Cigar Buying Guides

Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Espinosa & 601 Cigars


Editors/Reviewers: Jared Gulick, Gary Korb, John Pullo, Paul Lukens, Tommy Zman Zarzecki

The Espinosa Cigars Back Story

Erik Espinosa’s bond with tobacco formed at an early age: he was born in Havana, Cuba, and immigrated with his family to the United States when he was only three months old. His dad worked in the industry, and like many cigarmakers, it was through him that he inherited his love of tobacco. He first started in the cigar business in 1997, spending the earlier days of his career working at a local cigar shop and helping his father at events.

Later, as an independent broker, he cut his teeth working for household names like Drew Estate, Rocky Patel, and Alec Bradley.

But that wasn’t enough. Erik’s passion ran deeper.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Erik Espinosa picture

In 2003, he partnered with Eddie Ortega to launch E/O Brands-United Tobacco. This company saw the birth of brands like Cubao, 601, Murcielago, and others, and by 2011, the company had built a legion of fans. E/O was eventually absorbed by Rocky Patel; but Erik still had a fire in his belly.

Within a year of the merger, Erik launched Espinosa Premium Cigars. He opened the La Zona factory in Esteli, Nicaragua and got started with new versions of 601 and Murcielago, and later introduced blends like Laranja, Las 6 Provincias, and more. That fanbase he helped build? They followed. En masse.

In his short (by cigar industry standards) tenure, he’s cultivated his following by offering an innovative approach to blending full-bodied cigars, and that audience seems to grow exponentially as time passes.

After only three years, Espinosa’s Laranja Reserve Toro received a blistering 94-rating from Cigar Aficionado in their October 2015 issue, and a top 25 spot that same year. Even here at Cigar Advisor, it reached our #5 spot. This success skyrocketed them from an up-and-coming boutique to straddling national brand status virtually overnight.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Erik Espinosa smoking Laranja cigars
pic via Espinosa Cigars Instagram

For this Espinosa Cigars Guide, we’ve sampled 24 cigars, a testament to Erik’s relentless work in such a relatively short period of time. It’s worth mentioning that these reviews should serve more as a roadmap and less as gospel; meaning, it’s possible you may not sense all the particular flavors we identify in each blend, or your smoking experience may not necessarily jive with ours. Smoking is a subjective experience, we always say – so our goal is more about getting you in the ballpark of what your palate should expect when you smoke each of Erik’s cigars, listed below.

Our reviews begin with the core Espinosa cigar brands, made at La Zona; from there, it’s a look at Erik’s limited edition and small batch releases, and we finish with an overview of the cigars in the 601 Series.

Make sure you let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Knuckle Sandwich Habano

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Size: 6 x 54 Toro
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: Well-rolled and firm with no soft spots. The wrapper has a silky feel to it and the cap is affixed with a triple seam cap.
Draw: Excellent, with good smoke output at the head.
Pre-light flavor: A combination of sweet tobacco and a nip of coriander.
Toasting & Light: Very good. Opening notes are red pepper and damp earth and a subtle sweetness.
Base flavors: Hazelnut, nutmeg, vanilla caramel, sweet & peppery spices, leather.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Spicy.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent. The burn is clean throughout, revealing very firm dark grey ashes.

Review excerpt from CA Cigar Panel Review 4/8/22

Summary: Guy Fieri’s cigar starts with some really dark, sharp flavors – after a couple of rips and you’re at 1/8” in, Knuckle Sandwich eases in; the espresso taste stays, and starts to show some Habano tanginess. It tastes like berries – or maybe a cherry? I can’t make up my mind, so I’ll use both. This first third also develops a wicked, almost foamy creaminess. The Nicaraguan pepper is sneaky: as I was writing notes in between puffs on the cigar, the long finish slowly fades – and there it is, the last taste revealed after the others peel away.

Those flavors dig in for the long haul, staying consistent through Knuckle Sandwich’s second 1/3, fading as it hits the next transition point. The last third drops the creaminess and hits with straight wood, and earth, and this big pepper note grabs the stick to land the plane.

The signs say this Guy Fieri cigar is an actual collaboration, meaning the Mayor of Flavortown had significant input on its taste. Having smoked it, I’d say Guy was responsible for the first half, with Erik Espinosa contributing the second. The flavors are really well-balanced and that actually made it a little difficult for me to pick them out – but the most obvious are the cream, berry/cherry, and the pepper on the finish. – John

Knuckle Sandwich Connecticut

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6 x 54 Toro
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: Clean looking with a textbook triple seam cap. Firm to the touch and seamlessly rolled.
Draw: Airy.
Pre-light flavor: Hay, nuts, chocolate.
Toasting & Light: Black pepper, earth.
Base flavors: Earth, cocoa, pepper.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Natural tobacco.
Burn & Ash Quality: No complaints, no touchups. Ash was dense and firm.

Review excerpt from Now Smoking 9/20/23

Summary: The cigar toasted up nicely, lit evenly, and pretty quickly, too. The opening notes revealed a mostly nutty and black pepper start with a hint of sweetness that doesn’t hang around too long. As the cigar began to settle in, the smoke was very creamy with more of a lighter, white pepper finish. The ambient smoke breathed an ample supply of cloudiness. Early flavors offered a roasted nuts baseline with traces of earth balanced by a sweet cocoa (as in hot cocoa) flavor. Both body and strength were medium.

At the midsection roasted nuts were complemented by nutmeg, and sweet cocoa with some earthy accents. The white pepper finish held fast. On the other hand, retrohales offered a bold shot of black pepper. Cedar entered the mix followed by occasional notes of bitter, 90% cacao-like chocolate. Earthier notes ensued as the drive to the final inches began. The body inched-up to medium-plus.

The last two inches were even earthier. The body held at medium-plus while strength remained at medium. Some pleasant nuttiness remained while the cedar and sweet cocoa flavors tasted weaker. With one and a half inches left, that was pretty much all she wrote. – Gary

Knuckle Sandwich Maduro

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6 x 54 Toro
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: Densely rolled and firm.
Draw: Open.
Pre-light flavor: Barnyard, earth, spice.
Toasting & Light: Pepper and dark chocolate.
Base flavors: Coffee, cocoa, black pepper.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Rich and sweet tobaccos.
Burn & Ash Quality: Straight and true burn with a dense ash.

Summary: Right off the bat, black pepper bursts onto the scene and can catch you off guard if you’re not paying attention. Almost as quickly, the blend u-turns and begins to mellow with a balancing act of dark chocolate, earthiness, and some sundry spices. So far, both the burn and draw are behaving—here’s to hoping this continues.

Midway through, the Knuckle Sandwich Maduro has settled in—medium to full bodied, but no longer gaining intensity. Sometimes you get these pleasant surprises in life, and you get on here with a chef’s kiss of citrus joining the mix.

As we approach the grand finale, the citrus note takes its final bow, making room for a duet of leather and cayenne, accented by a return smattering of baking spices. And with that—like any good meal—the Knuckle Sandwich Maduro ends on a high note. – Paul

Laranja Reserva Azulejo

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5 ½ x 54 Robusto Extra
Strength: Medium/Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Binder: Brazil Arapiraca
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Firmly packed, evenly colored wrapper.
Draw: Airy.
Pre-light flavor: Barnyard, baking spices.
Toasting & Light: Pepper, cedar.
Base flavors: Pepper, leather, and earth.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Sweet tobacco.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent burn. Dense, grey speckled ash.

Summary: Upon lighting, this Espinosa Laranja Reserva Azulejo reveals its strength. A bold mix of black pepper, and deep wood notes lead the way, complemented by a hint of floral. As it burns, a creamy smoothness binds the flavors, introducing leather and salted nuts.

Midway, the profile develops some complexity with charred meat and a s’mores-like sweetness, while maintaining its initial creaminess. The smoke feels rich and dense in terms of texture. Leather reappears, guiding the sweetness towards an espresso-like finish. Strength and body remain in the medium-full range, with a steady burn and an airy draw.

In the final act, the black pepper turns peppier, almost like cayenne, with leather and earth still out front. The cigar winds its way down with a blend of leather, earth, and charred meat with a woody undercurrent.

Another winning chapter in the Laranja lineup—and perhaps the crowning jewel. Ah, but that’s for you to determine. In the end, if you are an Espinosa fan—or just love a great smoke—the Laranja Reserva Azulejo is a bona fide no-brainer addition to your must try list. – Paul

La Zona Factory Selects

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6 x 50 Toro
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Rustic in appearance and firmly packed.
Draw: A hint of resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Pepper, barnyard, earth.
Toasting & Light: Black pepper, natural tobacco.
Base flavors: Black pepper, earth, leather.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Natural tobacco.
Burn & Ash Quality: Slightly wavy burn with no touch-ups required. Ash was solid, if unremarkable.

Summary: A Davidoff these are not. But they’re not intended to be, nor should they be expected to look, taste, or perform like one. That being said, the La Zona Factory Selects are a respectable knock around cigar. A yardgar, in other words. And a shining example at that. Rustic looking and with the perfunctory Espinosa peppery bite upon ignition, the La Zona Factory Select doesn’t have a lot regarding a bounty of flavor—but it colors within its lines perfectly. Some black pepper, a smattering of earth and leather and there you have the opening act. Strength is medium—enough to hold your attention but not so strong as to leave you weak-kneed and sweating.

The second part mainly stays in its lane—pepper, earth, and leather. If you try hard enough, you may detect elements of wood and maybe even some baking spices. But trying too hard negates the joy of this cigar—this is a blend that is best enjoyed mindlessly. Maybe while pressure washing your shed. Or tooling around on your riding mower. Maybe poker night with buds and suds—I think you get the idea.

At the end of the day, the La Zona Factory Selects won’t set the cigar blogosphere on fire—but they’ll be a trusty companion when all you’re looking for is a good, affordable smoke. – Paul

Sensei’s Sensational Sarsaparilla

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5 ½ x 52 Belicoso
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Condega and Esteli

Construction: Very well made. The cigar is solid up and down the line, no soft spots, and seamlessly rolled. The wrapper color also has an attractive copper sheen.
Draw: Open.
Pre-light flavor: Notes of licorice and dried figs.
Toasting & Light: Tartness with heavy black pepper.
Base flavors: Earth, citrus, black pepper, sundry spices, caramel.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Wrapper = nutty / Foot = licorice / Smoke = burnt campfire wood.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent. The cigar burns evenly revealing a firm, grey, granular ash.

Review excerpt from Now Smoking 11/10/21

Summary: The cigar opens tart and very spicy with a black pepper finish. But at about the half-inch mark it quickly settles into a very smooth and creamy smoke. I also picked up a distinctive taste that reminded me of a lemony tartness. The burn was excellent revealing a mostly firm grey ash. I could tell this Belicoso also had some very interesting flavors coming down the pike. But here in the first act, it carried more earth than anything else.

The cigar also has a really nice aroma, sort of like campfire wood. The body at this point remained mostly medium and extremely smooth with very little change in flavors. Once it arrived at the midsection it was still very earthy with that nice little tanginess. The cigar also continued to burn evenly and in my second sample I did notice more sweetness coming from the cigar. At the border of the final act, the flavors turned just a bit sharper.

This cigar is extremely consistent; still earthy, spicy, tangy, and caramel-like sweet with a medium-plus body. The smoothness is still there, and I was impressed with the clean and spicy finish. Although my second sample was sweeter, the Sensational Sarsaparilla does provide some bite, which is also characteristic of sarsaparilla.

If you’re looking for a cigar that’s a wee bit out of your usual comfort zone, Sensei’s Sensational Sarsaparilla will take you there. – Gary

10 Years Anniversary

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6 x 52 Toro
Strength: Medium/Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Hybrid Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Wrapper was toothy with a slight oily sheen.
Draw: Open.
Pre-light flavor: Earth and natural tobacco.
Toasting & Light: Black pepper, wood.
Base flavors: Earth, cedar, black pepper.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Natural tobacco.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burn was overall excellent, and ash was dense and grey.

Summary: The Espinosa 10 Years Anniversary began with a blend of cedar, earth, and black pepper. Early on, the earthiness played the Mick Jagger role, while cedar and pepper kept the blend humming like Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts in the background.

Moving into the second third, earthiness continued to lead. But in due time, dark chocolate, leather, and cream joined the band and took turns in the spotlight. Moving towards the final third, the cedar and pepper notes grew stronger, and the blend gained momentum moving towards the fuller end of the medium to full spectrum.

In the final section, earth and black pepper are still dominant with cream and cedar providing balance. Dark chocolate lingers but as but a faint whisper as the 10 Years Anniversary winds down. Overall, a textured and layered medium-full bodied smoke that lies somewhere right on the outskirts of complexity. – Paul

Espinosa Habano Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: No. 5 (6″ x 52 Toro)
Strength: Medium-Full (listed Full)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Toothy Habano wrapper with even coloring, and a nice oily sheen. The cigar is rolled very firm and feels heavy.
Draw: Moderate resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Rich earth, espresso and wood. The smell is almost a little chocolatey.
Toasting & Light: A genuinely smooth start – cedar and pepper, but without the bite.
Base flavors: Coffee, pepper, cedar, earth.
Retrohale: Red pepper and cedar.
Aroma: Faintly citrus-sweet and nutty.
Burn & Ash Quality: Salt and pepper ash is pretty tight, stacks well; burn line is thick and wavy.
Balance of flavors: Refined – there’s a good bit of complexity here.

Summary: Erik introduced the Espinosa Habano in 2012, the debut smoke from La Zona. His intention was to offer a cigar “that would hit right in the middle of the flavor spectrum.” A few years later, and with some other successes under his belt (including Laranja Reserva, Espinosa Especial and Murcielago), he decided a tweak was due:

“The Habano was overlooked. I wanted to bring the Habano up to where the other lines are, both in presentation and blend. We went back to the drawing board, developed a clean new band, packaging, and tweaked the blend. I am very happy where we are now with it, both richer and smoother.”

Light it up, and the first few puffs hit the taste buds with formidable body right out of the gate – medium-plus, and there certainly is some richness to it. The smoke is creamy, maybe a little on the dry side, and there’s plenty of sweetness to be found in the finish.

Later, the Espinosa Habano adds earthy and salty-sweet tastes. There’s a thin layer of pepper going on the whole time – but it’s very subtle, so the bite is minimal. Very refined. The burn gets a bit wavy from time to time, but rotating the cigar in the ashtray solved that – no touchups required. The ash holds pretty well.

Stick with it for a while, and the flavors get richer and deeper: coffee arrives, as does wood and a slight hint of baker’s chocolate. The tastes aren’t strong or overbearing – so the changes are more subtle. The Habano ends with a very woody finish.

Overall, the Espinosa Habano is brimming with a rich and warm character…but what else makes this cigar special? It’s a good value. Try for yourself and see. – John Pullo

Espinosa Crema Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: No. 1 (7” x 48 Churchill)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Slightly bumpy, but smooth and golden brown with prominent veins and a Cuban-style cap.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor: Strawberries.
Toasting & Light: A bit of woodiness, notes of toast and a little bit of pepper.
Base flavors: Cream, earth, wood, toast, pepper, and spices.
Retrohale: Potent, but still smooth, and a little nutty.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Its salt and pepper ash doesn’t seem to flake, and holds well for about an inch before falling off.
Balance of flavors: Diverse, interesting, and lacks the boredom that Connecticut cigars often suffer from.

Summary: One thing you’re going to notice right away…Crema lives up to its name. The buttery, sweet creaminess of the cigar is the most apparent flavor throughout the cigar, and if that’s your kind of thing, this stick’s good for two hours of it.

Things starts out a bit strong, but they quickly settle down within the first inch. Once there, the smoke became smoother and more nuanced. Notes of spices and earth were now joining an endless blanket of sweet cream with intermittent waves of pepper, spices, and toast.

Crema doesn’t go through a lot of changes, but what it lacks in complexity is made up for by a large array of flavors and a lonnnnng sweet spot. And by long, I mean second inch to the nub. How many cigars can you say have boasted that level of satisfaction? Probably not many.

If you’ve got a penchant for sweeter cigars, this might be perfect to ease you into your day. It’s mellow enough for the beginners and interesting enough to keep the veterans’ attention. I’ve talked to a few folks who have said that it’s too strong for a Connecticut, but I don’t share their sentiments. Why should the darker wraps get to have all the fun? When it’s done right, a Connecticut with an attitude can really hit the spot. I call Crema an armchair smoke, because it’s a perfect one to enjoy while you’re slowly sinking into one. – Jared Gulick

Espinosa Especial Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: No. 4 (5″ x 52 Robusto)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
Binder& Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Excellent. The wrapper was slightly rustic in appearance, oily, and even in color throughout with a somewhat raisin-like aroma. Some noticeable veins gave the cigar some character, and the triple seam cap was perfectly applied. The copper, black, white, and grey neck band stood-out nicely against the Maduro wrapper, and the foot was protected by a silk, copper-colored, secondary band. The tobaccos were well-packed, and I found no soft spots along the length of the cigar.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light flavor: Some saltiness and leather.
Toasting & Light: The cigar lit easily with initial puffs of pepper, salt, earth, and a hint of sweetness that travels at a deeper level.
Base flavors: Earth, spice, sweet tobacco, oak, coffee bean.
Retrohale: Spicy.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: The No.4 burned evenly offering a high volume of dense, chewy smoke, and revealed a firm grey ash.
Balance of flavors: Excellent. All of the flavors hit my palate in equal amounts.

Summary: Mostly sweet and spicy. Very creamy. It’s not as sweet as some San Andrés wrapped cigars I’ve had. Generally speaking, the Especial No.4 was earthy, spicy and woody. There was an increase in sweetness at the midpoint, and from there everything fell nicely into place.

Suffice it to say. . . I would call this a “wholesome” cigar in the sense that the flavors are very tightly knit, making it very homogeneous in character. This was another Espinosa cigar in which the longer I smoked it, the more I liked it. This is a great “any time of day” smoke cigar smokers of every experience should find very appealing for its smoothness and precise balance of flavors. – Gary Korb

Espinosa Laranja Reserva Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Lancero (7½” x 38)
Strength: Medium-plus
Wrapper: Brazil
Binder& Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Excellent. Tightly packed with a triple seam cap. Wrapper had an orange-hued patina, some veins, but overall, an attractive cigar with a long, lean profile.
Draw: My sample was tighter than usual, requiring plenty of outside help. That said, I have smoked a lot of Laranja Reserva since their debut, and have never had a draw issue.
Pre-light flavor: Salt, leather, sweet tobacco.
Toasting & Light: Lighting was quick with this 38-ringer, but the same care should be given to toasting and lighting it as a 50-ring cigar. Initial flavors were salty, earthy, woody, and a little sweet with a nip of pepper.
Base flavors: Earth, sweet spice, cedar, sweet tobacco, light pepper.
Retrohale: Spicy.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn & Ash Quality: The cigar burned well despite the tight draw, which was impressive, leaving a firm, light grey-black ash in its wake.
Balance of flavors: Very good.

Summary: The Laranja Reserva is among my all-time favorite Espinosa blends for its excellent mix of sweetness and spice, and I probably smoke more Laranja than any of Espinosa’s other blends. I love this particular Brazilian wrapper and generally go for the box-pressed Caixa or the parejo-shaped Volta. Like the aforementioned sizes, the Lancero was well-rounded with some earthiness, sweetness, spiciness, a ripe woody note, and a smack of light pepper on the finish. That says a lot for consistency among sizes, but you’re also getting more wrapper in this shape, which contributes more of its presence to the overall mix.

Suffice it to say. . . As a line extension, the Espinosa Laranja Reserva is in a class by itself. I’ve never had another cigar like it in any size; the flavor and the experience are that unique. I would encourage any cigar smoker who hasn’t had an Espinosa cigar – and that goes for new cigar smokers, too – to start with the Laranja Reserva. It’s full-flavored, far from overpowering, well-balanced, and is one of the finest examples of skilled tobacco blending. If you go for the Lancero, smoke it when you can devote the proper amount of downtime to it so you can better appreciate its refined qualities. – Gary

Espinosa Laranja Reserva Escuro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Corona Larga (6” x 46)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction: Solid and very well made.
Draw: Super smooth.
Pre-light flavor: Toasty and sweet.
First Few Puffs: Spice.
Base flavors: Coffee bean, leather, spice, citrus.
Aroma: Sweet and toasty.
Burn & Ash Quality: Vey solid.
Balance of flavors: Really nice balance.

Summary: I love the original Laranja and I’ve wondered what Mr. Espinosa would do for an encore. And now we have a dark and spicy Laranja Escuro that is absolutely bursting with rich flavor the moment you start to puff. While the inside sports a classic blend of Nicaraguan leaves, it’s that Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper that gives it the spicy, leathery pop. About an inch in the flavor of roasted coffee beans sets in loud and clear but at the halfway mark a beautiful citrus component comes alive as the flavors actually begin to intensify.

The construction on this cigar is flawless as the thin box-pressed shape smokes effortlessly. And a lot of sweet fragrant smoke pours from the foot for such a thinly rolled stick. The retrohale was pretty damned intense and spicy on the sinuses so I only gave it one shot.

I paired this with a good cup of hot coffee while careening down Route 80 towards Easton, PA. This really is one complex smoke with wonderful balance as the flavors morph into one another delivering an excellent smoking experience. While I dig a lot of Erik’s cigars, this Laranja Reserva Escuro may have just made its way towards the top of the list. – Tommy Zman

Espinosa Murcielago Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Rabito (6 ½” x 46 Lonsdale)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Maduro
Binder: Mexico
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Dark chocolate hue with a faintly rustic look and well-rolled with a sturdy cap.
Draw: Almost perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Spicy-sweet.
Toasting & Light: Nuts and a bittersweet finish.
Base flavors: Earthy, woody, and savory with a dash of baking spices and grains.
Retrohale: Lots of pepper and black licorice.
Aroma: Nutty.
Burn & Ash Quality: Good ash quality and color, and the cigar burns straight.
Balance of flavors: There’s a good balance, but I’d prefer more sweetness.

Summary: If the Murcielago (pronounced mercy-a-lago) band looks a little too familiar, don’t worry, we see it too. In all fairness, aside from being a $400,000+ supercar, the name is Spanish for bat, but who knows, maybe Eric is a D.C. fan? I guess you’ll have to ask him.

The cigar starts out bittersweet and strong, almost like baking chocolate, and if I’m honest, it never gets quite as sweet as I’d like. But that’s just my preference. Some people want a sweeter stick, and if that’s not you, you’ll probably find a lot to be excited about.

It was hard to nail down when the first act ended. The flavors became more savory with a salty note that began peeking through, but it happened gradually somewhere between the first and third inches. The change brought about a smoother smoke and it downgraded from full-bodied to a solid medium affair.

As the ash chased the band, flavors bounced between grains and wood, with a curtain of salt now in the background. It was neither overly nor lackingly complex and that allows you to kind of light up and just experience it, without needing your undivided attention.

My favorite puffs from Murcielago were through the nose. It was there I found most of the pepper, along with some sweetness that reminded me of black licorice – kind of like Sambuca. If you’re a fan of the savory and earthy side of Maduro, let’s say – au natural – this cigar will likely leave you grinning. – Jared

Espinosa Wasabi Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 52)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Clara Rojiza (Candela) with a dark Habano cap
Binder& Filler: Undisclosed

Construction: Excellent. Firm throughout. The candela wrapper shows some embossed veins, and it’s very delicate, so the cigar should be handled carefully to avoid tearing. The dark brown Habano cap stands out nicely against the green wrapper. What I found most interesting, is that when clipped, the underside of the cap has candela leaf underneath, which I was expecting to be dark like the top.
(See it in the background of my photo.) Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor: Slightly grassy and salty.
Toasting & Light: Very good.
Base flavors: Earth, pepper, cedar, some slight sweetness.
Retrohale: Very wasabi-like.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very good. The burn was even while the carbon line was black at the edge with a brown ring behind it. The mostly grey ash held-up well, but landed a little flaky.
Balance of flavors: Very good.

Summary: My Wasabi Robusto started with an initial note of sweetness followed by a wasabi-like shot of pepper that rounded-out rather quickly. However, spicy pepper sizzled on the palate during a long, spicy finish throughout the entire cigar. With that, this cigar certainly lives up to its spicy handle, even though the spice wasn’t as dominant when puffed. I got more earth, cedar and some sweet notes; it’s that finish on the palate where the real action takes place.

Suffice it to say. . . This is not some average “novelty cigar.” I found the Wasabi very unique, not only for its green complexion, but the spice really held-up consistently. The Wasabi offered a peppery, medium-bodied smoke with well-balanced notes of earth, cedar, and sweet tobacco in the mix. For cigar smokers who aren’t just intrigued by this cigar’s name, but genuinely enjoy spicy, medium-bodied cigars, the Wasabi delivered the goods in spades. – Gary

Espinosa Reggae Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto Grande (5½” x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Rosado
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua and Jamaican Lengua de Vaca

Construction: Solid. Nice triple seam cap. Cigar has good heft and feel in the hand. Color is even throughout, but is missing the red-patina found on most Rosados. Very firm feel with no soft spots.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light flavor: Salty, leathery, woody, and lightly sweet.
Toasting & Light: Cigar lit easily. Initial puffs were mostly earthy with a modicum of pepper.
Base flavors: Earth, peppery spice, sweet tobacco, charred oak.
Retrohale: Slightly peppery with an herbal note.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very good. Ash is big, mostly grey, and quite firm. The first one dropped at 1½-inches in length. Smoke is dense and creamy.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Summary: This was my first Espinosa Reggae. The smoke started out smooth and earthy with a hint of sweetness swimming just below the surface and a fairly peppery finish. By the midsection, the cigar opened-up nicely, revealing more of that sweet Lengua de Vaca leaf and some woodiness that reminded me of charred oak.

All of the flavors were well-balanced, but the peppery spice, although not overbearing, tended to cut through the mix and linger on the finish.

Suffice it to say. . . The longer this cigar smoked, the more I liked it. The smoke was very impressive for its creamy-smoothness, earthy tones, semi-sweetness, and balance of flavors. It’s nice not to know what to expect sometimes, and the Reggae Robusto turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I think any cigar smoker, new or experienced, would find this cigar quite gratifying. – Gary


Reviews of Espinosa Cigars made in short run/small batch or limited production, plus cigars from the Espinosa Backroom Series.

Las 6 Provincias LE CMW

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Size: 6 x 50 Toro
Strength: Medium-plus
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Box-pressed with a dark chocolate wrapper. Cigar was firm to the touch.
Draw: Open with a hint of resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Leather, hay, sweet tobacco.
Toasting & Light: Earth and pepper.
Base flavors: Pepper, earth, baking spice, wood.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Sweet tobacco.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent.

Review excerpt from Now Smoking 4/5/23

Summary: The first few puffs were earthy, peppery, and felt very full in strength. At about a 1/2 inch in I noticed the burn was off to a good start. By then, the cigar had settled into a balanced, medium-bodied smoke. The flavors remained mostly earthy for a bit longer then rounded out and transitioned to a combination of charred wood and baking spices. For me it was a little bit of nutmeg with some underlying earth. The draw, which was far from loose, also produced huge clouds of spicy smoke. Then as the cigar approached the midsection, I picked-up an espresso flavor.

At about the halfway point, got a happy little note of citrus tang. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick around very long. As the body and flavors began to intensify, the cigar reminded me of Padrón Serie 1926 Maduro. The baking spice notes were starting to become more defined, then a hint of baker’s chocolate entered the mix. I also took several retrohales which were moderately spicy with a white pepper sizzle.

Arriving at the final inches, my Toro was still burning perfectly and medium-full in body. Earth was the most dominant flavor, while the smoke so far had been very smooth and balanced. The woody, earthy, baking spice combo worked well. At the nub, the smoke was almost entirely earthy. And at close to 90 minutes that’s all she wrote for me. – Gary

Espinosa The Alibi Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6” x 48)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Well-rolled and slightly veiny, with a slightly reddish hue.
Draw: Even and adequate.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet with baking spices.
Toasting & Light: Earthy and leathery with a slight sweetness.
Base flavors: Earth, leather, spice, pepper, and anise.
Retrohale: Floral, more anise, and heavy on the pepper.
Aroma: Dark wood.
Burn & Ash Quality: Coin-stacked and marbled with a good hold for at least an inch or two and a razor-sharp burn.
Balance of flavors: Well-balanced and delicious.

Summary: Much like Eminent Domain, The Alibi was released as part of Espinosa’s Backroom Series in 2013. They had only been available at Espinosa lounges and became a bucket list item for many loyal fans. Don’t worry, though. You no longer need to drag the trade forums to find one now that they’re available at Famous Smoke Shop!

The Alibi started off earthy, reminding me of the smell of grass after the rain. It had a leathery note that hung in the background, and both notes were distinguished by a prominent veggie-like sweetness.

As I made my way through the first half of the cigar, a few dashes of baking spices began to emerge. The strength was rising, and within it, what was once just a hint of anise was gunning for center stage. After another inch, the punchiness had calmed down, and some savory notes began to pop in and out. The anise had also faded, but it was still noticeable in the background.

The second half was less complex, but the flavors had all married by this point. To sum it up, it’s kind of like a rollercoaster. All the initial excitement is upfront, and then you slow down and ease into the station. That’s what the ending felt like.

The bottom line is that good things come to those who wait. The Alibi checks all of the boxes Espinosa fans love, but it has its own identity, too. Whether you’ve been loyal to La Zona all along, or this is your first go – I think there’s plenty to love, and more than enough flavor to enjoy. – Jared

Espinosa Azucar Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Corona (5 ½” x 42)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Binder: Undisclosed
Filler: Undisclosed
Flavor: Vanilla

Construction: Rustic wrapper with a greyish brown color. Firmly packed and finished in a single cap.
Draw: Some resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Very light flavoring – I can barely smell it, but it smells great. Sports a sweetened cap (but not overdone with saccharine).
Toasting & Light: Slight vanilla taste, leather and hay.
Base flavors: Barnyard, hay, pepper, light coffee.
Retrohale: Pepper, plus some of that vanilla sweetness.
Aroma: Warm.
Burn & Ash Quality: The ash is not the cleanest, and it doesn’t hold long. Burn has a slight wave.
Balance of flavors: Flavors balanced each other well – the strength is mellow, but a notch above your usual dry Connecticut…so let’s say mellow-plus because of the flavor.

Summary: Azucar – or, as it says on the band, @zucar – is Espinosa’s first infused cigar. It’s Spanish for sugar; and while it has a sweetened cap and a vanilla taste, thankfully doesn’t overdo it with the flavoring.

Pre-light tastes great: think baked goods with icing, thanks to the sweet cap. Baccarat it ain’t – the smoke isn’t quite that creamy. But Azucar is a nice slow burner, with the most forward flavors being barnyard and hay. The vanilla flavor sits well into the background, developing a profile that’s consistent with coffee with creamer added to it. There’s a little bit of a dark smoky finish, too.

I got a good amount of smoke when I puffed on it, and it’s more velvety than I expected from a budget smoke like this.

Now about that flavoring…the vanilla is sweet – like coffee creamer – as opposed to the darker spice of vanilla extract. It’s “puffier”, closer to honey. The Sumatra wrapper does add a bit of bitterness to the smoke every once in a while, and that becomes more prominent by the end. Drinking coffee while smoking this cigar might help temper some of that sensation.

Azucar is a pleasant smoker that’s about as un-Espinosa as it gets: flavored, mellow, and a set of flavors that’s 180 degrees from his usual profile. If you’re looking for a flavored cigar that isn’t sickeningly sweet or too heavy on the botanicals – I’d at least consider putting Azucar on the “see how it goes” list. – John

E Bundle by Espinosa Connecticut Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Gordo (6” x 60)
Strength: Mellow – Medium
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction: Solid and very well made.
Draw: Super smooth.
Pre-light flavor: Toasty and sweet.
First Few Puffs: Nutty.
Base flavors: Nuts, cocoa, cream, citrus.
Aroma: Sweet and toasty.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very solid.
Balance of flavors: Nice subtle balance.

Summary: So, was I surprised by the quality and flavor of the E Bundle Gordo Connecticut? No, I was actually pretty shocked. A bundle cigar wrapped in Ecuadorian Connecticut (there’s a Habano wrapper version, too) in a big, fat 6 x 60 size was not something I expected to enjoy, but actually, I liked it a whole hell of a lot. It’s covered with an attractive mellow-yellow leaf and built sturdy for smoking. I am admittedly not a fan of the girthy 6 x 60 size, but this gordo was constructed so nicely with such surprisingly good flavor, that I definitely want to indulge more often.

Ok, it’s not a complex smoke, but every damned cigar you enjoy doesn’t “have to”. Sometimes a nice stick with straight-forward flavor will do just fine, but this one even does a little better than that. It has an almost buttery quality with notes of cream, cocoa, and a big hit of pleasantly sweet citrus with every puff! Every time I took a draw I commented aloud how tasty this damned thing was. A great big ash grew as I enjoyed the ride, and the aroma was notably sweet and deliciously fragrant. Retrohaling this was also sweet, as you’d expect, and I partook more than I normally do with a cigar.

The other beautiful thing is the incredibly attractive price point making this a no-brainer to fill up your humidor with. – Tommy Zman


Originally created by E/O Brands – the company co-owned by Erik Espinosa and former partner, Eddie Ortega – 601 cigars were first manufactured by Don Pepin García at Tabacalera My Father Cigars and became an instant hit. It was when Erik founded his Espinosa Premium Cigars company that production moved to his La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. Additionally, the brand’s numerical name comes from the first time Erik traveled to Nicaragua, which was June 1st. Due to high demand for his cigars, Erik expanded production, and in August of 2016, he moved manufacturing of the 601 selections to AJ Fernandez’s San Lotano factory in Ocotál, Nicaragua. Keeping the original 601 blend intact, this move gave Erik access to AJ’s abundant tobacco inventory and the ability to use tobaccos that were more fully-aged than Espinosa’s former tobaccos. Today the 601 selection has expanded to six line extensions, and continues its bestseller reputation among premium cigar smokers.

601 Black

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6 x 50 Toro
Strength: Medium/Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Tightly rolled with tight seams and an overall evenly matted appearance.
Draw: Ideal—open without being loose.
Pre-light flavor: Rich tobacco.
Toasting & Light: Black pepper and sweet tobacco.
Base flavors: Leather, black pepper, buttery sweetness.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Sweet tobacco.
Burn & Ash Quality: Light aluminum grey ash, burn was wavy.

I fire up and am rewarded with a large plume of somewhat dry smoke, which becomes slightly sweet and markedly creamier, then rounds out into a solid foundation of well-aged tobacco with notes of leather and black pepper by the middle of the first third.

By the third or fourth puff, the draw has tightened up considerably to create ideal resistance. Leather dominates the aroma for the first two thirds of the smoke, interchanging with sweet notes of butter and nuts, with the body and aroma kicking up a notch in strength toward cedar at the end of the second third. From there the flavor profile remains consistent through the un-bitter end. The ash is a very light, aluminum grey, although not consistently firm. As a result, it tends to fall off instead of creating solid little nuggets of ashtray-food. The burn line was not perfect, but never required correction, and by the final third had evened out. – Gary Korb

601 Green Label Oscuro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: La Fuerza (5 ½” x 54 Robusto)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Very smooth and beautifully rolled with a ruler-straight edge.
Draw: A little tight, but adequate.
Pre-light flavor: Barnyard aroma with a sweet raisin note.
Toasting & Light: Warm and salty-sweet.
Base flavors: Cedar, cocoa, coffee, and spices.
Retrohale: Intense with copious amounts of pepper.
Aroma: Tangy with a trace of nuts.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns straight to a marbled ash and holds firm.
Balance of flavors: Great.

Summary: Of their entire Espinosa catalog, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but for me, 601 Green Label Oscuro makes a really strong case to be the winner. The blend is Espinosa’s, but is now made at AJ Fernandez’ factory…with that kind of pedigree, 601 Green should appeal to anyone who loves the fullest of the full-bodied cigars – at least on paper. I think it’s got a little something for everyone.

First things first: to my palate, this blend isn’t complex. It’s kind of static and doesn’t change a lot, but it’s consistent and offers a lot of great flavor from start to finish. Your experience may differ, but there’s no point in breaking down different stages when I only experienced one. That being said, I will say it’s slightly front-loaded, settling in toward the inch and a half mark.

601 Green’s bouquet of flavors is both robust and diverse, and that’s why it’s one of my favorites even without the changes. You get cedar, cocoa, coffee and sweet spices – all with a hardcore retrohale that really wakes you up. If you’ve had a rough night, pairing this with a cup of coffee will probably work better than some energy drink that will have you crashing by lunchtime. Just make sure you eat breakfast first.

I had mentioned earlier that this is full-bodied, and it is, but I don’t think it’s strong enough to drive the medium-body crowd away. The sharpest flavors are through the nose, and you can simply opt out to cheat your way into an even-keeled smoking experience. If they told me I could only ever smoke one Espinosa again, this would probably be it. – Jared

601 Red Label Habano Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Torpedo (6 ½” x 52)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Smooth, slightly red, and with a beautifully crafted Torpedo tip.
Draw: Very nice.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet and a little tangy.
Toasting & Light: Peppery and nutty.
Base flavors: Pepper, dry nuts, sweet grains, and a fresh crispness to its flavor.
Retrohale: Powerful.
Aroma: Graham cracker-like.
Burn & Ash Quality: Solid with a straight burn line.
Balance of flavors: Good balance

Summary: There are pepper notes, and there’s the 601 Red Label Habano. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought Zman pranked me and sprinkled some into my cigar, but it’s…Just. That. Strong. The good news, though, is that this isn’t merely a pepper bomb that’s going to serve as a, “Hey, I dare ya!” cigar. There’s still quite a bit of tastiness under that hood, too.

This stick sort of smacks you right out of the gate. There’s a ton of fire there, especially on the finish, and it reminded me of the sensation you get after you’ve eaten something garlicy. Not the flavor, just the feeling. Shortly thereafter, Red Label settles down, and when it does, you’re greeted with a nice set of flavors. Dry nuts, sweet grains, and pepper intermittently make their presence known, but there’s something crisp on the backend. It’s hard to put my finger on it. I usually call this a vegetable sweetness, but it isn’t sweet. It’s almost like iceberg lettuce. Tasteless, but sharp and clean. If smoke could crunch, I bet this would.

Regarding complexity, Red Label is right down the middle. It doesn’t change so much as to overstimulate, but it’s far from boring. As the cigar progresses, it gradually gets sweeter, especially in relation to its grainy notes, and that crispy character subsides. I’d say it has two solid chapters with a dusting of surprises along the way.

There’s no question – this blend is strong, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t enjoy a full-bodied smoke. But for those who do…you’re in for a delicious treat worth the slight splurge. My recommendation is to pair it with something sweet and indulge in it after dinner. – Jared

601 Blue Label Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5 ¼” x 52 Box-Pressed)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction: So well-made.
Draw: Very, very smooth.
Pre-light flavor: Coffee bean.
First Few Puffs: Woody & tangy
Base flavors: Coffee bean, earth, wood, roasted nuts, caramel.
Aroma: Very toasty.
Burn & Ash Quality: Solid.
Balance of flavors: Complex with nice balance.

Summary: The 601 Series of cigars has been a longtime fan favorite for Erik Espinosa, with particular props going out to both the Green and the Blue. Now the full-bodied Blue Label has gotten high ratings across the board for quite some time as it has been consistent in flavor and burn year in and year out. Its quality comes through vividly in the flavor department as it has an earthy/woody start that develops into a deep, dark coffee bean profile that is delicious and equally as fragrant. As I continued to smoke onward, sweeter notes of caramel and roasted nuts appeared as I leaned back in my chair saying something to the effect of, “Damn, this is one hell of a cigar.”

One great characteristic the Blue has is that it burns nice and slow while staying lit for a good amount of time between puffs – I mean, I may have done one relight the entire time, and that’s due to both the quality of the tobacco and the expertise of the roller. I actually retrohaled towards the end so I got that sweetness in the nose and it was very tasty. Knob Creek Bourbon was the pairing of choice and its delectable sweetness accompanied the Blue wonderfully… but I now wonder if I should have had a Johnnie Walker Blue. Oh well, I can always go back for seconds. – Tommy Zman

601 La Bomba Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Napalm (5” x 52 Robusto)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Superb except for the pigtail, and we’ll get into that later.
Draw: Good.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet and peppery.
Toasting & Light: Oaky with shots of pepper.
Base flavors: Oak, oats, pepper, a tangy citrus, and more sweetness as it progresses.
Retrohale: Not for the faint-hearted.
Aroma: Salty and woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: A tidy ash that doesn’t flake.
Balance of flavors: A full-course of flavor. Great balance.

Summary: Before I get into the flavors of this cigar, I must touch on the construction. The cigar itself was well-crafted and I didn’t have any burn or draw problems. One of 601 La Bomba’s trademarks is the pigtail that runs a good portion of its length. It’s meant to look like a fuse and plays to the theme, but the problem is that too much pectin glue is used. Even when I carefully removed it, the glue slightly tore the wrapper, even though it wasn’t enough to adversely impact the cigar. The good news is that I believe you could cut it without pulling it off, but I know that most smokers are going to be prone to removing it.

The second of La Bomba’s trademarks is its full-bodied attitude, but it’s less powerful than legend might suggest. But if you’re looking for a potent cigar, I think you’ve found it here.

Napalm opens with a large dose of pepper and an oaky finish. As it burns, the smoke opens up and throttles back to the edge of medium plus and full. Within a half inch, I started to notice oats, some citrus, and it seemed to get sweeter as time went on – reaching its peak at about the halfway mark. It smoked beautifully, delivering all of these notes in waves until the end.

If you can look past the pigtail issue, it’s actually a great smoke. It’s got plenty of gusto, flavor, and complexity, and with its reasonable price range that’s well below the $10 price barrier, I think your cigar cash stretches a long way. Just cut the cigar with the pigtail on and enjoy.

601 Kryptonite Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua Size: Toro (6″ x 50)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder& Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Ideal. The cigar was perfectly packed, and observing the foot, it was clear that the dark ligero tobacco was centered right where it should be. The Habano wrapper was flawless with a silky feel, and seamlessly rolled. I couldn’t find one blemish on the entire cigar. Moreover, the triple seam cap was seamlessly affixed. The bright green wrapper was a real standout for quickly catching the eye in a cigar shop.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Leathery.
Toasting & Light: No issues. The cigar took easily and quickly to flame revealing initial notes of earth, pepper, and a hint of sweetness.
Base flavors: Earth, sweet spice, cedar, coffee, and light pepper.
Retrohale: Peppery, but not over-the-top hot.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent. The cigar burned evenly, revealing a mostly grey ash and never required a relight or touch-up.
Balance of flavors: Excellent. Notes were well-rounded and tightly knit making for a very consistent smoke that stayed balanced throughout.

Summary: When a cigar is named “Kryptonite,” it conjures-up an image of Superman’s knees buckling as he succumbs to something much stronger than himself. However, this Toro was one of the biggest surprises of all the Espinosa cigars I smoked, and far from anything that made me weak in the knees.

Starting off with an unsurprisingly peppery start, by the first inch the smoke rounded-out to reveal a well-balanced mix of earth, sweet spice, cedar, a coffee-like note, and some light pepper on the long finish. I smoked it in the evening, after dinner, and my palate must’ve been well-prepped since every puff was consistent and had just enough sweetness and spice to satisfy me down to the last inch.

Suffice it to say. . . I’ve always liked Erik’s 601 Blends, especially the original Red, Blue, and Green, which have held up well. Yet, this different shade of green was impressively flavorful, and truth be told, it was my first Kryptonite. Due to its full body, it may not be the Espinosa new cigar smokers will first want to reach for. But for its balance and semi-sweet character, I wouldn’t discourage them from making the Kryptonite Toro their first 601 selection. – Gary

601 Steel Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Girder (6” x 52 Toro)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction: Solid and very well made.
Draw: Super smooth.
Pre-light flavor: Earthy.
First Few Puffs: Very earthy.
Base flavors: Dark coffee, earth, nuts, molasses.
Aroma: Dark wood.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very solid.
Balance of flavors: Pretty straight forward.

Summary: The 601 Steel is a meaty smoke created exclusively for Famous by the boys at Espinosa. Make no mistake, it’s full-bodied and strong – not 601 La Bomba strong – but it’ll deliver a nice little mule-kick to the seat of your pants. It features an extra-dark Nicaraguan wrapper leaf that’s brawny and gives this cigar its character.

Again we have a stick that’s not big in the complexity department, but delivers several straight-forward and inviting flavors. Earthiness and dark coffee are pretty much a constant, while almost a Brazilian nut-like flavor is there about a third the way in. As the cigar burns to approximately the two-thirds mark, a flavor that reminds me of black-strap molasses adds an interesting subtle sweetness to the finish.

Okay, so I chickened out on the retrohale, not really wanting a slam-dunk of earth in my nasal cavity. (Yeah, I’m a wuss, so what, you wanna fight about it?) And the aroma is interesting, almost like dark burning wood with a little black pepper mixed in. It’s a kind of simple, full-flavored cigar that’s going to pair well with any kind of whiskey. A solid smoke for those who like ‘em big n’ hearty. – Tommy Zman

Espinosa Alpha Dog Cigar Review (Discontinued)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Corona Gorda (5 ½” x 46)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

cigar advisor espinosa essential review guide - alpha dawg discontinued

Construction: Excellent.
Draw: Loads of smoke.
Pre-light flavor: Earthy.
First Few Puffs: Earthy and sweet.
Base flavors: Dark fruit, espresso, earth.
Aroma: Woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: Vey solid.
Balance of flavors: Well-balanced and complex.

Summary: Spoiler Alert – it’s an excellent stick and it surprised the hell out of me. This was the first one I had smoked and the amount of heavenly full-flavor that came out of this somewhat diminutive stick was impressive. Available in boxes of 10, this Dawg is draped in a simply gorgeous Nicaraguan Habano wrapper that is considered a Rosado Oscuro and it shines with natural oils. It was originally created as a special event only cigar for Espinosa, but when word got out, the demand became a reality for all of Erik’s fans.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Espinosa Alpha Dawg cigar review by Tommy Zman

Immediately in the first few draws I got notes of espresso on my palate and that lasted a while until dark fruit flavors like ripened plums crept their way in. At around the two-thirds mark it actually got kind of earthy but that espresso and plum profile was still present.

I think everything that Espinosa makes is expertly constructed and this one is no exception as huge amounts of smoke forced me to open my car window wide on the ride to Famous. A smooth and perfect draw, solid white ash, and razor-crisp burn is everything you want in a cigar and Señor Espinosa delivers. A double espresso paired up perfectly with this one and was a nice follow-up to my bacon and egg sandwich on the road because, as you know, bacon goes great with everything. – Tommy Zman

Mi Barrio Cigar Review (Discontinued)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: El Forro (7″ x 48 Churchill)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua (Esteli/Jalapa)

cigar advisor espinosa essential review guide - mi barrio at famous smoke shop

Construction: Believe it or not, a triple cap on a budget smoke. Barrel is lumpy and bumpy, with evident veins and slight tooth. Cigar has a muted brown color, like walnut – a bit of oily sheen, too.
Draw: Modest resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Leather, slightly tobacco sweetness – a bit of a barnyard smell.
Toasting & Light: Leather, light pepper, charred oak.
Base flavors: Charred oak, pepper, nuts and earth.
Retrohale: Has a bit of pepper, and very earthy.
Aroma: Warm and toasty, with just a bit of chocolate.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns ok, forming near-white ash in coinstacks with a little flake.
Balance of flavors: Pretty even keeled.

Summary: A few upfront notes…the original Mi Barrio was a circa 2008 Espinosa-Ortega project (then known as E/O Brands), made in limited quantities at the My Father factory in Nicaragua. Then, it was a joint tribute to Don Pepin and Erik Espinosa’s father; now it’s all Erik, and it’s a daily smoker made at La Zona.

Set it ablaze and Mi Barrio gets off to a medium start; there’s not a lot of smoke output when it rests in the ashtray, but you’ll get some good rips if you take a deep puff.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Espinosa Mi Barrio cigar review by John Pullo

The aroma is subtle, a mix of chocolate and charred wood. There isn’t much in the way of complexity – but you’ll notice when Mi Barrio’s profile picks up a coffee note a little later on, and the oaky sensation turns more in the direction of cedar. The cigar holds fast as an easygoing, medium/medium-plus smoke – though it does develop a little more body and strength towards the end.

If you remember Mi Barrio from back in the day, it was far from the everyday smoke it is now. So if you’re reading this alongside some older reviews that are out there, it’s likely – and perfectly understandable – that you won’t get the same experiences described in, say, 2010.

Today’s Mi Barrio has some good things going for it: a smooth smoke that’s nice for every day, it’s priced right, and got along just fine with my cup of coffee. And yes, you can smoke it as your first cigar of the day – a rare feat for an Espinosa-made cigar. – John

Espinosa Las 6 Provincias LHB Limited Edition Habano Cigar Review (Discontinued)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6” x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano 2000
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Box-pressed, chocolate brown wrapper is well-stretched with very few veins; cigar is well packed.
Draw: Nice and clear.
Pre-light flavor: Barnyard, strong earth, slightly sweet. Smells leathery and cocoa sweet.
Toasting & Light: Mineral-rich earth, pepper, sharp spice, charred wood.
Base flavors: Earth, spice, coffee, various sweetnesses.
Retrohale: Coffee, burnt toast.
Aroma: Tobacco, and sweet – it’s sharp, almost like ginger snaps.
Burn & Ash Quality: Big stacks of grey ash, with a slight wave to the burn.
Balance of flavors: Complexity builds as you smoke it.

Summary: Las 6 Provincias is a father-son project between Erik and his son, Erik Jr., who chose the name to recognize pre-Castro Cuba’s six original provinces. They’ve made only one size, this box-pressed Toro – and elicited some help from A.J. Fernandez to make it for them with tobaccos from the Esteli, Ometepe and Condega regions.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Espinosa Las 6 Provincias LHB cigar review by John Pullo 1

The Las 6 Provincias opens with spiciness, and I’m slowly sensing this building wave of sweetness; body and strength are medium, but the sum of flavors – and overall intensity – grows quickly. A thick and heavy layer of earth runs underneath the entire time…and by halfway, the cigar is pretty much pegging the meter at “full” in both body and strength.

It’s at this point that the Las 6 Provincias takes a toasty tobacco and coffee turn; the sweetness starts to poke through a bit more, and travels in waves. First it was cocoa, then more citrusy as some tannins come to play – it reminds me of freshly sanded wood. Taken together, these big and thick flavors puddle on your tongue.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Espinosa Las 6 Provincias cigar review by John Pullo 2

One of the most interesting and flavorful Espinosa cigars I’ve had – and a very interesting smoke that kept my attention. I’d call this a good pick for the “top shelf” guys, as this really is Espinosa’s “reserve” caliber cigar at $16+…and for the money, it’s pretty belly-filling. – John

Erik Espinosa 20th Year Cigar Review (Discontinued)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Corona Larga (6″ x 46)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado
Binder& Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Flawless. Looks almost like a Panatela. The triple seam cap is affixed with a short pigtail. The wrapper had an attractive caramel-color, a glint of strawberry blonde, and a smooth feel. The rolling was practically seamless with no soft spots.
Draw: Just right.
Pre-light flavor: Salty with a slight hay-like component.
Toasting & Light: The cigar lit evenly revealing a heavy shot of red pepper in the initial puffs. Once it got going, the smoke flowed freely from both ends.
Base flavors: Earth, red pepper, black pepper, leather, oak, sweet spice.
Retrohale: Smooth with a nip of spice at several intervals.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: The burn was even, revealing a very light grey ash with a good amount of firmness.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Summary: Talk about getting my attention; those first few puffs were like swallowing a teaspoon of Sriracha. Sticking with it, after the first half-inch, the flavors began rounding out. That’s when my patience was rewarded. As the pepper moved slowly out of frame, notes of oak, and sweet tobacco filled the gap, while leaving a streak of peppery spice on the long finish. The smoke became thicker by the midpoint, where the pepper re-entered the scene, but more like white pepper than the red pepper at the onset. The oak and spice notes held up as some pepper remained on the finish. The cigar also offered several change-ups along the way, going from peppery spice to oak and sweeter notes.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Espinosa 20th Year Anniversary cigar review by Gary Korb

Suffice it to say. . . What I thought was going to be a super spice bomb turned out to be extremely enjoyable. Being an anniversary cigar, you can tell that Erik put a lot of work into this cigar, right down to its ideal dimensions. This was a very well-rounded and complex cigar with an elegant appearance. I feel it would be best suited for enjoying late in the day or after dinner with just about any pairing. – Gary

Espinosa Eminent Domain Cigar Review (Discontinued)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6” x 50)
Strength: Medium (listed Full)
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Proprietary
Filler: Proprietary

cigar advisor espinosa essential review guide - eminent domain discontinued

Construction: A smooth, and oily leaf that’s well rolled and features three turns to its cap.
Draw: Fantastic.
Pre-light flavor: Oatmeal raisin cookie.
Toasting & Light: Grains and earth.
Base flavors: Earth, toast, wood, spice, and pepper.
Retrohale: Smooth, floral, and sweet.
Aroma: Woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns mostly straight with a well-seated, white and dusty ash.
Balance of flavors: Leans toward earthy and natural tobacco tones.

Summary: Eminent Domain originally released as an Espinosa Lounge exclusive in 2013 as part of their Backroom Series. At 2019’s IPCPR, Erik announced that the cigars would be offered to all retailers. For many Espinosa fans, this was great news. Eminent Domain’s previous rarity had turned it into a unicorn.

Flavor-wise, this blend started off with an earthy sweetness. The pepper was there, but on the back burner, and there was an interesting complexity as it pogoed around notes of wood, toast, and spice.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Espinosa Eminent Domain cigar review by Jared Gulick

It’s the second act, in my opinion, where Eminent Domain truly shines. At about the halfway mark, it becomes bolder and more amplified in taste. Subsequently, complexity took a backseat, but it was replaced by a marriage of all the flavors at once. I love that kind of thing, and if you do too, you can expect to enjoy that for the remainder of the stick.

Eminent Domain seemed to be medium in body, even when I lit it up first thing in the morning. I was expecting a much heavier-hitting smoke, I mean – this is Espinosa, folks…but I wasn’t disappointed. While it isn’t my favorite cigar from their portfolio, it’s pretty accessible. If Espinosa’s inclination toward power has kept you from taking the plunge into their lineup, this cigar will make it easier. – Jared

Espinosa Hush Money Cigar Review (Discontinued)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Churchill (7” x 50)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler: Unknown
Binder: Unknown

cigar advisor espinosa essential review guide - hush money discontinued

Construction: Solid and very well made.
Draw: Super smooth.
Pre-light flavor: Toasty and sweet.
First Few Puffs: Nutty.
Base flavors: Cream, cedar, coffee, citrus.
Aroma: Sweet and toasty.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very solid.
Balance of flavors: Nice subtle balance.

Summary: So, why the name Hush Money? Well, I think it’s because everything about this mysterious limited-run release is hush-hush, like the wrapper, binder, and filler for instance. Right now it’s available in two sizes: there’s a Toro and a Churchill, and just to be sure I smoked both for comparison. Now I can’t say for sure since we don’t really know the blend information, but I thought both sizes had the same flavor profile and character.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Espinosa Hush Money cigar review by Tommy Zman

So, it isn’t an overly complex smoke, but I can honestly say that it sure has a lot of nice flavor. A well-pronounced sweet cedar banged my taste buds pretty good from the outset and that stayed constant throughout – which was truly quite pleasant as it intensified halfway through. I definitely detected hints of citrus, further adding to the sweetness along with a coffee with cream kind of aftertaste.

Again, I’ll say that the La Zona factory in Nicaragua creates cigars with top of the line construction and these smoked superbly – draw, ash, the whole nine yards. As for the retrohale, the sweetness really shined as the cedar component was ramped up nicely. The plain brown paper packaging is unique, something your local leg breaker might use to deliver the stash. But I think this Hush Money is really good and won’t be on the hush-hush for long. – Tommy Zman

Espinosa Reggae Dread Cigar Review (Discontinued)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Dread (6” x 56 Toro)
Strength: Medium-Full (listed Full)
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras, and Jamaican Lengua de Vaca

Construction: Veiny, yet smooth in its appearance, the cigar is affixed with a dreadlocks-esque pigtail to fit the theme.
Draw: Easy.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet liked baked goods.
Toasting & Light: Cookie-like with notes of grains, bread, and toast.
Base flavors: Savory peanuts, shortbread cookie, toast and grains.
Retrohale: Pepper, salt, and a mouthwatering flavor I couldn’t identify.
Aroma: Spicy and savory.
Burn & Ash Quality: Solid whiteish ash and a mostly-straight burn line with little deviation.
Balance of flavors: Exceptional.

Summary: Clearly a shout-out to the Rastafarian hairstyle popularized by the Reggae scene, Espinosa Reggae Dread is adorned by multiple pigtails to create that dreadlock look. Now, having a catchy look is fine, but if the cigar doesn’t smoke well, it’s just flair for the sake of being flair. Let’s see how it fares.

Dread’s pre-light flavor is sweet, and it reminded me of baked goods. After firing it up, the nuances evolved to become cookie-like with some dashes of bread, grains, and a toasty wood. This profile lasted about two inches, and then, some incredible complexity began to unfold. Shortbread cookie, salted peanuts, and toasted grains washed over my palate. It was clear from this point that this was one of my favorites among the samples. It’s that damn good. Especially when you factor that I’m not very keen on large ring gauges.

Espinosa Cigars Guide 601 cigars Espinosa Dread cigar review by Jared Gulick

The third act finishes similarly to how the cigar opened – a callback to those grainy, toasty, and earthier flavors. All in all, this Espinosa offering is superb. It’s simply one of those cigars that puts a smile on your face from start to finish.

Additionally, I found that the cigar blurs the line between medium and full. For those of you who were hesitant to dabble in the La Zona portfolio because of their notorious ability to kick, you needn’t worry. Dread is tamer while still dishing the flavor. – Jared