Bite Size Review: Sans Pareil Blue Toro
Sure enough, the cigar for our next review wasn’t even out of the humidor when discussions of “perfection” and “best of the best” began to percolate. We drove down that “perfection” highway during our last review of a Sans Pareil cigar, Purple. Sans Pareil, translated from French “without peer” or “without equal”, is the brainchild of Michigan tobacconist, Aaron Saide, who along with partner Jochy Blanco aspired to craft cigars for the perfect smoking experience. During our review of Purple we stated we weren’t even sure what “perfect” looked like, but agreed that ultimately “perfection” must lie in the combined senses of the beholder.
Sans Pareil prides itself on the fact that no expense is spared in time, money or energy to ensure every aspect of the tobaccos used – growing, harvesting, baling, fermenting, aging, blending, rolling, etc – is anything less that what they refer to as “Elite.” In fact, only a particular quality of tobaccos cultivated are reserved solely for use by Sans Pareil. As an added touch, box construction employ novel techniques to remove unwanted aromas including a special quick-drying paint. Tobaccos are provided by and the resulting cigars are produced at Blanco’s Dominican facility, Tabacalera Palma.
When you visit the Sans Pareil site, you will see no shortage of references to their aspirations of impeccability even adding specific instructions on resting and aging their unique smokes. All this perfection comes at a price for a brand, launched in 2017, that will compete with other super premium heavyweights like Davidoff, Fuente’s Opus X and Padron’s Anniversary and Family Reserve. The Blue is one of 4 blends (Purple, Red, Gold) in the Sans Pareil line and is the only Dominican puro. Like the Purple, Blue passes the eye candy test with flying colors.
Without question, the oily, seamless, gingerbread hue of our $30 Blue is eye catching, even after simmering for 19 months. It’s girth is spongy, but uniform down it’s length and it sports a nice cap and minimal veins. There are subtle hints of damp earth and a floral essence from the Criollo ’98 wrapper and the foot is awash with vanilla bean and cocoa. The cold draw is open with a straight guillotine cut and the Dominican puro provides hints of Worcesterhire and a dark plumminess on the palate. I don’t know about “elite”, but so far this cigar is hitting all the right notes.
I can only describe what happens next as…sinful: Blue greets me with a lush pie crust draw followed by a mountain of rich salted caramel and hints of graham cracker and coffee bean. As soon as I wipe the stupid grin off my face, she finishes with a nuttiness amidst hints of spiced wine. Blue settles in with a juniper core surrounded by spicy notes of red pepper and raw almonds. There’s a rich coffee essence that lingers on the palate as the spice increases. Transitions are overtly woody but maintain solid complexity with a warm, full-bodied character.
Complexity and texture of the last transition is a bit disappointing considering how it all began, but even this couldn’t ablate the Blue’s plusses. Unfortunately, the one flaw was it’s construction: early on it was clear the bunch was uneven causing a persistent, shallow runner for the duration of the review. Forget the fact that Blue is a weak-to-mediocre smoke producer or that the ash is so weak it falls at even the slightest movement, but the uneven combustion due to a poor roll is an issue. Blue is certainly not the first cigar to offer a great personality only to have the body fail to measure up, but even if combustion was aces, I don’t see “elite” and certainly not “perfection.” Unique, tasty and enjoyable? Absolutely. I’m hopeful the roll was a one-off as Sans Pareil has something really special going for this blend. – In Fumo Pax!
Recommendation: 5 Packer
Did you Know: The “Elite” Dominican tobacco provided by Blanco is set aside exclusively for use by Sans Pareil. It is not sold on the market and therefore has no actual market value.
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Toro
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6″ x 52
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Dominican Criollo ’98 “Elite Selection”
- Binder: Dominican
- Filler: Dominican Piloto “Elite Selection”
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $30 [Box $300]
- Humidor Age: 19 mo.
- Box: 10
- Other Vitolas: Piramide [6 1/8″x52], Petite Corona [4″x42]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:30
Construction: Spongy, but uniform; nice cap; oily; seamless; lumpy; mottled gingerbread hue; semi-veiny; struggles to hold any appreciable ash.
- Wrapper – Damp earth, floral essence
- Foot – Vanilla bean, cocoa
- Cold Draw – Worcestershire, plummy
- Initial: Wonderful pie crust draw; ribbons of caramel, coffee and graham cracker; finishes nutty with hints of spiced wine; settles in with notes of red pepper and and raw almonds; nice spice that lingers; juniper or pinewood core; notes of coffee linger on palate.
- Transition: Spice increases and profile becomes overtly woody; uneven bunch/roll causes shallow runner; nice draw and finish of toast and black coffee; body more robust; warm, savory character backed by light notes of earth and charred oak; detect some residual nuttiness; hints of honey on front end of retro as texture becomes rougher.
- Transition: Body is next level; profile is a gomisch of cedar and chocolate notes; nice finish retains coffee essence with notes of cedar added; draw becomes leathery and red pepper notes more prevalent.
Complexity: Very good
Balance: Very good
Touch ups: N/A
Combustion: Very good, but prone to shallow runners
Weaknesses: Poor smoke producer, weak ash falls at slightest provocation, inadequate bunching/roll causes shallow runner for much of smoke.
Recommendation: 5 Packer
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]