Bite Size Review: Ashton Estate Sun Grown 22 Year Salute
I’ve lived almost my entire life in South Texas and yet I’ve never quite become acclimated to the oppressive heat and humidity. Mild Winters, abbreviated Falls and a wet Spring that lasts about a week. And then the long, sweltering Summer. As a kid playing with friends outside, I don’t recall ever being bothered by any condition probably because the order of the day was fun. Hardscrabble games of rumble, fort building, cars, etc. were on the menu and the last thing on our minds were the current weather conditions. Fast forward to today, a breezy, sultry day in late June as I prepare for our review of the Ashton ESG 22 Year Torpedo.
The Ashton line as we know it was created by tobacconist Robert Levin back in 1985 after taking over his father’s Philadelphia cigar shop, Holt’s Cigar Company. Levin longed for a premium brand and to shore up the new venture with an uncompromising approach, he turned to none other than industry icons, Carlos and Carlitos Fuente. Using well-aged and limited Chateau de La Fuente tobaccos, Levin created then expanded the brand which today is recognized not only as a favorite of cigar aficionados worldwide but also one of the premier cigar brands on earth.
The brand today features iconic and limited lines that include Ashton Classic, Ashton Aged Maduro, Ashton Cabinet, Ashton VSG (Virgin Sun Grown) and Ashton ESG (Estate Sun Grown). All premium cigars fall somewhere in a price matrix of $15 and up and today are sold in 60 countries. The ESG line, a Dominican puro, was launched back in 2006 to commemorate Ashton’s 20th Anniversary. The plan was to launch a single, limited-production vitola each year beginning with the 20 Year Salute Churchill. This was followed by the 21Year Salute robusto in 2007 and in 2008, our 22 Year Salute torpedo, a Cigar Aficionado Top 25 pick in 2015.
As I look upon this beautifully crafted cigar in the aforementioned muggy June afternoon, I’m reminded of what a sucker I am for torpedos: in my humble opinion, the fairest of them all. The Fuente torpedo treatment is flawless as the toffee-colored sun grown wrapper glistens with an oily sheen. The cigar is seamless and solid save for some sponginess toward the foot, and shows only minimal veins. Pleasing scents from the wrapper include rich milk chocolate and leather but the foot teases with a muted, musty allure of chocolate fudge. With a ¼” Dickman cut, the draw is just open enough allowing a dusting of plum and raisin notes on the palate.
Once lit, our torpedo provides a veritable torrent of flavors coalescing into a toasty nucleus of wood and a creamy mélange of leather, dark fruit, crème and spices. The rich finish of coffee bean and pecan notes is silky smooth as is the overall persona. Notes of black pepper are commonplace whereas hints of hazelnut are more of a cameo. The ESG settles into an overall aura of cherries and hickory with a steady draw of wood and sweet oats. Transitions continue with eclectic, spicy delicacies of wood, cherries, cocoa and honey and an epilogue of earthy, nutty undertones complementing notes of roasted almonds, leather and cedar.
Combustion is solid, but a bad light under windy conditions caused some unevenness from the get-go. Not the cigar’s fault. The Ashton shines with good smoke production and a strong ash. This cigar is special. An aficionado’s cigar. There’s a lot going on and it’s magical. Hmmm, said the same thing about a distant cousin: Fuente’s Opus X. The ESG is worth every penny of the $22.62 price tag. Then a funny thing happened: I realized that just like when I was a kid, I was having so much fun I didn’t even notice the hot, sticky afternoon conditions. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Some of the tobaccos used in the ESG are also those reserved for use in the Fuente’s Opus X line and all cigars are produced at Fuente’s Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia.
- Profile: Med-Full
- Vitola: Torpedo
- Length / Ring: 6.0 X 52
- Purchased: Online
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Dominican Sun Grown
- Binder: Dominican
- Filler: Dominican
- Production: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price:$22.62 [Box $501.75]
- Humidor Age: 9 mo.
- Box: 25
- Other Vitolas: 20 Year [Churchill 6.75″x49], 21 year [Robusto 5.25″x52], 23 Year [Toro 6.25″x52], 24 year [Dbl Perfecto 6.625″x48]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:06
Construction: Nice torpedo treatment; Oily; toffee coloring; lumpy; seamless; some veins; evenly firm but gets spongy toward foot; good smoke producer; hold strong 1″+ ash.
- Wrapper – Leather, milk chocolate
- Foot – Dull, musty chocolate fudge
- Cold Draw – Plum/raisins
- Initial: Toast and wood core; creamy mix of leather, dark fruit and creme; light spice; pecan notes on finish with notes of coffee bean; notes of black pepper and hazelnut on retro; Overall aura of cherries and hickory; sweet , woody draw.
- Transition: Dark cherries on draw; rolling profile of woody oats; big spice in nose; leathery finish with hints of coffee and honey; cocoa powder on retro; more robust in body and strength; uptick in spice on palate.
- Transition: Woody core; earth and roasted almonds on retro; leather notes with slight cedar tang; finishes with notes of leather and cocoa; more nutty.
Touch ups: N/A
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]