Brand: Top Shelf Signature Select White Label
Blender: William Ventura formerly of Don Leoncio Cigars
Vitola: Corona Gorda
Ring Guage: 46
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican Olor Ligero
Filler: Dominican with Nicaraguan Ligero
Top Shelf Signature Select is a line of cigars owned by Jim Cronin, owner of Top Shelf Cigar Co in Skippack, PA. The series consists of a Black Label, Blue Label, Red Label, and White Label. The White Label is a creation of William Ventura, formerly of Don Leoncio Cigars, with the input of Jim Cronin. Cigars are still produced at Don Leoncio cigars but are now overseen by Juan Rodriguez.
The line is available in 2 sizes which include a Toro (50 x 6.00), and a Corona Gorda (46 x 6.25). Cigars are packaged in white lacquered boxes of 25 and range from $112.50 to $129.95
After removing my Top Shelf Signature Select White Label from its cellophane sleeve, I gave it a once over before beginning the lighting process. The first thing that caught my attention was a light oily sheen across the Connecticut Shade wrapper. Looking closer, I could see a series of dainty veins which could be seen and not felt. The construction of the cap was neat and well formed.
When pinched I found the stick to be firmly packed with tobacco, without any noticeable soft or hard spots. The aroma on the wrapper as well as the exposed foot were mild and practically indistinguishable. After opening the head, I checked the pre-light draw and noticed it was a bit tight for my liking. The flavor on the cold draw was just as muted as the aroma on the wrapper.
The body of this Top Shelf White Label was not as mild as I would have expected. With Top Shelf having cigars that cover the upper end of the body scale, I assumed this one to be the one to draw in the mild cigar smokers. While it is mild, it is more along the lines of mild to medium. The finish is easy on the palate and leaves me with a buttery texture across the tongue and walls of the mouth.
The flavor profile strikes me as fairly straightforward at this point. It comes across as sort of a subdued Nicaraguan tobacco flavor (subdued in that the zing is toned down considerably). As the initial flavor settles out, I get a flavor of over-creamed coffee and a slight bitterness.
The burn line was thin and even while it produced a tightly formed ash. The coloring was light with bands of dark grey. The ash held strong for about an inch before falling off of the cigar naturally. The draw, just like during the pre-light, was a bit firm for my liking. The smoke volume was decent and the density was satisfactory.
After about an hour of smoking, I was well on my way to completing the second third of my Top Shelf Signature Select White Label. As the cigar burned down further, the body was creeping towards the medium range at a very slow pace. Still mostly mild to medium, I got the impression it would finish up in the medium range by the way it was transitioning. The finish remained easy on the palate and only seemed to get more buttery as the cigar turned to ash.
The flavor profile didn’t seem to change up too much and remained fairly straightforward. The natural Nicaraguan tobacco taste remained subdued while the creaminess of the Dominican tobacco seemed to come into focus. After the smoke was expelled from the mouth, the taste of over creamed coffee intensified. This creaminess blended well with the slight zing, or bite, of the Nicaraguan flavor and made for an interesting and enjoyable smoke thus far.
The burn line remained thin and even while producing a tightly compacted ash. The strength of the ash seemed to weaken a bit, as it started dropping off routinely at about three-quarters of an inch. The draw was still a little firm for my liking but was providing a decent amount of smoke which was still satisfactory in terms of density.
As I approached the two-hour mark, it was getting time to put the cigar down to rest. Just as I anticipated, the body of the cigar found its way into the medium spectrum for this smokes finale. The finish remained easy on the palate but lost a little of its creaminess as the body slowly climbed.
The flavor reverted back to being primarily a natural Nicaraguan taste, only at this point it was less subdued and the zing, or bite, was much more pronounced. As the primary flavor settled on the palate and the smoke was expelled, the taste of over-creamed coffee rushed in and made for a pleasant aftertaste. Through the sinus I was noticing some pepper and spice which gave the cigar enough pep to make it feel like it was going out with a bang.
When it was time to remove the band, I was disappoint by a bit of wrapper damage, but I was able to smoke through it without issue. The draw seemed to loosen up a bit but remained a little snug for my liking. The smoke volume was decent and the density remained satisfactory. The burn rate was excellent and produced a room aroma that was very neutral and difficult to notice.
I thought that the White Label blend for Top Shelf Cigars was enjoyable. I think it may have a little too much oomph to start the day off with, but would make a nice companion for a late morning or early afternoon cup of coffee. While I didn’t enjoy this stick as much as the Black or Red Labeled Top Shelf Signature Selects, I will definitely pick one up from time to time while visiting Jim at his shop in Skippack.
The last time I spoke with Jim, he was speaking with several tobacconists to have this line carried in thier shops. I’m unsure if any of those places do internet sales, so if you are interested in purchasing any of the Top Shelf Line you can contact Jim direct at (800) 304-7183.