Ashton Puro Sol Churchill

Unless you’ve spent the last few months stuck under a snow bank (lately that’s been a real possibility for a lot of people), you’ve probably had a chance to review and digest Cigar Aficionado’s list of the top cigars of 2008. Once my eyebrows fell back into their normal position and I scanned down from their top pick I saw a cigar I haven’t smoked in quite some time. The Ashton Puro Sol. I couldn’t remember what I thought of it. I may have liked it, but I haven’t smoked one in a long time, so maybe I didn’t. I resolved that after I lit up the that Casa Magna, I’d try the Puro Sol again.

The Puro Sol is a creation of the Fuente family, rolled by hand in the Dominican Republic. Until this review, I never thought too much about the name, but it’s easy enough to figure out what it means. It helps to know that all the tobacco is sun grown. Puro Sol, translated from Spanish means “pure sun”. Just in case you’re not fluent in Spanish and don’t have a handy translation tool at hand, the clever folks at Ashton leave some clues in the little sun designs on the band.

You might be thinking to yourself, hey, this isn’t the cigar that made the list. Technically, you’re correct. They awarded the number ten spot to the robusto. But you know how it goes. CA gives a cigar a high rating, and it promptly disappears from the shelves. I consider myself lucky to have gotten any Puro Sol vitola at all! Anyway, I’m always up for a Cameroon wrapped cigar, and a bigger vitola sounded like a bonus to me. Let’s see if this stogie would have made my top ten list.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 3/4 x 48
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: MSRP $9.25

The Pre-Smoke
Between bands and the wrapper leaves Ashton uses, they are responsible for a lot of great looking cigars. The Puro Sol is no exception, the band is brightly colored without looking gaudy and the wrapper leaf is an attractive lightly mottled and toothed natural color. The consistent flaw I found with these cigars was water spots, which isn’t really that big of a deal. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only flaws. One cigar was just a bit veiny and lumpy and the other had a significant wrapper tear near the foot that I didn’t see until after I lit it. Even with these issues, they still look great.

The cigars had a very pungent compost scent and were nicely and consistently firm to the touch. The cold taste gave me a sweet earthy flavor.

The Burn
Both cigars I smoked for this review burned pretty nicely, though one had a few glitches. The flawed stick’s initial ash split down the middle and looked a little unpleasant. It also went out several times in the second third. The wrapper tear may have had something to do with this, even though it appeared to be superficial. This stick also had issues with lopsided burn and require a few touch ups to keep it burning evenly. Clearly it had some internal structural problems, even though I didn’t notice any soft spots or lumps in my initial inspection.

The Flavor
The Puro Sol had an intriguing combination of flavors, but I only noticed one significant transition as I smoked. The cigar became less sweet and a little more woody as the cigar progressed. Or in case of the first smoke, a sharper vegetal flavor that I could swear had a hint of tar in it. Not enough to be off-putting, though.

What I tasted pretty consistently throughout the duration of the smoke was an intriguing combination of fruit (like an apple), sweet chocolate, and earth with the occasional touch of pepper or other spice. Though the spice was never prominent, I definitely felt this cigar on the back of my tongue and throat. It danced the line between keeping your attention and discomfort without ever actually crossing the line.

The Price
With S-CHIP on the horizon, I guess $9 is the new $8, also known as my upper limit on the comfort range. (Of course, S-CHIP is not yet influencing the price.) Given it’s Cameroon, which adds to the costs, and it’s a churchill, I’d say the cigar is on the high end of reasonably priced.

The Verdict
If you think of the flavor transitions of a cigar as a journey, the Puro Sol struck me as a long drive without turns. But it was an enjoyable one, like a scenic ride through the country. It definitely helps that I enjoy a good Cameroon leaf, and have been looking for something different than the unbalanced and overwhelmingly sweet cigars I’ve reviewed recently. The construction issues were a little disappointing though, but not enough to sabotage my enjoyment. I guess you could say that scenic drive had a few potholes.

Would I put the Puro Sol on a top ten list? Problably not. I don’t see myself ponying up for a box. But I do see myself smoking more of them in the future. Once the local supplies recover from the Serie V effect, I’ll probably grab a robusto or two whenever the Cameroon fancy strikes. I suspect the smaller vitola will be just as satisfying, and a little more budget-friendly. (Unless, perhaps, that shop has the La Flor Cameroon Cabinets in stock, then all bets are off.)

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Likely
Recommend It: Yes, Cameroon lovers should enjoy this.

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.