Cigar Aficionado

Espinosa Expanding with Habano, Maduro Lines

Erik Espinosa has been in the cigar business since 1997, but it was only recently that he set out on his own and debuted a cigar bearing his name made at a factory he controls.

Espinosa Habano went on the market last fall, and later this month, the maduro version will reach retail shelves. Both are being rolled at La Zona cigar factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, which Espinosa opened last May.

Espinosa once sought to make super strong cigars when he and then-partner Eddie Ortega created 601 La Bomba at EO Brands. The cigars have long pigtails made to look like fuses, and are blended to be powerful, but the Espinosa brand is seeking a more suave taste profile. He made Espinosa Habano with all-Nicaraguan filler and binder leaves, and used a wrapper of mid- to low-priming Ecuador Habano.

"A lot of people go for the darker wrappers," Espinosa told Cigar Insider on a recent visit to New York City. "I feel the lighter ones have more flavor."

Before Espinosa ventured out on his own, EO's cigar brands were rolled by the Garcia family.

Espinosa has made sure that La Zona keeps the same style of rolling as the Garcias did, with entubado bunching and triple-seam caps done in the Cuban style.

The brand retails for $6.05 to $6.95 per cigar, and comes in four sizes, all of them 52 ring gauge and up. There's Robusto (5 inches long by 52 ring), Toro (6 by 52), Belicoso (6 1/8 by 52) and Trabuco (6 by 60).

Espinosa Maduro is a stronger (and pricier) extension of the brand, made with a dark Mexican wrapper leaf. The brand comes in four sizes as well: Robusto Box-Pressed (5 by 52), Toro Box-Pressed (6 by 52), Belicoso Box-Pressed (5 1/2 by 52) and Corona Gorda (5 5/8 by 46).

The Corona Gorda is the only size that's not box pressed, and it sports a pigtail tip. Like the original release, the cigars carry not only a traditional cigar band, but also bands around the foot of the cigar. They will retail for $7.90 to $8.60 each.

This story first appeared in yesterday's Cigar Insider.

"Excellent Smoke! Great Blend @ a great price! I smoke on ever other day!" —April 16, 2013 09:26 AM
"Great stick! Burned uneven at first but corrected itself. Very impressed!!!" —April 15, 2013 15:39 PM