|Living in Florida, I have the good fortune of not only living in one of the major cigar regions of the country, but also living near several cigar manufacturers and being able to talk with them in and out of events. I first met Jack Sanzeri of Illuminati Cigars at Maduros Cigars over the summer. He and Illuminati Sales Representative Kevin Robbins were there to discuss an upcoming event with the proprieter of Maduros and stayed to enjoy a smoke afterwards. A friend had recommended Illuminati cigars to me earlier this year, but this was the first time I had seen them at a local retailer. As someone who loves to talk to manufacturers about their cigars, I picked up an Illuminati Shield and made my way over to introduce myself and learn more about the company and their cigars.Sanzeri’s introduction to cigars came early in life. When visiting with uncles and grandparents who enjoyed cigars, they would encourage him to try their cigars. He thoroughly enjoyed the experiences, and dreamed of someday owning his own cigar company. It was not until 2010, after studying Electrical Engineering and owning and later selling his own electrical contracting company, that his dream was realized. The name “Illuminati” was inspired by Sanzeri’s eldest son. The plural of the Latin word illuminatis, it means “enlightened” and lends a powerful mystique to the brand.
Sanzeri was determined to, and has succeeded in creating a quality cigar that can be enjoyed by a variety of palates, whether experienced or novice. Illuminati offers 3 lines of cigars, that while blended to be classics, are in a class of their own. Their Mondo Nuovo cigar is a mild-medium bodied Connecticut with a spicy kick at the start, that mellows to smooth creamy, toasty and earthy flavors for the remainder of the smoke. The Crusade is a medium bodied cigar that has a lot of earthy flavor with some pepper and wood notes. The Shield is the Illuminati full-bodied offering, a smooth cigar with some leather, earth and pepper flavors to start that gives way to some sweetness and chocolate notes. The Mondo Nuovo and Crusade are offered in Robusto (5 x 50), Torpedo (6.5 x 52) and Toro (6 x 54) sizes. The Shield is also available in the Robusto and Torpedo sizes, and additionally can be smoked as a Corona (5 x 46) or Churchill (7.125 x 48).
I am happy to say that since I smoked my first Illuminati that day, I have seen their cigars carried by many retailers in the Tampa and Sarasota areas, including World Famous Cigar Bar, Maduros Cigars, Tampa Humidor and Cigar Castle. It’s always a pleasure bumping into Jack or Kevin at a local shop, and I look forward to smoking more Illuminati cigars in the near future.