That gorgeous wrapper was the inspiration for the name. Laranga is Portuguese for orange, at least according to the Interweb. And the wrapper does have an orange hue to it, accented to great effect by the vintage-style band. We have no idea why Espinosa chose a Portuguese word. However, we initially thought the name was a nod to the Cuban Por Larrañaga brand, which this cigar reminds us of with its prominent floral notes.
For many years, Espinosa cigars were made by Don Pepin Garcia in his Nicaraguan factory. They're now made in the Espinosa's own La Zona factory on the outskirts of Estli. At first, we were concerned there would be a drop in construction quality; after all, Pepin's operation is a well-oiled machine at this point. But these cigars were very well made, if slightly lumpy. That could have more to do with the tobaccos themselves than the roll. The draw and burn were impeccable and the cap was smartly applied.
Espinosa has a portfolio of brands we generally like, but with cigars like the 601 La Bomba and Bunker Buster, it leans toward the stronger, bigger ring gauge type we tend to think of as a bit brash for our tastes. Laranja Reserve represents a new direction for them, and it's a departure we welcome. While this is by no means a light and super-subtle smoke, it's tasty without being in-your-face about it.
The wrapper is Brazilian, which could've fooled us. We're used to Brazilian maduro, not natural, and this one could have passed for being from just about anywhere. The filler is Nicaraguan, as expected from a company firmly rooted there. There are three sizes, all around $10: a proper Corona Gorda (5 5/8x46), Robusto Extra (5.5x54) and the subject of our review, the Toro (6 x 52, $10.90).
Upon lighting, we were hit with fine white pepper dotted against notes of sweet tobacco. As the pepper subsided, it was replaced by tangy, pleasantly sour cedar offset by hard candy sweetness. There were also floral notes that faded in and out on the finish along with graham cracker. This would pair very nicely with craft beers. Though the flavors are buoyant and fresh, the cigar is full in body. It sneaks up on you a little like a Cohiba Behike.
In Europe, they refer to this kind of adventurous blending as an example of "New World Cigars." As in, Cuba's the old world, and this is what's next. Yet our resident expert in Havanas was by far the most enthusiastic proponent, calling it the best non-Cuban cigar he'd smoked in years and among the best available, period. No question, Laranja Reserva has the complexity we expect from good Cuban tobacco. But it exhibits these qualities with a boldness unseen in most Cubans. It's kinda like a Cuban cigar on steroids.
This is a cigar that frankly would have dumbfounded non-Cuban smokers until only the last few years. No one even attempted blends like this back in the 70s, 80s, 90s or even 2000s. Now more than ever though, smokers are ready to try new things, and they're ready for a cigar like Laranja Reserva. If you've been sticking to the same old thing lately, crawl out of your comfort zone and give one of these a try. They're as delightful, pleasing and refreshing as a fizzy Italian soda pop on a hot summer day.