Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ashton VSG Figurado
Size: 4.3 x 60
Tobacco: Dominican
Wrapper: Ecuador Sun Grown
Price: $12.50

I got this cigar for free at Burning Desires cigar lounge in Lakeland, TN.  This is the next-to-top-of-the-line from Ashton.  It is spicy and full-bodied but not as pricey or earth-shattering as the ESG. Burned slow and cool, but I prefer figurados with longer length.  It paired very well with three glasses of Belle Meade single barrel bourbon on Steve's back deck.
Rocky Patel Prohibition
Size: 6.2 x 52 (toro)
Binder/Filler: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexico (natural), Connecticut Broadleaf (maduro)
Price: $9

Burning Desires cigar lounge in Lakeland, TN hosted a Rocky Patel event a few weeks ago to celebrate the launch of this new cigar.  I was not able to attend the festivities, but I did find 10 minutes to drop in, talk to Nimish (Rocky’s cousin?), and purchase some of these new cigars for myself, Steve, and Shaun. 

With the name “Prohibition,” Rocky is trying to send a message:  just as the federal government’s ban on alcohol during Prohibition was a complete failure, the FDA’s attack on premium cigars will have a similar outcome.  Cleverly, the cigars are shipped in glass jars reminiscent of moonshine bootleggers.

I was a big fan of the natural cigars, with a spicy San Andreas wrapper from Mexico.  Slow-burning, full-bodied and spicy on the tongue.  They paired well two weeks in a row with Willet’s rye whiskey and Belle Meade bourbon.

I smoked the maduro last Saturday.  It was the warmest day in the past 3 months (50 degrees), but still chillier than I would have liked. The wrapper was covered with tooth from head to toe, and had a very appealing pungent prelight aroma.  However, it turned out to be less spicy and too coffee-like.  Like most rocky Patels (Edge, Vintage, etc.), the maduros just seem to lack spice, complexity, and flavor.  They are strong but usually one-dimensional and boring. Definitely a step down from the natural.

Mi Aroma de Cuba
Size: 5.7 x 48
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $8

Last Saturday night, in the frigid cold, Shaun, Steve, and I wandered down to Burning Desires cigar lounge on Hwy 64 for a cigar and poker game.  They can’t legally sponsor gambling in Tennessee, so the entry fee is that you must buy $25 worth of Ashton cigars, and in return you get $5000 in chips.  The winner cannot get paid in real money, so instead he gets an ashtray, a shirt, or 2 Ashton cigars; 2nd place gets a single Ashton cigar.  For my entry fee I bought this Mi Aroma de Cuba toro with a tantalizing yellowed cellophane sleeve, along with a San Cristobal and a Mi Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor.  There were only four people playing this night, and I came in 2nd place (damn you, Steve Laster, with your pocket pair of 9’s and your blasted heart flush on the river!), and I used it to grab a nub-sized Ashton VSG figurado. 

Mi Aroma de Cuba is blended by ’Don Pepin’ Garcia in Nicaragua.  The wrapper was a sort of dark shade of camel brown, with just a hint of tooth.  I didn’t notice any veins or variations of color in the leaf.  I don’t know how old this one was, but it was not medium to full bodied as advertised.  It was medium all the way; the only spice was a very short-lived burst of black pepper upon first light. I was disappointed in this, as I wanted something stronger, but I couldn’t complain about the smooth taste or the lingering, rich aftertaste.  I am guessing this cigar must have had to been aging for at least two years.

It was slow burning, easy going.  Flawless construction.  Flavors were mature, but not complex.  I wish I had been able to get a larger ring gauge, as I suspect the flavors might have benefited from more draw. 

Bottom line:  This was not as strong, full, or peppery as the Mi Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor.  I would definitely smoke again, but this wasn’t quite up to my expectations for a Pepin blend.