For those of you who don’t remember, the Ashton line of cigars was the dream of Robert Levin, a second generation tobacconist from Philadelphia. He teamed up with Carlos Fuente Jr. back in 1985 to create some of the most consistently top rated non-Cuban cigars in the world. The Ashton VSG – ‘virgin sun grown’ – cigars are no exception. This reviewer, believe it or not, has only ever smoked one Ashton VSG before this review, and has never tried an ‘Illusion’. In this case, the Ashton VSG Illusion far surpassed the legend. The cigar is handmade by the Fuente Family Tabaccalera at Villa Gonzalez, in the Dominican Republic. The wrapper is a nice Ecuadoran sun-grown leaf aged for 5 years, with the filler and binder all from the Dominican Republic. The ‘Illusion’ is a Lonsdale size cigar with a ring gauge of 44 and length of 6 ½ inches.
Flavor and Aroma
This is a very earthy cigar. The first lighting releases lots of woodsy aromas. The flavor seems to match up well with the aroma, giving you a mix of nuts and coffee, but not just any coffee. The flavor and aroma after about 1 inch is that of fresh ground South American beans, modestly bold with lots of true flavor, yet very smooth. One could almost say ‘buttery’. The flavor is very consistent even after the half-way point, where most cigars usually change with no spiciness at all.
Draw and Construction
The draw on this cigar is excellent with just the right amount of resistance. It has a nice rich brown marbled wrapper that is firm. The cap is strong and applied well, and the band has been nicely designed as a symbol of quality and class. The cigar lights easily and burns evenly. The ash fell on its own after 20 minutes at the 1 ½” mark. The band is loose and can easily be removed without damaging the wrapper at any time during the smoke. After one hour, I had only smoked half the cigar, however after that point, I had to relight the cigar 3 times, and only smoked it for an additional 30 minutes before putting it down with 2” left. I have to add that only one of the three cigars I smoked had this problem, so I would not say that this is a flaw. It may have been due to improper humidification on my part. The next two cigars that I smoked sat in my humidor for a couple of weeks and smoked perfectly for 1 hour and 50 minutes without any relights.
The word ‘Illusion’ in the name of the cigar is a Spanish word, which refers to an ‘optical illusion’, however in this Ashton VSG Illusion, you are definitely getting the real thing. If you buy these as a single cigar, you may pay as much as $10 per stick. I bought my cigars for the review at $9.50 each, however, online you should not pay more than around $200 for a box of 24, which brings the price down to just over $8 apiece. Is this a good value? I believe so, since you are getting one of the most consistently smoking cigars in the industry and a real pleasure to smoke. Any truly quality cigar that can give you nearly 2 hours of smoking pleasure is a good value. After all, that is why many of us smoke cigars for an hour or two, to sit and relax. Ashton also has helped to create and distribute some other cigars you may be familiar with, such as the San Cristobal, La Aroma de Cuba and Sosa.