September 27, 2023 3:29 pm

NeverAsh 815 Toro

“You can go a long with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a cigar!”


What Makes It Special

#NeverAsh Italian Stallions Tom Grilli and Steve Rotondi have created a global social media phenomenon, and community of never ashers. Since 2018, cigar enthusiasts worldwide have been posting photographs of their long cigar ash, in honor of these Frankfort Illinois Paisans, and their “NeverAsh” family tradition. Tom said “it started with a catch phrase amongst family and friends enjoying cigars and good conversation. The proper etiquette of cigar smoking is to: ‘NeverAsh’, and people started sharing their cigar ash with us from all over the globe.”

In 2020, Tom and his Uncle Steve rolled their passion for family, friends, and the NeverAsh community into blending their own NeverAsh cigars. Their cigar line is in collaboration with Dominican Republic’s iconic Master Cigar Blender, William Ventura. Tom, Steve, and their NeverAsh cigars made a bold entry into the cigar industry, and subsequently became a very popular brand and philosophy in the cigar community. They are the official cigar brand of the Oakbrook Illinois Polo Club, where Tom and Steve make regular game day appearances. They also sponsor many local golf events, and recently appeared as guests on the hilarious Great Lakes Smoke Show. Be sure to check that out here.

This Frankfort Illinois area code “815” Toro cigar, was handmade in Tamboril, Dominican Republic, at William Ventura’s El Maestro Cigar Factory, and released in May of this year. It features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and Dominican fillers, personally blended by Tom and Steve. Ecuadorian Habano wrapper leaf gets its varying spicy and sweet flavors from the rich volcanic soil and minerals in Ecuador, which is ideal for growing the most oily and pliable tobacco. Sumatra tobacco migrated from the Indonesian Sumatra Island, where it is known as ‘black tobacco’. Ecuadorian Sumatra, made by blending Cubano and Sumatra varieties, is a mild and sweet leaf that produces sweet floral and earthy notes of cinnamon. This blend, along with its Sugo Sunday secret sauce Dominican fillers, sounds eccellente!

815 Toro

Brand: NeverAsh
Vitola: 6×52                        
Filler: Dominican   
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra              
Age: 5 Years  
Body: Medium Boldness
Price: $15

Visual / Pre-light Draw

Extremely smooth medium brown habano wrapper with subtle smooth overlapping veins and perfect amount of oil. The cigar features a shiny ‘Forza Azzurri’ shaded blue double band with gold trim. The bands display ‘NEVERASH’ over a long ash gold cigar, over ‘815’, which is the telephone area code of Tom and Steve’s Frankfort Illinois hometown. The cigar’s flavor and smooth ‘Cuban-esque’ construction is protected by a nice lower half cedar sleeve and fancy gold foot ribbon, which slides right off, without disturbing the incredibly smooth wrapper leaf. The exterior odor is floral with a distant hint of fresh hay. The cigar appears to be packed well with heavier floral foot notes on the nose. There is no spice on the palate while prepping the incredibly smooth head for a nice Colibri V-Cut, which produces nice light and creamy vanilla oats on the dry draw. After a three day dry boxing of the cigar, è tempo di festeggiare, it’s time to party! 

First Third

Light and creamy vanilla custard on a beautiful Italian Adriatic Sea, easy breezy first draw. The creaminess of the cigar’s input becomes buttery as it coats over the entire palate, with light hints of thick creamy cocoa on the foot smoke odor. The ash held perfectly, even while resting on the ashtray from time to time. Then comes a nice subtle transition to burnt cannoli pistachios over silky floral notes. My feet are already up and I am fully enjoying this light and creamy first third. The cigar has the straightest burn yet, and the foot end of the wrapper remains cool to the touch. There is no need to rush through this cigar, as it remains lit with a very strong ash approaching the second third.

Second Third

Tom and Steve’s suggested slight rotation of the cigar is all that is required to maintain its perfect burn and ash, which is nearly postworthy. The cigar’s smoke volume level is perfect, and the lower band comes off no problem, as it transitions to a dessert-like almond flavor with hints of cocoa. The easy creamy retro-hale is also very flavorful, with minimal spice. Time to introduce this “815” Toro to the Puni Alba Italian Malt Whisky…BADA BING! This must be a dream, and you can’t help but photograph and post that incredibly long ash! Taking the pairing to the next level is this new ‘dark roller’ track called “Eyes Closed”, by DJ Sian and my personal favorite German-Italian ‘Slothacid’ DJ, Sacha Robotti. Sacha believes that “like whisky, we only get better with age”, and he is “so happy to be able to be on Earth to channel music.” The whole vibe of “Eyes Closed” makes the pairing come alive, for a very intense experience. The pairing enters a very ominous, sinister, and calculated realm, the likes of Al Capone.

Final Third

You can kiss my sweet Italian Ash goodbye, it finally ‘dropped off on its own terms’, all over my bare knees. F*@k it, that was amazing! The upper main band came off no problem, now it’s time to relax and take a deep dive into the pairing.  My ‘eyes close’ as Sian and Sacha’s track repeatedly convinces me to lose control. The cigar transitions to consistent darker notes of campfire melted marzipan while the even burn slows with hints of dark chocolate. Sian’s beats and Sacha’s loops twist and interweave into the cigar and whisky as they become one. The pairing has definitely reached ‘Joey G’s’ epic level of “unusual awesomeness!” I can’t help but emulate Sacha’s signature, undulating,  and wild circular head bob, while fully enjoying this incredible pairing experience. Time to hit repeat on this ‘dark roller’ track, and pour more glasses of the Puni Alba, because this NeverAsh cigar is Never Ending!

Paired with the “815”, there are notes of charred and fruity crème brûlée. Specifically, orange tangerines, charred melons, over hints of zesty Italian limoncello. The creaminess of the cigar mellows out that peat barrel influence entirely, as its boldness level definitely stands up to the boldness of the whisky. This is an incredibly balanced and pungent soy sauced Marsala fruit bomb pairing.

The Pairing

Eccoci qui, here we go! The first Italian Single Malt Distillery, Puni, and my first time pairing a cigar with a peat barrel influenced whisky. This Puni Alba expression “is a harmonious combination of the rich and fruity flavours of Italy and the distinctive smoky character of the Scottish island.” Alba is both Italian for ‘dawn’ or ‘rising sun’ and the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. The malt, rye, and wheat grain mixed whisky is distilled in South Tyrol, at the feet of the Italian alps, near the Puni river. After being matured for three years in Marsala wine casks from Sicily, the whisky is then finished in hand selected casks from Scotland’s Isle of Islay, rumored to be from Laphroiag, and bottled at 43% ABV.  

This is a unique European whisky, that pays homage to Scotland, through the futuristic cube shaped Puni Distillery’s use of Scottish pot stills. On the nose there are dark candied fruits over soy sauced Marsala wine, and a faint hint of that classic Laphroaig iodine peat. The whisky is tingly on the palate with that medicinal peat up front, rosemary candied Marsala, plums, and honied cloves over fresh garden greens mid palate. The finish is sweet and dry, with chalky vanilla pineapple over a hint of white chocolate and vegetable greens. The chalkiness and saltiness of this young whisky is palate coating, which allows the finish to linger a bit, just long enough before craving another sip.

Paired with the “815”, there are notes of charred and fruity crème brûlée. Specifically, orange tangerines, charred melons, over hints of zesty Italian limoncello. The creaminess of the cigar mellows out that peat barrel influence entirely, as its boldness level definitely stands up to the boldness of the whisky. This is an incredibly balanced and pungent soy sauced Marsala fruit bomb pairing. Sian and Sacha’s euphoric beats generate a confident slow sense of urgency in the smoker, like 007 on mission impossible. The cigar’s creaminess and the whisky’s peat barrel influence, mellow out to a soft metallic smoke machine odor, reminiscent of a dark underground dance club. Now we’ve entered Sian and Sacha’s mystic realm and state of spiritual ecstasy. Their “Eyes Closed” track says “I have to know it all,” and this pairing makes you feel like you already do! For those seeking an intense or euphoric cigar smoking experience, I highly recommend this incredibly balanced, Marsala fruit bomb, BELLISSIMO PAIRING! 

Visit your friends, family, and to explore Tom and Steve’s entire line of cigars. Be sure to NeverAsh, post your Ash, and tag them on Facebook @neverash or Instagram @neverashco.

Cheers WBSE and the NeverAsh Community!

Ciao Bella! 

Acknowledgment & NeverAsh Philosophy

Thank you Sian and Sacha Robotti for this incredible “Eye’s Closed” dark roller track, and channeling your music to the world.

Thank you to The Puni Distillery for this deliziosa Alba expression. You guys are definitely doing things right, and with style!

Thank you Tom Grilli and Steve Rotondi for this amazing “815” Toro cigar, and for reminding us all how to fully enjoy our cigars:

“A long ash can help the cigar burn cooler. It can also provide key characteristics of the background of where your cigar was grown. Our hand rolled cigars produce a long and tight ash when smoked right. Don’t think of a cigar as a short term event. Get together with family and friends and enjoy the smoke to the fullest. Wait for the Ash to drop off on its own terms. Keep your puffs slow and avoid too much movement with the cigar itself besides a slight rotation.”

Photography by: James Archie

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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