2018 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Ashton Cigars

2018 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Ashton Cigars

Cigar Advisor’s Essential Ashton Cigars Tasting & Buying Guide

By the Cigar Advisor Editors

The Ashton Cigars Back Story

The source for Ashton Cigars, Ashton Distributors, was founded in 1985 by Robert Levin as a family-owned and operated corporation headquartered in Philadelphia, PA.  Determined to offer cigar smokers the highest quality possible, Ashton Cigars are made in the Dominican Republic at the Tabacalera A. Fuente factory. The cigars are handcrafted by only the most gifted torcedors solely devoted to rolling Ashton Cigars with the finest, most perfectly-aged tobaccos and flawless wrappers. This ensures that every Ashton cigar is uniform in construction, draw, and flavor.

Playing a big role during the Cigar Boom 90s, the Ashton name quickly rose to fame as a result of its consistently high tasting scores, among other numerous awards, making it one of the Top 5 premium cigar brands in the U.S. market, as well as an international favorite in over 60 countries.

When it comes to smoking many of the most refined premium cigars, you needn’t look much farther than what the Ashton Cigars portfolio has to offer.

For this Advisor Guide, we’ve sampled each of the Ashton cigars currently available, a total of seven in all; our tasting notes are listed (relatively) in order of these Ashtons’ appearance on the market, starting with the Classic and ending with Symmetry. You’ll find our reviews below, along with additional details about each blend that should give you a general idea of how it performs. Of course, taste is subjective and our palates may not agree…but if what we describe in our results sounds like it’s the right kind of cigar for you, we say try for yourself and see.

And as always, if you’ve smoked any (or all) of these Ashton cigars, we want to hear about your own experiences – so be sure to leave a comment below.

 

Ashton Classic Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Monarch (6″ x 50 Toro en tubo)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Filler & Binder: Dominican Republic

Ashton cigars guide ashton classic cigar review

Construction and Overall Appearance: A trim, traditional-sized toro; blonde veiny wrapper leaf, showing some slight bumps and an excess of roller’s glue. Didn’t affect smokability.
Draw: A bit on the tight side.
Pre-light flavor: Oily musk, chili pepper, lime, hay.
Toasting & Light: Hay, mellow earth.
Base flavors: Hay and citrus.
Retrohale: This is where Ashton hides its 3 grains of pepper.
Aroma: Subtle, like bread.
Burn / Ash Quality: Decently straight burn, producing a tight & light grey ash.
Balance of flavors: Very evenly matched in intensity.

ashton cigars guide ashton classic cigar review monarch jp

Everything about the Ashton Classic is subtle: pepper, sweetness and that “dry” Connecticut flavor. Made for great balance in the smoke. Click to see more.

Summary: The Ashton Classic Monarch is a pretty traditionally-sized toro – and with vitolas getting bigger and bigger (like those who insist on 6×56’s still being called “Toro”), a cigar rolled to a standard or “classic” size like this ends up looking a bit small.

Good feel, draw is a bit tight – and offered up some of the weirdest pre-light sensations I ever got from a cigar…the Ashton Classic ultimately proved to go more traditional in its flavors at the start, however.

On a side note – it’s hard not to scorch this Connecticut wrapper. So as a tip, I’d suggest you use a smaller torch, and a bit more precision than I did, to toast and light this cigar.

The Classic line of Ashton cigars are mellow for sure; a little bit sweet with the slightest nudge of pepper, maybe like three grains of it. The sweetness matched up against that dry Connecticut sensation exceptionally well – and that’s one thing I can say for sure about Ashton cigars…they’re very well balanced.

In all, it’s a more refined Connecticut than your run-of-the-mill Shade wrapper smoke. I won’t call them rich flavors, but they are noticeable – and consistent from start to finish. Fuente-made, so you know you have a quality cigar in your hand. Ashton Classic is about as easygoing as it gets, while still being able to offer noteworthy flavor.

– John Pullo

 

Ashton Aged Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: No. 40 (6″ x 50, Toro)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Dominican Republic
Binder:  Dominican Republic

Ashton cigars guide ashton maduro cigar review

Draw: Excellent.
Pre-Light: Earthy & sweet.
First Few Puffs: Cocoa, sweetness.
Aroma: Woody.
Burn-Ash Quality: Solid, perfect, light gray.
Balance of Flavors: Nice balance.
Base Flavors: Cocoa, spice, wood.

Ashton cigars guide ashton aged Maduro TZ

Time flies: but 10 years later, the Ashton Aged Maduro is consistently smooth – excellent flavors, too. Click for more. 

Summary: Lately I’ve been on this kick smoking cigars that I haven’t had in ages. I get to rate a lot of newer sticks from the manufacturers and I basically have to go out of my way to remind myself to smoke some of the old classics. Well, as part of the Ashton buying guide, I was given the Ashton Aged Maduro, a cigar I always enjoyed, but probably hadn’t smoked in a good number of years – I’m thinking at a wedding almost a decade ago. And let me say that there is nothing more enjoyable than hooking up with an old friend.

The Maduro isn’t an overly complex smoke by any means, but this medium-bodied beauty sure has a hell of a lot of rich flavors that stand out. First off, that dark, almost black Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro delivers a wonderful natural sweetness the moment you start puffing. And while there’s a nice woody component and some tasty spice, the flavor of rich cocoa is pronounced and is prevalent throughout the entire smoke.

Like the other Ashton cigars, this Maduro is made at the Fuente factory so you know it’s going to have excellent construction with a great draw and a perfect burn. And the aroma even gives off an aromatic woody sweet scent. I sparked it up on my back patio on a nice Saturday morning with a cup of coffee after breakfast and it couldn’t have been a better dessert. I’m glad I revisited my old Maduro pal and I’m definitely not going to be a stranger any longer. Total yum.

– Tommy Zman Zarzecki

 

Ashton Cabinet Selection Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Belicoso (5 ¼” x 52)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Filler/Binder: Dominican Republic

Ashton cigars guide ashton cabinet cigar review

Construction and Overall Appearance: Delicate blonde Connecticut wrapper shows minimal veins; firmly packed, well made.
Draw: Excellent – nice and clear.
Pre-light flavor: Faint earthy barnyard, cedar and nuts.
Toasting & Light: A toasty start, with bread and tea.
Base flavors: Hay, salt, citrus, coffee, butter, toast.
Retrohale: Expect flowers and green herbs.
Aroma: A mellow, slightly floral aroma.
Burn / Ash Quality: Straight burn, ash is an evenly-colored, almost-white color – and very firm.
Balance of flavors: Excellent balance, where the flavors dovetail nicely.

ashton cigars guide ashton cabinet cigar review jp

A sign of good construction: firm ash. Even at 1″+, the Ashton Cabinet’s ash didn’t budge. A Connecticut with serious flavor; click to learn more about it.

Summary: Legend has it that the Ashton Cabinet Selection blend started with the idea of making a Hemingway with a Connecticut Shade wrapper; an odd request, if true – given Shade’s tendency to be bland, and sometimes bitter.

From the outset, aged flavors start activating every part of the palate one by one; super-big flavors of hay start it off, then a salty component that’s balanced against a sweetness that underpins the entire thing – like butter, maybe graham cracker. And it’s delicious. There’s barely a hint of pepper to be found…more like sweet spice. The smoke output is extra-thick and velvety, more than it is creamy.

Later on, things get a little edgy – the profile adds a hint of pepper and light coffee; you’ll recognize what I’m describing if you’re the person who takes your coffee with cream, but no sugar. It’s also around now where this Ashton Cabinet gets a little body to it, so savor it. This whole array of “cool” flavors makes this Ashton Cabinet very hard to let go.

I’d seen these Ashton cigars described as “the White Burgundy of cigars”…and subsequently, White Burgundy described as “the crack cocaine of Chardonnay” – but while I may not be down with my Frenchie wines, this much I know: Ashton Cigars sets the bar high with their Cabinet Selection, and this Belicoso goes far in meeting expectations – as long as you don’t go overpowering it with a heavy drink.

– John Pullo

 

Ashton VSG/Virgin Sun Grown Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Tres Mystique (4 3/8″ x 44 Corona)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Filler: Dominican Republic
Binder:  Dominican Republic

ashton cigars guide ashton vsg cigar review virgin sun grown

Construction and Overall Appearance: Flawless wrapper, the seams are nearly invisible, and the hue is a dark, espresso brown. Built solid, not too heavy.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Very sweet, lightly toasted and earth with a woody and nutty undertone.
Toasting & Light: Whoa! Starts with a bang. Very sweet, heavy notes of cocoa, earth, cedar, and spice. Smoke production is heavy and leaves my mouth with a dry feeling. I’m getting the feeling this will be a hearty smoke. Slightly tart aftertaste.
Base flavors: Chocolate, earth, green apple tart, nuts, and cedar.
Retrohale: A full-bodied rush! Notes of white pepper, tart, chocolate and earth.
Aroma: Sweet cedar, chocolate, and spice.
Burn / Ash Quality: The burn line seems to be struggling. The ash is solid white but fairly flakey; it looks like it’s snowing on my keyboard as I type.
Balance of flavors: Leans toward tart flavors and strength.

General Observations

  • 1 inch in, there’s a very strong tart aftertaste. The main notes I’m picking up are black coffee, earth and cedar.
  • Retrohale: Very woody and sweet, balanced by the tart flavors.
  • 2/3: Tart flavor is getting less intense, allowing some of the chocolate, coffee, woody and nutty flavors some breathing room.
  • 3/3: Creamy, rich and chocolatey, coffee and earth dominate though the tart aftertaste is still present.
Ashton cigars guide ashton VSG cigar review virgin sun grown cigar review FL

Ashton VSG Corona: It is mini, but it is mighty…a strong tart sensation plays stands tall against flavors like coffee, wood and earth. Click to see more.

Summary: Tiny but mighty, the Tres Mystique is a fun sized 4 3/8 x 44 that packs a wallop of sun grown tang. Since its debut the Ashton Virgin Sun Grown has received more than a fair amount of aplomb with consistent 90+ ratings across the board, suffice it to say I was happy to draw the short straw on this one.

This beauty of a cigar started off with a kick of sweet, lightly toasted bread with earth, and a woody/nutty undertone. My excitement grew with each puff but alas, the first inch was a plague. My VSG went out on me just shy of ¼ of an inch in, then the burn went sideways and started flaking white ash like a Nordic squall. Things went back on track by the second third where I was able to extract notes of rich and creamy chocolate, coffee, earth and a green-apple like tart finish.  A retrohale brought a wave of white pepper in a rush of strength with more chocolate, earth and tart flavors.

Final thoughts: Sun grown tobacco is known for its ‘tanginess’, while larger formats of the VSG tend to offer a balance of filler to the tangy wrapper- this cigar proved too much for me. If you like ’em tangy, try Tres Mystique. If you prefer your smokes a bit more on the chocolatey side I recommend a torpedo to balance out that zip!

– Fred Lunt

 

Ashton ESG/Estate Sun Grown Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: 22 Year Salute (6″ x 52 Figurado)
Strength: Medium – Full
Wrapper: Dominican Sun Grown Habano
Filler & Binder: Dominican

Ashton cigars guide ashton esg cigar review estate sun grown

Construction/Appearance: Excellent. Cigar is firm and seamlessly rolled in a brick-hued Dominican sun grown wrapper.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light: Sweet tobacco.
First few puffs: Very smooth and creamy texture with notes of cedar and tangy spice.
Burn: Very good. Ash is light grey, virtually solid in color, and very firm.
Aroma: Sweet.
Base Flavors (in order of appearance): Cedar, tart fruit, sweet spice.
Balance: Excellent.

Ashton cigars guide ashton ESG cigar review 22Year Salute GK

Bold, complex and highly-rated: Famous customers give these Ashton cigars a 99, and it’s not hard to see why. Very smooth…click for more.

Summary: I’ve always held the Ashton brand in pretty high regard, so writing for this guide was the perfect motive to dig into a couple of Ashtons I’d been eager to smoke, like the ESG 22 Year Salute. The pre-light was sweet, and once lit, the smoke was smooth and creamy with a dominant cedar note and a slightly tangy finish. Moving along, some nutmeg and other sweet spices joined the chorus.

As the cigar entered the second act, I took my time and let the cigar smoke itself. I’ve found this to be one of the best ways to get the most flavor from a cigar. At this juncture the cedar remained at the center of the flavor pool, while flavors of tart apple and a suggestion of cinnamon entered the mix.

The final third was mostly a continuation of the latter section but with more defined flavors of cedar and tart apple. Moving on, I began to pick up subtle notes of coffee bean and sweet tobacco. Complex, you think? Most definitely.

All-in-all, the Ashton ESG 22 Year Salute was a total joy, requiring little contemplation. To put it another way, I let the cigar speak to me, and with my preference for sweet n’ spicy cigars, this figurado nailed it. One other thing I noticed was that this cigar was a stealthy in terms of its strength. Although the smoke was perfectly balanced, ultra-smooth and somewhere between medium to full in body, I felt the slightest bit of headiness in the last couple of inches. Needless to say, this cigar is geared more toward the ‘aficionado’ but could also be a welcome ally for newer cigar smokers.

– Gary Korb

 

Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size:  Churchill (6 ¾ x 48)
Strength:  Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Filler: Dominican Republic – Sun Grown
Binder: Dominican Republic – Sun Grown

Ashton cigars guide ashton heritage puro sol cigar review

Construction and Overall Appearance: The wrapper has a sleek looking candy-bar like hue with just the right amount of oil for some shine. Solid construction and build.
Draw: Easy.
Pre-light flavor: Cold draw: Hay, wood, slight grass, and salt. Foot: Aged wood, must and barn yard.
Toasting & Light: Very sweet and toasty up front with a slight earthy and woody note underlying. Incredibly creamy and smooth up front.
Base flavors: Toasted bread, cream, lemon zest, floral, cedar wood, nutmeg.
Retrohale: At 2/3: A rush of white pepper and baking spices followed by a hearty toast, lemon zest and subtle sweetness.

Final third: Ultra-rich blending of sweet and savory notes of white pepper, cream, honey, and floral with a slight saltiness.

Aroma: Sweet cedar and nutmeg.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn was a tad wonky, but the ash was pure white and solid.
Balance of flavors: Held strong with warm and spicy flavors like cream, toast and nutmeg.

General Observations

  • 1 Inch, medium in body. The notes are vague but remind me of toasted bread, a slight honey sweetness, aged cedar wood, and a subtle citrus tang.
  • 2/3: Smoke is more dense and chewy. The cream and sweetness are the main flavors while the lemon makes a tart tickle on my tongue as a contrast to the cream.
  • 3/3: Very rich and creamy, a light sweetness plays along with the toasty and zesty notes as well as some white pepper in the background.
Ashton cigars guide ashton Heritage puro sol cigars FL

Ashton Heritage Puro Sol in action: the smoke is thick and lush, the flavors are plentiful. Click to learn more about it.

Summary: A tasty little nugget of Dominican goodness – the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol is a most excellent blending of sun grown Dominican fillers and binders. The zesty Ecuadorian wrapper has a sleek looking chocolate bar-like hue with just the right amount of oil for some shine.

Time to go. Toasting this delectable cigar was like turning the key on a 67’ Corvette, a subtle hum of medium strength followed by bright and sunny notes of toasted bread, a slight honey sweetness, aged cedar wood, and a subtle citrus tang are just enough to bring a smile to my face. As the burn progressed the flavors intensified, and I pulled loads of toasted bread, lemon zest, cream, and cedar wood with a slight nutmeg spice on the finish.

Initially the burn left something to be desired as the tobacco flagged down the side, but overall this cigar was expertly crafted. Invariably creamy and sweet, the final third of this cigar toyed with notes of white pepper, floral, honey, and a slight saltiness and even a quick jab of cherry cola sweetness.

Final thoughts: Incredibly creamy and rich tasting, medium-bodied but perfect for any time of day. Share these Ashton cigars with friends for a special occasion or a day at the beach.

– Fred Lunt

 

Ashton Symmetry Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: 5″ x 50, Soft box-pressed
Strength: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Binder: Dominican Republic

ashton cigars guide ashton symmetry cigar review

Construction/Appearance: Very firm; maybe too firm. Wrapper is beautiful with a semi-gloss, milk-chocolate hue and a very silky feel. At the foot, the darkest tobacco is at the exact center of the roll.
Draw: Good. Would have liked it to be a little more open, but it didn’t present any serious issues; just the luck of my particular sample.
Pre-light: Raisin, nutmeg.
First few puffs: Cedar, coffee bean, and light pepper.
Burn: Excellent.
Aroma: Sweet and spicy.
Base Flavors (in order of appearance): Cedar, sweet tobacco, allspice, coffee bean.
Balance: Perfect.

Ashton cigars guide ashton Symmetry cigar review gk

Symmetry is a cedar and spice combo “with plenty of nice surprises along the way.” Meant to be savored, but hard to put down. Click for additional details.

Summary: Like just about all Ashton cigars, this Symmetry Robusto also got off to a very creamy start punctuated by flavors of cedar, sweet tobacco, nutmeg, coffee bean, and a suggestion of raisin, making this first furlong very enjoyable.

In the early part of the second stretch, the sweetness increased and some oakiness moved in dragging with it some appealing fruity notes. The smoke continued along its marvelously smooth, creamy and perfectly-balanced journey and I picked up some cinnamon-like spice on the finish. Once I arrived at the heart of this section, the cinnamon-like flavor sharpened in focus, revealing a well-defined flavor of allspice.

As the cigar entered the final frames, the spice rounded the corner with a more peppery note, mostly on the finish. And though it faded rather quickly, I began to let the cigar sit longer between puffs, though it was hard to resist reaching for the cigar more often.

I loved the cedary character of this cigar, yet you could also call it a “spice bomb” in the sense that it delivers true spice cabinet flavors minus the pepper. The Ashton Symmetry Robusto also burned for a very long time, and this is one cigar you really want to savor as long as possible. I liked the soft box pressing, too, which takes on more of a parejo shape as the cigar burns. Overall, sweet n’ spicy and ultra-creamy with plenty of nice surprises along the way that cigar smokers of every experience can appreciate.

– Gary Korb

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