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Late last year, Espinosa Premium Cigars released a new cigar in collaboration with General Cigar Co. that marked not only the first time the two companies had worked together, but also incorporated a wrapper brand owner Erik Espinosa had never used up to that point.

Named Warzone, the new limited edition is made up of a Cameroon wrapper from General covering a Honduran binder and filler tobaccos sourced from both Colombia and Nicaragua. The new blend is being sold in only two vitolas—a 5 1/2 x 52 Robusto and a 6 x 52 Toro—each packaged in boxes of 20 and limited to just 3,000 boxes.

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The cigars are being made at the La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí but are sold in the U.S. by General Cigar Co.

 

According to Espinosa, he had struggled to find a Cameroon-wrapped cigar that he really enjoyed, particularly one that is both full body while still letting the wrapper come through. He told halfwheel in a phone call that he and the La Zona team—including his son Erik Jr. and Hector Alfonso—worked with Justin Andrews of General to bring the project to life.

  • Warzone Robusto (5 1/2 x 52) — $8.49 (Box of 20, $169.80) — 3,000 Boxes of 20 (60,000 Total Cigars)
  • Warzone Toro (6 x 52) — $8.99 (Box of 20, $179.80) — 3,000 Boxes of 20 (60,000 Total Cigars)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Warzone Toro
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Cameroon
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Colombia & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $8.99 (Box of 20, $179.80)
  • Release Date: Nov. 12, 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: 3,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (60,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The first thing I notice about Warzone is a surprisingly thick feeling milk chocolate brown wrapper, followed by the almost complete lack of oil. There are a number of raised, prominent veins running up and down its length, and the cigar is very spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the foot and wrapper is a combination of strong cocoa nibs, sweet manure, leather, cedar, dry earth and slight vanilla sweetness while the cold draw brings flavors of hay, almond paste, leather, earth, espresso beans, cedar and a slight floral note.

There is not much flavor to comment on for the first few puffs of the Warzone but eventually, a dominant combination of leather and earth makes itself known, along with lesser flavors of hay, bitter espresso, cedar and toast. Although there is some spice on my tongue and some generic sweetness combined with black pepper on the retrohale, neither are overly aggressive, at least not at this potion in the profile. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a simple straight cut, but the burn wastes no time in moving off course, which results in me touching it up a couple of times. Some production is a bit above average, while the overall strength level ends the first third well below the medium mark, although it is still increasing.

Thankfully, the flavors in the profile start to gain both strength and distinctness during the second third of the Warzone Toro, with a strong espresso bean bitterness easily taking the dominant spot over other notes of cedar, hay, cinnamon, dark chocolate and leather. While there is an increasing amount of black pepper on the retrohale, the spice on my tongue from the first third has all but disappeared by the halfway point, and the sweetness on the retrohale remains both light and generic. The draw continues to impress and the burn has thankfully evened up nicely, while the smoke production remains relatively high. Strength-wise, the Warzone easily hits medium mark by the time the second third draws to an end, but seems to stall out there, at least for the time being. 

The final third of the Warzone Toro continues the trend set down by the preceding third, with the same bitter espresso bean flavor dominating the profile. Other notes of leather, cinnamon, earth, hay, cedar and a touch of floral flit in and out in various amounts, while the sweetness on the retrohale combines nicely with some black pepper that is still present and has become just strong enough to remind me of molasses. The draw remains excellent, but the burn line once again has issues close to the end and I have to touch it up a couple of times to stop the bleeding. Finally, the overall strength increases slightly, but still barely passes the medium mark by the time the final third comes to an end.

Final Notes

  • The name Warzone is a reference to the Ten Years’ War, which took place from 1868-1878. While it was not known at the time, that war ended up being one of three conflicts that eventually led to Cuba’s independence from Spain.
  • Due to how fragile Cameroon wrappers typically are, the winter season is typically not considered the best time to smoke it, which is why it is interesting that both the Warzone and RoMa Craft Tobac’s Baka blend were both shipped in November of last year.

  • Having said the above, I had no issues whatsoever with the wrappers on these cigars being fragile; in fact, there was too much glue used on the band of one of the samples that cause a piece of the wrapper to be ripped off when I removed the band, and it had no negative effect at all.
  • It has been a long time since I have seen the drastic variations in wrappers within the same release: one of the Warzones I smoked had a wrapper that was smooth and supple like leather with an abundance of oil, one was fairly generic and the last one was parchment-like with almost no oil at all.
  • Along with the above, while the flavors in the profile seemed to stay about the same regardless of which wrapper I was smoking, there did seem to be a bit more spice on my tongue in the one that was more parchment-like.
  • General Cigar Co. is one of the largest users of Cameroon wrappers in the entire cigar industry.
  • I am not sure what the point is of having two sizes with the same ring gauge and only 1/2 inch apart in length.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 56 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Warzone cigars, site sponsors Corona Cigar Co. and STOGIES World Class Cigars have them stock now.
84 Overall Score

Over the years, I have been a fan of a number of Espinosa’s releases—the Laranja Reserva and Espinosa Habano lines spring to mind immediately—and was hoping that the Warzone would give those a run for their money. Unfortunately, that was not to be: the blend takes almost a full third to really get going flavor-wise, and even after that the profile never reaches a point that I would consider overly complex. There is also a distinct lack of flavors I associate with Cameroon-wrapped blends, which to me usually includes some combination of creamy nuts, intense black pepper and sweet earth. In the end, the Warzone is a decent enough cigar for a decent price, but both General and Espinosa have much better blends in their respective portfolios.

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About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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