Ashton ESG Estate Sun Grown – 22 Year Salute
This week’s review is one I have been trying to squeeze in for a while now. Ashton’s ESG (Estate Sun Grown) 22 Year Salute.
This Ashton ESG was sent over to us by our friends at Cigarsdirect.com. You can find the full listing of their ESG series here, the 22 Year Salute here, and the 20 Year Salute here. Cigars Direct was nice enough to send over both the 22 Year and the 20 Year for review. I smoked through both of them and did the write up on the 22 Year. The main difference between the two is the size. The 22 Year is a box-pressed Torpedo while the 20 Year is a a churchill. Both cigars retails on their site for about $33 -$34 ea. a single.
The Good Stuff: This is taken directly from Ashton’s website (www.ashtoncigar.com):
For twenty years, Ashton has worked tirelessly to produce one of the highest quality, most consistent cigars that are sold anywhere. To celebrate twenty consecutive years of increased sales and overall growth, Robert Levin and Carlos Fuente Jr. have teamed up to create the Ashton Estate Sun Grown, or ESG for short. Such a special occasion called for a very special cigar. The ESG uses a unique Dominican wrapper grown on the Chateau de la Fuente farm in the Dominican Republic. This wrapper has never been used on any other cigar. The blend is the creation of Carlos Fuente Jr. who is a master blender and has created the most sought after cigars in the world. With ESG the bar has been raised once again.
Every year, Ashton will introduce one size of Ashton ESG for the next five years. In its debut year, a 6.75 x 49 size was introduced. In the second year a 5.25 x 52 has been added along with the continued limited production of the first year. And so it will continue for three more years until 2010. From then on, all five sizes will be produced annually and made available to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Ashton. The rare tobaccos used in this spectacular cigar dictate that only extremely limited quantities can be produced.
Size: 6 x 52 – Wrapper: Dominican Republic – Binder/Filler: Dominican Republic – Body: Medium/Full
Prelight: The Ashton ESG 22 year Salute is a beautifully constructed box-press cigar leading up and tapering off into a perfectly rounded, sharp torpedo head. Much like A. Fuente’s Anejo Shark. The wrapper on the ESG is much lighter than the wrapper used on the Ashton VSG. It is a soft, consistent light brown with only a few darker spots around the foot. The ESG is very tightly packed and barely even gives when compressed between my fingers. I am hoping this doesn’t hinder the draw. There are absolutely no soft spots and only a few smaller veins running the length of the body. The band on the Ashton ESG has to be one of the most intricate, and beautifully designed bands I have ever seen. The front holds a dark blue sphere that is partially covered in cold embossed in by Ashton’s crest along with the “ESG” logo. Surrounded the sphere are pink roses and the words “ESG Estate Sun Grown”. The rest of the band is designed to represent a portrait of the farmland and of the Estate itself. The wrapper gives off a very sharp spice scent accompanied by sweet tobacco. The foot gives off a similar scent except the spice takes a backburner to the strong tobacco notes. The Ashton ESG cut with extreme ease using my Cuban Crafters double bladed cutter. The cold draw was a bit unexpected and produced almost nothing but an extremely earthy, almost bready type flavor.
First Smoke: I was pleasantly surprised with the ESG as I was expecting a very tight, semi-plugged draw but was introduced to the cigar with a massive, effortless draw. The first flavors were very spicy, earthy tobacco with a touch of almond. I know this is stretching it but this cigar tastes a lot like marzipan. The ESG only gives off a slight amount of heavily cedar-scented stationary smoke.The burnline is even for the most part with a few larger waves here and there. Not anything I’m too worried about. The burnline however was very clean leaving behind a very tightly compacted light grey ash. The ash looked extremely heavy and I anticipated it falling off very early into the smoke. So needles to say the Ashton ESG surprised me once again when the ash held steady for about an inch and a half before giving way. The ash that fell was like a log, producing a little “thunk” when hitting the ashtray.
Halfway There: There is no more of the pepper flavors into the second third of the Ashton VSG. The experience now consisted of a much more woodsy dominant flavor backed by a citrus, sweetness, and still a bit of nut. The retrohale is interesting too. It seem retrohaling is the only time I can still pick up the pepper, outside of that the retrohale coats with a very spicy, wood prime. The burnline is still very clean with only one major wave which is just running on its own, not really causing any problems. I can’t feel much nicotine yet, but the beer I paired this cigar with (read the “Pairing” section below) and the fact that I hadn’t eaten lunch is really starting to hit me.
Finish: Very surprisingly the gigantic band on this ESG slid right off. That wasn’t the case on the Churchill I smoked. The churchill’s band took a good chunk of the wrapper along with it, but maybe due to the tapered head the band on this guy slid right off. This cigar finished off relatively smooth with only a bit of harshness into the one inch mark. The profile of the final third was actually quite a bit bland. It felt almost as if the ESG hit you with the good stuff early, then just couldn’t keep up. It finished with nothing more than just a creamy tobacco flavor. Nothing really distinct outside of that. On a plus side, the waves corrected themselves into the final third and there was no need to ever touch up or relight this cigar. Not to mention no real heat was felt off the head off this cigar even into the nub. Also, still no nic-kick.
Overview: The Ashton ESG was a heck of a cigar. Outside of the disappointing marks into the final third this cigar kept my attention and even threw a few surprises my way. The complexity is there, and quality is there, but what about the value? That seems to be the only thing this cigar is really lacking. It’s a pricey stick, and probably a bit far out of my budget to be in my everyday rotation. I’d much rather keep the ESG’s little sister the Ashton VSG, which usually retails about about $10 a stick. The flavor profiles are different, but they are similar enough to be a good substitution.
Pairing: This Ashton ESG 22 Year salute was paired with some of Bosteels Family Brewers Pauwel Kwak and I can honestly say I couldn’t think of a better beer pairing for this cigar. Pawel Kwak is a full bodied Belgium Specialty Ale. Amber in color with a slightly sweet, malt character. I’m not sure what a “specialty” ale is but this resembles a Saison of Farmhouse ale with the spice and sweetness. Paweul Kwak boasts an 8.4% ABV and the citrus spice that transitions into a creamy sweetness paired perfect with the almost identical flavor character in the Ashton ESG.