About 25 years ago Robbie Levin decided it was time to start his own cigar brand, next to the family tobacco business that already existed for a few generations. So he bought English pipe tobacco brand, Ashton, and made a private label blend with one of his long term cigar suppliers Arturo Fuente and the cigar brand Ashton was born. After more than a very successful decade and a few high praised and good selling cigar lines, all under the Ashton name, all made by Fuente in the Dominican Republic and all ‘old style’ it was time for something new, something that would attract the new generation of cigar enthusiasts, something with a little more edge and so 3 new brands were born. Benchmade, La Aroma de Cuba and San Cristobal, all made in Nicaragua by My Father Cigars. And like all Levin does, they became successful, so successful that we now can choose from a few LADC and San Cristobal blends.
Due to copyright Ashton can’t use the La Aroma de Cuba name outside of the USA, so they changed the name to La Aroma Del Caribe and for San Cristobal, a name that they could use in some markets but not in others, they picked Paradiso. The blends are identical, the labels and boxes are identical just the name on the labels and boxes changed. I used to work for the Dutch distributed of Ashton and had the pleasure of meeting Robbie, his daughter Meera and their vp of sales Chip Goldeen on several occasions and even though there is no professional relationship at the moment I met them at intertabac Chip handed me their latest release for the European market, the Paradiso Quintessence. The cigar is made from Nicaraguan tobacco grown by the Garcia family with an Ecuadorean Habano wrapper. I smoked the 6×52 epicure.
The wrapper is nice, oily and shiny with a few minor veins and the band is top, the recognizable parrots with the gold medals but this time an added name underneath the picture that says ‘quintessence’. The construction feels good but at the left side, right where the ring is, the cigar feels flat, box pressed, but just on one side while the rest of the cigar is round. That will of course effect the final score, but how much will depends if it effects draw, smoke and ash characteristics. The aroma is deep, mild acidic and reminds me a bit of autumn, like fallen leaves without smelling fallen leaves. The cold draw is fine, I taste some pepper on my lips. I used my cigar xi2 cutter to decap the cigar and my Ronson varaflame to light the cigar.
I taste coffee with some spices and a little bit of sweetness. The coffee remains the basic flavor but the spices tone down. The cigar makes my mouth dry. After a third I taste s little more sweetness and a little bit of lime with a little bit of red pepper in the aftertaste. After a third I taste some cinnamon with wood and lime. The lime is purely in the aftertaste though. After two thirds I taste a nice nut flavor, with a little bit of spice. No more lime, no more sweetness. Near the end this cigar is getting spicier and I taste a lot of pepper, especially on my lips. This all on a base of nuts.
The smoke is thick, it’s white and it’s plentiful. The ash is silver gray with black stripes. It’s not too firm. The burn is good, not razor sharp but I don’t have to correct either. The draw is great. This medium full, full flavored cigar have me 100 minutes of smoking pleasure.
Would I buy this cigar again? Yeah, once in a while but I prefer the Paradiso Revelation