Espinosa Knuckle Sandwich Habano | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 54 Toro
Strength: Medium
Price: $13.50

I am reviewing this cigar 10 days after receipt. I’ve only done this a couple times in 10 years.
I might be whistlin’ Dixie here, but I find a direct similarity with all cigars manufactured by AJ Fernandez…here it is…a couple days after receiving an AJ blend, the cigar portrays all the characteristics of a well-aged blend that has had a lot of nekkid time in my humidor. The window for this is only a few days. After that expiration of time, the cigar goes back to being unripe and unsmokable. I am still in that golden window.
Now, I’ve reported this phenomenon many times over the years. I expected comments supporting my claim. Snake eyes. Not one smoker. I guess I’m special.

I did extensive research on this cigar and found absolutely zero information as to whether this is a limited edition or a regular production stick. Manufacturers sometimes do this to see how the smoking public likes it…if it gets good reviews, etc. Or let the allocations sell out…wait a while…put them back on the market…

Factory: AJ Fernandez San Lotano – Nicaragua
Released: February 2022
From (1-4-2022):
“Celebrity chef and restaurateur Guy Fieri is getting into the cigar business, and he’s doing so by teaming up with Espinosa Premium Cigars to create Knuckle Sandwich Cigars.

“In early January, social media posts began to suggest that Fieri and Espinosa were working together, though a video posted to Facebook featuring Fieri indicated the cigars would be debuting in February. While a source familiar with the project told halfwheel that there will be two blends released, one of which will be a habano-based blend, while the other is based around a maduro wrapper, we now know much more about the project.

“They will be offered in the same three sizes and packing formats, though with slight price differences, and the Habano coming in red boxes while the Maduro is presented in black boxes.

“It is a project that has been in the works for approximately 18 months, with Fieri described as being very hands-on in the process. “Guy’s a cigar guy, loves to smoke, and is super excited about this project,” said Erik Espinosa in a press release. “We are very excited with the level of enthusiasm Guy has brought to this project, and we are both looking forward to getting out there and promoting this brand.”

“As for the letters that appear after the vitola name, they are nods to significant people in Fieri’s life.”

Corona Gorda R 5.625 x 46 $11.50
Robusto J 5 x 52 $12.50
Toro H 6 x 54 $13.50

Not a bad looking cigar. But nothing to rave about either. The slightly tawny hued wrapper has a bit of oil and is smooth as snot. The stick feels a little under filled. I dry boxed the cigar for a day and a half and it feels fine as far as not too hard or too soft. The triple cap is expertly applied. Veins do not run interference and seams are tight. Nice touch with the black ribbon footer. And a lovely cigar band with a mean looking skull adorned with a chef’s hat…. oh, I get it. Subtle. Probably from Guy Fieri’s family tree…maybe even his family crest going back to the 1300’s.

Aromas do not burst into nose candy. But if I hold my nose very close to the cigar and say quickly that I believe…If you believe, clap your hands! A 118-year-old Tinkerbell shows up to help divine the aromas from the blend. We smell floral notes, dark cocoa, espresso, caramel, creaminess, malt, black cherries, cedar, and barnyard. And Tinkerbell drops dead. Her/She/Him/It has fulfilled her purpose.

The cold draw needs no introduction…still, ladies and germs, may I welcome you to a draw so open that Peter Pan could fly through it and not muss a single leaf. I slam my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool into Captain Hook’s heart, and I save Neverland.
So, the cold draw presents flavors of chocolate malt, black cherries, espresso, and not much else. We are done here. Time to slay the crocodile. I wonder if he has a light?

Small introduction in the schnoz and palate department but once lit, the cigar explodes with flavors of big dollops of malt, chocolate, espresso, creaminess, black cherries, cedar, black pepper, and graham cracker.
The first puffs grab me by the nads and off we go…

A sweetness appears out of the darkness…it has overtones of vanilla and rich caramel.
The char line is perfecto.

And then what happened to me last night reoccurs. The black cherries move to the front lopping the heads off previous flavor points.
Licorice enters as a back door man.

Strength is a potent medium. All the PR indoctrinates the readers into believing this is merely a medium strength cigar. It ain’t…at least not at this point in hibernation. My evening cigar hit medium/full before the end of the first half.

Complexity is hyper present. No significant transitions…but the finish is redolent of spice, cream, and cherries.

The cigar is under filled. It is racing like Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon to the finish line. A nicely filled Toro should take at least 90 minutes to smoke. I don’t think this Knucklehead will make it to an hour.

Regardless, the cigar has an all-inclusive flavor profile that drags you in like your 300lb mistress that wants some.

Flavors are concise. Compartmentalized. Meanwhile, the black cherries roam the ranch free.

With the appropriate level of humi time, this cigar will mature nicely. Espinosa said this cigar blend might make a huge splash for them in 2022.

Don’t get me wrong…the cigar is becoming more delicious than a fish taco on a sunny day at Santa Monica Pier. But for $14, I expect more than an hour smoke. I take a puff and the char line unravels like a burning cigarette.

I rage on this all the time…palates are mysterious in every cigar smoker. This morning’s Knuckle Sandwich tastes differently than the one I smoked last night. That one was so black cherry heavy; it came close to being an ACID. Today? Not so much, but a nice companion piece to the other smooth and balanced flavors.

Took 18 minutes to get here. Nicht gut. Maybe if I had ever worked in the cigar industry, I could tell you why it took Espinosa and Fieri 18 months to develop this blend. Did they forget that the cigar would be better if the construction was done professionally?

Strength is medium/full.

For a stick with only 10 days of humidor, this baby has winner written all over it. It would say Big Winner if they had stuffed a few more leaves into this snausage.

No added flavors as the cigar is pumping out the flavor points I previously mentioned.

Despite my whining about the expected brevity of this experience, it is a fine cigar. Still, it pisses me off that more attention wasn’t paid to its construction.

The price is jacked up for a number of reasons. First is time. Second is it has a celebrity handle. I can think of only one celebrity stick that was pretty decent: Big Papi by David Ortiz. I reviewed that cigar in 2016. All celebrity cigars are merely a vanity project. And hence, the cigar is overpriced.

I would love to enjoy this cigar like a normal Toro and see it take me down for at least 90 minutes; if not longer.

Nothing linear at hand. A slow forward progression of complexity, balance, with little nuggets of nuances and subtleties.

I bought a fiver from SBC. I’m going to let the three unsmoked sticks sleep in peace. With all that’s happening in the world right now, wouldn’t it be a bummer if all those sticks you possess that have slept for two decades will be for naught as WWIII begins? I wonder if the cigar will taste the same if you are glowing in the dark.

I hit the halfway point at 27 minutes smoke time. This is a damn shame. Fill the fucking cigar guys!

There was a nice piece done on Keith Richards on “60 Minutes.” Find it. If you are old as dirt, seeing Keith speak gives hope to the rest of us that are not 101 years old.

“I’d Love To Change the World.” Ten Years After. Great song.

It is frustrating smoking such a good cigar knowing it has a short life span.

The width and breadth of the cigar is fantastic, and I might have given it a 95…but the forgetfulness of the blenders to properly fill the cigar will remove points.

A new hint of mintiness arrives. But it is the creaminess that rules the day.
Savory v. Sweet is on target.

The char line is unexpectedly perfect since lift off. Normally, an under filled cigar will have burn issues. I give it props for that.

I watched a 2013 concert of Robert Plant and The Band of Joy on AXSTV. Plant took several Zep songs and turned them on their head. Meanwhile, this incredible band just grooved away making it impossible not to bob your head to the rhythm.

It’s taken 37 minutes to get here. Shit. It won’t even make it to my predicted one hour of smoke time. Clearly, the rolling process was done in haste.

In spite of the luxurious nature of this blend, points will be shaved due to the lickety split burn time.

Ever wonder why your cat likes to hide behind the toilet when you are taking a dump?

Nicotine kicks in. A very potent medium/full status is in play.

The cigar is a bit harsh now…almost always happens when there ain’t enough tobacco. It might dissipate once the cigar has hibernated for the appropriate time.

Whether I reviewed this cigar too soon, the constant that won’t change is the construction of the cigar.

I will score this cigar based upon its potential rather than my early stab at reviewing.

Under filling of a cigar is a huge pet peeve of mine. The manufacturer spent more time disciplining the blend than caring about the construction. Makes no sense.

I say a fond adieu to the Knuckle Sandwich with 1” to go. Coming in at 46 minutes.
You can purchase this cigar at Small Batch Cigar or Atlantic Cigar Co.