“With sons and fathers, there’s an inexplicable connection and imprint that your father leaves on you.”
While it may seem apt and on-the-nose, Pitt’s words echo in my heart as they do with many fathers. When I look at the premium cigar industry, it is marked by tremendous father-son legacies: Fuente, Padrón, Kelner, Seijas, and many, many more. Perhaps one of the quietest and seemingly impactful duo has been that of Erik Espinosa and Erik Espinosa, Jr. Professionally, this pair may be in their infancy together, but the ownership that the younger Erik has taken has seemingly brought the boutique manufacturer to new heights. This includes the bolstering of the company’s consumer celebration, La Zona Palooza, to helping build the exclusive Espinosa Elite club. The apex of his contributions thus far has been the annual Las 6 Provincias project, a series that aims to pay tribute to his family’s homeland of pre-Castro Cuba.
“My dad has poured his soul into [the cigar] industry for over 20 years, but our history goes back further that that. I wanted to showcase what my family’s industry means,” he said to me at the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show.
Originally intended to be a six-part annual release, the project started with debut of the Las 6 Provincias LHB at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show. Nothing has been formally announced for 2020, but the MTZ was the much-anticipated second release. The cigar pays tribute to Matanzas, a region east of Havana. This project is not just marked by exceptional blends of tobacco, but by premier package design and marketing. The LHB’s swinging box and colorful design was truly one-of-kind. Not resting on his laurels, Erik, Jr. introduced the MTZ with another unconventional box design. The main display is an upright Cuban-style panel-door box with incredible artwork. It reminds me of an ornate and decorative dollhouse. While that description may seem unflattering in masculinity, I assure you it is not. This display is truly unique and beautiful. Much like the LHB, the MTZ’s box is one-of-a-kind.
Las 6 Provincias MTZ Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano 2000
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua (Condega | Estelí | Jalapa)
- Factory: San Lotano (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited Edition (20,000 cigars)
- Vitola: 6″ × 52 (Toro)
- Price: $16.50 (MSRP)
The above highlights the technical aspects of the cigar, because the MTZ’s blend (on the surface) isn’t complex. It’s a Nicaraguan puro highlighted by a Habano 2000 wrapper. The filler represents the country well, with tobacco from Estelí, Jalapa and Condega, encased in an undisclosed Nicaraguan binder leaf.
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The label for this cigar mimics last year’s Las 6 Provencias (LHB), using different colorations and an updated bottom banner of the band that features a gold-colored MTZ emblazoned on a North Carolina-blue sub-band. As a crowing effort of elegance, the cigar also displays the same-colored blue on a foot ribbon. The wrapper is a nearly flawless leaf; the Habano 2000 has very little oils and has a milk chocolate color to it. There are almost no visible veins on this soft-pressed cigar. The aroma of the wrapper is caramel, red pepper, and floral. The foot gives off a pronounced bourbon barrel aroma—hints of charred oak, maple, vanilla, and black pepper. I use the guillotine cutter—as is my custom—to cut the cap and take in the dry draw. I am met with some chocolate, licorice, and oak flavors.
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I use a match to toast the foot, which delivers pepper and charred oak aromas. As I light the cigar and take the first few puffs, I am surprised by a bright fruit and citrus note that reminds me of tangelo (a hybrid fruit of tangerine and orange). This sweeter component is balanced by notes of earthiness, sweet cream, and quintessential red pepper and plum sweetness on the retrohale. As one often remarks, certain cigar producers have a signature about their blends. Héctor J. Alfonso, Sr. (director of operations) and Erik Espinosa, in my opinion, have a signature flavor and aroma that is really pronounced, especially through the retrohale.
As the cigar progresses, marzipan (yes, marzipan) sweetness enters into the profile, coating the palate with richness. The red pepper and fruit continue on the long-lasting finish of the retrohale. The burn and draw are impeccable, but the ash is brittle and flaky. Despite this characteristic, I’m surprised I didn’t have to touch up these samples. The deep marzipan notes continue throughout the rest of the smoking experience, albeit tapering off later in the experience.
The final third of this cigar does get a little hot and brings some acrid and sour notes that do not marry well with the remaining sweetness and red pepper notes. The result is a harsh finish that, in hindsight, might have been addressed if I simply became more cognizant and slowed my smoking down. Maybe. Maybe not.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Despite the finish, I would smoke this cigar again.
- While the LHB was billed as regular production, the MTZ is limited to 1,000 boxes of 10 cigars and 500 dress boxes of 20 cigars.
- The Cigar Dojo-edition dress box in the photos above was given to Cigar Dojo by the Espinosa team at the company’s 2019 annual La Zona Palooza event.
- Flavor: Full
- Strength: Medium-Full
- Body: Medium- Full
- Red pepper
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Latte | Milk stout | Dark ‘n stormy cocktail | Gingerbread
- Purchase Recommendation: Sprint for the box—the memento and cigars are worth it
- Sensational retrohale
- Terrific draw
- Complex core flavors
- Bitter Finish
- Brittle ash
- Higher price point