In August of 2010, Illusione cigars released their first limited edition cigar, a 6 x 50 Toro dubbed the Singularé Phantom. Only 1,000 boxes of 15 were released, and Dion Giolito announced then that he was planning to release a new version every year, each with a new blend.
Fast forward to early December 2011 and Giolito confirmed via Twitter he was postponing the 2011 version of the Singularé due to production delays with his regular production cigars. Not much was heard about the LEs until mid 2011, when it was announced that there would actually be two different versions of the Singularé released at the same time in the same box: the 2011 version would have a corojo wrapper while the 2012 version would have a San Andrés maduro wrapper and be wrapped in tissue to differentiate them. It was also reported the Singularés would be made at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) as opposed to Raíces Cubanas, where the rest of Illusiones are produced.
The 2011 and 2012 editions of the Illusione Singularé are being made in Nicaragua, according to a report from Gregory Mottola of Cigar Aficionado. The move shifts production from the Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubana S. de R.L. factory in Honduras to Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Nicaragua. That factory is owned by Eduardo Fernández, the principal in AGANORSA S.A.
Giolito has long cited a backorder of regular production cigars as the cause of the delay for the Singularés, a number that he placed at around 500,000 sticks in the article. The regular production Illusione lines will remain at Raíces Cubanas in Honduras.
The two cigars will be packaged together in a 15-count box that is expected to start arriving at retail by the end of May with a price tag of $11 per cigar and $165 per box. While they will be released at the same time and in the same box, the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Singularé are notably different. 2011′s vintage has a Corojo wrapper while the 2012 vintage uses a Mexican San Andrés leaf for the wrapper. Binder and filler for the cigars comes from a Nicaraguan farm called Chilamate, though Giolito told CA that the blends are completely different.
Here are the three Singularé releases so far:
- Illusione Singularé 2012 Vimana (6 x 52)
- Illusione Singularé 2011 Vimana (6 x 52)
- Illusione Singularé 2010 Phantom (6 x 50)
There are 1,500 boxes of 15 of the Illusione Singularé Vimanas released, and each box comes with eight of one wrapper and seven of the other with the number of each that you get being totally random depending on which cigar the packer started out with when packing that specific box. MSRP on each of the cigars is $11.00 with boxes selling for $165.00.
Here are what he boxes look like:
But enough about that, lets get down to business, shall we?
Cigar Reviewed: Illusione Singularé 2011 Vimana
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Size: 6 Inches
Ring Gauge: 52
MSRP: $11.00 (Boxes of 15, $165.00)
Release Date: July 13, 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 15 Cigars (22,500 Total Cigars)*
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Illusione Singularé 2011 is seemingly an expertly rolled cigar with a reddish brown wrapper that has some minor splotches visible on it. There is a nice triple cap,and the wrapper is smooth to the touch with almost no oil present at all. It has almost perfect amount of give when squeezed and the wrapper smells faintly of tea, cedar, leather and white pepper.
The Singularé starts off the first third instantly with flavors of slightly bitter tea leaves, nuts, cedar, leather and earth. The profile is fairly creamy overall, and just a tiny amount of sweetness at this point in the smoke, although not enough to identify it as a specific flavor. The burn is fairly erratic, but the draw is perfect. Strength is almost non-existent ending the first third at a very mild medium.
Coming into the second third of the Singularé and the tea leaf flavor is still the dominant note, but there are other flavors coming and going as well, including a nice creamy nuttiness, earth, leather, wood and still that general sweetness—just not strong enough to place. There is also some cinnamon that I can pick up on the retrohale that is sometimes fairly strong and at other times almost disappears. The burn has evened out nicely at this point and the draw remains excellent. Strength is also picking up ending the second third at a solid medium.
The final third of the Singularé pretty much stays the course profile-wise. Tea leaves, leather and earth dominate, but I am tasting some dark chocolate every once in a while, as well as just a tiny bit of bitter espresso. There is also a nice floral note that came out of nowhere, and the sweetness from the first two thirds is also a bit stronger, more of a maple sweetness. Construction remains fine, both burn and draw and the strength ends where it began the final third at a solid medium, perhaps a bit stronger.
- For what it is worth, I think the Singularé Phantom 2010 was not only one of Dion’s best releases, it is also one of the most underrated cigars on the market today.
- The way Dion decided to release the Singularé Vimanas is quite interesting: boxes of 15 cigars with eight of one wrapper and seven of the other. The randomness of how many of each you get is also intriguing.
- I smoked one of the Singularé 2012 to compare to the three Singularé 2011, and I have to say, the differences are dramatic: the 2012 is flavorful—sweet and earthy with just the right amount of spice, while the 2011 is fairly one dimensional. Smoke production was pathetic with one of the 2011(the other two samples were better), but copious with the 2012. Basically, the 2012 is just the overall better stick.
- Having said the above, I smoked two of the Singularé 2011 from one box and was not overly impressed with them. I decided to get another sample from another box at a local brick and mortar store and it smoked so much better it almost shocked me.
- Theash on both the Singularé 2011 and 2012 is not very attractive: flaky, light gray and it just does not hold on very long.
- The tea flavor in the 2011 is an interesting flavor note, slightly bitter, almost like I was chewing on tea leaves. Interestingly, I tasted none of that flavor in the 2012 version of the Singularé.
- “Vimana” is Sanskrit for “U.F.O”.
- A visual inspection seems to indicate that the bands are the exact same for all three Singularé releases.
- I say it in every Illusione review, but I absolutely love the fact that Dion stamps dates on all of his boxes, and I really wish every cigar manufacturer would take up the practice, especially for regular production releases.
- The profile of the Singularé 2011 Vimana definitely got better as the cigar smoked down with the second half being noticeably better than the first half, both in construction and flavors.
- The construction on both of the first two samples of the 2011 I smoked started out a bit rough, but evened out nicely around the end of the first third, while the draw was effortless. The third sample was spot on. Interestingly, the 2012 version had absolutely no burn issues at all.
- I find it very interesting, and telling, Dion has moved production of some of his cigars into a new factory. As mentioned above, production problems on some of his regular releases were one of the main reasons the Singularés were delayed until now.
- I really wish there was just a tad more sweetness in in the profile to go along with the creaminess that was present.
- Quoting Patrick Lagreid from a news story: “Illusione’s return to a Nicaraguan factory is a homecoming of sorts, as Illusione traces its roots to a Nicaraguan house blend made by Tabacalera Tropical that he bought from Pete Johnson in 2005, who had bought them as part of a liquidation. That first cigar evolved into the Illusione ~88~.”
- The final smoking time for all samples was fairly consistent at around one hour and 25 minutes.
The Bottom Line: Considering how I feel about the 2010 version, and how I love Dion’s cigars in general, I really wanted to love this cigar—but my biggest problem is that the three samples of the 2011 were extremely inconsistent in almost every way. Two of the ones from one box were just not very good, and one from another box was quite a bit better—more along the lines of what I was expecting. But even at its best, it just does not seem to exhibit the richness or the explosion of flavors that I have come to expect from a typical Illusione blend. While the profile is good, and the main flavor of tea leaves that permeates the profile is not one I get in cigars very often—it is just not that complex of a smoke flavor-wise. Honestly, the Maduro wrapped 2012 version is far away the better smoke out of the two of the new releases and the OR Singularé is significantly better than both of the 2011 and 2012. The Illusione Singularé 2011 is an enjoyable smoke, but it falls short of some of Dion’s best releases. Give me an ~mk~ or a Epernay any day of the week over this one.
Final Score: 86