In 2022, Espinosa Premium Cigars celebrated two anniversaries, namely the 10th anniversary of the company itself and the La Zona Cigar Factory. Both events were celebrated with limited edition cigars, the Espinosa 10 Years Anniversary and the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary. Both cigars are 6 x 52 toros, but the blends are notably different and the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary is a much more limited release, with just 300 boxes of 30 cigars as opposed to 1,500 boxes of 20 cigars for the Espinosa 10 Years Anniversary. For those not wanting to do the math, that’s 9,000 cigars vs. 30,000 cigars.

The La Zona 10 Year Anniversary uses a Brazilian escuro alto wrapper, a higher priming of the wrapper that is used on the company’s Laranja line. Underneath that is Nicaraguan tobacco for both the binder and the filler. The company hasn’t disclosed specifics about those leaves but did confirm that there is pelo de oro in the blend, a tobacco varietal that is known for being both flavorful and difficult to grow. Héctor Alfonso, director of operations for Espinosa Premium Cigars, called the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary a full-flavored but not full strength blend.

“Everything about this cigar is a tribute, from the cigar blend to the box design and the band,” said Alfonso, who called the cigars “throwbacks to when the company first started out.” He added that both the factory and the company have succeeded jointly and independently, and as such, it was only fair for both to celebrate the 10-year milestone.

After being shown off at the 2022 PCA Convention & Trade Show in July, the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary began shipping to stores in early November 2022.

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Zona 10 Year Anniversary
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Brazil (Escuro Alto)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $13 (Box of 30, $390)
  • Release Date: Nov. 1, 2022
  • Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 30 Cigars (9,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

In many ways, the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary is a fairly standard-looking toro; each of the wrappers across the three cigars is a slightly darker-than-average shade of brown that has a surprising bit of oiliness to it, as while I didn’t notice any sheen on the leaves I definitely picked up some on my fingers. Veins are small, the color is even, and seam lines are only occasionally visible. Each of the three cigars is rolled to a firm density but still has some give, a feeling that I don’t find in all that many cigars currently as most seem to be getting rolled more and more firmly. Visually, each cigar looks great, with no irregularities and well-applied caps. The overall presentation is finished off by a band designed to be a throwback to a design from when Espinosa Premium Cigars and the La Zona Cigar Factory first opened. The aroma off the foot is surprisingly light and vibrant but offers a scent that immediately challenges my ability to identify. The very first sensation reminds me of a thick, creamy plain yogurt. There’s a bit of light woods after that, which tingle my nostrils in a way that pepper doesn’t. One cigar doesn’t have quite the creaminess of the other two and offers a softer profile, reminding me of the inside of a light muffin. The cold draw is on the firm side but doesn’t feel restricted, while the flavor is more middle-of-the-road with cake donut, peanuts and some related oil, a bit of earth and just a touch of pepper. At times it also shows a flavor that reminds me of a tres leches cake.

The La Zona 10 Year Anniversary gets underway with a bit more of the cake donut that I picked up on the cold draw but now with some black pepper and a more prominent contribution by the dry woods. It’s a combination that sounds vibrant but is fairly medium in intensity, at least until the finish delivers an accent of more vibrant black pepper. There is a very enjoyable creaminess that emerges after about half an inch, which is when the first clump of ash starts leaning and looking like it’s going to fall off. The creaminess gives the cigar a fuller body on the taste buds and creates a base flavor that coats my tongue quite impressively yet doesn’t mute the firewood and black pepper that give the cigar its punchier side. If anything, there are points where the cigar tastes like a latte with a peppery accent, and in the first 20 minutes or so I’m quite impressed with the profile. Retrohales have been fantastic thus far as they are a lighter version of the flavor, with white pepper in place of the black pepper as the accent. The intensity of the flavors begins to intensify as the first third progresses, a change that provides more stimulation for the senses but comes at the expense of the creaminess, which begins to fade and turns over its share of the profile to a bit more pepper. Whether it’s due to a bit of inattention from me or something internal, the cigar struggles just a bit with combustion in the first third of the first cigar, a lesson I learn to prevent it from happening in the other cigars. Otherwise, construction is very good, with plenty of smoke, an even burn line and a draw that is, if anything, a touch firm. Flavor is medium-plus with touches of medium-full, body is medium-plus, and strength is trying to push its way out of mild territory.

If the first third of the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary was about establishing the flavor profile, the second third takes all those components and puts them in a blender, intertwining them much more tightly than how they were presented earlier. The creaminess is back—for the better—and the intensity ticks up just a bit thanks to a lingering finish of dry firewood and black pepper. Retrohales have also upped their intensity, and not long into this section, the cigar starts flirting with full flavor intensity. Ahead of the midway point, the cigar starts flirting with some slightly sharper flavors, or at least with sharpening up the flavors it has been offering thus far. The change also marks a separating of the flavors, as the components are much easier to pick out than they were at the start of this section, which seems to help nudge the intensity up a tick or two. This is also quite noticeable in the retrohale, as passing smoke through my nose around the midway point results in a rather pronounced and lingering finish of tingling pepper, but a finish that isn’t overpowering or out of balance with the overall profile. The cigar doesn’t change much in the rest of this section but stays quite enjoyable with some impressive layering of flavors and a vibrant, balanced profile both on the palate and through the nose. Construction remains fantastic, though I am still mindful to keep puffing at a rate I’d consider a bit quicker than normal. I’m also mindful of the ash, which has shown some propensity to fall off unexpectedly. Flavor is medium-full if not outright full, body is medium-full and strength has crept up into medium territory.

While the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary still has a lot of woodiness driving the profile, an interesting sweetness emerges at the start of the final third, building off the still-present creaminess with something that reminds me of a touch of dried mango. It’s subtle, thick and very enjoyable, catching my attention just enough to have me immediately make note of its arrival. That said, it’s not always consistently present and in some puffs finds itself pitted against a building and bold woodiness, setting up a battle that the sweetness simply cannot win. Whether it’s a change in the profile or a bit of fatigue from the pepper, I feel it has a more pronounced impact on my taste buds in this final section, going beyond just delivering a familiar tingle to becoming a touch sharper and more biting than I would prefer. However, it doesn’t detract from the overall experience that much. One thing that I do note is that this sensation is seemingly correlated to how much creaminess I get from the profile, as it not only adds depth and complexity to the profile but also soothes the taste buds in the process, allowing them to absorb what all the cigar offers. The final inches pick up smokiness and a bit of char to the flavor as the heat seemingly imparts some changes onto the wood and pepper. Again, with more creaminess, this isn’t an issue, but in the two cigars that had the least creaminess present, the effect is more pronounced. Construction remains fantastic on the whole, as the lessons learned from the first sample pay handsome dividends with the other two cigars. Flavor finishes up at medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium, though seemingly more notable in the morning and when an empty stomach seemingly offers nothing to absorb what strength the cigar does offer.

Final Notes

  • I was a bit surprised to see the company opt for 30-count boxes for the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary, as it’s just not a common packaging format. Beyond that, there’s been a move by a number of companies to smaller box counts to make a box purchase more affordable.
  • One other thought on the 30-count box; it seems that larger box counts generally mean less expensive cigars, but $13 is not what I would consider a price tag aimed at communicating a value cigar.
  • While I have driven by the La Zona Cigar Factory a number of times, I have yet to visit the facility, which is located in Estelí, Nicaragua.
  • On the Espinosa Premium Cigars website, Erik Espinosa gives a tour of the factory that you can watch.
  • The vista inside the lid features a drawing of the factory’s exterior, with a note that says “Established in 2012, Tabaquelera La Zona S.A. has spent the last 10 years producing highly-rated and award winning cigars that are recognized throughout the cigar world for their flavor, strength and complexity.”
  • I’m torn on the design of the bands, as while I like the inspiration from the factory’s early days, a 10th anniversary cigar would seemingly merit something a bit more ornate. That said, the band doesn’t play a role in the score of the cigar, and it certainly doesn’t detract from what the cigar has to offer.
  • I found that Héctor Alfonso’s description of this being a full flavor but not full strength blend to be pretty accurate. None of the three samples left me feeling much in the way of nicotine strength.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours on average, though with a range of about one hour and 45 minutes to two hours and 15 minutes.
  • Site sponsor Cigar Hustler carries the La Zona 10 Year Anniversary.
88 Overall Score

It's always refreshing to see an anniversary commemorated with a cigar that does something to earn a place in my memory and potentially my humidor. The La Zona 10 Year Anniversary does the former with a vibrant and balanced flavor profile that isn't shy with dry woods and black pepper but doesn't do the deep dive into heavier earthy notes. This allows the flavor and overall body of the smoke to say relatively light on the palate for much of its two hours of smoking time. Where it really shines is when creaminess is present in the profile, which unfortunately only happened in one of the three cigars I smoked, but which will likely be the cigar I most remember. When it's there, it adds quite a bit to the experience, not just in terms of flavor and complexity but also in terms of softening the profile just enough to prevent palate fatigue from setting in by the final third. Once the puffing pace is figured out, the cigar performs beautifully, making for a very easy to enjoy cigar celebrating the first decade of the factory that produced it. The La Zona 10 Year Anniversary is definitely worth a try, and I know I'll be looking to add a few more to my humidor as it impressed me enough to know that I'd like to revisit it down the road when I can simply sit back and enjoy all that it has to offer.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.