Espinosa Wasabi | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Candela with Habano cap
Binder: Undisclosed
Filler: Undisclosed
Size: 5.5 x 52 Robusto Extra Box Press
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $7.95

Today we take a look at the Espinosa Wasabi ~ 2018
Thanks to Aaron Hamamoto for the sticks.
A limited release but still available at various B&M’s and Corona Cigar and Atlantic Cigar.

Released: April, 2018
“In November 2016, a series of cigars from Espinosa Premium Cigars began to come to light, eight cigars in all, collectively part of the company’s Backroom Series that were made available as exclusives to the Espinosa-branded lounges around the country.

“One of those, the Espinosa Wasabi, seemed to catch on and earned a second release in mid-April. If you’re familiar with wasabi, which is a type of root vegetable best known for being served alongside sushi and sashimi, it’s often described as a Japanese horseradish and known for providing a distinctive spicy kick. However, not only is it a different plant from horseradish, most of the familiar green paste found at sushi bars is a combination of horseradish, mustard, starch and either green food coloring or spinach powder. This is due in part to several factors: first, authentic wasabi is expensive to grow as it requires very specific growing conditions and areas; it offers a level of spice that many American palates find to be simply too much; and when left uncovered it loses its flavor within about 15 minutes.

“Since it is so immediately identifiable, there seemed to be some concern about just how much the cigar might taste like wasabi, and even if there was any wasabi flavoring added to the cigar. Erik Espinosa was quick to dispel these questions, saying numerous times that despite it being described as a “spicy candela,” he picked the name because he liked the word, and it tied in with the use of a candela wrapper.

“While pretty much no specifics of the blend were released, one that was disclosed is that the wrapper is accented by a Nicaraguan habano tip.

“For the second release, a total of 500 boxes of 10 cigars were produced, with the cigar returning in the 5 x 52 box-pressed robusto vitola and priced at $7.95 per cigar. It was also made available to all Espinosa accounts, not just the Espinosa-branded lounges.”

Ahhh…Candela wrappers. At one time in the 1800’s, it was all the rage. Not so much in the 21st century. The candelas I’ve smoked that I enjoyed immensely: Illusione 88 Candela, GB-19 by Nomad Cigar Co., CroMagnon Fomorian EMH by RoMa Craft Tobac, and the La Flor Dominicana Double Claro…that’s it.

The wrapper is extremely rustic. Brought on by the bright green candela that spotlights every flaw. Seams are mostly tight. A ton of veinage with lots of bumps and grinds…but exceedingly smooth to the touch. The stick is pretty hard with the right amount of resistance occurring in the bottom half of the cigar. May need a reem.
The Habano triple cap is expertly applied.

We all know that candela wrapped blends usually taste the same. They are grassy, full of pepper, maybe some mint.
This baby smells of mild chocolate, fresh mown grass, black pepper, malt, cedar, sweetness, a nice touch of caramel, mint leaves, creaminess, fried plantains, and black licorice.
The cold draw presents flavors of grass, butter, cream, black pepper, cedar, vanilla, peanut shell, barnyard, hay, mint, and licorice.

There are a couple plugs in the top half so out comes the trusty PerfecDraw cigar poker and tool and all is right with the world.

Black pepper slams it home first. Grassiness abides. And chocolate, malt, plantains, cream, exotic spice, cedar, vanilla, licorice, and rye seeds.
The stick is packed to the gills and will be an all-day sucker.

There is a hint of complexity. Some transitions are thinking it over. And a nice finish of spiciness, creaminess, and licorice.
Just moments later, the cigar blend kicks in. Very spicy. Complexity makes its move. Transitions round the bases. The finish is long and chewy.

The chocolate and creaminess along with the grassiness and black pepper are dynamite. I’ve had my samples for a couple of months. I tried the first and second samples too soon. The third is the charm. A grown-up cigar for grown up palates.

The grassiness is not overwhelming or interfering with other flavors. Some reviewers really slammed this blend. I am trying to cram in as many sticks before the end of the year to provide me a bigger data base of cigars to rate for the end of the year top cigars. I don’t know if the Espinosa Wasabi has a chance but I’m digging the cigar at a very early stage of its demise.

The frothy creaminess is killer. I wasn’t expecting this. I also wasn’t expecting that my balls would hang around my ankles at this point in my life….just kidding; my knees.

I love the Nomad GB-19. My favorite candela blend. The Wasabi has some striking similarities like coffee, Jasmine green tea, citrus, and salted nuts. I really don’t know why some reviewers really hate this cigar. It’s doing just fine, thank you.

One set of reviewers complained of its lack of complexity. Not so. There is a nice under current of balance, smoothness, and richness that fill out the complexity check list.
You can still find the Nomad GB-19 on Cigar Federation and other online stores. But it’s on its way out. And $2 more than the Wasabi.
The strength ain’t your sister’s candela. This fucker is medium/full. With nicotine raising its ugly head.

I’m watching a big vein crack from the foot towards the middle. I may have to bring out my PerfecRepair cigar glue. It will make for some un-pretty photos but we must marshal on. Since this is a slow roll due to stuffing all that tobacco so tightly, fingers crossed I can burn through it without pulling my ear hair out.

Progression is on point. The high level of spiciness has rescinded its arrest warrant and is moving towards behaving on its own recognizance.

I wish that Espinosa had made this a regular production cigar. I’d buy them. Very rare for a candela that appeals to me. Still, the word on the street must have been very negative for no other reason that only 500 boxes were released 9 months ago and can still be found for sale. I bet a lot of smokers stayed away only because they aren’t candela fans; regardless of some negative reviews swaying a lot of smokers away from a purchase.

Aaron has been hounding me to review this stick and gets impatient with me when I insist I allow the cigars some decent humi time. When Aaron gets impatient with me, he sends me NorCal road kill in shrink wrap via UPS. Although, it may be safer to eat than romaine lettuce.

I am getting curry spice. I love curry. My first real foray into the cuisine came when I lived in London in the mid 70’s. India, being a Commonwealth country of the British Empire, made England a big destination for these folks. Since English food was so bad back then, the only food we ate while touring England was either Indian or Chinese. Once we were on the Continent touring, we had a world of good food to partake of.

OK. Those reviewers that didn’t play nice with this blend are nuts. This is an excellent blend. I like everything about it. Beautifully building complexity. Very tasty transitions with a gorgeous finish that is lip smacking good. Aaron was right.

Because of health issues this year, I was only able to pump out a little over 100 reviews. So, I felt it more prudent to only name 15 sticks for my top cigars of 2018. I like to include a candela if I can but the odds are always so minimal. This blend is damn near as good as the Nomad GB-19. And it made my #3 spot for 2016.
As the halfway point arrives, I’m having more fun that getting my feet massaged by wild ferrets.

I burned right through that crack. The Wasabi, despite those plugs, is a well-constructed cigar. No burn issues. A perfect draw. And solid for the duration.

Strength has mellowed out some. The nicotine disappeared. Never had that happen before. The balance is now more than impressive. A rich smoothness overtakes the experience and it is all cherries and cream now.

Aaron had these sticks for a while before he sent them to me. So, I’m guessing the downward spiraling reviews did not allow for enough humi time; unless they just went in knowing that they hate candela wrapped blends.

At a little over $7 for the Robusto, this is an excellent deal. Naturally, my timing is everything. Reviewing a cigar on its way out. Sonovabitch.

Surprisingly, the usual “green” quality is subdued. It doesn’t overwhelm the blend with what most smokers don’t like in candelas. It has that Nic filler element that gives the blend some real direction. The Nomad candela has an Ecuadorian binder. Hmmm…

Mustiness shows up. Hopefully, a temporary thing.
Speaking of mustiness…ever have sex with your wife on Xmas day and your butt plug accidentally flies across the room striking your cat in the head knocking him out? And when he wakes up, and he is angry, you hand him a blunt and he taps his claws waiting for you to light it?
Me neither.

The mustiness was extremely transitory and has disappeared into the ether.
Strength is an easily adaptable medium/full.

Spiciness returns causing me to triple sneeze til I blow ear wax against the window. My eyes are watering.
We are now inching towards full strength. I realize that the name of the cigar represents the flavor of horseradish. Yet, I don’t taste it. Plenty of black pepper to go around but nothing horseradishy. Espinosa might just have easily named it “Spicy Fucking Pepper.”
But Wasabi is catchy. PR rules the day.

I easily recommend scoring some, even a fiver, before they are gone forever. Let them rest. Don’t be impatient. Give the stick 3 months rest and you too will pish posh the reviewers who didn’t like this blend.

Did Tanta Claus bring you nice toys for Chrismukkah? My daughter bought me three cigar tee shirts with the dumbest things written on them. Clearly, they will become bedtime shirts. But she also got a hold of hundreds of family photographs and made this huge frame for around 25 photos. My parents’ wedding photo of them dancing, my immediate family, and my new family. I broke into tears like a little girl. I have a great kid.

The black pepper actually begins to morph. I taste the Japanese horseradish now. No shit. It’s really strong making the black pepper insignificant. Nice surprise.
The Espinosa Wasabi has made it to my favorite candela blends.
You’ll dig it.


And now for something completely different:
Enduring Stewart Copeland.

After Curved Air, I moved back to Long Beach. Things were not great for a couple of years. I should have stayed in Britain and toughed it out til the next big group needed a bassist. I was auditioning for several groups but we had no income…just the dough I had earned in CA.

But I would have absolutely needed to send the girlfriend and her 5-year-old home. I had to make a choice.
I had my foot in the door and blew it by leaving. I chose family over opportunity. What a fucking dumbass I was. I was young and stupid.

I went through some tough times dealing with this. I went to work at my father’s structural steel fab shop as a project manager for a bit. And then a couple years later, I said the hell with it and quit.

I found a great rock band, playing their own original music, called The Attitude. For long time readers, you’ve seen the music video of “Hound Dog.” But for those that haven’t, fire away. The B side was a rip off of Devo and was called “Condo Bondage.”

The skinny kid playing bass is me. It was 1980. Just prior to the advent of MTV. The video is rudimentary and basic; but fun and dumb. But we did convince Little Richard to play piano on the recording. He killed it. He was in Studio A and we were in Studio B at the same time. He doesn’t perform in the video.

Shortly after joining The Attitude, I saw an ad for The Police who would be playing in Santa Barbara. They just had their first hit of “Roxanne.”

I stared very creepily at the photo of the band’ and it hit me. It was my drummer in Curved Air: Stewart Copeland. He was one of those three blonde heads in the ad.

He made it big time by breaking away from Curved Air…who never had more than a minor hit in America. Huge in Europe, though.

I called their management office in L.A. and told them who I was and could I get tickets?
The man himself called me back: Miles Copeland III. Stew’s oldest brother and the manager of The Police. Miles started with Wishbone Ash and branched off into a gazillion English bands you’ve heard of and listened to. Too many to list.

Miles seemed excited to talk to me and said he had an idea. He would give me back stage passes and we would surprise Stew and not tell him I was coming up for their concert.

So, I took my girlfriend, Teri, with me. Nice drive from Long Beach to Santa Barbara. I believe the band played at the university. Oingo Boingo opened for them.
We got there about 4 pm. Teri and I saw a small group of people huddled in the corner of the concert hall/gym. It was The Police and Miles. Miles saw me and motioned me over.

I sauntered over and yelled: “Hey douchebag!”
I had that beautiful fro in Curved Air…But times had changed…so had the music; and…the look.
I now had short hair.
At first, Stew was shocked at being called a rude name. So, I said, “Hey douchebag. Forgotten old friends now that you’re a rock star again?”
(Copeland and I called each other douchebag the entire time we were in Curved Air.)
His eyes lit up and yelled: “KOHN!!!! You douchebag.”

He literally lifted me off my feet with a bear hug. (Tall guy and I was only 5’-11)
He introduced me to Sting and Andy Summers. They actually pretended to be impressed to meet me because Curved Air was such a big group in Europe.
I didn’t expect that.

We shot the shit for a while and then they had to do sound check.
Miles handed us our back-stage passes.
Then Teri and I left and got a bite to eat.

When we got back, Oingo Boingo was just starting.
We hung out back stage with the three boys in the band and watched.

Great band and Danny Elfman went on to become a great composer for the movies. Director Tim Burton uses Elfman, almost exclusively, for his movies. Elfman went on to score other movies as well’ and has shelves full of Oscars and Grammys.

There must have been 100 Hollywood types that drove up from L.A. to see the concert because The Police weren’t playing L.A. this tour.

I had the white death with me. After all, it was 1981. The height of coke use in America.
You saw the movie, “Blow” right? With Johnny Depp as a blonde surfer dude?
Well, the boys had run out of their blow. They bought a bunch in S.F. and went through it fast. (Whoa)

I was introduced to their head roadies and handed them small vials of the white powder. That did the trick. I had total access to every place the band did.
So, while the Hollywood self-important folks, that made the drive from L.A. to Santa Barbara, were kept at bay and not allowed in the dressing room, Teri and I just smiled and winked at the 8’-0 tall bodyguard at the door and walked in.

It was skeezy locker room. Not even a chair. Just benches in front of lockers for the players.

So, we sat and talked. Stew, Sting, Andy, Teri and me. Stew brought out a joint. And then I brought out the coke. Their eyes lit up like it was Christmas. That one-night cost me a fortune. I just had a hunch. (Younger readers won’t get this about the proliferation of coke in the early 80’s all over America) Most of us got out alive.

Now there was Sting. He was new on the scene. Really new. I couldn’t believe that his friends really called him that silly name in private.

So, as I passed the coke around, I did a dog whistle at Sting and said, “(Whistle) You want some?” Sting grabbed the coke dispenser and helped himself to a big dose.
Stew was miffed. He looked at me and said, “His NAME is Sting!”
I stood corrected and I apologized.

We sat there for about 45 minutes while Sting and Andy quizzed me about Stew in the Curved Air days. We laughed so hard that Sting freaked out and started his voice preparation process because he was fucking up his voice from laughing so hard.

The Police went on stage.

I met Elfman while The Police played and found out we had stuff in common. We were both Landsmen. (Jews.) He was also from L.A. We hung out in the same places on the Sunset Strip.
He told me how he almost died from malaria while he toured Ghana to pick up some musical influence.
And then we just stood there and watched The Police.

After the show, we all went back to the locker room. Miles was there along with Jerry Moss of A & M records. Partners with Herb Alpert. I didn’t bring out any coke.

Miles went on about how funny Stew and I were during the radio interviews we did with Curved Air and then he made me tell his favorite story. Anytime we did radio interviews after, or before, a concert, we were asked such stupid questions like: “How did you start in music?”

I had a pat response: “I was in Rabbinical school and one night the head Rabbi caught me in the closet indulging in a pork milkshake. So, I changed my career path to music.” It always angered the radio DJ’s that I was so flip. I mean I know that’s a stupid thing for me to say. But how many times can you discuss what the music means to me? God knows how long-time big-time musicians answer the same questions for 40 or 50 years.

I had brought all of The Attitude (Hound Dog?) stuff with me. I brought our 45 single and video.
After I felt comfy with Miles and Jerry, I handed them the “Hound Dog” stuff.
Miles’ assistant sat there as well. Miles turned to the guy, handed him my single, and said with a wink, “You know what to do with this.”
I was stunned. The bastard, in barely veiled boredom, told his assistant right in front of me to throw it away. I was pissed.

I excused myself, gathered up Teri, who was having a great time with the musicians, grabbed her by the elbow, and said, “Let’s get out of here.”
I gave Stew, Andy and Sting a hug and split.
And now, every 6 months, I beg the Miles Copeland office in London for my record royalties. If I don’t beg for it, I will never get it.
The day I learned, many years ago, that he and McCartney were working on a project together…I wanted to hang myself. But a couple months later, the project disappeared. Fucking Copeland freaked McCartney out. I know it….


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2 replies

  1. Love the stories Cousin Phil! I’m Candela green with envy over your exploits. 🤡

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