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Published Apr 02, 21
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Ever since the Espinosa Habano line was repackaged and slightly reblended in 2015, the No. 4 size has scored at least 92 points every time it’s been rated. This year was no exception. Slightly longer than a robusto, but a little shorter than a typical toro, the No. 4 is made at La Zona in Nicaragua, along with the rest of the line.

Passing the torch to the next generationErik Espinosa may be a young buck in the cigar industry, but he is far from new to cigars. Born in Havana, Cuba and soon after relocating to Miami, Erik inherited his passion for cigars from his father, Erik Espinosa Sr. best cigars under $10. With a family of knowledge at his back, Erik began working in 1997, and got his hands on every facet of the cigar industry.

After gaining success with these brands, Espinosa opened his own factory La Zona in Esteli, Nicaragua where he continues to wow us with premium cigars including Alpha Dog, Crema, and Espinosa Laranga Reserva. Erik Espinosa has taken the cigar industry by storm.

Crafted in the heart of Esteli, Nicaragua @ Erik Espinosa’s prolific La Zona factory, Espinosa cigars present a diverse range of awesomely delicious premium tobacco blends; each handmade to the highest industry standards. Though La Zona opened its doors in 2012, chances are you’ve enjoyed Erik’s cigars for far longer.

Fast-forward to today and Espinosa cigars is practically its own empire, with La Zona pumping out scores of unique premium cigars with rich character and amazing consistency. The brand achieved a whole new level of recognition when the Laranja Reserva Toro was awarded a 94 rating by Cigar Aficionado, but Erik says he’s just getting started.

Erik Espinosa entered the cigar business in 1997, when he began working in the warehouse of Caribe Imported Cigars, a company founded by Julio Eiroa of Camacho Cigars fame. He then entered the sales side of the cigar industry, a job that took him around the country and introduced him to many retailers who would later become his customers once he launched his own company.

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It was the downside of work in sales that inspired Espinosa to set out and build his own brand. Like any startup, the process of launching a new company was easy to imagine but difficult to execute. Espinosa had to find the right tobacco for his cigars, and he had to find a way to control the production quality of his products.

Espinosa attributes his brand’s growth to two factors: relationships and social media. When it came time to get his products in stores, Espinosa tapped into his past and the relationships he had established in the industry while traveling across the country for Caribe and as an independent broker for several cigar manufacturers.

Then he approached friends and contacts he had made as a broker in states like Texas, California and New York. The early success of the brand was attributed to Espinosa’s ability to connect with people, network and tap into relationships that had been years in the making. “I think this industry is based on relationships because there are a lot of great cigars out there.

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That’s my opinion,” he explains. Face time with the retailers was and continues to remain a crucial part of the sales process. Phone calls are acceptable, but according to Espinosa, when you’re talking cigars, retailers want that face-to-face contact, and they also want to smoke a cigar and experience it with the person trying to sell it to them.

If someone selling a product can sit down with a retailer in person, the selling process is much easier. Espinosa cautions that these meetings require a time commitment, and the sales representative must set aside the time to sit down with the retailer, speak to them and also smoke a cigar with them for it to be an effective meeting.

For Espinosa, social media is fun, and it’s much more than posting photos of cigars. He uses his company’s social media accounts to help consumers get to know him and the others who work at the company. He’s seen how the more fun he makes the social media experience and the more he puts himself on display in the posts, the more engagement he sees and the better connection he’s able to make with the consumers.

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I kind of promote myself—not just me but the team, and people get to know us. We do funny stuff, we do serious stuff, and we do fun stuff, but we tell everybody what we’re about. The other day I posted that I was sick and tired of people telling me I look like Brad Pitt.