Espinosa Premium Cigars is no stranger to the Dojo. Whether you are a newcomer to the platform or a seasoned HOF aficionado, chances are you have smoked something from the Espinosa line. This may include one of the Dojo collaborations, something from their core lines (like the 601 series), or the popular Laranja Reserva series, which is the subject here.
Debuting in 2014, the Espinosa Laranja Reserva was a major hit for the brand right out of the gate, landing at No. 2 of Cigar Dojo’s COTY rankings for 2014. Coming five years later in 2019, the Laranja Reserva Escuro delivered as well, ranking No. 4 on the Dojo’s annual list. Now, released in late August of 2021, Erik Espinosa and company bring us the Laranja Reserva Azulejo. The line thus far has been named with a reference to colors in Portuguese, with Laranja itself translating to Orange, Escuro meaning dark, and Azulejo being a glazed blue tile.
Laranja Reserva Azulejo Toro Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Brazilian Arapiraca
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: San Lotano (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 52 (Toro)
- Price: $12.05 (MSRP)
The blend is a dark Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper covering a Brazilian Arapiraca binder, with the fillers representing different growing regions of Nicaragua. The cigars are lightly box-pressed, being rolled out of A.J. Fernández’s northernmost San Lotano factory, which Espinosa has increasingly turned to for production in recent years. At launch, the Azulejo was introduced in four formats:
- Corona Gorda: 6″ x 46 | $11.00 (Box of 20 | $220)
- Robusto Grande: 5½” x 54 | $11.60 (Box of 20 | $232)
- Toro: 6″ x 52 | $12.05 (Box of 20 | $241)
- Gordo: 6″ x 60 | $12.70 (Box of 20 | $254)
Initial inspection reveals a very attractive box-pressed cigar. The Sumatra wrapper is a deep shade of brown, with quite a bit of mottling, a little bit of tooth, and a nice oily sheen. The seams are virtually invisible, and the cap is very cleanly applied. The cigar is very firm—with just a slight amount of give from foot to cap—letting us know it is properly filled, but not overly so. The satin foot band is light blue, with the main band sporting the familiar Laranja logo in white and gold. There’s also a blue gradient background accent, cleanly tying the color behind the cigar’s name to its appearance. Being one of the many that were a fan of the previous two iterations, I am looking forward to getting this cigar cut and lit and seeing what it has to offer.
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Aromas coming from the foot of the cigar are what I would describe as dark raisin, natural tobacco, barnyard, and damp cedar. The wrapper itself offers primarily natural tobacco, with just a hint of barnyard and a molasses-like sweetness. The pre-light draw is a little open, and gives hints of damp cedar and stone fruit.
Getting the cigar burning, it is apparent that this toro is going to have some oomph to it, not unlike many others in the Espinosa line. Fresh ground black pepper, well-done toast, and some heavy wood notes get things started, with a potent pepper note on the retrohale and just a hint of floral notes on the finish. Getting about an inch in, creaminess enters the picture, pulling everything together nicely and making for a very smooth finish. Further along still, leather (which, as we all know, is a common note in many cigars) enters the profile, along with a salted Brazil nut flavor that I have not experienced in a cigar previously. Things are really off to a good start here. The burn is really good for a box-press, with just the slightest wobble to it. The draw is still a little more open than I would like, but not what I would call loose. I would classify both strength and body as medium-full in this stage of the smoking experience.
After sitting back and enjoying the opening act, we are at about the halfway point of the cigar. The darkness of the profile continues to develop, with the addition of charred meat and the bitter sweetness of burnt marshmallows. Everything mentioned previously (sans the leather) is still in the profile as well, with the saltiness and creaminess combining to make this cigar almost like a meal. The smoke is chewy, if that makes any sense. The retrohale at this point still has the potent pepper note, with the addition of dry earth and some faint cabinet spice. The floral notes mentioned in the early stages are still there as well, but seem as though they are being pushed out of the picture. A little farther along, the leather returns, and the bitter sweetness becomes more of a simple bitterness. Strength is creeping up to the upper end of medium-full, while the body remains squarely in the medium-full zone. The burn remains constant, but the draw has opened up just a little more, and is now bordering on what I would call loose.
Getting towards the final part of the cigar, the pepper notes get even spicier, becoming more of a red pepper flake, and the leather and earth notes are leading the way in the profile. The retrohale remains potent, zipping through the nostrils with pepper and earth. The finish on the retrohale now has a citrus note, similar to what I found in the final stages of the original Laranja Reserva. The saltiness and creaminess are keeping the profile smooth, preventing the bitterness from taking over. Strength here is right at the top of the medium-full range, trying as hard as it can to achieve full territory. Body is still right in the core of medium-full. The draw has opened up more, now officially becoming loose; but at this point it does not detract too much from the overall experience. The cigar finishes with dominant leather and earth notes, with just a hint of charred meat and a dark charred wood note that lingers on the tongue through the finish.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
This is an easy answer: yes! While my palate prefers the prior two iterations of the line more than this one, it still hits on all the right notes for me. I have smoked all four sizes of this cigar, and this toro falls right in the middle for me in preference, with the Gordo surprisingly delivering the best in the flavor department, and the Corona Gorda being the full-bodied powerhouse of the blend.
- Every release in the Laranja line to date has received a top-10 placement in Cigar Dojo’s annual list the year it was released; the Laranja Reserva Azulejo earned the No. 10 Cigar of the Year for 2021.
- If you smoke lots of Espinosa and are active on social media, you may earn an invite to La Zona Palooza, Espinosa’s “thank you” event for their most active consumers.
- In early 2021, Espinosa revealed that the original Laranja Reserva would become less widely available, as certain tobaccos within the blend had become scarce. While not explicitly deemed a replacement, the Azulejo helped fill demand for the fan-favorite Laranja line.
- At the time of writing, the Laranja Reserva Azulejo sits at a 99-point rating on Dojoverse, ranked as the platform’s 113th cigar (out of 3.7k cigars total).
- Flavor: Medium / Full
- Strength: Medium / Full
- Body: Medium-Full
- Brazil nuts
- Charred meat
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Barrel-proof bourbon | Aged rum | Reposado tequila | Strong black coffee
- Purchase Recommendation: Grab a box. You will want to share these with your more experienced cigar-smoking buddies.
- Great flavor delivery
- Smooth, considering the dark profile
- Great burning for a box-press
- Draw was a little too loose
- Short smoking time for a toro
- The strength will get to some, as it borders on full