|Image courtesy Smoke Inn|
Robusto, 5” x 50 ring gauge / $16.25 for a 5-pack, $49.95 for a bundle of 20, Smoke Inn
Seems like the cigar world is a constantly shifting sea of sand dunes. When I first became aware of the name Erik Espinosa, he was part of the EO Cigars team with Eddie Ortega and they were producing the 601 series, followed by the Cubao and Murcielago. They were distributed by Miami Cigar & Company at the time, but it wasn’t long before I heard that the brand was moving to Rocky Patel’s distributorship...then the bands were changed...then changed again...then Eddie was starting up his own brand. And now his old partner, Erik, has done the same. E Doble (“Double E” for Erik Espinosa) is available in 6 vitolas and at what amounts to bundle pricing. This is a Nicaraguan Puro, with a Habano wrapper. Smoke Inn sent us two samples and we thank them for that; this review will be based on initial sampling of the blend for both of us.
The lack of banding of any sort speaks to the lower price point and bundled nature of this cigar...but the apparently fine construction and oily wrapper want to tell a different story. Obviously for anyone who actually smokes cigars, the value is in the flavor, not so much in how it looks on the shelf. But the overall experience does depend at least in part on initial appearance, which is all wrapped up in things like box, band, and other marketing points. Many times it makes the difference in whether or not the cigar gets picked up, examined, and eventually bought. Anyway...like I said, the wrapper is oily and it had a rich manure earthiness; I got a sweeter mix of cocoa and coffee on the foot. The cold draw was excellent; on the one hand, the flavor had the classic Nicaraguan earthiness, but it also had a sweet, almost syrupy, note to it that was not so typically Nicaraguan.
The E Doble lit up easily and started right off with a medium to full bodied, thick, oily smoke. It was a far more complex cigar than I expected...then again, when should you build your expectations on when it is a new, unknown cigar? Marketing? Little to none in this case. Price point? Very low. Reputation? Well, sure Espinosa has a good rep because of EO, but I don't recall seeing anywhere who was actually making these cigars and that reputation is important, too. The beginning of this was leathery and earthy, with rich chocolate on the palate and a nice pepper spice on the nose. The flavor was very good, but not everything was sweetness and light in the early going...before I got halfway through the first third, the ash was banana-peeling on me and then started to flake off onto my lap and iPad. Party foul! Then I noticed that despite what seemed like a good draw, I was getting very little smoke from the cigar, so I had to do a major touch up. This would all beat observation through the rest of the stick.
The second third burned through pretty quickly. The flavor was still very good, but it really did not change much...still lots of Nicaraguan earthiness and pepper spice, quite a bit of chocolate sweetness. Construction was about the same...more flaky ash and a couple more minor touchups.
In the last third the E Doble continued to be sweet and earthy, showing little change except for a lessening of the spiciness. Overall not a bad smoke, especially for the money, but not a world class one in terms of complexity and construction. I tend to judge these things on a curve based on the price of the cigar involved, so I would call this a worthwhile purchase for those who like a good Nicaraguan smoke with a little more sweetness than normal. The body never progressed beyond the medium to full stage and the was not enough nicotine in this vitola to call it particularly strong.
The wrapper on my sample for the most part didn’t look like bundled cigar, except for a couple things. The medium brown wrapper, while even in color, had more than a few water spots on it. I know they most likely won’t affect the taste, but they do show the lower grade of tobacco used. There were also a couple pretty major veins to it as well. Like Dave’s sample the wrapper was fairly oily to the touch. When I gave it a squeeze it was fairly firm and without any soft spots. When I put my nose the wrapper I got the aroma of leather and barnyard and raisins coming from the foot. After I clipped it and took a cold draw on it I got some spice and earth with an ok draw.
Once I lit it up I noted flavors of leather, earth, red pepper spice, and curry with a fairly sweet finish. The draw to start with was fairly firm, and I had to keep puffing on it to keep it from going out. The burn was quite uneven, but I didn’t touch it up yet in the hopes that it might even out. As I finished the first third the spice did tone down quite a bit. The ash on my cigar was fairly flaky but I was able to keep it off me.
The second third didn’t see a whole lot of change in the flavors present, only that their intensity died down quite a bit. The draw opened up just a bit but it was still too tight for my tastes. Towards the end of this third I decided to use my lighter to try and straighten out the burn.
The final third was pretty much the same, which in this cigar was a bit boring to me. The construction and draw issues were a bit annoying. As far as strength the cigar never got out of the medium range for me.
Overall this cigar didn’t do a whole lot for me. I don’t know if Dave and my fairly different experiences with this cigar were due to the cigar, our environments, or our different tastes.