Espinosa Alpha Dawg | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 48 Short Churchill
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $8.75
Humidor Aging Time: 4 weeks
Number of cigars smoked prior to review: 1

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Today we take a look at the Espinosa Alpha Dawg.
Many thanks to Eric Anderson for the sticks.

BACKGROUND:
Debuted at the 2016 IPCPR trade show.
Regular production. Comes in 10 count boxes.

From the Smoke Inn web site:
“In early 2016, a top secret gathering of cigar media, social media, and all other La Zona-crazed fans gathered at the Espinosa headquarters in Hialeah, Florida. This was to be the first-ever LaZonaPalooza, a cigar festival centered around brands and cigars coming out of Erik Espinosa’s popular La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

“Authorities are still not entirely sure of the following events that transpired over the 3-day gathering. Although, stories of an abundance of food, cigars, and alcohol, combined with heavy-weight dodgeball and shirtless tug-of-war help to paint the picture… But the most interesting, productive, and formerly top secret component of LaZonaPalooza has now surfaced as the Alpha Dawg.

“Three cigar blends and three packaging designs were voted on by event attendees, with the winner going on to become a special, event-exclusive cigar for Espinosa Premium Cigars. Demand for the project eventually outpaced the original scope for the project and Alpha Dawg has grown to include three regular production sizes, each sporting the “alpha dawg” himself (Erik Espinosa) on the punk-rock-inspired packaging. A premium Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper surrounds all-Nicaraguan binder and fillers, making for a full-flavored smoking experience, complete with a kick of spice and nicotine that’ll keep your taste buds awake for every second of this thrilling smoking experience!”

SIZES AND PRICING:
Pricing online varies greatly. On average, sticks can be found for a buck or two less than the MSRP.
Corona Gorda 5.5 x 46 $8.00
Robusto 5 x 50 $8.25
Short Churchill 6 x 48 $8.75

DESCRIPTION:
The stick is not a sophisticated beauty. Seams are visible. There are a lot of big veins crawling up and down the cigar. The wrapper is a medium brown with a touch of oil. I notice on both cigars that there is a smattering of cigar glue visibly present as a result of the rolling process.
The cigar is very, very hard with a couple of soft spots.
The cigar band is all Vegas, baby. If light reflects off of it, one can go blind from the chrome silver writing and filigree.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell wonderful notes of cinnamon graham crackers, dark cocoa, spice, lovely floral notes, citrus, cedar, peanut butter, and Worcestershire sauce.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell heavy notes of what is described above.
The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, red pepper, citrus, Worcestershire sauce, peanut butter, and cinnamon.
Often, I take an aromatic cigar to my wife and inform her what I smell. I ask her to check it out. She gently moves the shaft back and forth, underneath her nose, and then the foot…She looks at me and says, “I smell shit.”

FIRST THIRD:
A big blast of pepper starts me off on my journey. Man, it’s potent. My eyes weep. My nose runs like a junkie going through withdrawal.
Then as quickly as it appeared, it tapers off dramatically. There is a nice sweetness about the blend. More generic than specific.

Chocolate mint joins the marching band. And then this little schizophrenic baby goes nuclear once again on the red pepper. I sneeze and the cat jumps about 3 feet into the air. Charlotte is very jealous. The cat follows me around like a dog. And only pays attention to her on rare occasions.

The band “Yes” is playing. Damn I hate that band. All techno-rock with a guy who sings like a girl. Never liked them. I saw part of a televised concert years ago and the bassist Chris Squire was wearing tight spandex pants and a silver lame’ shirt. His belly hung out big time and his ass was huge in the spandex. Laughter is the best medicine.

This is the single reason I got the gig with the English progressive band Curved Air. The 30 other bassists there for the audition all played exactly like Chris Squire. I was into jazz fusion. I stood out. Right time, right place…and a lot of luck.

OK. Back to the Espinosa Alpha Dawg.
Strength is medium but feels stronger due to the huge onslaught of spiciness. I am a spice junkie but this is almost too much for even me. The inside of my nose burns.
The pepper is blocking any semblance of what the blend has to offer.

The cigar has been out for a while and I can’t find more than one or two reviews. And both are seriously lacking in detail.
Finally, an inch in, flavors begin to form: Creaminess, graham cracker, malt, and cedar. Not exactly an impressive start.
The char line is doing nicely.

I don’t understand why the aromas were so wonderful and varied and yet the actual flavors are missing in action. Maybe I shouldn’t have dropped acid before I started writing. Go figure.

The pepper calms down for the second time allowing some flavors to make it past my crispy palate.
I get some nice chocolate, cream, graham cracker, lemon zest, honeysuckle, cedar, and steak sauce. So I seem to be at square one before I lit the Espinosa Alpha Dawg.

I don’t know if it is due to the raging pepper but the strength seems to be hitting medium/full.
Flavors are subtle and do not represent a high premium blend. It tastes more like a Man O’ War or a 601 Green Oscuro. Good cigars but I expect more. The Espinosa Alpha Dawg reminds me more of a catalog cigar than a boutique blend.

I predict that, at either the halfway point or last third, the blend will come to life. Tell me it isn’t annoying that you have to smoke half a cigar before it begins to impress.

The draw is pretty good but could be better. I think the fully packed cigar is having an impact.
The red pepper is a three alarm fire now. I’ve sneezed more times than in any other review. I do like a snappy start to a cigar but, by now, it should have calmed down.

The flavor profile is fighting a losing battle. They are fighting for their lives and the pepper keeps bitch slapping them.

Any moment now, the asshole with glass packs on his 2001 Hyundai will be driving down the street at 60mph. I am so tempted to call the cops hoping they set up a road block for when this guy careens down the street like a crazy man and they take him out in a blaze of gunfire. I might even fire a few shots from my window facing the street.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 25 minutes.
The roller coaster ride of the spiciness is at a lull now. Flavors come out swinging. No change to the flavor lineup but at least I can taste them above the fusillade of red pepper.

I think I know what the problem is. The Espinosa Laranja is a hard act to follow. It made my No.7 cigar of my Top 25 Cigars of 2015.
The Espinosa Alpha Dawg won’t make that list. Espinosa worked a lot with Pepin Garcia and I believe this cigar would have been better had he used that association with this blend.

I’m not going to blame the humidor time for this disappointment. The 601 and EO blends were all good to go within the same time frame.
Something spectacular is what I expected.
I’m getting burn issues now requiring touch ups.

3a

When my grandfather visited us in Long Beach, I was always dismayed that he got up before daylight. And woke me up. He said he couldn’t sleep any longer.
Now that I am an old man, I am having that same issue. This morning, I woke up at 4:30am and started writing by 5.
But if you work in the construction trade you know what I’m talking about. Most of my gigs forced me to wake at 3:30 to be able to get to work while the field crews were still in the shop and discussions took place over the job at hand for that day. It became a game of cat and mouse with how many times you hit the snooze button before you finally dragged yourself out of bed.
Charlotte took no prisoners and made fun of me for collapsing into bed around 9pm or so.

I’m waiting on the Espinosa Alpha Dawg to do something that brings life to this review.
Alas, the boat has left the dock without a soul on board.

I’ve reviewed 9 other Espinosa blends and the only ones to impress were the Laranja Reserva and the Espinosa Especial. I believe the breakup of Eddie Ortega and Eric Espinosa was the death of a great partnership. Neither has really been consistent since. And what happened to Ortega? He was on a real roll back in 2013 and 2014 and then he sort of dropped out of the scene.
Both began making inexpensive bundle cigars for online stores. What happened?

The halfway point is here. Nada. No changes. No complexity. No transitions. Blah.

I was really looking forward to reviewing this cigar. I had a good run for a bit with some great cigars and then a dud shows up and ruins that run.

In fact, subtle flavors dissipate. I’m left with some malt, hay, graham cracker and cedar.
The char line requires a major tune up.
At this point, I should at least taste great potential.

This seems to be another example of where the PR exceeds the quality of the product.
The Espinosa web site doesn’t even acknowledge this blend. And when you look at the list of blends, one can’t help realize that Espinosa is in the business of making catalog cigars.

4a

And par for the course, there is way too much glue on the cigar band forcing me to use an X-Acto blade to remove it nicking the wrapper. Murphy’s Law.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour.
This is a big disappointment after the great blends of the Espinosa Especial and the Laranja Reserve.
Flavors begin to perk up in the last third. Natch.
Transitions begin. Creaminess, malt, graham cracker, cedar, sweet fruit, nuts, steak sauce, and espresso.

The aroma was so redolent with the wonderful peanut butter and yet not a hint of it in the flavor profile.
I should have stayed in bed and tried to go back to sleep.

There are a gazillion blends out there that are identical to the Espinosa Alpha Dawg. No excitement in the first and second thirds and then life is breathed into it during the last third.
Most online stores are sold out or back ordered. I see no rush or angst required over this. PR sold this blend. Maybe that’s why I can’t find a bevy of cigar reviews.

Construction is merely adequate requiring too many char line fixes.
Clearly, this is an ordinary $6 cigar blend. Reminds me of the dead on arrival blends from Torano or Plasencia.

What an inconsistent blend. Flavors now lie there like an old rug. Flat and without flare.

I’m listening to “Whole Lotta Love” by Zep. Reminds me of the time in college where I took a music appreciation class with 100 people enrolled. For extra credit, I brought my bass in and used the chalk board to write the notes for the iconic riff that makes this song a classic. And played the hell out of it. I took questions from the class afterwards and I was talked into playing a bass solo. Man, that was 46 years ago.
I’m killing time now waiting for the cigar to be water boarded in my head.
Flavors are gone. Nicotine is raging now making my choice of putting the cigar down early an easy decision.
Mind you, this is my first cigar of the day when my palate is fresh. Can you imagine what it tastes like when it is the third cigar of your day?

5a

In my experience, every Espinosa blend was good to go after a month of rest. Could this be the exception? Or is it just a dud?
Pepper returns again blotting out any chance to taste anything else.
I will put this cigar down with an inch to go.
Someone should report this cigar to the Geneva Convention.

RATING: 80

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4 replies

  1. Thank you for your honest to goodness review. Just another new over priced “it” boutique cigar I can avoid & buy one of your more worthy recommendations. Talking in regards about Espinosa, the FDA deadline & quality control. I think we are going to see some wild inconsistencies in quality, performance & reliability with all these rushed releases. I mean Espinosa double or tripled his portfolio with new additions to the 601, store exclusive, online exclusive & brand new lines it’s been hard to keep up let alone even try some of them. I know all of these new lines were “released” prior to the FDA’s involvemen & I’ve yet only seen a fraction of them available for purchase. Bella Artes by AJF was another example of over reaching in the rush to beat the heat that is the FDA & it underwhelmed in your review as well. Anywho great review as always and hopefully the “new” releases get better.

  2. The link below for Kap’s website only leads to a bigger page of the same picture.