Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cigar Review – Ashton VSG Wizard

by club co-founder Robert

Another in our ongoing series of reviews of cigars given to us by the good folks at Cigars Direct. Featured this time is the Ashton VSG "Wizard".
Vitola: Toro
Origin: Dominican Republic
Length: 6”
Ring Gauge: 56
Filler: Dom. Rep.
Binder: Dom. Rep.
Wrapper: Equadorian Sumatra
Strength: Full
Price: $15

Made by Tabaclera A. Fuente y Cia. and distributed by Ashton Distributors Inc., this size was added to the line in 2006. The only VSG not box-pressed, it has a nice dark looking wrapper. The Ashton website promotes that they get their wrapper tobacco from a private estate in Ecuador owned by the Oliva family, and grown for the Fuente family exclusively for the Ashton VSG. The current Cigar Aficionado rating for it is 87 (from the Feb, 2007 Cigar Insider).

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar with fellow Cohiba Club member Eric, and enjoying a glass of Pendleton & DP on the rocks. Pendleton is a Canadian blended whisky and the Diet Pepsi doesn’t add too much sugar to the mix, as the Pendleton is just sweet enough. I think the touch of sweetness of the Pendleton is a very good complement to the Ashton.

The construction was solid and firm through the entire length. The roll was a little lumpy and the wrapper had a large vein running down the length, seen below, but the cap was perfect. The pre-light draw was very easy, too easy. But it didn’t distract a lot from enjoying the cigar. This cigar is big, a 56 ring gage (7/8” diameter), and even my careful shallow cut across the cap exposed a lot of cigar cross-section. Perhaps when you smoke yours, try using a punch or notch it (and keep it small) to manage this. At about the ½ point the wrapper let go and started unwrapping, I ended up just holding it in place as I gripped it.

It lit easily and produced a large volume of smoke, even in between puffs. The ash was dark and flaky for the first inch. Later it whitened very noticeably, but the flakes continued to cover me the whole time. The burn was fairly even, and it self-corrected nicely.

The flavor of the VSG is an interesting mystery. Very smooth and consistent through its length, I tasted wood, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it, cedar or sandalwood? It had hints of mellow spice, but not pronounced, and not strong enough for me to identify, vanilla, ...something else? I’m not the only one who found the flavor elusive, after writing this review I found that other published reviews had the same experience.

I was fascinated while smoking this cigar, and really enjoyed trying to tease out the flavors. Lastly this is a strong cigar, I had a nice steak dinner before firing-up this big fatty, and it still got a hold of me toward the end. But I’d do it again.

Try this cigar, and see if you can find the mystery flavor. I’m sure you will enjoy the experience.
My rating for the Ashton Wizard is 82.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 11 pts (73% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 20 pts (80% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (86% of the points possible)

Click on images above to enlarge.

Thanks again to Cigars Direct and thanks also to for some of the background info herein.

© 2009 The Cohiba Club - All rights reserved.

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