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2022 Smokin Tabacco Awards: Person of the Year – Hector J Alfonso Sr. of Espinosa Cigars

February 1, 2023 By Matthew Tabacco



There were many candidates, great, qualified, and popular candidates for this award. But it came down to a name that was repeatedly mentioned over and over again amongst the team. Someone who carries a lot of weight primarily in blending but wears other hats as well. That person is nonother than Espinosa Cigars”Hector J. Alfonso Sr. Last year we saw the birth of the Knuckle Sandwich brand in the cigar industry by way of Espinosa Cigars. Espinosa is a brand that has been slowly building their blocks and is beginning to really show what it is fully capable of. Knuckle Sandwich, however, is an established name by way of celebrity chef Guy Fieri.

When Guy Fieri and Erik Espinosa announced their partnership, many people who have been around long enough thought to themselves “Oh here we go, another celebrity cigar”” but even the likes of Steve Saka, a man who most know isn’t afraid to speak his mind, noted on our show that this project was one of the only ones like it that would probably work, unlike others before it. At the end of the day the cigars are going to speak for themselves. Either the cigars are hot or they are duds. The Knuckle Sandwich immediately got attention as to be expected. But the fact it kept getting hotter, then extensions were added, and it made its way on many Cigar of the Year lists, including ours, suffice to say I think Erik, Guy, Hector and everyone else knew they had a winner.

Add in that Hector has blended other great cigars outside of Espinosa’s portfolio and you have yourself a guy who knows tobacco. For example, the Amendola Family Cigars Padrino Belicoso, which was also featured on our list, was another project that Hector worked on. He has also done an amazing job behind the scenes helping promote not only the Knuckle Sandwich brand, but all of Espinoa’s projects, he has been great to the media, and he is a guy who understands what it takes day in and day out to capitalize on everything going on not just now but in the future. He has been instrumental to the growth of Espinosa as well as their La Zona factory and even plays an important role in the company’s annual “LaZonaPalooza” event.

The point is, Erik Espinosa has done an amazing job himself and is not to be excluded from any of this success. But he has a major asset when it comes to Hector. Congratulations to Hector and everyone at Espinosa Cigars for this achievement.

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