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Ashton Estate Sun Grown 20-Year-Salute

When Ashton brand owner Robert Levin spoke about his newest cigar at the Cigar Aficionado Las Vegas Big Smoke in November, you could hear the weariness in his voice. All Ashtons are made by Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia., and getting new Ashtons is no easy task. The Ashton Estate Sun Grown 20-Year-Salute is a 6 3/4 by 49 cigar made to celebrate Ashton's 20-year anniversary, which was in 2005. The cigar came out a year late, due to the rarity of its wrapper: it's a sun-grown, Cuban-seed leaf from Chateau de la Fuente, which has never been used on a commercially available cigar. (The farm's shade-grown wrapper is used on the Fuente Fuente OpusX.) The ESG is dark and alluring, and has a mellow start that can fool a smoker into thinking it's not that strong, which could be a mistake. Levin says it's been dubbed the Velvet Hammer due to its sneaky strength, as the cigar packs a stealthy punch at about the one-third mark. It's a strong, unique smoke that should age very well.

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