Collaborations have become the rage in the cigar industry over the past few years, but in 2019 one of the more unique collaborations was launched between two unlikely cigar companies and it was called Warzone. It was a project that would take both Espinosa and General out of their traditional comfort zones in four ways: 1) General Cigar Company would work with Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory to produce this cigar; 2) General Cigar Company would give La Zona access to its tobaccos to produce the blend; 3) The sales and distribution of this La Zona-made cigar would be handled by General, and 4), the cigar would utilize a Cameroon wrapper – something La Zona has not worked with before. Warzone would make its debut in late 2019. The cigar itself is a limited production cigar. Today we take a closer look at the Warzone in the Toro size.
While both companies were being stretched to move out of their comfort zones, there were many benefits. It gave Espinosa an opportunity to produce a very different blend than it has before. By allowing distribution to go to General, it also gave Espinosa a chance to tap into some new accounts that General has nationwide. For General, this was a unique opportunity to work with a small factory to produce a cigar.
General Cigar is known for its brands, but for Warzone the decision was made to not put Warzone under one of them, but rather sell it as a standalone brand. The Warzone was inspired by the Ten Years War – a war fought in Cuba between Cuba and Spain as a part of Cuba’s overall fight of independence from Spain.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Warzone Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The Cameroon wrapper isn’t the only unique thing for this La Zona-made cigar. It’s one of the least Nicaraguan-centric blends ever done by the factory. The blend features a Honduran binder as well as filler from Colombia (another La Zona first) and Nicaraguan Havano filler.
Filler: Colombian, Nicaraguan Havano
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: La Zona S.A.
The Warzone was produced in two sizes. Each is presented in 20-count boxes. Given the limited availability of the Cameroon wrapper, only 3000 boxes were produced.
Robusto: 5 1/2 x 52
Toro: 6 x 52
The Cameroon wrapper of the Warzone Toro had a medium brown color. Upon closer examination, there was some mottling on the surface. The wrapper itself had a light coating of oil with some thin visible veins and thin visible wrapper seams on it. Cameroon wrappers tend to be quite fragile and there was no exception with the Warzone.
The front of the band is highlighted by a red ribbon design with the text “WARZONE” in metallic font sitting on it. The top of the band has a red and white Espinosa acronym logo. Sitting on a yellow field on the center of the band is the text “TEN YEARS WAR 1868-1874” on a yellow field. The lower part of the band features a red circular logo with initials in gold that seem to represent the Espinosa and General logos. The bottom center of the band has a black wedge with the text “ESPINOSA” in a light-colored font. The sides of the band have dark blue, light blue orange, yellow, and gold adornments. On a light blue colored section on the left side of the band is the text “ESTELI NICARAGUA” in red font. The right side of the band has the text “HECHO EN LA ZONA” also on a light blue colored section in red font.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the Warzone Toro. As mentioned, this is quite a fragile wrapper and the cut should be made delicately. I would advise heavily against a bullet or V-Cut with this cigar.
After the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a nice mix of classic wood, natural tobacco sweetness, and a subtle pepper note. It was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to light up the Warzone Toro and move on to the smoking phase.
The Warzone Toro started out with an assortment of flavors including cedar, damp wood, coffee bean, natural tobacco, and fruit. Early on the natural tobacco and fruit moved into the primary notes. The cedar, wood, and coffee bean notes settled into the background. A little later on a slight white pepper note emerged on the tongue. In addition there was a layer of white pepper on the retro-hale.
Later in the first third, the wood notes started to appear in the forefront. The natural tobacco note remained a primary note and had its own underlying sweetness. During the second third, the fruit notes diminished, the wood notes began to increase and the pepper notes started to increase. Just past the midway point, the wood notes joined the natural tobacco in the forefront. By this time the wood had lost its “damp” qualities. In addition, the coffee bean note dissipated.
By the last third, the wood took over as the primary note. There were still notes of pepper and natural tobacco in the background along with subtle notes of cedar and fruit in the more distant background. This is the way the Warzone Toro came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Warzone performed well on the burn. This is a cigar that had a slightly uneven burn line, but had no problem maintaining a straight burn path. The resulting ash as on the firmer side with a salt and pepper color scheme. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The Warzone Toro had a draw that I found to be more open than I prefer. I normally like a little resistance on the draw. In this case, I didn’t find this draw had any adverse effects in terms of the combustion of this cigar.
Strength and Body
The Warzone Toro started out as a medium strength, medium-bodied cigar. Both the strength and body increased in intensity as the cigar burned. The strength seemed to outpace the body here with the Warzone Toro hitting medium to full strength by the second half. The body eventually reached medium to full by the final third.
In terms of strength versus body, both attributes started out even, but as the cigar experience progressed, the strength took the edge in the second half.
This was a very interesting cigar. What starts out as what I consider to be a classic Cameroon smoke changes as the cigar progresses. By the second third, the cigar kicks it in as it increases in intensity and delivers some of the “Espinosa bite” with the spice notes. Basically when you reach the second third, the Espinosa influence is very present. There is an expression “not your father’s Connecticut cigar.” I think when it comes to this cigar the expression “not your father’s Cameroon” applies. Yes, I can nit-pick about the draw being more open than I prefer and the wrapper being delicate, but the plusses far outweigh the minuses on how this cigar performs. This is a cigar I would recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast, but also a novice looking for something geared more for the medium plus side. As for myself, this is a cigar I’d smoke again and buy multiples of for my humidor.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Wood, Cedar, White Pepper, Fruit, Coffee Bean
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Final Third)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy Multiples
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted