Staff Reviews

Ashton ESG Staff Review

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Ashton ESG is a superb example of an authentic Dominican Puro. “ESG” stands for “Estate Sun Grown,” which is in reference to the cigar’s glistening, brown-sugar-hued wrapper leaf – a varietal that is grown from Cuban seeds on a select Fuente family estate in the Dominican Republic under the watchful eye of cigar-making legend Carlito Fuente.

“Puro” refers to cigars that are handmade from tobaccos originating from a single nation, or region. All of the tobaccos utilized in Ashton ESG are procured from prized Fuente family fields at the renowned Chateau de la Fuente. Puros display a more uniform, somewhat amplified flavor profile, as the binder, filler, and wrapper tobaccos can exhibit overlapping characteristics of taste. Well-blended Puros deliver marvelously refined nuances and tremendous richness.

Dominican Puros are exceptionally rare cigars and always have been. Why? It’s difficult to grow wrappers in the Dominican Republic and Carlito Fuente was the first to prove it could be done. Among the most sought-after Dominican Puros is Carlito’s pride and joy, Fuente Fuente Opus X. While Opus X displays a profile of succulent and intense spices thanks to its predominantly Ligero-driven recipe, Ashton ESG leans in a creamier, nuttier direction that is equally complex and rare. ESG is exclusively handmade from premium tobaccos aged for an extended period to divulge an optimal maturation of flavor.

Today, I’m firing up an Ashton ESG 22-Year Salute. Cigar lovers often ask how the year references apply to the five sizes ESG is blended in. Ashton ESG debuted in 2005 with the 20-Year Salute, a 6.75 x 49 Churchill, to commemorate Ashton’s 20th anniversary. In each subsequent year thereafter, an additional shape was introduced, including the 21-Year Salute (Robusto), 22-Year Salute (Pyramid), 23-Year Salute (Toro), and 24-Year Salute (Perfecto).

Although my size preference is often for a Churchill, I’ve chosen to review the elegant, Torpedo-shaped (6 x 52) ESG 22-Year Salute. Visually, Ashton ESG is a pristine cigar. The caramel-hued Sun-Grown wrapper glistens with a touch of oil across its uniform appearance. A handful of faint veins mask the actual heartiness of this wrapper, giving it a slightly fragile look that is in contrast to the strength it harbors. A charcoal, gold, and black backdrop makes the Ashton logo pop from the band over a gilded and floral design that stretches around the cigar. It looks special and not like an everyday smoke even at a glance.

A charming bouquet of almonds, coffee beans, and subtle spices greets the olfactory sense when you draw in the unlit foot at your nose. After a quick snip, the cold draw reveals flavors of graham cracker and cashews with a touch of black pepper. For sure, Ashton ESG bears all the hallmarks of a top-shelf blend from the Fuente family as loads of signature Dominican flavors emerge in both taste and aroma upon lighting up.

Almonds, cashews, and chestnuts develop with rich and creamy aromas in the initial puffs. The cigar unfolds gradually courtesy of the Torpedo’s tapered draw and a delicious concentration of flavor. Pushing the smoke through your nose underscores its spicier side. Ashton ESG has long been dubbed the “Velvet Hammer” in reference to the underlying strength its smooth and approachable profile conceals. We classify ESG as a medium to full-bodied cigar. I feel this characterization is pretty accurate. The blend is certainly full-flavored, but it doesn’t tow any harshness or bitter notes as the flavors progress.

As I amble past the halfway mark, a razor-sharp ash remains intact and has needed zero touch-ups. Although an even burn is a pleasant development without a doubt, I expect flawless construction from any cigar that’s in the neighborhood of $20 apiece. Ashton ESG does not disappoint.

Notes of graham cracker, buttered toast, and brown sugar really emphasize the cigar’s creaminess.  Chewy textures of leather, coffee beans, and pepper have not receded, but the luscious side of ESG truly distinguishes the blend from a myriad of other Dominican cigars, including other Fuente-made classics. Within the Ashton portfolio, ESG is perhaps best compared to Ashton Cabinet, in terms of richness, but ESG advances with more depth, density, and strength. The cigar pulses with unparalleled refinement.

In the final third, Ashton ESG closes with a ravishing fusion of cedar, molasses, and spice. It’s not a cigar you’ll want to put down too early and its aromas emanate in a fashion guaranteed to elicit envy from any cigar lovers in close proximity. Add Ashton ESG to your shopping list when your next special occasion is on the horizon or you simply feel compelled to treat yourself to a rare and celebration-worthy profile. Of the small number of Dominican Puros available, Ashton ESG is a superior specimen and an excellent companion for any top-shelf bourbon or scotch you’ve been waiting to crack open and share with your favorite fellow cigar-lover.

96rated

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