“New” 601 La Bomba | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5 x 52 “Robusto-Napalm”
Body: Full
Price: $8.50 MSRP
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601 La Bomba Napalm was released in 2011. And only comes in boxes of 10.

From CI:
“La Bomba hails from the mind and hands of Erik Espinosa, and just to preface something, the blend definitely isn’t for the timid. Dressed in a dark, oily Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, and teeming with extra fermented, extra feisty Nicaraguan ligero long-fillers, this is one of 601’s strongest creations to date. About as subtle as a bull in a china shop, La Bomba has no warm up, no gradual build, it charges at you full-tilt from the very first puff. Underlying traces of red pepper, nuts, cocoa, leather and espresso all make a cameo. Full-bodied and balanced, it’s no doubt one of the most intriguing handmades in the 601 portfolio.”

From Atlantic Cigars:
“La Bomba Cigars blended by Erik Espinosa & Eddie Ortega and made by Don Pepin Garcia at the famed My Father Cigar Factory in Nicaragua. A Full bodied Nicaraguan puro cigar with lots of spice and pepper, very well made sure to knock your socks off, if you like rich Nicaraguan cigars you got to try these outstanding smokes.”

Here is what I don’t understand. 601 is a blend from EO Brands: Eddie Ortega and Erik Espinosa. I heard that Rocky Patel swooped in and bought them. Then I heard that Eddie and Erik split. And then I heard they have nothing to do with the brand any longer. And then I heard that Pepin Garcia no longer blends this cigar.

The truth? Impossible to know. As it is not public knowledge amongst us cigar consumers. It seems too delicate a subject to broach with the people involved…as it seems to have been a bitter thing to bear.

The most info I could find was from one cigar insider that said, “…The 601 line has undergone several changes.” Not much help.
One thing for sure is that after the shakeup, the price of all 601 cigars took a dive. Around 30% or more. Why? I don’t think I am smoking the same blend that I bought when they first came out. Remember just about passing out from the strength? Now they are more medium/full and no longer in need of that silly warning on the inside of the box telling everyone: “Danger. Danger Will Robinson. This is a full bodied cigar!!”
labombabox

I’ve reviewed this cigar for other blogs but as I got a box recently, I came to realize I have not reviewed it here. So into the Way Back Machine to see how this cigar has changed. My review still exists on my Katmancross blog and Rocky’s Cigars’ blog.

The cigar looks the same. It is raining now and will continue all day so any chance of any sunlight for my photos is verklempt.

The stick is sturdy with the proper packing of tobacco vs. give. There are huge veins and small veins. The “fuse-like” pig tail is sloppy in that there is roller’s glue shmeared the length of the thing and looks terrible. I remember that they were not glued to the shaft of the stick and were loose to flap in the wind. I guess the new owner decided to get rid of the chance that they would come off inside the cello during shipping.
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Seams are fairly tight. The wrapper is the color of dark chocolate/espresso. And feels smooth to the touch. I clip the cap; which by the way, all that glue forces the lengthy pig tail to adhere to the shaft instead of falling loose. And I find aromas of potent spice, sweetness, cocoa, cedar, wood, and coffee.

Time to light up.

Beautiful flavors of cocoa, meatiness, sweetness, and campfire goodness greet me on the cigar’s first puffs.
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I am challenging Espinosa on this one by not eating anything prior to lighting up. I just don’t think the cigar has the same punch as it once had.

The strength is just barely medium bodied at this early stage. And the multitude of what used to be a Garcia Blast of Pepper is nowhere to be seen. A tiny bit of spice on the back of the tongue. I remember these sticks starting out with a punch in the face from that Garcia pepper bomb.

The draw is very good. And the spice begins to come home to Papa. It starts out as black pepper but transfers to red quickly.
Since these cigars came out in 2011, the market has been glutted with full bodied cigars. But there were plenty of them prior to 2011 as well. So I don’t think that I’ve become used to fuller bodied sticks is the reason I don’t think that this blend has the same oomph as the original.

The pig tail is annoying and makes me feel like I have a harelip when I chomp and write.
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Within the first inch, no changes except the spice has taken the grand ballroom to itself. The flavors that follow are still: Cocoa, sweetness, cedar, coffee, and something fruity.

At one time, the 601 Gang claimed that this was the strongest cigar on the market. Something else is amiss here. I remember that these sticks were as close to good to go from the box than any other cigar out there. I’ve had these cigars for a month and the flavor profile is laying there like a flounder; or my wife on our honeymoon.

Creaminess comes on board which is a nice addition to the floundering flavor profile. The spice has stabilized and is in middle earth. Strength is still medium. The stick is a very slow burner no doubt to the tobacco jammed in there.

The creamy element grows stronger and a gooey caramel flavor turns on the spigot.

The spiciness is dwindling and the body remains at medium. The small amount of flavors is really chugging hard and making this a most delectable stick.

Box prices used to be in the $150 range for the size being reviewed. Now, they are half the price. I don’t think any size is more than $70-$80 for a 10 count box. Why? What was skimped on? Was Pepin Garcia’s help no longer used? Did Espinosa skimp on tobacco?

This ain’t the same cigar from 3 years ago. It is very pleasant but no flavor bomb. Its strength, as the second third begins, has not gone farther than medium.
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I believe it is time to get rid of that silliness on the inside of the box cover.

The new La Bomba Warhead is much stronger than this stick and I don’t believe there is any such warning on that box.

The fruitiness comes to fruition (pardon the pun) and is black cherry. I grab a Diet Coke and with all that cocoa and creaminess, I now have a NYC egg cream ala cherry.

The halfway point is upon me and I am still tapping my foot for the strength to kick in.
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The stick is becoming close to finally being a flavor bomb but not there yet.

The last third begins with absolutely no changes. Still at medium body. No changes to the flavor profile. And no nearer to flavor bomb status.
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The char line has behaved itself nicely throughout the smoke.

I begin to feel some nicotine kick. Mild.

And then the strength moves up to medium/full.

Clearly, this is not a Pepin Garcia blend. But I have no idea why it changed so much.

It is still a good cigar but not worth the almost $9.00 price tag. It is worth the $6.80 per stick by the box. The La Bomba Warhead goes for $9.00 a stick and is quite good. I reviewed a pre-release version. Click on the cigar’s name in the previous sentence to read it.
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The cigar finishes out at medium/full. A nice balance but no flavor bomb. And certainly, no pepper bomb. There are plenty of cigars just as good in “The Katman’s List of 60 Excellent Cigars in the $5.00-$6.00 Range.”
What was once a great cigar is now a mere shadow of itself.

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And now for something completely different:

We were in town playing our first gig of a six week tour in London. I don’t remember where. Maybe the famous Round House.
This was a big deal. 99% of the time, the band headlined for the entire tour. And we did so this night. And it made our fearless band leader, Darryl, sick as a dog from nerves.
rh

Stew still had some LSD left over that a friend in Berkeley had sent him. Darryl always insisted on having drinks at his disposal that he could personally open himself. He never did drugs and was scared stiff of them.

Someone once spiked a cocktail and off he went on the Wild Toad Ride not knowing what was happening.
He didn’t mind our drug consumption of hash though.

Darryl drank several beers before going on. And then would go into the bathroom and throw up minutes before going on.

Stew stuck the acid in a bottle of Coke. So when Darryl came out, Stew pretended he was drinking from the bottle and handed it to Darryl to cleanse his mouth from the vomit.

Darryl took a few large swigs. Just enough to do the trick.
The stuff that Stew had took about 30-40 minutes to kick in.

We let the guitarist and chick singer in on it. And we kept a close eye on him.

Darryl was a concert violinist. Graduated Summa Cum Laude in music.

The violinist/composer Vivaldi was his favorite classical composer and had written a song that was an instrumental that became the band’s theme song.

In the middle, the band walked off stage and Darryl would do his psychedelic thing with his violin and a dozen foot pedals. The critics hated it. But the crowd loved it.

This night, the psychedelic theme got a little more psychedelic than usual. We kept seeing Darryl shake his head like he was trying to get flies off the top of his head.

The solo normally lasted a tortuous 10 minutes and we would then come back on stage and finish the song in triple time.
After 15 minutes, Darryl was still making cat screech sounds. The band decided to go back on stage and save him. Although, the audience was digging it.

The chick went down on her knees in front of him and unzipped his fly. This sort of snapped Darryl out of his fixation with his foot pedals. She stuck her hand into his pants and looked like she was jerking him off.

The audience went nuts. 90% of our audience was male because of the sexy chick singer.

And then it happened. Darryl threw up right on the top of the chick’s head. The band recoiled in horror. There would be hell to pay for this from Darryl.

As this was the last song of the evening, followed by four or five encores, we finished early that night. No encores as we helped Darryl off stage. The audience was dead quiet.

We changed in the dressing room and got Darryl back to the hotel where we stayed up all night with him. We didn’t trust him alone while he was still frying.

In the morning, we all played dumb. Darryl’s memory was vague at best and didn’t remember much prior to the concert. He just figured someone slipped him a Mickey and he was angry. We all clucked our tongues wondering how someone could do this to him.

The chick did not stay with us as she spent an hour taking her weekly shower removing vomit from her body.
From then on, Darryl brought his own libations on tour.
A fun night. And a nice change to playing the same damn songs every night.

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7 replies

  1. The new 601 is listed on Espinonsa’s website and I would think it is blended and rolled at his “La Zona” shop/factory. I think I have some of the old ones and I will look to see if there is any change in the bands. The bands on the new 601 Blue
    look a bit different from the old ones imho.

    • If you look at any of my photos, you can see the words La Zona on the box.
      What I really think happened is that when Ortega and Espinosa broke up, we know that Erik got the 601 Brands. And then he re-blended the whole line without getting the help of Don Pepin Garcia. While Espinosa is a very good blender, he ain’t Pepin Garcia and screwed up the blend on all of the “new” 601 cigars and then charged close to half what the Garcia blended cigars cost. A really bad move.
      I won’t be purchasing any more 601 blends.

  2. I’m so glad you did this review because I thought I was going nuts or I screwed up my cigars for letting them rest for so long. Because I got what you had, a medium bodied bland cigar! And no power what so ever! Shit the San Lotano Maduro kicks this cigar in the balls! My samples had a nice peanut flavor but that’s all could get from these things. For me a real waste of time.

  3. Katman
    I too feel the exact same way about this new blend! To me it’s a medium bodied stick with no flavor! And I used to love the 601 blue that was made by Pepin so I ordered a box from atlantic about 2 months ago. The cigar was plain harsh, well after looking at the bottom of the box I come to find it was rolled at one of rocky patels factories! WTF? After further digging I found out Espinosa has cigars rolled at patels factory when his workload is too heavy. I will never purchase anymore 601 blends. They are horrible now.

    • Should have seen that in the pics. I bought some of the green and blue on the Devil Site a couple of months ago and they were the old blend. What was interesting is the descriptions were for the EO brand blended by Don Pepin, so maybe it was old stock? It is a crap shot. Reminds me of rolling the dice when ordering or bidding on the 1932 Padilla Miami 6 years ago, hoping to get the straight line 1932 logo Don Pepin rolled in Miami rather than the new, supposedly similar (not), blend made in Nicaragua.

    • This is strictly conjecture on my part but here is what I think happened to EO Brands.
      Ortega and Espinosa took in Patel as a partner; probably for financial reasons.
      And then Patel did his magic and forced them out. Ortega and Espinosa probably fought over the control Patel was exerting over the company and it caused a huge rift between them.
      So now, Espinosa is left with 601. Garcia split because he is a man of honor and didn’t like the shenanigans going on.
      And we are left with a Rocky Patel 601 line.

  4. That little fucker (Patel) is like a cancer to the cigar business!