To say that it has been an exciting year for Ezra Zion Cigar Company would be an understatement. They seemed to make quite an impression on a number of people at their first IPCPR Convention and Trade Show in August 2012, including Gary Griffith of Emilio Cigars. On November 30, 2012, less than four months after the show, the company announced a distribution agreement with Griffith’s House of Emilio. Later that year, the company’s Inception would earn number 22 on the Consensus 2012.
In February 2013, the company returned to the news with the announcement that they were rebranding their Inception line to JAMAIS Vu, saying that the United States Patent & Trademark Office failed to notify them of another company that was using the name before the cigars went into production, and then awarded that name to the other company. Instead of going through a lengthy legal battle, they chose to rename the cigar.
Jump ahead to June, and Ezra Zion announced the addition of a new line to their portfolio, the Eminence. The cigar is the company’s first non-Nicaraguan puro, with the focus being on the Mexican San Andrés wrapper selected for this new release.
Kyle Hoover of Ezra Zion told halfwheel that he was excited about the wrapper because, “it’s not your typical earthy and dry San Andrés, it’s got a sweet brown sugar molasses to it that is unlike most San Andrés.”
The Ezra Zion Eminence will be released in six sizes:
Ezra Zion Eminence Belicoso Gran Toro (5 x 58) – $12.50 (Boxes of 21, $262.50)
Ezra Zion Eminence Gran Prensado (7 x 54) – $12.50 (Boxes of 21, $262.50)
Ezra Zion Eminence Exquisito (6 1/4 x 52) – $12.50 (Boxes of 21, $262.50)
Ezra Zion Eminence Churchill Box Press (7 x 48) – $11.50 (Boxes of 21, $241.50)
Ezra Zion Eminence Corona (6 x 46) – $11.50 (Boxes of 21, $241.50)
Ezra Zion Eminence Gran Robusto (5 1/4 x 50) – $11.50 (Boxes of 21, $241.50)
Cigar Reviewed: Ezra Zion Eminence Gran Prensado
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Nicaragua (Dual Binder)
Size: 7 Inches
Ring Gauge: 54
Vitola: Box-Pressed 109
MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 21, $262.50)
Release Date: July 15, 2013
Number of Cigars to be Released: 3,000 Boxes of 21 Cigars (63,000 Total Cigars)*
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
*This is across the entire line. Specific production numbers by vitola were not made available.
While I love the rich, dark brown of the Ezra Zion Eminence, a closer look reveals what I refer to as veins and strains, where the leaf doesn’t meet up with cleanly with the vein, resulting in a strained and stretched look at some spots – almost like an unironed shirt. It’s plenty toothy with a nice sheen, and you can certainly feel the leaf’s oils on your fingers. The box-press on the cigar is even more pronounced when you take the foot band off, as the width is probably twice the height. It’s not a traditional Cuban 109 vitola, but the easiest way to describe it is a box-pressed version with some added ring gauge. There is a bit of give when squeezed along its width, but otherwise feels well filled. The pre-light aroma is complex, varying in each of the three cigars smoked. Notes of hay, wood, chocolate syrup, earth and what I believe to be fresh aloe plant all showed up, though never the same combination twice. The cold draw was a bit more consistent; easy and with a dry and fairly sharp note, reminiscent of wood and dry pasta, with a bit of pepper in the mix as well.
The first puffs of the Ezra Zion Eminence deliver a palate-coating flavor of smoked nuts, some earth, leather and just the faintest touch of pepper. There also seems to be a touch of minerality that creeps out in the first half of an inch, giving a lighter and sharper note to the flavor profile. The flavors back off a bit as the burn line hits the two inch mark, leaving a slightly chalky and mellow leather taste. The technical side of the Eminence has performed well, with a sharp burn line, sufficient amounts of smoke and ash that has held on respectably.
After a mellowing of the flavor intensity, the second third of the Ezra Zion Eminence sees a return to a bit fuller flavors, as the chalk starts to intensify just a bit. It doesn’t happen at the exact same point, as in one cigar it was closer to the midpoint while in the other two it was a bit earlier. The smoke texture feels a bit thin in the mouth, but the flavors are definitely building, and strength continues to be medium to medium plus, with spice and pepper playing a fairly minimal role up to the midpoint. It’s also in the latter part of the second third where the first twinge of bitterness started to show up, just playing off that chalk note to create a slightly sour flavor on the tongue. The ash also seems to break off at increasingly shorter lengths throughout this section of the cigar.
Not a lot has changed heading into the final third of the Ezra Zion Eminence, with the flavors staying fairly linear. There seems to be just a touch more intensity here, but the core soil note remains ever present, while a bit of underlying bite follows behind and lingers. It’s not as intense in terms of dry soil as other Mexican San Andrés wrappers have shown me, but I certainly don’t get the sweetness that the company advertised as being a core part of the leaf. Pepper is still not much of a factor, and the smoke is by and large smooth and plentiful. The cigar starts to build up a touch of tar and harshness in the final inches before needing to be put out.
- After the first two cigars, I can’t say I noticed the sweet brown sugar molasses note that Kyle Hoover mentioned in the release article, though I will say that I didn’t get as much of the dry earthiness that I find from some cigars that use a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, such as the La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor.
- That said, I tried to focus on it a bit more in the third cigar I smoked, and I could taste a bit of it, though it’s fairly subtle.
- I smoked the Belicoso Gran Toro version for comparison and the differences were striking, from the more floral and fruit-laden pre-light aroma, to the almost overwhelming amount of pepper that was found throughout the cigar. This vitola also struggled to maintain an even burn and even stay lit at some points.
- The back of both bands on the Ezra Zion Eminence feature messaging:
- The first cigar that I can remember seeing this on was the XIKAR Defiance in the mid 2000s.
- If you’re wondering who owns the Inception trademark for cigars, it’s a company called JSR Cigar Distributors based in Pearland, Texas. They’re made at Raíces Cubanas in Honduras, and StogieReview.com recently featured them.
- Ezra Zion recently announced the addition of two sizes to their JAMAIS Vu line: a 6 x 60 called “Seis Cero Seis” and a 6 x 45 Corona. Those have already begun shipping.
- While they talked about adding a new cigar to their Honor Series after the debut of the Reagan last year, I have yet to hear anything about that addition coming out this year. I had heard chatter that the second installment was going to be named for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Ezra Zion.
- Final smoking time is about two hours and 20 minutes.
I have a lot of respect for what Ezra Zion has done to build themselves into an increasing relevant brand in the cigar landscape over the past year or so. While I can't say I've smoked their entire portfolio enough to know it by heart, I do know that I've enjoyed their cigars and the Eminence is no exception. For the most part it is a perfectly palatable cigar, save for a few spots of bitterness that creep out in the second half. While I didn't get the sweetness that the company said the wrapper contained, I did get a different take on the Mexican San Andrés wrapper that I have come to be a big fan of in recent years. It doesn't catapult the Ezra Zion Eminence onto the list of my favorite cigars, but it does rank as a very enjoyable cigar that is worth trying when it hits store shelves.