One of the most notable collaborations of 2019 was announced in September when Héctor J. Alfonso Sr., director of operations for Espinosa Premium Cigars, revealed that Espinosa would be collaborating with the tobacco giant General Cigar Co. on an episode of Cigar Dojo’s Smoke Night LIVE. Very little details were known until the official announcement in November.

Warzone—as it was dubbed—highlights the independence from Spain after a ten-year war from 1868 to 1878. Blended and rolled at Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Nicaragua, the cigar was billed as something unlike anything in Espinosa’s portfolio. With access to General’s immense tobacco inventories, Espinosa chose to work with their highly sought-after African Cameroon wrapper, one that Alfonso had had his eyes on for some time.

Warzone’s creation is described as “coming from the two companies’ mutual respect for one another,” with Héctor J. Alfonso Sr. telling Cigar Dojo regarding the companies’ relationship, “Jack’s relationship with Senior Brand Manager Justin Andrews and Justin’s relationship with Erik [Espinosa] really brought this project home—so many moving parts.”

The partnership had significant logical strategic value, as these two companies exist in very different segments of the premium cigar industry. Espinosa with its deep-rooted position in the minds and hearts of passionate boutique cigar lovers, lending their well-established “street cred” and loyal fan base to General, while accessing the tobacco giant’s vast distribution footprint.

Warzone Toro Breakdown

  • Wrapper: African Cameroon
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Nicaragua | Colombia
  • Factory: La Zona (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Limited Edition (30,000 cigars)
  • Vitola: 6″ x 52 (Toro)
  • Price: $8.99 (MSRP)
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Espinosa Warzone Toro cigars open box

Appearance

A rugged looking brown wrapper—like that of a city roast coffee—shows no visible oily sheen. There is a web of thin veins that are very reminiscent of the underside of a bay leaf. The tooth on this wrapper looks nearly like a very fine-grit sandpaper. Even the seams of the wrapper are hard and rough. It sort of reminds me of a burlap or rope-like look.

A big aroma cuts through the air as I remove it from the cello. The scent includes sweet cinnamon toast crunch or french toast, covered in butter and cinnamon. A distinct, roasted pumpkin seed is joined by a slight herbal note and dried leather, rounding out this big, bold, and complex aroma.

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Smoking Experience

The cigar opens up with leather and buttery, toasted bread, with hints of cinnamon and significant black pepper in the retrohale. The dried leather character reminds me of the wood and leather seats you would find at an authentic Mexican cabana. The draw is just on the snug side of perfect. The ash is white with black showing through in cracks, speckled with the grit remaining from the wrapper tooth. The ash clings for an inch and a half before falling.

A sweetness reveals itself as a more prominent contributor as I get into the second third of this toro. Smoke output is a medium, with a fine black burn line that never needs to be touched-up or relit. The spicy notes persist through the second third, as the buttery french bread flavor evolves to a toasted bread and woody character.

Espinosa Warzone Toro cigar smoking

As I get into the final third, a more chocolatey sweetness becomes apparent and is blending tremendously well with the rich and toasty baking spice notes. The complexity and flavor continue to perform at a high level on the medium-body mouthfeel. This is slightly elevated by the now-luscious and buttery smoke output that is giving a faint sense of cinnamon buns with a chocolate drizzle.

The sweetness in this cigar, while remaining present throughout, reaches peaks and valleys of intensity that grab your attention as the smoke progresses. The blend really favors the Cameroon characteristics and allows them to shine through. Sweetness seems to enhance and alter other flavors as well, allowing the cinnamon notes to reach their full potential range. You can sense this from spicy characteristics, taking the bready character from toast to cinnamon roll and back again. All of these flavors are in balance with each other, constantly responding to each other and driving an even greater depth of complexity.

Espinosa Warzone Toro cigar ash smoking

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

As many as I can before they are gone. This is one of those limited-release cigars that will be worth grabbing a few boxes of and being able to revisit once it has sold out. There is enough body and flavor to enjoy Warzone after an evening meal and with a brown spirit, simultaneously being mild enough in strength to allow for a morning engagement with this unique combination that is just smacking with flavor.

Additional Info
  • Cameroon originates from Sumatran tobacco brought over by German colonists in the early 1900s.
  • Access to this highly sought after tobacco is significantly limited due to the constant turmoil and difficult natural growing conditions of this Central African province.
  • Warzone was named Cigar Dojo’s No. 2 Limited Edition Cigar of the Year 2019.
  • There were 1,500 boxes of the robusto and 1,500 boxes of the toro sizes made, totaling at 60,000 cigars.

Profile
  • Flavor: Medium / Full
  • Strength: Medium-light
  • Body: Medium
Core Flavors
  • Bread
  • Wood
  • Leather
  • Baking spices (cinnamon)
  • Black Pepper
  • Milk chocolate
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Brown ale | Bourbon
  • Purchase Recommendation: Box purchase (as many as possible)

Espinosa Warzone Toro cigar nub finished

Espinosa Warzone Toro
Warzone marks a step outside of the profile range of many Espinosa cigars, offering a blend that allows the cigar's unique wrapper qualities to become supported and enhanced. The result is a unique flavor profile that rings of Cameroon while carrying a signature Espinosa punch of spice and flavor. It's not often that you can truly see the elements of a partnership enhance the components and elements of what each partner brought to the collaboration. I would say that each side should be thrilled at what the other had to offer.
Appearance91%
Burn/Construction88%
Draw89%
Flavor94%
Complexity93%
Price/Value94%
Pros
  • Complex and unique flavors
  • Transitions that demand your attention
  • Complimentary flavor combinations
Cons
  • Slightly snug draw on the sample smoked for review
  • Fragile wrapper can lead to construction issues if you're not careful
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