Many cigar manufacturers have programs for branded lounges, but oddly, few have special cigars made for these lounges.

In late 2013, Espinosa Premium Cigars launched its first Espinosa lounge and late last year, it announced The Backroom Series, a collection of cigars that would be offered exclusively to its lounges. The first cigar in The Backroom Series is The Alibi, a 6 x 48 vitola described as a “Small Churchill.” It uses an Ecuadorian habano oscuro wrapper over undisclosed fillers and is limited to 200 boxes of 10.

Espinosa The Alibi Box 1

Espinosa The Alibi Box 2

Espinosa The Alibi Box 3

The boxes are interesting, a basic rectangular shape with added features on each size, oddly reminding me of the Davidoff Year of the Horse. Suggest priced is $9 per cigar or $90 per box.

Espinosa The Alibi Box 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Espinosa The Alibi
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $9 (Boxes of 10, $90)
  • Release Date: Dec. 22, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 200 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4

While I don’t mind ribbon foot bands, I’m not sure that black honestly helps as it just leads to even more things getting lost in the dark wrapper. One out of the four cigars I smoked for this review had a small tear on the wrapper, but otherwise, the box looked like very well-rolled. There’s a lot of barnyard and some semisweet cocoa from the Ecuadorian wrapper and hickory, cocoa, oak barrels and grains from the foot. Things are dramatically different on the cold draw: a ton of sweet cocoa—similar to older Viajes—white pepper and a smoky flavor that reminds me a bit of smoked salmon. The cold draw on each sample is slightly open.

Even on a well-rested and clean palate, it’s hard to identify the initial flavors of The Alibi. I pick up some generic toastiness with sweetness and a pleasant burnt wood flavor. There’s hints of both creaminess and pepper, but neither are particularly strong. As things develop the cocoa note becomes more prevalent in the form of a dry powered chocolate along side the burning cedar and oak mixture and leather. Oddly, the nose is rather dormant with mainly just the toastiness being there. On the tongue however, I can pick up a restrained pepper and the detail in the cocoa. The draw is still noticeably open, but I’m okay with it given the plethora of smoke. I’d peg strength at medium-full and building, body at full and flavor at medium.

Espinosa The Alibi 2

A harshness begins to emerge at varying levels on all four samples as the second third develops. It’s restrained, but able to cut through the burning woods fairly easily. The cocoa is still present, but now secondary to the aforementioned woodiness. I do manage to find a bit of citrus on the tongue in three out of the four samples, but it’s minor. Smoke production and burn remain fine. Strength hits the full mark right around the midway point and then begins to decline back down to medium-full, easily the strongest non-601 Espinosa product I’ve smoked.

Espinosa The Alibi 3

Despite burning like a champion for the first four and a half inches, each of the samples I smoked struggle when the last inch neared. Most require a couple touch-ups just to keep things burning and one requires a full purge. Regardless of the state of the burn, the flavor has fallen apart for me as the final inch nears. The woodsiness is still there, as are remnants of cocoa and faint hints of citrus, but the harshness is becoming overwhelming to a flavor profile that is becoming increasingly bitter. The Alibi ends medium-full strength-wise, full in body and medium in flavor.

Espinosa The Alibi 4

Final Notes

  • While the color scheme on both bands was not my favorite, the embossing and font on the main is impressive.
  • Other brands making lounge exclusive cigars off the top of my head: Altadis USA (Montecristo), AVO, Davidoff and My Father. There are other cigars that have been made for specific lounges, but not available to other branded lounges.
  • Espinosa Premium Cigars told halfwheel that there will be at least one cigar in The Backroom Series per year. That being said the boxes say “2015” and this shipped in late 2014.
  • I’m not sure why this is a “Small Churchill.” A traditional Churchill measures 7 x 47, this is 6 x 48. My guess is it’s another attempt at being different.
  • Strength reached full, was medium-full for most parts of the cigar.
  • Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Espinosa Premium Cigars.
  • There are three Espinosa lounges carrying the cigar: Casa Belicoso (925.979.9330) in Walnut Creek, Calif., Cordova Cigars (850.473.0080) in Pensacola, Fla. and Smoke Inn VI (954.970.0001) in Margate, Fla. Interestingly, Casa Belicoso is actually a 601 lounge that has been around since before Espinosa Premium Cigars existed.
81 Overall Score

If I wasn’t needing to score the fourth sample I smoked for a review, I would have tossed it right after the two-inch mark. The Alibi was able to provide an odd, yet enjoyable mixture of flavor, strength and body; but the final third was a mess for me. I enjoyed the cigar overall and would be a large fan of pairing it with some heavier beers or liquors given how full-bodied this was from start to finish, but I still probably would toss it at two inches. I found The Alibi complex enough, yet the polar opposite to the Laranja Reserva, an Espinosa release that was all about finesse. If you like full-bodied and heavier cigars with a bit less pepper, I think you’ll enjoy The Alibi, if of course you can you find it.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.