Braving the awful, windy weather we are having here in El Paso, I decided it was finally time to kick out a real review. This week I am taking on Illusione’s Singulare Phantom.
The Good Stuff: The Singulare Phantom is the first Limited Edition run that Illusione have kicked out since they have been creating cigars. The Phantom is an all Nicaraguan blend, 6×50 that comes in boxes of 15 running about $180 a box.. There are only going to be a total of 1,000 boxes released. The Singulare series will be a limited run, ran once a year and will feature a different blend and size every year.
Size: 6 x 50 - Wrapper: Nicaraguan - Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan - Body: Med/Full
Prelight: Illusione’s Singulare Phantom is an almost-toro sized cigar. The wrapper is a milky-brownish-orange with a whole ton of oil. I can actually feel some of the oil from the wrapper come off on my fingertips as I am handling this cigar. The construction is near flawless despite a few larger veins running the entire length of the body. I have noticed that a lot of Dion’s cigars sport more veins than you would expect, but they never really cause any problems. Needless to say, I’m not worried about this one either. The lengthy body is polished off with a seamless, round, triple cap. The Phantom is relatively firm, with no soft spots at all. The band is very similar to all the other bands that Illusione kicks out, only with 2 main exceptions. The first is, this is the first of the bunch with silver metallic embossed ink instead of the black and gold we are all used to. The second is two, very small, black, old English styled letters on the back of the band “E” and “L”. I am assuming this stands for “Edicion Limitada”.
The wrapper of the Singulare Phantom gives off a sweet, earthy aroma with the foot of the cigar kicking out a much more pungent, tobacco smell. The Phantom cut very clean and easily with my double bladed cutter. The cold draw gave off a very grassy, earthy flavor with just a slight sweet, spice aftertaste.
First Smoke: The Phantom lit up with extreme ease under my triple flame butane torch. Instantly I am greeted with a very subtle, and light pepper taste. The pepper soon fades into a creamy earthy, grassy flavor with hints of honey and spice. You can tell almost instantly that Dion was behind this stick, even if you had no idea what it was. The draw is incredible. Effortless, and thick as hell throwing out a massive, thick cloud of wood scented smoke. The Phantom gives of little to no stationary smoke. As in with almost all Illusione’s the burnline is thick and clean, leaving behind a nice trail of compact, darker grey ash which held on for almost 2 inches before giving way.
Halfway There: The pepper seems to be coming and going, but into the second third it’s completely apparent and almost in your face. Outside of the pepper (which again, faded completely after a while) the back-end flavors had a change up as well. The dominant flavor is now a really rich cedar, with the honey and spice still shining through. The retrohale is amazing, priming my nasal package with a deep cedar flavor. There really isn’t much nicotine coming through on this cigar yet. The burnline has become slightly wavy but it quickly corrects itself. I have a feeling the breeze has something to do with that.
Finish: The Singular Phantom burned slower than most Illusione that I am used to. All in all it took almost 2 hours to smoke this guy down to the nub. The band, and of the many reasons I love illusione, slid off with ease. The burnline was almost perfect, and cleared itself up anytime it wasn’t, with no touch-up or relights. The final flavors were perfect for the finish of this cigar. Tons of cedar/wood notes, a very slight return of the pepper, sweet honey, and spice. The Phantom finished VERY smooth and creamy. I was able to hit the crap out of this cigar without any complications or harshness even into the final inch. No nicotine kick. This is a perfect cigar no matter what time of day.
Overview: Dion is on fire. Just about anything that this guy has created have been right up my alley. Recently, I had a chance to sit down, enjoy a cigar, and talk shop with Robert at Gran Habano cigars and Dion’s name came up. We spoke about how he is so damn meticulous and it shows. His blends are pretty much produced with his taste in mind, and he knows exactly what he wants out of his cigars. Meaning, if you are a fan of a few of his sticks there is a good chance you’ll love them all. The Singulare is a very smooth, medium, creamy cigar with a ton of flavor change-ups. At about $15 a stick this is a great cigar, but not something I’d smoke every day. Needless to say though, it’s worth the coin (especially if you buy enough to share with me). Box worthy by far.
Pairing: Winter to me, is the beer season. With all the warm porters and stronger stout seasonal’s the winter has to be my favorite time of the year, at least as far as beer goes. Because of the creamy, lighter bodied blend of this Singulare, I decided to pair it with a long-time seasonal favorite of mine, Brouwerij Huyghe’s Delirium Noel. Delirium Noel is the winter seasonal selection from the “Delirium” series which feature the wonderful “Delirium Tremens”, and the not so wonderful “Delirium Nocturne”. Delirium Noel comes in at 10% ABV and is packaged in a very festive white, painted bottle with red foil, and a metallic coated label the cute, iconic Delirium Pink Elephants ice skating in the snow, and carrying Santa clause who is dumping a ton of delirium bottles on a snowman (random, I know). The reason I mention this is due to the “friendly” packaging this brew has actually been banned in Texas, as well as a ton of other states. It’s a pain in the ass to find, but a real treat when you do. The Belgium Strong Ale is a beautiful amber color. The ale produces a malty, spicy, mixture with a ton of fruit. It’s almost as if someone threw some apple cider in this ale. The beer paired ridiculously well with the honey, creamy composure of the Singulare, not to mention due to the small lunch I had it buzzed the crap out of me. The Singulare would also do well with some sweet tea, a heavy Pilsner, and even an IPA.
Stay tuned this week. On Friday I will be posting a contest for a rare, and very nice accessory furnished to us by the wonderful people at Bonita Smoke shop! Next week we will also be posting our “Top ten cigars of 2010”. With all the new cigars that hit the scene this year this was a tedious task! Next month I will also pair a cigar review with a beer that I have been brewing myself over the past few weeks. Can anyone say chocolate/cinnamon stout? MmmmHmmmm!