Ashton VSG Wizard Tuesday, Jul 20 2010 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 56 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

There isn’t much left that hasn’t been said about the Ashton VSG.  It is an extremely popular line of cigars made for Ashton by the Fuentes.  If you are new to the VSG, then surf on over to my review of the VSG Sorcerer and read the background info on this smoke there.

The Wizard is the largest of the VSG family at least as far as the ring gauge goes. It is also one of the very few vitolas that does not sport a box press.  It uses the same dark and leathery Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrapper as the rest of the line.  Long time readers of my blog already know that I am not a fan of this large of a ring gauge on a cigar.  I feel that the Wizard is a prime example of why that is.  All the wonderful flavors that you’d expect from a VSG are muted and muddled in this format.  There are still notes of earth and leather and sweet spice but they are not as sharp or intense.  The cigar overall is milder and weaker than the other vitolas in the line.  It is a good cigar in a line of great cigars which makes it a bit of a disappointment for me.  Of course, YMMV.

Ashton Classic Corona Wednesday, Sep 2 2009 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Corona 5.5″ x 44 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Ashton and the Ashton Classic came on the scene back in 1994 I believe.  It is the brain child of Philly native Robert Levin.  He partnered with the Fuentes who manufacture many of the cigars that bear the Ashton name.  Known for superb quality and construction on all their lines the Classic seems to be no exception.

The Ashton Classic is dressed in a silky, creamy looking Connecticut Shade wrapper adorned by a very classic looking black and white band.  The Ashton name is emblazoned in gold across its face.  The filler looks expertly bunched, almost as if each leaf was placed in position purposefully.  It predictably had a perfect draw.  The flavors delivered by this smoke are a little mild but perfectly balanced making it a very approachable smoke for a beginner but delicious and engaging enough to satisfy even an old pro.  The first puff or two is a little harsh and grassy but it immediately settles into smooth flavors of cafe au lait and a subtle hint of vanilla. As I made my way through the smoke I picked up notes cedar and almond as well as the occasional flash of grassiness, but the creamy cafe au lait flavors remained dominate throughout.

The Ashton Classic is a very good, very well made cigar.  I enjoy these most in the AM with a cup of coffee.  Any time someone asks me what cigar they should try when they are starting out, or if someone asks me what cigar should they offer to people who aren’t “cigar smokers”  the Ashton Classic is one of the two cigars I always recommend.

Rating- B+

Other takes on the Ashton Classic:

La Aroma de Cuba Edicion Especial No.2 Tuesday, Jun 16 2009 

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Country:  Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder:  Nicaraguan
Filler:  Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 4.8″ x 48 ring

La Aroma de Cuba is an Ashton owned brand.  The original is an excellent Honduran made cigar available in a wide range of sizes.  The artwork on the dress boxes and bands is beautiful and the presentation of the cigars is quite handsome.  That goes for both the original line and the Edicion Especial.  The true original La Aroma de Cuba was a Cuban made cigar and was reported to be one of Winston Churchills favorites which is what gives the brand name a bit of cache.  This special edition of the brand is a Nicaraguan made cigar, blended and made by the now famous and highly decorated Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia.  The Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper has a unique hue and oily sheen, and it covers rich Nicaraguan tobacco.

Not your typical “Pepin” smoke. That is the first thing that jumps out at me. From the beginning you notice his trademark black pepper start is missing. That is OK, because what you do get is fantastic. Rich notes of cinnamon and all-spice combined with flashes of cedar make for dramatic start in its own right. Balance isn’t the word I would use for this cigar. It has some serious peaks and valleys. After an amazing rich start the cigar mellowed a bit. Flavors were mainly cedar with a muddled earthiness. It picked back up again a little past the halfway mark with pronounced flavors of roasted nuts that swapped places back and forth with a sharp earthiness. There were some subtle undertones of dark chocolate or cocoa. Seeing it written out doesn’t do it justice. It was actually much better than it looks in print. It started to get muddled again near the nub but it was time to put it down anyway. This was a very interesting medium bodied smoke. One I would very much like to try again.

Some other takes on this cigar:

Rating – B+

Ashton San Cristobal Supremo Monday, May 19 2008 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 50 ring

I have been looking forward to trying this new smoke from Ashton for a while so when CigarsDirect.com sent me one to review I knew I wouldn’t wait long to put it to flame. Still it wasn’t the easiest choice considering the amazing quality of smokes they sent me in the latest batch.

Bearing the name of the famed Cuban marca, the San Cristobal is made for Ashton by my favorite cigar maker Jose “Pepin” Garcia who also makes my favorite brand of cigars, the Tatuajes. By now everyone who smokes cigars is aware that Pepin is the hottest name in cigars right now. His portfolio has grown exponentially yet it seems everything he puts out is made of gold. As highly anticipated as the release of the ESG, the San Cristobal was 2 years in the making.

Released last year shortly after the RTDA (now called IPCPRA), it sports Pepin’s wrapper of choice. It is a leathery, dark brown Nicaraguan Corojo. The Supremo is a Toro and the 50 ring gauge is the perfect size for my new favorite cut, the butterfly cut. The butterfly cut was created by a friend of mine. It is a double V-cut. After making the initial V-cut you rotate the cigar and make a second V-cut perpendicular to the first. I really like this style of cut on larger ring gauges. This cut draws very nicely and it looks cool. Everything about this cigar says “top-shelf”. The wrapper is flawless and there is no sign of any rib veins in the head or foot. The bunching looks perfect and you can tell by the firmness and heft that it is packed full of tobacco. The band is beautiful with the vibrant colors of the Macaw and elegant gold trim on a background of an ancient map.

This amazing cigar is very different from any other Pepin cigar I have tried to date. It starts off so smooth and silky. Right off the bat it is very full flavored, woodsy with leather and spice, and nutty undertones. Notably absent is the trademark “Pepin Pepper” but it isn’t missed at all. This cigar is amazingly complex with a smooth finish. I read on CI’s site some tasting notes that referenced cherry flavors. I have never tasted anything like cherry in a cigar, so I was really surprised when at about the mid way point I detected flashes of cherry. It was amazing and truly unique. I found myself disappointed (in a good way) when those flavors faded as I got a little further into the smoke. I really wished that the cherry flavors hung around longer than they did. Towards the end, the leather and spice began to build to dominate the flavors with a woody finish.

This was an amazing cigar that engaged me from start to finish. The construction is impeccable and the burn razor sharp. The ash was a little loose and flaky which was surprising but didn’t detract from the experience. The San Cristobal has earned a spot on my list of favorites. This cigar is an absolute must try for any serious cigar smoker.

Rating – A+

Ashton VSG Sorcerer Thursday, Oct 11 2007 

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sungrown
Filler: Dominican
Size: Double Corona 7.0″x49 ring

Today I am smoking a top-shelf, hard to find cigar. This review is brought to us courtesy of CigarsDirect.com. This is the inaugural CigarsDirect review, so we are kicking this thing off right.

Ashton Cigars was created in 1985 by Robert Levin. Levin teamed up with the Fuentes taking advantage of their manufacturing experience to help him create his cigars. Ashton’s popularity was originally built on its mild, yet flavorful Connecticut Shade wrapped cigars. The popularity of the Ashton brand would explode with the introduction of a powerful full bodied cigar, the Virgin Sun Grown (VSG). In November of 1999 Ashton Cigars unveiled the VSG, the most powerful and full bodied cigar in the Ashton catalog. The VSG sports an Ecuadorian sungrown wrapper. Apparently the VSG, before it was called VSG, was going to have a Chateau de la Fuente wrapper of Opus X fame(Keepers of the Flame, Oct. 1, 2006). But the rarity of the wrapper and the popularity of the Opus killed that plan. That’s how The VSG ended up with the Ecuadorian sungrown wrapper. A few of the VSG vitolas have pretty standard names like Belicoso and Robusto, but others have been given more mystical names like Tres Mystique, Spellbound, and Sorcerer. Not sure why that is and unfortunately I was unable to find any info on it.

The VSG Sorcerer is a 7.0″x 49 ring Double Corona. It is wrapper in a beautiful sungrown wrapper with tiny veins throughout, sporting an expertly applied cap and a rich tobacco aroma. The cap clipped nicely with my Palio and the foot took a light perfectly. This cigar packs all the power it is hyped to have but even with that power it is surprisingly smooth. The flavors are full bodied yet refined. I’ve heard the VSG referred to as “The Velvet Hammer” and the name fits. It starts off very rich and smooth with a slightly sweet spice. A fellow BOTL once referred to this flavor as a “sungrown twang”. The burn is razor sharp and the ash is well formed but is a little loose and doesn’t hold more than an inch or so. It has a long almost sage like finish that is quite unique and it produces plenty of thick, creamy, off-white smoke. As the smoke progresses the twang lessened and it developed strong notes of earth and leather with an almost floral undertone. I am very impressed with the smooth, refined nature of the flavors given how full and and powerful the cigar is. It packs quite a punch without any harshness or muted flavors you sometime get with strong powerful cigars. In the last third the VSG really picks up with lots of spice and leather with spice on the finish. I smoked it to the nub.

A double corona is a long smoke that needs to be above par to be enjoyable otherwise you inevitably get bored with it before you finish it. No chance of boredom here. The VSG Sorcerer is a robust, complex smoke that holds your attention for the entire hour plus it takes to smoke it. It is definitely not a cigar for beginners as the length and power may be too much for someone not used to smoking full bodied cigars. For an experienced cigar smoker it is a real treat and is so good you will want to smoke one more often than just on the special occasions despite it’s price tag. You can get the VSG Sorcerer and other VSG’s at CigarsDirect.

Link: Ashton VSG @ CigarsDirect.com.

Rating – A

Ashton VSG Tres Mystique 4.5×44 Tuesday, Jan 3 2006 

Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador
Filler: Dominican Republic
Size: Petit Corona 4 3/8” x 44 ring

This is a pretty little cigar. I tend to like bigger vitolas but I heard a lot of good things about this particular VSG. It has a dark brown toothy wrapper and looks very well put together. There were no hard or soft spots. The cap looked a little puckered. The cut was perfect and the filler looked nicely bunched, and no rib veins were visible. The pre light draw was nice with only a little resistance. I took my time lighting this cigar and it was worth it. It lit very nicely. The initial puffs delivered a very spicy flavor that had little too much bite in my opinion. After the first few puffs the spiciness gave way to much more enjoyable flavors. The flavors were still very strong, but I detected a lot of leather and wood while smoking this cigar. For a little cigar this thing gave off a lot of smoke. The burn was perfect until the end when it started to canoe a bit on me. I was able to correct it and I proceeded to smoke it to the nub. It was a strong cigar and it gave me a nice “cigar buzz” afterward. I had to be careful getting up off the couch.

Overall, this was a really nice smoke. Although this cigar is something I’d like to smoke a lot of, it’s a bit pricey, so it’s not something I’m likely to have very often, but it makes for a good special occasion smoke.

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