The Espinosa Reggae Dread was released in 2016 in a small shipment to comply with the FDA guidelines but was not formally introduced until IPCPR 2017. The DREAD, like it’s regular-production sibling, the Reggae, uses a Jamaican filler called Lengua de Vaca. Staying with the Jamaican theme, the DREAD has several pigtails that create a dreadlock head for the cigar.

Jamaican tobacco has somewhat of a disjointed history in the world of premium cigars, with its beginnings rooted back to World War II. During this period, the United Kingdom ceased shipments from Cuba and subsequently turned to the (former) British Colony for production. In 1988, a hurricane wiped out most of Jamaica’s cigar industry, which has slowly recovered over the past thirty-some-odd years to once again appear in premium cigar blends in recent times. Macanudo Estate Reserve Jamaica and Foundation The Upsetters are a couple of the brands that use Jamaican tobacco in modern releases.

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Reggae DREAD Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Undisclosed
  • Filler: Nicaraguan | Honduran | Jamaican Lengua de Vaca
  • Factory: La Zona (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Small Batch
  • Vitola: 6″ x 56 “Toro Grande”
  • Price: $12.00 (MSRP)

If there is one thing Espinosa Premium Cigars and their La Zona factory do well, it is taking creative, “outside the box” ideas and turning them into solid cigars. Espinosa struck gold with the Laranja in 2014 (Cigar Dojo’s #2 Cigar of the Year for 2014) by using a Brazillian wrapper, while the rest of the industry was going crazy for Mexican San Andrés. By using the Jamaican Lengua de Vaca (Spanish for “cow tongue”), Espinosa shows their innovative spirit once again.

Originally, the Reggae was tapped to be a Backroom Series cigar because of our limited access to Jamaican tobacco but “we have moved past that now.” And as for blending with it, there really aren’t a lot of companies using Jamaican tobacco, so there weren’t exactly a lot of points of reference for working with it; however making something different is always exciting. In blending this cigar we wanted both the Reggae and the Dread to have Jamaican undertones, but most importantly we wanted these cigars to remain true to the fans of Espinosa Cigars and our La Zona Factory.Héctor J. Alfonso, Sr.—Director of Operations at Espinosa Premium Cigars

Appearance

The DREAD has a leathery appearance with a chocolate-hued wrapper, showing veins throughout. It has a substantial band around the foot, with Rastafari/reggae colors and, of course, the distinct, dreadlock pigtails on the cap. It has the overall appearance of a rastaman ready to blaze up. And those pigtails, like the 601 La Bomba, are removed easily when it is time to light up. The cigar smells like cocoa and has rich, earthy tones. The pre-light draw is smooth and tastes like coffee, which is the beverage I have decided to pair the cigar with.

Smoking Experience

Initially, upon lighting, I got a sour, ammonia flavor that quickly dissipated and was followed by a burst of pepper and paprika. The cigar’s flavors are turning back and forth more than a Jamaican Bobsled. The strength is not overwhelming but the flavor profile is robust. It is well-constructed, which is to be expected from a cigar from La Zona. The draw is flawless and the burn is razor sharp, and as I retrohale I get some herbal notes that have me thinking this cigar would pair well with a nice, oolong tea.

Espinosa Reggae DREAD cigar smoking



Reggae DREAD has some interesting nuances transitioning from the first to second third—with occasional blasts of cinnamon graham crackers and a custard/nougat finish—but it lacks an overall balance in flavor. As the cigar progresses, there is a definite change in flavor, with more ligero and pepper coming through. It also has smoothed out a bit but has lost some of its prior complexity, which isn’t necessarily a criticism thus far. The strength has been upped and it resembles the sweet, dark nuances of a classic maduro with a ton of pepper and some charcoal/BBQ flavor.

The DREAD is a slow burner and something of a “smoke bomb.” As it progresses, the nice, easy draw shows a healthy mixture of the aforementioned flavors from the cigar’s start and the smoother character of the second third. The closing stretch of Reggae DREAD is my favorite; it has a nice, black licorice flavor and has become a more full-bodied smoke that would pair well with a splash of bourbon.

Espinosa Reggae DREAD review

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

The DREAD is a unique looking cigar but it lacked a real “it factor” that some of my favorite Espinosa cigars possess. This cigar is solid and I would no doubt smoke it again, but I think the DREAD is a prime candidate for aging. It was a bit unbalanced at times with the complexity and strength not coming together for the duration of the cigar.

  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Jamaican coffee, wheated bourbon, oolong tea
  • Purchase Recommendation: single cigar or 5 pack for aging

Espinosa Reggae DREAD cigar nubbed

Espinosa Reggae DREAD
Espinosa Premium Cigars seeks to maintain their status as an innovator in the craft cigar scene with a pair of Jamaican-themed cigars for 2017, introducing the Reggae and Reggae DREAD. While both cigars use Jamaican "Lengua de Vaca" tobacco in the filler, the DREAD is billed as a fuller-bodied, limited production variant. That being said, both cigars are said to be "Nicaraguan" smoking experiences, using the Jamaican tobacco as a complimentary ingredient. DREAD fully embraces its Reggae inspiration, showing bright colors of the Rastafari flag (which is Ethiopia's flag) and an eye-catching cap made to look like dreadlocks coming down from the cigar's head. The cigar takes awhile to get its bearings after lighting, eventually offering occasional nuances of cinnamon graham crackers, nougat, and pepper. The profile proves to be a rollercoaster of sorts though, showing many ups and downs and never seeming to hit on all cylinders. All things told, a lack of an "it factor" made for a monotonous overall experience—one that I'd like to try in a year or two after some rest in the humidor.
Appearance88%
Burn/Construction94%
Draw95%
Flavor87%
Complexity80%
Price/Value84%
Pros
  • Fun concept
  • Fantastic draw
  • Sturdy construction
Cons
  • Inconsistent
  • Not very balanced
  • Lacks progression/complexity
88%Irie