With a portfolio of cigars that includes unorthodox concepts such as a bat, a bomb, and even a cigar lounge couch, Espinosa Premium Cigars isn’t exactly known for their traditional approach to cigar marketing. But with their latest release, cigar enthusiasts are treated to a healthy balance between both traditional and modernized/atypical customs.
The cigar at hand is known as Las 6 Provincias LHB, an ultra-premium release that was crafted in homage of pre-revolution Cuba—where the Espinosa family traces their roots. The cigar’s name translates to mean “The Six Provinces” and is pronounced “Las Seis Provincias;” this is in reference to Cuba’s six original provinces before the country’s post-revolution decline. As the name alludes, Espinosa has planned a total of six releases, each representing one of the provinces. For the first cigar in the series—Espinosa Las 6 Provincias LHB—the cigar represents the La Habana region (aka “LHB”).
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Las 6 Provincias LHB Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: San Lotano (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 54 (Toro)
- Price: $16.50 (MSRP)
Differing from past releases, Las 6 Provincias LHB was spearheaded by Erik Espinosa, Jr., vice president of Espinosa Premium Cigars and son of company owner Erik Espinosa, Sr. The cigars were blended by Héctor J. Alfonso, Sr. (director of operations) at A.J. Fernández’s San Lotano factory—a location that has been used increasingly by Espinosa since transitioning the brand’s 601 lineup to the factory around 2016.
As previously mentioned, LHB incorporates the old and the new, using custom artwork inspired from Cuba’s heyday (including a hand-painted half-wheel design similar that of the world-famous H. Upmann band, vintage automobiles, and scenic imagery from Habana). This is juxtaposed by the cigar’s unusual box, where a jar-style container is suspended on hinges, allowing for a swinging motion that enables the box to be mounted horizontally or laid vertically on a desktop—with the box swiveling to remain upright. While only 300 of these 20-count collector’s boxes were made available, Espinosa also released the same blend in more traditional boxes of 10 cigars—the latter being a regular-production offering.
LHB is made in a singular, box-pressed toro size. The cigars feature all-Nicaraguan binder/fillers, highlighted by an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper. At $16.50 per cigar, LHB becomes the most expensive cigar in the Espinosa lineup (both packaging options are priced proportionately, only differing in the quantity of cigars).
With a 54 gauge, the LHB is a bit larger than your standard toro; that being said, its box-pressed shape keeps the cigar from feeling like something in the gordo range. From the outset, it’s a very nice looking cigar, complete with a colorful/ornate band that succeeds in its vintage Cuban feel. There is also a blue foot ribbon (which never seems to hurt) and, on closer inspection, a layered primary band—with the “LHB” portion being tucked underneath the primary “Las 6 Provincias” (similar to what you’ll find with a standard Padrón 1964).
The cigar has a square shape (when looking at the foot) with rounded corners, feeling solid in the hand. It seems to be double capped, but flush seams, small veins, and a uniform wrapper shade make for a great overall appearance. The wrapper is surprisingly dark for a Habano 2000, looking more similar to a Padrón maduro (yes, I’m aware that’s two Padrón comparisons in the last two paragraphs) than a Cuban habano.
The wrapper’s texture is like rough suede that had been wet and left to dry in the outdoors. This leaf smells tangy and like barnyard musk. There is more to go off with the foot, bringing notes of chocolate, soil, and barnyard. With a cut, the pre-light draw is dead-medium, bringing in only light flavors of soil and more barnyard.
The cigar kicks off with heaps of spice, so much so that the profile borders on harsh within the first minute. This includes flavorful qualities of black pepper, as well as unwelcome notes of burning brush. While the palate-stinging harshness leaves within the first quarter-inch, the spiciness remains throughout the first third. This includes a sharp sting through the retrohale, like taking a bite of a Reuben sandwich with too much horseradish—it burns, but in an oddly satisfying manner. There is also a building background of chocolate, adding a welcomed sweetness to the primarily spicy profile.
Similar to the pre-light experience, the draw is around medium to medium-plus, being virtually perfect. This brings a medium amount of smoke on each puff, showing a medium strength, medium-plus flavor, and an all-around medium body in the first third. The construction is wavy but not requiring any maintenance at this point, producing flakey chunks of ash that last for only around one inch.
Mineral and pepper are the dominate flavors passing through the first inch. However, a sugary and fruity sweetness seems to be building in the background, accompanying an overall increase in the cigar’s flavor output. When the Las 6 Provincias finally commits to its hinted flavor transition, the flood gates seem to open, bringing notes of brown sugar, freshly cut cedar, and a clean sweetness that is like packets of Sugar in the Raw. But the cigar doesn’t simply flip-flop from spice to sheer sweetness, still being rooted in anchoring flavors of mineral, earth, and interesting, clove-like spices.
In the final segment, LHB replaces flavor with strength, mostly abandoning the aforementioned sweets (other than an occasional butterscotch note) in favor of dark spices, blackened toast, and earth. The strength output can be like hitting a wall, giving a queasy sensation (at least on some of the smoking samples, depending on how recently I’d eaten) throughout the final stretch.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Yes, although I wasn’t won over so easily. In my first sample, the cigar showed an overabundance of spice, harshness, and mineral. This later proved to be the exception, with multiple other samples averaging out to become this review experience. I must admit, I was originally thrown by the non-Cuban-like character of the cigar. I’d assumed, considering the cigar’s concept, that we’d be greeted with a more traditional habano profile. However, the cigar proved itself in the end, showcasing a modern-day interpretation of Cuba’s past—a testament to Espinosa’s inventive and unorthodox approach.
- Differing from the company’s usual style, nearly all Espinosa cigars introduced this year were somewhat limited in production.
- Of the two most noteworthy 2018 Espinosa releases (Las 6 Provincias LHB and Erik Espinosa 20th Anniversary), the former is surprisingly positioned as the more luxurious/expensive release (the latter is a limited edition Grand Corona that retails for $11).
- Espinosa hasn’t made it clear yet as to whether or not the additional five cigars in the Las 6 Provincias series will be regular production or of a more limited nature.
- The only disappointing sample of Las 6 Provincias LHB I’ve experienced was a sample from this summer’s IPCPR trade show, where the overly hot/dry climate, combined with companies often bringing pre-release versions of the cigars, has been known to give unpredictable results, sometimes nonrepresentative of the final release.
- Flavor: Medium-Plus
- Strength: Medium / Full
- Body: Medium / Full
- Pepper spice
- Prune juice
- Brown sugar
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Old Cuban cocktail, Cola, Kentucky mule cocktail, Café Cubano, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Purchase Recommendation: 10-count box
- Deep flavor profile
- Fun transition of strength and flavor throughout
- Near-perfect draw
- Overly spicy (sometimes harsh) beginning
- Inconsistencies between samples
- One or two touchups/re-lights