The Espinosa Wasabi is one of nine cigars that comprise the Espinosa Backroom Series. The Backroom Series is a set of cigars available at Espinosa Cigars’ branded lounges. The series made its debut late in 2014 with a cigar called The Alibi. This past August, Espinosa Cigars announced a major expansion of the Backroom Series that would add eight cigars, each with a unique blend in one size. One of the cigars that got considerable attention was the Espinosa Wasabi, a box-pressed candela offering. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Wasabi. Not only is the Espinosa Wasabi an excellent addition to the Backroom Series, but it is one very special candela cigar.
The Espinosa Wasabi is the second candela cigar to come out of Espinosa’s La Zona factory. Earlier this year, a cigar released by MoyaRuiz Cigars called Pickle Juice became the first candela out of La Zona. With the Wasabi, it becomes the first Espinosa branded cigar. Both cigars are the brainchild of Hector Alfonso, the Director of Factory Operations at Espinosa Cigars.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Espinosa Wasabi and see what this cigar brings to the table.
For the Backroom Series, Espinosa is keeping most of the details of the blend confidential. The only information given about the blend is that it is a “spicy candela”.
Binder: Not Disclosed
Filler: Not Disclosed
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (La Zona SA)
Like each of the Backroom Series blends, the Espinosa Wasabi is available in one size – a 5 x 52 box-pressed robusto. The fact that this is a box-pressed candela is significant. A box-pressed candela is is definitely a rare combination and certainly we haven’t seen one hit the market in some time.
The Espinosa Wasabi is packaged in ten count boxes.
For reference, we include the eight other installments of the Backroom Series.
Alibi: 6 x 48
Bootleg: 5 1/2 x 54
Cosmos: 6 1/2 x 54
Double Standard: 6 x 52
Eminent Domain: 6 x 50
Quixotic: 6 x 56
Reggae: 5 5/8 x 46
Serum: 6 x 50
While the Espinosa Wasabi’s candela wrapper is not that “Kermit the Frog” green color I like, it still has to be the most beautiful candela wrapper I have seen in quite some time. The wrapper has more of a slightly weathered green look to it. While there wasn’t much in the way of oil on the surface, I still found it quite smooth. The visible veins and visible wrapper seams are on the thin side.
The cap features a natural leaf. This has become a signature of Alfonso’s candela blends as we saw this on the MoyaRuiz Pickle Juice. The purpose of this is to offset some of the grassiness associated with candela-wrapped blends.
The band to the Espinosa Wasabi is white with black trim. On the middle of the band is the text “WASABI” in a green-colored Japanese-style font. On the left tide of the band is the text “ESPINOSA UNIQUE EXCLUSIVE” and to the right is the text “BACKROOM SERIES” -both in red-colors Japanese style font.
Finally, from the wrapper there was an interesting and subtle herbal spice aroma – that very much had a tobacco quality to it.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Espinosa Wasabi, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut. My cut took off most of the natural tobacco section of the cap, but I still left a small segment on the cigar. I then moved on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered notes of cream, coffee, and a herbal spice note that seemed to be in the same wheelhouse as the subtle aroma from the wrapper. Overall I considered this to be an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Espinosa Wasabi and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The flavors of the Espinosa Wasabi picked up right where the pre-light draw left off as I got notes of cream, coffee, and herbal notes. The herbal notes had sweet, spice, and tobacco-flavor like components to it. On the tongue, I picked up a slight white pepper note. At the same time, the white pepper was prominent on the retro-hale.
As the Espinosa Wasabi moved through the first third, the cream and herbal sweet-spice notes remained primary,. The coffee notes receded into the background and joined the white pepper. As the Wasabi moved into the second third, the herbal note began to take some some more classic grassy candela qualities.
During the early part of the second half, the grassy / herbal combination along with the cream notes continued to be the main flavors. There still was a nice combination of sweetness and spice in the forefront. At the same time, the coffee notes continued to recede into the background and the white pepper notes began to increase.
The last third of the Espinosa Wasabi produced some more spice. The white pepper notes were now present with the grassy / herbal notes. I definitely detected more spice on the tongue during this stage. At the same time there was no harshness or lingering after-taste. The resulting nub was excellent – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Given I had not smoked a box-pressed candela wrapped cigar before, I was curious to see how its burn would perform. This is because candela tends to be a very delicate wrapper and I wasn’t sure what the box-pressing would do to it. The good news is that this was a non-factor when it came to Espinos Wasabi. Overall the burn path remained straight from start to finish. There was an occasional bit of jaggedness on the burn line, but in most cases this didn’t warrant a touch-up. The resulting ash was one the firm side and it had a silver-gray color. Finally the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
When it has come its box-pressed offerings, I have most La Zona offerings to perform very well. The Espinosa Wasabi was no exception. I found the draw to be ideal for a box-press offering the right amount of resistance and open-ness. This made the Wasabi a low maintenance cigar to enjoy.
Strength and Body
While the Espinosa Wasabi is going to offer more in the way of spice for a candela, this isn’t going to translate to more strength and more body. This actually works in favor of the Wasabi. Strength-wise, I found the Espinosa Wasabi started out mild. There was a slight increase of strength along the way and by the second half, I found the strength was in the mild to medium range. Meanwhile the flavors delivered had just enough depth to qualify the Wasabi as a medium-bodied smoke.
When it comes to strength versus body, I gave the edge to the body.
Given that Alfonso is the man behind Espinosa Wasabi and MoyaRuiz Pickle Juice, there are going to be comparisons between the two cigars. I think both cigars push the boundaries of what a candela can do, but they go about it different. With Pickle Juice, this delivers a bolder candela cigar without the typical candela grassiness. Wasabi takes a different path. It’s going to have some of those candela grassy qualities, but it has a nice combination of sweetness and spice originating from the tobacco that gives this cigar a unique experience. Finally, while this cigar lives up to being a “spicy candela”, the fact that this is cigar stays medium-bodied is not going to make this spice overpowering. Overall it’s a cigar I’d recommend to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s a cigar I’d smoke again, get a box of them, and fight Chuck Norris for them,
Strength: Mild (1st Half), Mild to Medium (2nd Half)
Assessment: 4.5-Fight Chuck Norris For Them
News: Espinosa Adds Eight Offerings to Backroom Series
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer (Prior to August 8, 2016)
Stogie Geeks Podcast: Episode 202
Stogie Feed: Espinosa Wasabi
Brand Reference: Espinosa