Continuing the Asylum tradition of interesting, innovative cigars and packaging is the Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata Maduro. The Maduro is a followup to the Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata, which was reviewed by Cigar Dojo in 2017 (later going on to claim the no. 7 cigar of the year ranking). The packaging and overall concept is the same, featuring a 50-count box that is split into 25 box-pressed cigars (Oblongata) and 25 that aren’t box-pressed (Medulla). In human anatomy, the medulla oblongata connects the spinal cord to the brain, with this particular cigar using the theme to play off of the brain’s split hemispheres.

me·dul·la ob·long·a·ta
/məˌdələ äˌblôNGˈɡädə/
noun

the continuation of the spinal cord within the skull, forming the lowest part of the brainstem and containing control centers for the heart and lungs.

Asylum 13 “Oblongata” 50 x 5 Breakdown

  • Wrapper: San Andrés Maduro (Mexico)
  • Binder: Authentic Corojo (Honduras)
  • Filler: Authentic Corojo (Honduras)
  • Factory: Aladino Cigar Factory (Honduras)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 5″ × 50 (Robusto)
  • Price: $7.30 (MSRP)

The original Medulla Oblongata was a Honduran puro; however, the Maduro substitutes a San Andrés wrapper in place of the Honduran wrapper of its predecessor. For this review, I will be smoking the Oblongata (box-pressed version) in the “50 x 5” robusto format. For reference, the five sizes included in the lineup are listed below:

  • 50 x 5: $7.30 | 50-ct box
  • 52 x 6: $7.80 | 50-ct box
  • 60 x 6: $8.30 | 50-ct box
  • 70 x 7: $9.30 | 40-ct box
  • 80 x 6: $11.30 | 30-ct box

Appearance

The 50 x 5 Oblongata size has a pretty pronounced, rectangular shape to the box press. The edges are practically sharp to the touch and the cigar almost feels like a harmonica (why not?) in the hand—a vacuum-sealed look, if you will. There is a rice paper covering wrapped around the bottom half of the cigar (this is brown in color, differing from the white used on the original cigar), displaying the word “OBLONGATA.”

While the foot shows clear aromas of leather, the wrapper leans more towards manure and musk. There are pronounced notes of dried fruit on the pre-light draw.

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Smoking Experience

The first few puffs have this citrus flavor, as notes of fruit mix with dark chocolate and some kick on the retrohale. This might be a stretch, but this fruity kick reminds me of a rum candy my grandfather used to eat called Jamaica Rumbonen or Rum Beans (essentially a rum cordial). It is a very dessert-like cigar early on, having a complex sweetness and long-lasting finish. About an inch in, there is a bit of a sour note that is met with some cinnamon and coffee. Oblongata thus far is a medium-bodied, medium-strength cigar.

Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata Maduro robusto cigar smoking

The Oblongata is a bit of a double puffer, meaning you have to try a little harder to produce some smoke. Moving past the first third, most of the fruity notes have dissipated, which is slightly disappointing because I really enjoyed the start to the cigar. Some of the chocolate from the start of the cigar reappears intermittently, but it’s more of a bitter chocolate, like a 75% dark chocolate. Leather notes start to emerge as we progress and there is some serious musk on the retrohale—rich, earthy smoke and dark fruit are the primary components. The flavor profile is less delicate and has more strength to it as the profile begins to unfold. This portion of the cigar is more gruff, like a Western film; which is in contrast to the heart-warming characteristics of the cigar’s start. Most of the sweetness has left and the earthy flavor is met with some anise. The strength and body have both kicked up a notch, being roughly medium-plus.

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In the home stretch, the cigar has some of the same heightened strength and body, with a very leathery quality. The profile is darker overall, swapping sweetness for a toasty, sometimes charred nature. The draw is still a bit tight, but the construction overall was very good. A dark, syrupy quality develops as I get past the band; it is a bit of a mixture between the sweetness of the first half and the dark, stronger nature of second half.

Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata Maduro robusto review

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

I would smoke the Oblongata Maduro again. The cigar’s beginning has some very interesting qualities, showing the richness you would expect from a maduro blend of this nature. The construction and flavors were there, combining with a cheap enough price point to make for an occasional purchase.

Additional Info
  • The construction of the Oblongata was very solid, never once requiring a touchup.
  • The incredibly firm box-press might have contributed to a slightly tight draw, which was my only issue as far as construction was concerned.
  • This tight pack may have stopped the flow of smoke slightly and I would be interested to see how the Medulla-shaped version of this cigar compares.

What’s he doin’?

(a tentative section detailing my ideal smoking scenario for any given review cigar)

I find myself smoking this cigar on a brisk post-dinner walk. It’s a little cold outside; maybe I have a cup of hot chocolate; maybe I am walking my pet corgi, Sven; maybe I just watched Chocolat and am listening to “Fast Car” by Tracey Chapman, while a single tear streams down my cheek as I think about the pain in life, ultimately seeing the beauty in a fleeting moment, because life is temporary; or perhaps I am only drinking a crappy cup of coffee.


Profile
  • Flavor: Medium
  • Strength: Medium-plus
  • Body: Medium-plus
Core Flavors
  • Rum
  • Leather
  • Dark fruits
  • Earth
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Brandy, Chocolate stout, Rum cake
  • Purchase Recommendation: 3-pack

Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata Maduro robusto cigar finished

Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata Maduro
The Asylum 13 Medulla Oblongata Maduro 50 x 5 does some interesting things, following in the footsteps of the cigar's predecessor. The packaging is creative and the concept of allowing consumers the opportunity to experience the subtle changes the cigar offers between shapes is clearly appealing. The beginning of the cigar is the perfect mix of sweetness and rich flavor. Along the way, some of the magic is lost; what was a balanced mix became slightly brash, with the earthy tone blanketing the lively profile of the beginning portions. The construction helped though, with only a slightly firm draw detracting what would have otherwise been fantastic construction. The Oblongata Maduro is interesting overall, offering enough bang for your buck to make the experience worthwhile.
Appearance90%
Burn/Construction87%
Draw87%
Flavor87%
Complexity83%
Price/Value90%
Pros
  • Great start
  • Occasionally punchy flavors
  • No touchups required
Cons
  • Tight-ish draw
  • Second half diminishes significantly
  • Inconsistent flavor
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