The Velvet Hammer

Earlier today, I was reading an article from Cigar Aficionado July / August 2003 with David Savona interviewing Robert Levin and was reminded of a cool photo I had taken a few months ago of the Ashton ESG.  Well I think it's cool.  Here it is.

Ashton ESG Estate Sun Grown Fuente and Ashton Robert Levin Lord Puffer CIgars San Diego Escondido

I realized that I didn't know very much about the history of the cigar and decided to do some digging.  This blog is the result of all that digging.

Robert Levin is the owner of Ashton Cigars and his father bought the now famous Holt's Cigars in Philadelphia, PA way back in 1957.  Robert started working the business in the early 70's and by the 80's had his first cigar brand. He wanted to make something with a Connecticut wrapper and more flavor than what was currently on the market.  That's when he came up with the name Ashton.  Named after a friends import and export of Ashton pipes, Robert thought it was a good name, and Ashton was created. 

The early Ashton cigar of the early 80's wasn't what Robert was dreaming of.  In 1987 or 88, according to Levin, he went the Dominican Republic to long time friends, The Fuente's to make the Ashton Cabinet and then the Ashton Maduro. Then the cigar boom of the early 90's hit and Ashton was on the map and doing really well.

Now here's where the interview got interesting and why I was reminded of the ESG.  Savona asks Levin about the Ashton VSG (Virgin Sun Grown).  Here is the exact line...Levin says "I wanted a line extension to Ashton. We were going to come out with Ashton Crown, which was going to have Chateau de la Fuente wrapper. I had packaging, I had bands, I had everything. But after Fuente Fuente OpusX [which used the same wrapper] hit, the demand was so tremendous, Carlos couldn't make any Ashton Crowns."

Ashton Crowns?  Chateau de la Fuente Wrapper? He made the VSG instead of the Crown.  But forward to 2005.. and BAM.. out comes the Estate Sun Grown.  As per the Ashton website "Irreplaceable reserves of the Fuente family’s oldest tobaccos exclusively comprise Ashton Estate Sun Grown. An all-Dominican recipe of ultra-mature tobaccos is finished in a rare and glistening Dominican wrapper leaf, harvested solely to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Ashton Cigars."  Sounds like Levin finally got his "Crown" in the ESG.  Special wrapper made for his 20th anniversary cigar, the sun grown, cuban seed, grown at Chateau de la Fuente??

Ashton ESG Estate Sun Grown Cigars Lord Puffer Cigars San Diego California Escondido

That's totally a crown.. right?  Levin had to be thinking of his original idea when he made the band and the cigar.  I don't have first hand knowledge of this, but it seems fair to say after looking at the band close up. 

This mellow starting cigar is full of surprises including the slow pick up of power and strength as it is smoked.  That is how the ESG got it's nickname, "The Velvet Hammer."  It's sneaky.  It's really good.  And it comes out in different sizes depending on the availability of tobacco.  There are 5 sizes, the 20-24 Year Salute.  90+ ratings from 2006-2018 and 2 top 10 finishes in 2006 & 2014.  This is a truly special cigar.  Commemorate your next big occasion with this 20th anniversary Ashton Cigar!

The Estate Sun Grown by Ashton can be found at Lord Puffer Cigars just outside of San Diego, California. A full line up of Fuente made Ashton Cigars is on the shelves, including this gem.  Check us out on our webpage: or stop by the store and say hi.

JJ Williams

Lord Puffer Cigar Blog

full interview with CA:

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