Ashton Cabinet Selection Belicoso

1988 was an interesting and prominent year for many reasons, providing front row seats to iconic events such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dawn of the world wide web. In 1988 we were listening to Gloria Estefan, Guns N’ Roses and Kylie Minogue, movie tickets to such blockbusters as Diehard, Rain Man and Beetlejuice were $3.50 and NASA began resuming space shuttle missions two years after the horrific 1986 Challenger explosion. While 1988 also ushered in the notable births of UK crooner, Adele, and UFC phenom, Conor McGregor, Ashton Cigars was busy launching its second regular production line, the Cabinet Selection.

The relative newcomer brand started life in the early 1980s by Robert Levin, whose family owns the Philadelphia-based Holts Cigar Company. Within a few years, the Cabinet Selection line was born and thanks to the stability of titan cigar makers, the Fuente family, Ashton and their two fledgling lines safely navigated the boom and bust of the 1990s. Thirty-two years later, the mild-to-medium best seller, with its tobaccos aged 4-5 years, is still a fan favorite today helping make Ashton a top 5 US cigar brand and grow its popularity with sales in over 60 countries.

The staying power of the Cabinet Selection could be attributed to many things, but it’s clear that a good starting blend, the Fuente Family’s Midas touch and some well-aged, top shelf leaf might have something to do with it. This magic chemistry has led to not only the line garnering a legion of fans, but also some pretty impressive love from the cigar press including Cigar Aficionado who in 2019 bestowed a respectable 90 and 91 rating on the Connecticut Shade-shod line. The line also tops the scales with a dizzying array of sizes from which to choose – 11. From the diminutive Tres Petite (4.375″x42) to the monster No. 1 perfecto (9″x52), Cabinet Selection has something, literally, for everyone.

The short version of why this cigar has so much humidor age on it is, well…we thought we’d reviewed it back in early 2018 when it actually was misplaced in another of our humidors. Still, our Cabinet looks the part with a nice cap and belicoso treatment and a light coating of oil on the seamless, butterscotch-colored skin. Much of the aromas are muted, a typical trait of aged cigars, but I can still get a sense of a grassy essence from the shade wrapper and a bit of graham cracker from the foot. The draw is nicely open with a just a taste of warm raisins.

Another aspect of aged cigars is that the flavors and complexity is also muted, but the body and textures are ultra fine allowing for a slow, purposeful reveal of baking spices, light cedar and white pepper notes swirling around a nutty foundation. There is a pleasant spice with a complementary dose of red pepper on the palate. The long, spicy finish too is on the nutty side as notes of orange zest ebb and flow. Complexity is not the strong suit here, but transitions do allow a spin of the flavor wheel offering nicely balanced doses of chocolate, coffee and mesquite and spicy, chewy intonations of oak, espresso and black pepper. Cabinet is well-mannered and maintains a very smooth texture throughout.

This was a quick smoke, which is good, because there’s really not enough going on to keep your attention. Sure, there are newer Connies out there with a lot more umph and flavor to offer, but Cabinet’s attention to concise flavors makes it a perfect companion with your morning java. Combustion is good, she’ll hold a 1” ash and Cabinet’s smoke production is solid. Cabinet’s mild demeanor also makes it a perfect cigar for novices or those who want to break into the Ashton line, which I highly recommend. There’s a reason this cigar has stood the test of time, another 80s icon that has outlived headbands and parachute pants. – In Fumo Pax!

Recommendation: Boxworthy

Did you Know: The Ashton brand was created in the early 1980s by Robert Levin and the portfolio is produced by the Fuente’s Tabacalera A. Fuente in the Dominican Republic.

  • Profile: Mild – Medium
  • Vitola: Belicoso
  • Length / Ring: 5.25″ X 52
  • Purchased: B&M
  • Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
  • Binder: Dominican
  • Filler: Dominican
  • Production: Tabacalera A. Fuente
  • Blade: Xikar xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price:$10.10 [Box $252.58]
  • Humidor Age: 34 mo.
  • Box: 25
  • Other Vitolas: Pyramid [6″x52], Tres Petite [4.375″x42], No.10 [7.5″x52], No.8 [7″x49], No.7 [6.25″x52], No.6 [5.5″x50], No.4 [5.75″x46], No.3 [6″x46], No.2 [7″x46], No.1 [9″x52]

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 0:50
Draw
: Open
Construction: Lumpy; seamless; nice cap and belicoso treatment; veiny; butterscotch coloring; semi-rough feel; light coating of oil; some give overall, but uniform; holds 1″ ash.
Aromas:

  • WrapperGrassy [muted]
  • Foot – Graham cracker [muted]
  • Cold Draw – Warm raisin

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Nutty core; subtle intonations of baking spices, white pepper and cashews; very smooth; light cedar notes on retro; long, spicy and nutty finish; hints of red pepper on palate; oats added to already tasty finish; white pepper notes become more dominant.
  • Transition: More of a chocolatey foundation; hints of orange zest and mesquite on retro; spice maintains with light notes of coffee added to finish; well-balanced and well mannered.
  • Transition: More body added; spice knob turned up; chewy texture with lots of espresso and black pepper notes; woody intonations late highlighted by an oaky persona; gets hot w/1″ remaining.

Complexity: Excellent
Balance: Excellent
Touch upsN/A
Combustion: Good
Weaknesses: Combustion inconsistent and flavors muted initially
Recommendation: Boxworthy

Recommendation scale:

  1. Go-to
  2. Boxworthy
  3. 5 packer
  4. Yard ‘gar
  5. NR [No Recommendation]

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