, with an ash tap and a quick touchup generally doing the trick. The experience begins to rebound with a little sweetness and an interesting, almost wax-like texture to the smoke. It’s sticky and chewy and begins to materialize as Bit-O-Honey candy in flavor and viscosity.

The PIV Robusto certainly keeps you on your toes, adding new flavors or tweaking old ones from start to finish. This often revolves around the cigar’s unique creaminess (perhaps the Corojo 2012), offering an enjoyable banana cream pie note passing the halfway mark. Florals blend with candy sweetness, being somewhere in the Smarties candy ballpark. And the nuttiness makes one more pass in the final stretch, with a caramel influence making for a Cracker Jack comparison (yes, I realize that’s a lot of candy references for one cigar). Rounding out the experience is a cool smoking texture that has a menthol vibe to it. The profile is medium-light in strength, medium-plus in flavor, and medium in body.

Ilusione PIV Robusto cigar ash

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

Definitely. This one feels familiar for fans of AGANORSA tobacco or Illusione cigars, while being simultaneously fresh. Yes, it’s a bit on the pricey side, but the continuous evolution of flavor from start to finish makes for an enjoyable experience for the times when you want a little extra.


Profile
  • Flavor: Medium-Plus
  • Strength: Medium-Light
  • Body: Medium
Core Flavors
  • Sourdough
  • Vegetal
  • Peanut brittle
  • Cream
  • Sunflower seeds
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Cappuccino | Oaked Chardonnay | Hot Toddy | Wheated bourbon
  • Purchase Recommendation: Box

Ilusione PIV Robusto cigar nub finished

PIV Robusto
Dion Giolito and Jeremy Piven—who'd'a thunk. As the first cigar under The Jeremy Piven Collection, the PIV Robusto feels as dapper as Piven looks on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine. The cigar is elegant in appearance and extremely well rolled, leading into a familiar yet fresh AGANORSA profile. A firm draw (on some samples) and an unusual turn towards charred bitterness (on all samples) in the midsection detracts from greatness, but there's just too much to love about this one to let that get in the way.
Appearance91%
Burn/Construction92%
Draw84%
Flavor90%
Complexity91%
Price/Value86%
Pros
  • Continuous flavor evolution
  • Fun balance of tart/sour/bitter and sometimes sweet
  • Great viscosity to the smoke in second half
Cons
  • Firm draw on some samples
  • Strange bitter midsection
89%Bit-O-Honey
  • Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
  • Cigar Wars
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