The 25 Best Cigars of the Year 2004
Ashton Virgin Sun Grown Spellbound
The Ashton Virgin Sun Grown, or VSG, sparked a trend among American consumers for power cigars when they came to market in 1999. There were strong cigars on the market prior to the Fuente-made VSG—namely the Fuente Fuente OpusX—but the success of VSG sent cigarmakers to their tobacco suppliers, hoping to duplicate the strength. Featuring streaky, dark and oily wrappers from Ecuador (which are more cloud-grown than sun-grown) and a powerful blend that doesn't taste very Dominican, the box-pressed VSGs were superb at their debut and remain so now, consistently scoring well in blind tastings. The Spellbound is literally a mouthful, 7 1/2 inches long and 54 ring, and loads the palate with leathery, cedary smoke. Despite Ashton's best efforts to increase production, the VSG line remains in short supply.