Espinosa Cigars – Sensei’s Sensational Sarsaparilla
Late last week, I reviewed the La Jugada Nunchuck by MoyaRuiz Cigars, followed by Tony’s review of the Alibi, a lounge exclusive by Espinosa Cigars, earlier this week. Our final review in the “La Zona Factory Series” is Sensei’s Sensational Sarsaparilla, a cigar made in collaboration with Eric Guttormson, owner of Cigar Dojo, and Espinosa Premium Cigars. Sensei’s Senational Sarsaparilla is the third cigar produced in partnership with or under the inspiration of Cigar Dojo. You can find reviews of the two other cigars below:
Sensei’s Sensational Sarsaparilla is limited in several ways. First, it is a “limited run” cigar with only 1,000 bundles of 10 cigars being produced at La Zona in Esteli, Nicaragua. Secondly, the cigar is only being manufactured in one vitola, a 5 1/2 by 52 Belicoso. Lastly, the Sarsaparilla was only made available through Famous Smoke Shop, an online-retailer. Checking on the availability of the Sarsaparilla, unless you know someone who has a stockpile of these laying around, this may be an extremely difficult cigar to find.
Samples Provided by Espinosa Premium Cigars
Price: $79.99 per bundle of 10
Size: 5 1/2 by 52
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Maduro
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 40 Minutes
The Sarsaparilla is truly a great looking cigar from the band design to the oily wrapper. The dark brown Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper conceals much of the leaf’s characteristics but a fine tooth can be felt under the fingers and small veins and bumps can be seen upon closer inspection.
A faint aroma is found on the wrapper with a slight pungency and barnyard smell. The unlit foot is very welcoming with notes of chocolate, graham cracker, cedar, and pepper. The cigar comes to a close with a tapered head that clips easily. A decent draw brings forth clove, graham cracker, and cedar.
Black pepper is in full strength, alongside some wet cedar and coffee. Surprisingly, the retrohale is not unbearable (It didn’t even make me sneeze or tear up). The pepper flavor is full but the spice-heat is only in the medium realm. A very welcoming change in the flavors has taken place at the half inch mark as the flavors have lightened up with some sweetness and rich cedar joining the mix. The finish of the smoke is long with dirt and earth notes. A quick touch-up is needed as one side of the cigar is having difficulty burning in-line with the rest.
Arriving into the second third, the flavors have mellowed. While some of the unique San Andres tobacco flavors are in the mix, they play a very minimal role in the profile. Black pepper and earthy notes characterize the main flavors. A hairline crack has formed in the wrapper, which I did not notice until smoke began to seep out of it, but there is no impact on the smoke production or flavors. Once again, I use my Zippo Z-Plus! to get the burn corrected.
As the black pepper moves to the back of the profile, rich cedar and sweet natural tobacco balance out the darker flavors of coffee and earth (dirt). The cigar has really found its groove at this point in the smoke. Copious amount of full flavored smoke is produced with each draw bring forth rich full flavors that are completely satisfying.
Erik Espinosa has a history of producing solid cigars. There are very few cigars coming out of La Zona that I do not hold in high regard. However, I am split on Sensei’s Sensational Sarsaparilla. If the cigar smoked the entire length as it did in the final third, I would have absolutely zero complaints. Everything about the final third with the rich cedar and natural tobacco sweetness made it an absolute treat. The first and second thirds lacked the balance and complexity of the final third. Regarding performance, the Sarsaparilla showed an average performance – a good amount of smoke produced, firm ash, and only a few touch-ups required. Both samples I had an opportunity to smoke for this review performed similarly and offered consistent flavor profiles. Even the drop in the intensity of flavors in the second third took place at almost the same exact time. If this cigar was a regular production smoke and easily accessible, I would consider purchasing a few more to see how they smoke down the road. But I don’t think I’ll have that opportunity based on the zero availability.