Over the last 12 months, the 101-year-old Thompson Cigar Co. has become home to about as many exclusive cigars as any retailer in the country. It started with four releases made for the company’s century celebration, but has continued into 2016 with monthly exclusives.
For many readers of this site, Thompson’s run of exclusives likely joins a much different view of the retailer. Thompson’s product category compared to its mail order counterparts can most certainly be described as older, perhaps even tired. Yet, at this moment in time, the Thompson website’s main feature is a sampler of Oliva and STUDIO TOBAC products and a smaller feature to the side shows ACID Kuba Kuba, Arturo Fuente Don Carlos, Davidoff Nicaragua and Padrón’s 1964 Anniversary series.
It’s a far cry from the Thompson that I encountered. A far cry to the Thompson my father once told me about it.
And if that’s a far cry, I’m not sure what to make of the Asylum Menace.
Released in March, the Menace is a Connecticut-wrapped line from the company best known for producing 7 x 70 cigars. That 7 x 70 size ($5.93) is one of three offered in the Menace line, which also includes Robusto (5 x 50, $4.40) and Gordo (6 x 60, $5.13).
It uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut-seed wrapper over a Honduran binder and Honduran fillers. All three are offered in 15-count boxes and produced at the El Aladino factory in Danlí, Honduras.
- Cigar Reviewed: Asylum Menace Robusto
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: El Aladino
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Honduras
- Filler: Honduras
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $4.40 (Boxes of 15, $60)
- Release Date: March 1, 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While the Menace looks like your typical Connecticut-wrapped cigar, it doesn’t feel like it. This has nothing to do with the wrapper, instead, the cigars feel underfilled in varying degrees. Aroma from the wrapper has sawdust, peanut shells and some acidity. The foot is much fruitier with earthiness, cedar, vanilla and peanut butter cookie. The cold draw is incredibly open on all three samples and has some peanut butter cookies along with a chemical-centric floral flavor that at times reminds me of the smell of urinal cakes.
Predictably, the Menace Robusto starts out with a draw that is way too open. Fortunately, the flavors are good with some black tea, cedar and creaminess. The tea note picks up intensity, actually manage to stay on top of a woody and chalky core underneath. There’s only a mild pepper on the middle of the tongue with a bit carrying over to the back of the throat on the finish. It’s the strongest Connecticut flavor I ever recall on a cigar and while it certainly gets a bit harsh when pushed, it remains nuanced if I take my time. Smoke production is enormous thanks to the open draw, but I would certainly appreciate a tighter draw.
Unfortunately, by the middle points of the cigar, the open draw–and particularly the issues leading to the open draw–are starting to catch up with the Menace Robusto. The ash is incredibly frail and falling all over place; furthermore, smoke production begins to become erratic forcing touch-ups and the burn begins to suffer. The flavor changes with wet cedar, burnt butter and spiciness overtaking the profile. On the finish, there’s a nice cream cheese-like sweetness—restrained and a touch tart—along with some roasted peanuts. While the flavor is still certainly full, body is barely medium and the strength is non-existent.
When I’m able to keep the cigar burning, the flavor profile is very enjoyable. A mixture of apple liqueur and cranberries is present through the nose. It joins more typical Connecticut flavors on the tongue: cedar, creaminess and some spiciness. At the one-inch mark, things turn salty, which actually adds some depth. Unfortunately, the Menace struggles to stay lit with each cigar requiring multiple touch-ups and one require a full relight.
- Two cigars had soft spots, but that’s not my big issue. Each cigar felt extremely underfilled. All three cigars exhibited draws that were open, with one being extremely open.
- Given how cigar combustion works, the draw is also likely to explain the struggles the cigar had stay lit and the touch-ups that followed.
- That being said, when the cigar was burning, smoke production was booming.
- One sample in particular lost a lot of points for poor construction including issues with the draw in all three thirds, a handful of minor touch-ups to keep the cigar burning and a full relight. Even though construction is minor compared to flavor on our scoresheet, that amount of issues will torpedo a score.
- Asylum released another Ecuadorian Connecticut-wrapped cigar a month before the Asylum Menace. That cigar is the Asylum 13 Connecticut and it’s available nationally. The company also makes Insidious by Asylum, a sweet-tipped Connecticut-wrapped cigar.
- Asylum is part of CLE Cigar Co.
- Final smoking time varied greatly depending on the tightness of the draw, ranging from less than 90 minutes to just over two hours.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Thompson Cigar Co.
- The Asylum Menace can be purchased from Thompson Cigar Co.
At its core, the Asylum Menace is probably the most intense Connecticut profile I’ve ever smoked. It’s not the strongest cigar in body or strength, but the Connecticut flavor is as strong as I can ever recall. At times, that profile delivers nuanced and detailed flavors, even beyond those I find in cigars at three times the price point. Unfortunately, the lack of filler and loose draw forced burn issues and flavor degradation. If the draw issues weren’t present, this is a gem of a Connecticut, unfortunately, all three cigars I smoked had them and a quick examination of the rest of the box seems to show a consistent theme. For now, it’s a tasty, extremely well-priced cigar with a noticeable flaw.