Ashton Estate Sun Grown 20 Year Salute | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Dominican Sun Grown Rosado
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: 6.75 x 49 “Churchill-20 Year Salute”
Body: Full
Price: $19.00
Number of Cigars Smoked Prior to Review: 0
Accompanying Libation: Water





Today we take a look at a very expensive cigar: Ashton Estate Sun Grown – 20 Year Salute. A gift from a reader with a big heart.

I am reviewing a cigar that was first sold in 2006. The reader that gifted this to me, he had the cigar in his possession for 2-1/2 years. It’s good to go.

Carlito Fuente blended this cigar especially for Robert Levin; the owner of Ashton.

From the Ashton Cigars web site:
“Distinct among only a handful of true Dominican puros, Ashton Estate Sun Grown emerged to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Ashton Cigars. Rare, high-grade Dominican sun grown wrappers identify spice with an allegiance to sweet cayenne pepper. Graham cracker and cracked black pepper correspond and prosper. The finish is rich and creamy and rolls over every edge of your palate with buttery sensations. Ashton Estate Sun Grown proffers seduction as the only means to certify a special occasion.

“In 2005, Ashton celebrates its 20th Anniversary with the release of the inaugural size of Ashton Estate Sun Grown (ESG). The highly acclaimed, widely celebrated Ashton ESG now includes 5 sizes and features an ultra-rare Dominican sun grown wrapper.”

The cigar used wrapper from Chateau de la Fuente. This is the Fuente family farm where Fuente Fuente OpusX tobacco is grown. It was produced at the Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia factory.
Cigar Aficionado rated it 88. Not that impressive for a $19.00 cigar.

This is not what I would call a pristine looking wrapper. Seams are plenty visible. Some large veins to go with the small ones. There is even a schmear of roller’s glue visible about the size of a thumb print at one of the seams. You can see it and a tree trunk sized vein in the photo below:

The triple cap is well executed but easily seen. The wrapper color is a medium brown with a light toothiness that is probably too small to photograph. It is also very oily and the sun just came out. Mazel.
The cigar is heavy in the hand and is solidly packed. But when I gently push in, I hear the sound of crackling. So no more of that.
The cigar band is something else. I don’t think I’ve seen one this beautiful with the two panorama views of what I expect is either Cuba or the Dominican Republic.

I checked a lot of sites and why they just didn’t go to the official Ashton web site is beyond me. Because reviewers and online stores just seem to be making it up as they go along. These sizes are direct from the site.
20 Year Salute: 6.75 x 49 2006 Churchill
21 Year Salute: 5.25 x 52 2007 Robusto
22 Year Salute: 6 x 52 2008 Torpedo
23 Year Salute: 6.25 x 52 2010 Toro
24 Year Salute: 6.625 x 48 2013 Double Perfecto

Cinnamon is a strong influence at the shaft, foot and clipped cap. There is also subtle sweetness that age has diminished. I damn near stick the foot up my nose but by doing so discover other aromas: Chocolate, leather, barnyard, and spice.

The draw is a bit tight but no need for the cigar awl.
There is a delightful flavor of cedar. Following that is a slowly building spice, leather, floral notes, chocolate, and coffee.
Shock and Awe! An absolutely pristine char line.
The strength is mild/medium body.
Sweetness arrives.

Here they are in cohesive order: Sweetness, cedar, spice, chocolate, floral notes, coffee, leather, and rich earthiness.
Oh no. The wrapper just came apart at the foot. You’ll never guess exactly where it happened….same spot where the roller’s glue was overdoing the glue to get the seam to stick. So the #9 roller didn’t do a great job on this stick.
It looks like shit and my hopes are that I burn right through it in a few minutes.

So much for Ashton’s quality control. Some muckity muck let this cigar slide through. At roughly $20 a stick, it should have been tossed or re-rolled. This says a lot about a manufacturer. If I had bought this cigar over 2 years ago and this happened, I’d be raising the roof with Ashton.

With 1-1/2” burned, the Ashton Estate Sun Grown – 20 Year Salute opens like a gorgeous orchid blooming.
Flavors: Heavy on the milk chocolate almost milk shake richness, creaminess, fruit, cedar, nuts, floral notes, earthy richness, leather, and toffee.

Man, just like that…it opened its labia to expose the clitoris…the holy of the holys.
I successfully manage to burn through that earlier horror show at the foot.
But the char line is no longer dead nuts.

New cracks show up on the front side of the cigar band. This wrapper is extremely thin and it just couldn’t take what happened to it earlier. Too much heat from torching away the bad wrapper was too much for it.
The crack is actually an extension of where that bad seam was near the foot. So I expect it to follow that seam to its final point.

This review is going to be a disaster. Damn rollers. I know Ashton doesn’t sell 2nds but that’s exactly where this cigar belongs. But “Greed” wins.

With each passing minute, the crack expands exponentially. Will make for some ugly photos.
The strength is now a solid medium body.
And the flavors have flattened out.
The wrapper is coming apart in the exact same way as it did near the foot. Damn.
And there is the constant sound of cracking noise.

I am going to make an effort to finish this review and then I am going to send it to Ashton. Of course, they will take no responsibility as the cigar has been out of their possession for over 2 years.
Flavors. The Ashton Estate Sun Grown – 20 Year Salute is less than impressive.
It now has the flavor profile of a $3 cigar.

You have no idea how much I looked forward to this review.
The flavors are flat and limited to: chocolate, spice, sweetness, cream, and leather.
The rest have flown away.

I know the man who gave the cigar to me very well. I know his methods of keeping his cigars humidified. So humidity was not the cause. The cause was poor construction and someone getting away with murder and letting the cigar fly under the radar of quality control. Shame, shame.

I have half an inch of errant wrapper and it may just break on through to the other side and burn right through it without causing more damage.
The wrapper gives a cigar a lot of its flavor. So I know the Ashton Estate Sun Grown – 20 Year Salute tastes a lot better than this.

Flavors begin to return. Starting with black pepper and then followed up by sweetness, chocolate, black licorice, cedar, leather, and fruit.
This cigar is described as full bodied. It is barely medium.

It appears that extensive aging might not be a positive note for this blend.
Like a light switch, the flavors disappear. WTF?
And then the light is turned back on. Double WTF?

A review that is comprised 75% of describing what a piece of shit it is. I cannot believe this.
Eureka! I burned through the wrapper separation.
Thankfully, the cigar band comes off easily. But it so big that it will take a blessing from the Cosmic Muffin to get it flat for photos. It turns out that the best part of this cigar is the cigar band. Just gorgeous.

I am very disappointed by the lack of flavor in this blend. To make it worse, they come and go as they please. No boldness, no character, no complexity, no balance, and a short finish. If I had to rate it like Cigar Aficionado, I’d give it a 77.
At this point, some creaminess moves to the forefront giving the Ashton Estate Sun Grown – 20 Year Salute a kick in the pants.
Throughout the entire cigar experience, the draw has been tight. Piercing the cigar through the middle with my cigar awl would be disaster. The wrapper would probably explode in my face.

The draw actually becomes tighter. I can’t win.
The char line is perfect. No more wrapper issues. And no flavor.
And the strength is on the light side of medium body.
Did I get a joke cigar? Triple WTF?
No sweet spot.

There are a bunch of flavors simmering beneath the radar. But they are so benign that I can’t even report what they are.
I should have just tossed this review. But once I start a review, there is no going back as my palate just won’t pick up the subtleties and character on the second cigar of the day.

Puffing is like sucking on a flat straw. My cheeks are getting a work out.
I hate writing reviews like this. There is no gratification. No joy.
Fuck it. I use the cigar awl and open a hole in the center of the cigar. Voila! It works and I didn’t destroy wrapper. Now smoke billows like it should have from the start.

An instant later, everything changes. The strength hits medium/full. A boat load of nicotine shows up.
And flavors return: Spice, sweetness, fruit, chocolate, cedar, nuts, toasty, leather, wood, caramel, floral notes, and earthiness.

2” to go from a cigar 6.75” long and now it makes its move. LOL.
This is what I expected from the first puffs. My assessment is that the constant torching of the cigar impaled the flavor profile. Now that many minutes have passed without the need for a touch up, I must assume that the bottle neck to flavors was this cigar was too delicate to withstand the constant torching.
Smoke time was 90 minutes.

As I only had one cigar, I can’t fairly determine whether or not this cigar is worth $19.00. It is considered the Opus X for the Ashton folks.
I’ve smoked my fair share of gifted Opus X in my life. And I was not impressed.
The Ashton Estate Sun Grown – 20 Year Salute is easily available everywhere online. It must be a price controlled cigar because everyone is selling it for the same exact price.
I’ve been told by folks that work at B & M’s that if you don’t sell a cigar for the price mandated by the manufacturer, they take you off the list of shops that get their product.

I can’t be the only person that has had these problems. If quality control allowed this cigar to get through then they let a bunch others slip through as well.
No treats for Ashton. Bad Ashton. Go lay down on your doggy bed and don’t move.
The other option is that this is a highly hyped cigar like so many others out there. Make it seem like the Second Coming and people will come.
This Ashton Estate Sun Grown – 20 Year Salute will never touch my lips again. Sure, clunkers happen from time to time. But not to a $19 cigar. It should be all around pristine.
Whatever mystique this blend may have has been dashed to the rocks in my eyes.
I can’t recommend this cigar based on my own experience. Caveat emptor!

And now for something completely different:

It was my 25th birthday in February, 1975. I was in London. Curved Air’s start of their English and European tour were to begin the following night.

To celebrate, my band mates and the members of the band, Renaissance, took me to the famous Marquee Club. It is sort of the English version of the Whisky A Go Go. And it was right off of Piccadilly Circus.
I had no idea who was playing that night. It turned out to be no one special.

As soon as we got there, Stewart, our drummer, handed over some writing paper. It was a letter to him from a friend at Berkeley. The letter was written on blotter paper. And the friend dosed the entire letter in acid.

Stew ripped off a small piece the size of a dime and handed it to me. I took it and placed it on my tongue. Stew and Sonja insisted I down a giant beer right afterwards. And since I don’t drink, I got drunk immediately.

We went into the room where the band played and within 15 minutes, I was flying on a magic carpet ride. I looked over at Sonja and tried to speak but couldn’t.
She smiled the smile of the Cheshire Cat. She put her arm in mine and walked me out into the lobby where we found a bench to sit on.

Time no longer had meaning. We sat on that bench for hours. It seemed like minutes. The evening had come to an end. People were filing out and leaving. There must have been 25 people with me, including the two bands. They heard what Stew had done to me and were laughing hard and doing tricks with their faces and hands to freak me out. They had not had their dose yet.

A big circle of friends surrounded me as Stew handed out the medication. Everyone took a piece. I told them they had no idea what was about to happen to them and they laughed at me.

We ambled outside with Sonja guiding me. Piccadilly Circus was crowded with night crawlers at 1am. Trying to get a few taxis to take us back to my flat was impossible. So I let out a guttural yell, “TAXI!!!!” and it heard me from the other side of the circus and came to our location. We all piled into 3 taxis.

Sonja and I were the only ones medicated in our taxi. There were 4 others still trying to fuck with me and laughing…I kept pleading with them to stop…but even in my delirium, I knew that I would have the last laugh.

It took about 15 minutes and we were home. We all went through the door while I heard voices asking, “What’s going on? Where am I?”
I laughed. I was already 4 hours into my journey and theirs was just beginning.
It was past 2am.

I sat in the living room staring at a freaky poster on the wall. I watched as the poster melted and took on odd shapes. I laughed hard.
A chick with us walked into the living room where I sat alone. She had tears in her eyes. She asked me if it was always like this?
I replied, “No. It’s not usually this good.”
She ran screaming down the hall.

This huge group of people were dazed and confused and all having a good time…except for this chick who bragged she had done plenty of acid, but in truth, had never done it….so she began to bring down a small group who became her caretakers.

And then I got stomach cramps. I didn’t know if they were real. And then a moment of clarity hit me and I ran for the bathroom. My flat was a basement flat in a several hundred year old building. No heat. And it was winter.
The bathroom was tiny and I could see my breath as I sat on the toilet.
This is something you never want to do….take a dump while high on acid. All my senses were concentrated on my asshole. Disgusting.
But I made it through and ended up feeling much better and returned to the group.

Turns out, the misguided chick had left the flat to get some air in the cold night. She was out there for a bit and began to freak out so she decided she better get back inside. Turns out, she had locked herself out and no one could hear her knock.

She stood out there for an hour and when someone finally went looking for her, they discovered a heap of a person on the front door mat. She was brought in where she proceeded to vomit and cry.
She was bumming everyone out. I walked away.

The inside of that flat was like a circus with everyone doing something different to entertain themselves. Sonja found a lemon in the kitchen and spent several hours “walking her lemon.” My good buddy, Skip, accompanied her to keep her safe.
We were up all night. People began to file out around day break, heading to their homes. And hopefully, some sleep.
I managed to crawl into bed and slept….but with some amazing dreams.

Both Curved Air and Renaissance were to open in London that night. CA was made up of hardened Hippies. What’s a little acid? No biggie. In fact, Stew and Sonja smoked hash all day long extending the acid trip.
Meanwhile, the Renaissance boys couldn’t take it and had to cancel their gig.
Holy Shit! I got blamed for everything. Not Stew. Me. Management was furious.

Annie Haslam, their lead singer did not do drugs and was not at my birthday party.
She held me personally responsible and from that day forward, never spoke to me again. As we had the same manager, there were times I saw her in the hallways. I would say hi and she would turn her head and ignore me.
That was the last time I did acid. February, 10, 1975. It was a great time and seemed like a good idea to go out on a good note.
We played beautifully that night with 3 encores.
The boys of Renaissance spent that night in bed, whimpering. Protection Status


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