Review: Ashton VSG Estate Reserve Corona Gorda
For those of you that don’t know…
In 2001, Prometheus and Ashton teamed up to release the Ashton VSG Estate Reserve, or VSG ER, a hybrid cigar that took the Dominican Chateau de la Fuente Sun Grown Rosado wrapper from the Opus X line of cigars and the filler and binder from the VSG line of cigars.
The VSG ERs were released in a total of 200 humidors that were offered in four (green, blue, red and yellow) different colored humidors, There were only 100 of the VSG ERs (in different sizes) included in each humidor, which means that there were only 20,000 total VSG ERs released. These cigars were sold ONLY with the humidors (except in one instance that we know of, see Final Notes below), so you had to purchase the entire humidor at a price of $4,999 each in order to get the cigars themselves.
Here is a photo of the humidors:
There were nine different vitolas of the VSG ER released and each vitola came in different numbers in the humidors, making it a bit confusing. But below is the production info. There is a noticeable discrepancy between the sizes that were posted on Vitolas.net and the sizes in the official release from Prometheus. Ashton claims that the sizes are the same as the regular VSG sizes, except for the two special sizes, meaning the info from Prometheus would seem more accurate.
Each humidor contained:
- 10 Enchantment (4 3/8 x 60) — 2,000 Total Released
- 10 Belicoso No.1 (5 1/4 x 52) — 2,000 Total Released
- 10 Corona Gorda (5 3/4 x 46) — 2,000 Total Released
- 10 Robusto (5 1/2 x 50) — 2,000 Total Released
- 15 Special Size #1 (6″ x 49) — 3,000 Total Released
- 10 Torpedo (6 1/2 x 55) — 2,000 Total Released
- 10 Sorcerer (7″ x 49) — 2,000 Total Released
- 10 Spellbound (7 1/2 x 54) — 2,000 Total Released
- 15 Special Size #2 (8″ x 48) — 3,000 Total Released
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigars Reviewed: Ashton VSG Estate Reserve Corona Gorda
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia
- Wrapper: Dominican Chateau de la Fuente Sun Grown Rosado
- Binder: Dominican
- Filler: Dominican
- Size: 5 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- MSRP: $49.99 (Humidors of 100, $4,999.00)
- Release Date: 2001
- Number of Cigars Released: 200 Humidors of 10 (2,000 Total Cigars)*
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3 (1 Corona Gorda, 1 Torpedo, 1 Special Size #1)
*See info above for full release info.
The VSG ER is a great looking specimen with a reddish brown wrapper that has a few bumps running up and down the length. The cigar is hard as a rock when squeezed and seemed slightly box-pressed. The wrapper has very little smell, cedar and pepper.
The First Third starts out with a multitude of flavors: sweet floral, black pepper, leather, earth, and just a tad of spice on the lips. I was a bit taken aback by the onslaught of flavors, and they seemed to fade in and out with every puff — a wonderful start to the special Ashton.
The Second Third continues the trend of complexity with that wonderful sweetness, floral, nutty and earthy. There was a bit more spice on the lips, and a bit more pepper on the retrohale of the Opus/VSG hybrid. Strength is a solid medium at this point, but getting stronger.
The Final Third is sweet and creamy all at once, with the perfect amount of spice. The flavors are perfectly balanced with less floral and more earth and nutty. The strength of the Corona Gorda picked up as well, ending at a strong medium. I was easily able to nub it, and really just did not want it to end.
- The smoke production of this cigar is astounding and it smells wonderful — sweet and spicy all at once.
- I was able to get a hold of three different sizes and smoked them at different times (the review is based on the Corona Gorda), but my review notes from each size are remarkably similar in terms of strength, flavors, profile and construction.
- I have smoked quite a few original release VSGs (from 1999) and I did notice some similarities, especially with the sweet floral note that was in the profile, which I find in abundance in the OR VSGs, regardless of vitola.
- Although the VSG ER does have the Opus X wrapper, these are quite aged (released in 2001), and taste like aged Opus greatness.
- The Corona Gorda was not a factory box-pressed vitola, however, after years of aging, this example had a slight box-press.
- Although there were only 100 of the VSG ER cigars included in each humidor (of various vitolas), the humidor themselves can hold up to 300 cigars.
- MSRP was $49.99 at the time of release and expect to pay anywhere between that and $150 a single nowadays.
- There apparently was one vitola of the VSG ER that was produced for the humidor, but was not included in it, a Illusion vitola (6 x 44) that was box-pressed, all of the other vitolas are round, and was sold at Casa Fuente.
- The Final Smoking Time was 1 Hour and 35 Minutes.
The Bottom Line: I was not sure what to expect from this cigar before smoking it. However, after smoking it, the VSG ER seems to combine the best of both worlds: the sweetness of an aged VSG and the spiciness, complexity and strength of the Opus X, which is not surprising, since it is essentially a combination of the two brands. Incredibly complex flavors, great draw, an ok burn and the perfect amount of spice and pepper to enhance the flavors. Is this the best Fuente cigar I have smoked? Yes, it was and that includes the Casa Fuente Lancero and the Don Carlos Lancero, both of which I love with abandon. They are expensive as hell, if you can even find them for sale, but in this case, the hype is warranted.
Final Score: 95