Vimana (Toro), 6” x 52 ring gauge / $XXX each, Burns Tobacconist
A couple years ago, Illusione made quite the stir with the first Singularé release, dubbed “Phantom.” It was highly rated and quickly sold out, with Dion Giolito promising a new Singularé release each year. But delays in 2011 made that year’s release impossible and Dion decided to release 2011 and 2012 in the same box. The cigars share a Toro vitola and the fact that filler and binder are all Nicaraguan...but are they the same filler/binder blend? Who knows? That level of detail has not been disclosed. The wrapper of the 2011 is a Cafe Rosado Corojo, while the 2012 is a San Andres Maduro which is further wrapped in wax paper to differentiate it from the 2011. Each box of 15 cigars has 7 or one and 8 of the other...presumably with half having 7 of the 2011/8 2012s the other half reversed from that. In keeping with the UFO/conspiracy themes Dion has always enjoyed using, “Vimana” (the name of the vitola) refers to “mythological flying machines described in Sanskrit epics.” (Wikipedia) I picked up one of each from Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga for this review; this is my first experience with both blends.
The 2011 Singularé had a nicely oily wrapper...more felt than seen, but when I touched it, this cigar just seemed extremely oily. The wrapper had plenty of lumps and bumps in it and a couple medium sized veins. Holding it to my nose I got a rich natural tobacco aroma along with sweet hay and molasses. The foot was more ripely earthy with touches of chocolate. I applied a straight cut to the cap and got a very nice, open cold draw that had flavors of natural tobacco and cedar, with hints of sweetness and pepper spice.
I lit up the cigar and got an immediate huge wave of cedar flavor. It took a few puffs to start getting anything else, but when I did I noticed earthiness and a strong bitterness that I really had not expected. Some pepper spice came through on the palate, but it was really noticeable on the retrohale. About 10 minutes in the bitterness settled down a bit and more sweetness came through to balance it, sort of that molasses sweetness I picked up in the the prelight aroma. By the end of the first third, the Singularé was smoking smoothly and had a very nice balance, rich in natural tobacco flavor.
In the second third, the Singularé 2011 had more rich earthiness and hints of cocoa powder. The spice receded a bit, becoming more of a background note. Construction was very good. The ash held on well, although I ended up wearing it when I didn’t tap off after an inch initially. The burn line was mostly even, although I did have to make a couple touch ups. The draw was just about perfect.
During the last third, I hit a hollow in the filler that made the smoking tough for a while. This was actually the second one, but the first was so short-lived that it hadn’t made much difference. The Corojo wrapper had started re-introducing some pepper spice late in the second third and by this time my palate had a constant low-level burn going. Other than that, the flavor of cedar had risen again and I still got a good balance of bitter and sweet notes. I liked the Singularé 2011, but I can’t say I loved it...it just wasn’t in my wheelhouse as far as overall flavor profile goes. It did have a medium to full body and a decent amount of nicotine strength, while not being over the top.
The next day I took the Singularé 2012 out for a spin. The color was a dark roast coffee bean shade of brown and the texture of the wrapper was very, very toothy...almost a fine-grit sandpaper feel to it, albeit a fine-grit sandpaper with oil all over it, as the leaf was fairly oily, too. The aroma on the wrapper was leathery and earthy and reminded me quite a bit of the Liga Privada T-52. I got more chocolate and coffee aroma from the foot. The cold draw was excellent and had a mixture of earth and cocoa powder with a bitter edge that immediately reminded me that this was a Mexican wrapper. I could also pick up a little more sweetness than I am used to on Mexican Maduros, though.
Initial puffs confirmed that this had a nice balance of chocolatey sweetness with earthy bitterness. I also picked up notes of dark, dried fruit and rich, dark roast coffee on the palate, along with some nice pepper spice on the nose. Smoke pooled around the cut head of the cigar after each puff, demonstrating that the draw was so great that smoke continued to pour out the cut end. Through the first third, the balance of the Singularé 2012 was great. Yes, I could definitely tell this was a Mexican Maduro leaf, but it did not have the overpowering bitterness of the examples I particularly dislike. The best comparison I can make for this is to a Padron 1964 Maduro...not the same flavor, mind you, but the same excellence in balance of flavors.
The second third had loads of black coffee flavor, along with the dried fruit sweetness and just enough spice to keep things very interesting. The construction was immaculate on this Singularé 2012; the burn line had not needed any touching up, the draw was perfect and the ash was strong and never the slightest bit flaky. By the halfway point, I was just about ready to call this my favorite Mexican wrapped cigar ever...yes, even better than the Padron 1964 Maduro.
And that call became fact by the time the last third was done. This was simply a great cigar. Tons of flavor, full in body while not being over the top; hefty in strength, but not so that smoking it on an empty stomach caused any problems. The balance of earth and coffee with chocolate and dried fruit was almost magical. If anyone had told me I could feel this way about a Mexican wrapped cigar, I would have said they were nuts. Even the best ones are not ones I go for automatically. Yes, there are some that I will pick up time after time (Emilio AF1, for example), but I gravitate towards others (even with the previous example, I prefer the AF2). This was great and I preferred it dramatically over the Singularé 2011 I smoked the day before. I wish this was a regular release, because then I could consider it for Cigar of the Year. Yes...I enjoyed it that much. But I made the rules and the rules state no “limited editions” can be eligible. Maybe I should reconsider that rule in December...what say you? Leave a comment and let me know what you think of the rule...I wanted no LEs because that way you could reasonably expect to get more of the COTY anytime. But if this is truly the best cigar I smoked this year, shouldn’t it be eligible?