Erik Espinosa: First Generation Cigar Maker, Industry Young Gun
Written by Frank T Flores III

Friday, 17 April 2009

User Rating: / 52

erik espinosaprofiles
rolling and growing


Frank: What is your favorite size or vitola?


Erik: It depends. It depends on the day. Right now I’m into a Corona size: I think you get more flavor from it. You get a better smoke, a smaller ring gauge, a shorter smoke, and then you’re on to the next.


Frank: What qualities do you look for in a cigar?


Erik: To me it’s taste. I look at construction, and I look at wrapper. But I don’t care much [about] burning; if it burns right or not. You’re not going to get a great burn if you’re in a car. I like to be at peace when I smoke, to give a fair reading on a cigar to whether I like it or I don’t. I like to sit down and do nothing but smoke and give the cigar my 100% attention.


Frank: Of course, besides your own brand of cigars, what do you enjoy to smoke?


Erik: You know I like everything that Pepin makes: a lot of his brands he makes, not just the ones for me. I like the Edge Sumatra that Rocky makes. I like Liga Privada.


Frank: How would you compare a Nicaraguan Puro to a Cuban cigar?


Erik: Well, I think that Nicaraguans are closest: Nicaraguan land, Nicaraguan soil is the closest. It’s got that earthiness. It’s got that strength. You know, as far as Cuban cigars, I don’t smoke that many of them. I’m tired of being disappointed with the construction. It draws, or it doesn’t draw. If I pay for a cigar, I want it to draw. If you get a good one it’s great, but it’s like a crap shoot whether you get a good one or not. I think when things change and the government in Cuba [changes], I think you will have a lot better blends. You can have Nicaraguan with Cuban, Honduran with Cuban, and Dominican with Cuban.


Frank: That was my next question. If the embargo was lifted, would you look forward to maybe making a cigar with Cuban tobacco blended in?


Erik: Absolutely. I have a lot of family in Cuba. I would like to buy property in Cuba and just have a place to go whenever I want. Its only 90 miles away from me (a 30 minute flight from Miami), so absolutely I would love to make cigars with Cuban tobacco.


Frank: How often do you get to go there?


Erik: I have been there twice in 42 years. I have gone there just to visit my family.


Frank: You told me at the event here in January that you had blended the new Cubao line. Can you tell me how that came about? What you was looking for?


Erik: I wanted to do something different with Pepin. So we went out and we bought some Sumatra wrapper, and we starting blending different cigars with everything Nicaraguan besides the wrapper. Getting some Ligero from Jalapa, some Seco from Esteli, and we just started blending different cigars. We blended like 10 of them, and I smoked. I tried them all. I always like to bring chocolate from the states to clean my palate between smokes. Some people like to use coffee, but for me, it’s chocolate that works best. And we came up with the Cubao; it’s a combo of Pepin and myself. It’s the only cigar he makes with the Sumatra wrapper. I like the spiciness that the Sumatra brings. I did it for my taste as much as for what I thought would sell. Nobody talks about mild cigars. Although we sell more mild cigars than anything else, nobody talks about them. It may be because the aficionados don’t smoke mild cigars. But I wanted something that had some spiciness to it, and there wasn’t anything Pepin made with the Sumatra. And I loved it and fell in love with it!


Frank: How about the name Cubao? How did you come up with it?


Erik: Its very hard in this industry to come up with names. A lot of names are already taken, so its very, very hard to come up with a name. It’s a city in the Philippines, and I liked the sound of it.


Frank: The Boxes for the Cubao are really rustic and different. How important do you think marketing and the display of the product is?


Erik: I think marketing and packaging are very important, but the packaging will only get you to try the cigar. It will attract the customer’s attention, but if the cigar is not good they won’t go back to it. We made it rustic looking to catch something different, something not on the market right now.



0 # Mi Barrio, 601 and Cubao are, for me, amoung the best cigars out there.Ana and Miguel 2009-04-27 09:29
Love the whole interview plus the cigars from United tobacco and Erick and Eddie. Keep going guys putting a Yough Flavor to the industry. I also love your poster....

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0 # Well said!Stephen Parks 2009-09-13 06:38
Great interview and you touched on something I've been saying throughout the SCHIP pursecution, to fellow cigar smokers AND politicians.

I wasn't against SCHIP, at least not the cause which would supposedly benefit from the tax. But, with such an important cause, why should cigar smokers carry the brunt of the burden. With such a worthy cause, why shouldn't much more funds be raised and shared among some of the industries that actually contribute to the problem?

A smaller tax spread out among the fast food and high fructose beverage industries would have made much more sense. These are industries that are not only contributing to the health problems in children, but they are also allowed to specifically target a child audience with packaging and advertising. When's the last time you saw fine, hand-rolled cigars target a child audience?

Yet another stupendous act against our freedoms that we have allowed are government to infringe upon.

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0 # Great Article= 2009-12-18 02:37
I really enjoyed Eric's views and opinions! there's nothing like a man who
speaks his mind!This article also gave me a greater level of respect for
Jose Pepin!

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0 # I congratulateJoswar 2012-05-29 22:31
Congratulations on your success Erik. Tobacco Jewel of Estelí

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