Asylum Cigars has made a name for themselves as a modern, edgy, and affordable choice for the craft enthusiast. In addition, the company was among the first to fully embrace large-ring-gauge (gordo) vitolas, using primarily Nicaraguan-based craftsmanship to establish themselves as a high-value option in today’s competitive craft market.
Since the company’s introduction in 2012, Asylum has grown to include upwards of fifteen brands—not including limited releases such as Asylum Dragon’s Milk and Devil’s Night. This large portfolio allowed for a modest introduction of a single new blend at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, with Asylum co-founder and brand-runner Tom Lazuka debuting Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata.
Continuing the brand’s mental theme, Medulla Oblongata references the most important part of the human brain—a system that carries out and regulates involuntary functions such as breathing and heart rate.
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Medulla Oblongata showcases the traditional Asylum 13 look, with simplistic bands that display the cigar’s title atop a background pattern of the company’s skull crest. This look is made more premium by the use of gold foil, paired with the Eiroa’s signature style of tissue wrapping—which encapsulates the lower portion of the cigar, being twisted off at the foot. The tissue/onion paper reads “Medulla” or “Oblongata,” depending on the shape. In my opinion, this look is among the best to date from Asylum.
The cigar’s construction appears on par with the Eiroa’s best, showing thin veins, a triple cap, and a consistent feel from head to toe. The wrapper has a medium-roast coffee hue—roughly Colorado to Colorado Claro in shade. The box-press is on the soft side, rolling somewhat smoothly between the fingers. In addition, there isn’t any noticeable sign of oil or tooth, giving a smooth and seamless feel.
There is a slight peppery zest in the nostrils as the tobacco ignites for the first time, offering primarily white and red pepper notes in the retrohale. On the palate there are more dry and traditional flavors of black peppercorn. In addition, Medulla Oblongata offers a near-perfect draw, teetering slightly toward the firm side of medium. This produces a medium amount of smoke on each puff, revealing an overall bright and lively profile of tang, cedar, and orange cream sweetness.
Following the one-inch mark, the cigar is nearly absent of any spice zing in the retrohale, instead focusing on classical flavors of cedar wood, light-roast coffee, and graham crackers. The cigar produces a dry texture on the tongue, offering cinnamon and black pepper—though still not as a spice in the nostrils, as many Central American tobaccos tend to display. Contrasting the dry black pepper are brighter notes of sourdough bread and an occasional chalky creaminess (reminiscent of the vanilla-flavored candy sticks from Lik-M-Aid or Fun Dip candy) on the finish.
The primary flavors of the Medulla Oblongata are relatively straightforward, being: cedar, tang, citrus, sourdough, and graham cracker. The cigar is medium-bodied and focuses more on flavor than strength. There are subtle progressions from start to finish, but once the profile is established, the flavors are largely predictable.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I’ll give it to you straight—this is the best smoking experience to date from Asylum Cigars. If your palate leans towards classic/Cuban-esque profiles, you’ll most likely agree. Medulla Oblongata is perhaps most similar to Christian Eiroa’s EIROA cigar, showing a bright and lively palate with sweet undertones of graham cracker pie crust. In my opinion, it is a smoking session best suited for mid-afternoon to early evening (perhaps a pre-dinner smoke). To answer the question, yes, I’ll be smoking many more of these cigars. Start with a 10-pack and you’ll most likely return for more.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: blonde-roast coffee with citrus-forward profile, wheated bourbon, Belgian-style tripel ale
- Purchase Recommendation: 10 – 20 cigars
Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata turns the attention away from Nicaragua and fully embraces the Eiroa family’s signature Honduran Corojo tobacco with a puro blend. The cigars continue Asylum’s “mental” theme, playing on the dual sides of the brain by showcasing each vitola in both round and box-pressed variations—displayed in the left and right side of each cigar box. The resulting blend is exemplary of the Cuban-esque nature of the Eiroa’s Corojo leaf, showing a profile quite similar to Christian Eiroa’s own EIROA cigar. While not as fiery and spicy as many Corojo blends, Medulla Oblongata instead focuses on a bright and lively profile of citrus, cedar, sourdough, and graham cracker sweetness. The cigars provided a near-perfect draw on most samples, offering a classic and easily enjoyable smoking experience on each session. Drawbacks included more touchups than ideal, a thin wrapper that cracked on some samples, and a slightly short smoking time (athough this is getting nit-picky). Ultimately, Medulla Oblongata is a medium-bodied and flavor-forward experience that easily outperforms its modest price range.