Espinosa Warzone Box Pressed Short Churchill | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Colombian, Nicaraguan Habano
Size: 6.5 x 48 Short Churchill
Strength: Medium
Price: $8.00 (I got a 10 pack for $65 from Cigar Page)


I’ve allowed these cigars to marinate naked for nearly 4 months.
I must admit that I am a fan of most things Erik Espinosa.
A gaggle of reviewers hit the original Warzone but only a handful have reviewed this version. The spectrum of ratings is from the low 80’s to the low 90’s. This is odd. Normally, if a cigar is decent, scores are usually in the same neighborhood. My only guess is that the cigar was reviewed at varied humidor aging stages.
And the price is right…whether you get a deal at $6.50 like I did or the online stores for $8.00.

BACKGROUND:
Released November 2020
Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars
From Halfwheel.com (12-13-2020):
“There are many cigars that are billed as “collaborations,” but most of them are just fancy ways of saying that company A will be manufacturing a cigar that company B will sell. It’s something that is relatively commonplace—and has been commonplace—as a client-factory relationship.

“Last year, one of the exceptions to the “most collaborations are just factory-client relationships with marketing spin” debuted by way of General Cigar Co. and Espinosa Premium Cigars. Like most of those cigars, one company—in this case General—would be selling cigars that were made by the other one. But in this case, General would supply some of the tobacco used, specifically a Cameroon wrapper that Espinosa likely would have never had access to.

“It’s called Warzone and the artwork depicts the Ten Years’ War, which took place from 1868-1878. While it was not known at the time, that war ended up being one of three conflicts that eventually led to Cuba’s independence from Spain. Blend-wise, it uses the Cameroon wrapper from General over a Honduran binder and fillers from Colombia and Nicaragua. It’s made at La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí.

“Warzone debuted in 2019 in two limited edition sizes. In 2020, the two companies announced that there would be 500 additional boxes of the Warzone Robusto produced along with a new Short Churchill, a box-pressed vitola that measures 6 1/2 x 48.”

APPEARANCE:
This is a nice-looking stick. I love the appearance of a good box press. Unfortunately, box pressed sticks do not care for me as I always have burn issues. The cigar is fully packed but no hard or soft spots. In room light, the cigar is chocolate brown…lit for a photo and the stick turns oily and copperish. Seams are tight. Veins don’t impede the presentation.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Aromas aren’t bold but they provide nuances of milk chocolate, beef jerky, red pepper, a generic sweetness, barnyard, a touch of malt, cedar, and caramel.
The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, malt, licorice, cumin, cedar, roasted nuts, creaminess, and fresh berries.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is a bit lighter than my own preference…so I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool back in its box.

Flavors start out nicely with a variation of different themes: Mixed nuts, milk chocolate, cumin, creaminess, red pepper, malt, licorice, beef jerky, and a pleasant generic sweetness.

Strength immediately hits the mark at medium.

Complexity arrives toot suite. Not a lot, mind you…but enough to give me hope. A well-rounded blend from the beginning…but can it remain erect?

Creaminess, chocolate, malt, vanilla, berries, cumin, gorgeous cashews, and just the right amount of the newly arrived black pepper.

The finish is a delight as my tongue moves across the inside of my cheeks seeking out more flavor bits.

Flavors are perfectly balanced…nothing reigns down thunder and lightning forcing one component over another. This is a good sign.

The cigar is packed such that it is a luxurious slow roll. I smoked a couple with only a month and then two months of aging. The four months of sleep makes a huge difference. This is a helluva’ $6.50 cigar. I could name any number of manufacturers who would charge double for this quality.

Cashews disappear and almonds take over. The berries, almonds, and bready yeasty elements make for a perfect almond butter and jelly sandwich. The savory qualities are in the background waiting their turn. Transitions begin.

BTW- I’m getting hormone injections as I ready myself for my own transition. I lost over 60lbs in the last year so I already have the man boobs. Although, they look like wilted loaves of bread or a spaniel’s ears.

The savory portions climb aboard with notes of jerky, artisanal bread, and almonds.

This is a tasty cigar. Alas, I wasted a couple of sticks trying to determine their readiness to review.

My lack of sleep due to skeletal pain last night was brutal. But I was determined to review today to get my mind off the fact I am becoming psychotic. Not sure how much humor I will disseminate into words. I’m literally delusional. I expect a call from the new doc today and I better get a godamm appointment before I begin to stalk the neighborhood seeking out rodents for midnight snacks.

Complexity rises to the occasion. The fact that it continually moves forward makes me happy. So, I yell at the stick: “Serpentine! Serpentine!” With all the streaming services on TV, I haven’t seen the original “The In-Laws” in years.

The Warzone is at a cruising altitude with a delegation of flavors trying to keep up. This blend is definitely a great example of the sum is greater than its parts.

My head is bopping to The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See?” Great fucking song.

I spoke to Frank Gerechter of Urban Fishing Pole Cigars yesterday. He is the only other blogger that will talk to me. A year younger than me. It’s so nice to talk to another Boomer whose interests are in sync with mine. If you get to our age, you realize just how many people you’ve known are no longer here. But you have to get to our age to truly understand the blessing it is to make it this far…and still be coherent. OK. I heard that.

I’m digging the Warzone. Cigarpage.com is selling fivers for $33.50 and 20 count boxes for $120.00. That’s $6.00 per stick…even cheaper than I paid. If I had Dr. Rod’s money, I’d buy a couple of boxes, so I always have a nice go-to stick at the ready. For this dough, it’s a steal. I’m surprised a 2020 release of 2,000 boxes are still on the market. Different strokes; palate-wise. If you snag some, tell Cigar Page I sent you. I expect them to say, “Who”? But that’s OK.

SECOND THIRD:
The creaminess goes for gold. There is vanilla ice cream, homemade whipped cream, and an authentic Italian bakery cannoli singing arias.
Cinnamon appears that turns berries into apples.
Yeasty bread is so good, I can almost smell the buttery loaves as they are being baked.

The strength remains at medium. Good morning cigar.

I haven’t added an old rock story in ages, so I am doing so today. My loyal readers have read this story…but new readers have probably not come across it. It’s all about me being unceremoniously sacked from Curved Air.

Fun fact…Many readers assume I am a big time Brit prog band fan. I was in the early 70’s, but passing the audition was a godsend. Otherwise, I would have been completely broke a week later. I didn’t know who the band was at the time. And all these years later, I’m still not a fan of the band. But they paid me to play bass. That’s all a musician lives for.

My four-year-old grandson, Scott, made this portrait of us together.

The complexity has leveled off. I’m not complaining. I’m just happy that it exists. After yesterday’s review of the Nic Libre X AGANORSA, this blend is a simple pleasure that exhibits why I smoke cigars. An inexpensive cigar that holds its own among the cigars at a price point that is sheer lunacy.

Transitions move like a cheetah chasing a politician.

Strength is upped to medium/full.

One does not need a sophisticate palate to enjoy this blend. And based on the wildly varied ratings other reviewers gave this cigar, it will be your experience to decide which side of the fence you are on with the Warzone.

Savory v. Sweet is balanced perfectly now.

The sweet spot lunges at me now. I lunge back. I fall and break a hip.

With all the horrible weather and fires consuming the rest of the country, Wisconsin is having a mild summer. Today will get to 75 with low humidity…and the sun shines bright.

I spend way too much time kicking back and the second third ends with no sense of time passing.

LAST THIRD:
The Warzone is super smooth. Flavors have melded together in one giant ball.
I should go bowling today.

Nicotine arrives. I’m verklempt.

“Paint It Black” by The Stones is playing. They used a dulcimer throughout the tune. I remember hanging at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Long Beach when Keith Richards and entourage walked in looking to snag some dulcimers. I couldn’t breathe. I stood there like a statue. I also remember asking one of the guys working there a month later and asked him what song they were planning to use the instrument on? The response was: “How the fuck should I know?” Good times.

I’m getting a UPS delivery of donated cigars shortly. I stop what I’m doing and put my pants on. Answering the door in old man boxers and a tee shirt usually scares them. My elongated ball sack that hovers around my knees might be the reason.

There are no surprises with the Warzone. Cruise control. A solid blend worth every penny of the $6 price tag.

As I’m completely out of mind from sleep deprivation that I need Charlotte to help me with getting my legs in the right holes.

I’m sated by this very pleasant blend. It gets to the end without a hint of harshness or bitterness.
Lovely cigar.
I recommend it highly for an inexpensive stick that one doesn’t need to worry if time does not allow you to finish it.

RATING: 90

And now for something completely different:

We were recording an album at Island Studios in London. 1975.

During the close of recording of the album, Jose Feliciano showed up. Our PR guy was a longtime friend of Jose’s and invited him to the studio. It was the first time Feliciano had toured England.

He seemed to have dug our music and was so enthusiastic that he asked if he could lay down some guitar on our tracks. Darryl Way did not like this idea. But here we were. The worst that could happen is we would be entertained by Feliciano and then throw away his parts later in final mixing.

For a couple nights, Jose added his own style to our English progressive recordings.

The only tune he sounded great on was my one tune allowed on the album: “I Broke My Leg in Yucca Valley, but My Heart Lies in Palm Springs.” Really, no bullshit. That was the name of the tune and of course, it was bass centric. I got to show off. The band hated it. It was so intricate that they couldn’t figure it out. It was very American jazz fusion…the exact reason they hired me. So, they went to the booth and sulked. My tune became a bass solo with Feliciano playing guitar and famous Brazilian percussionist, Paulhino De Costa playing every percussion instrument he had in his kit bag. And Stew was right on point. I tried teaching Sonja the two sentence lyrics, but she didn’t have the range or the ability to hit the strange time signature…or the ability to scat, so we had our only instrumental on the album.

RCA had a big “Listening Party” debuting the release of the album called “Midnight Wire.”

It was a scene right out of “Spinal Tap.” The record was played on a continual loop throughout the party and each time ‘Yucca Valley’ played, I could hear mutterings of, “What the fuck is that?”

My heart sank. Feliciano liked it so much that he bought licensing rights…but I waited, and it never showed up on any of his albums.

RCA’s reaction to our album was a disaster. And not just because of “Yucca Valley.”

Behind closed doors, Miles Copeland and his henchmen figured out a new plan. They brought in two American hot shot producer brothers that had just finished engineering Clapton’s latest album, “461 Ocean Blvd.”

In Amsterdam, they came to watch us perform and we got word that we better go meet them at their hotel the next afternoon. I went by myself because no one was interested. I felt it was very important, but the band had no interest. They sat in our hotel drinking and getting stoned.

So, I went to the boys’ hotel and sat in their room and listened to these two fuckheads tear our album apart…just ripped it. They told me that I didn’t move around enough on stage…WTF? I thought, “I’d like to see them play intricate parts while doing the Chuck Berry duck walk.”

And to my face, they told me my bass playing sucked. They said the vocals sucked. They said the arrangements sucked. They said the violin playing sucked. They said the guitar playing was out of place. Holy Bat Shit!

I raced back to our hotel and with my eyes as big as saucers, I told the band we are in big trouble. They just laughed at me while drinking and smoking dope.

The plan was to re-record the album, but something needed to be fixed. The two camps were called for a meeting. I was not invited. They blamed each other for the album failure. And guess what? Yep. I got the phone call. I was gone. The album problems were laid right at the foot of the bassist.
Bastardos!

They hired a session bassist to fill in the tracks. But when I listened to the finished album, I heard my bass playing on 75% of the tracks. So, I wasn’t the problem. And I’ve never been paid royalties as, to this day, they refuse to admit they used my tracks.

The new album had no soul and was listless and sterile. No excitement, no verve. It was considered by the critics as the end of the band. And this band had a long lifetime. I believe they put out 14 albums. I was on 4.

There I was, stranded in England without a gig. It was so humiliating when the musical mags and rags started reporting that I had left the band because of differences inside the band. But I called these rags and told them the truth and they printed it. The band came down hard on me for doing this. I didn’t care. They fired me without any severance, and I was dead broke 6000 miles from home with my girlfriend and her little girl.

The roadies took pity on me and delivered half of the equipment stored in the management’s warehouse so I could sell it and have money. Management made no stink over this. These were their best roadies and the roadies got in the face of Miles Copeland and shamed him for doing what he did to me.

I sold everything and finally had some money in the bank.

I spent another 6 months playing with several well-known English bands, but it just didn’t click with me and I decided to go home with my tail between my legs.

Looking back, it was still a great experience for a musician in his mid-20’s to have. I learned a lot…the hard way.



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

4 replies

  1. $5 a stick (for a box) at fox. Just sayin.

    Hope things improve for ye Phil; that Nica libre prolly din help.

  2. Katman,
    Fellow bass guitar player here. also cigar smoker. I really enjoy your writing.

    Mike Sain | President
    Serving Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky and North Georgia since 1975
    http://www.mhiusa.net

    [cid:image001.png@01D7A4AB.6774CDF0]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s