601 Steel | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5 x 54 “Robusto-Rod”
Body: Full
Price: $5.95 by the box.
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Today we take a look at the brand new Espinosa 601 Steel, The newest addition to the 601 line made exclusively for Famous Smoke.

I got a 5 pack on Cigar Monster for $22. I hadn’t heard about a new 601. So it seemed like a good idea to snag a 5 pack.

It is a Nicaraguan puro. Espinosa describes the blend as “a smoke that’s tough as nails.”

It comes in four sizes in 20 count boxes: 5 x 54 Rod $7.41 per cigar, 6 x 52 Girder $7.54, 7 x 50 Spike, and 6 x 60 Anvil $8.45. The cigars are made at Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The 601 Steel is a nice looking cigar. A dark chocolate brown oily wrapper with substantial tooth in some areas and smooth as silk in others. It has a slight mottled look as well. Seams are visible but tight. Lots of small veins. A perfectly applied triple cap. And jam packed.

I clip the cap and find aromas of spice, ginger, rich earthy tobacco, cocoa, fruitiness along the shaft, cedar, and coffee. If you really want to smell what a pre-lit cigar has to offer, literally stick the foot of the cigar into a nostril and breathe deep.
Time to light up.

Oh and guess what? It is pouring rain here in Milwaukee…for a change.

The first puffs attack my palate with both black and red pepper. The draw is a bit tight.

I believe that back in the day when EO Cigars made the 601 brand, Pepin Garcia was the manufacturer and blender. But after Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega split from each other, Garcia stopped being involved in not only the 601 brand but just about everything else that these two boys produced. I don’t know if it is bad blood or it was just a simple business decision.
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The flavors begin to erupt. The spiciness is just like the Garcia Bomb. Behind it is coffee, cocoa, creaminess, nuts, cedar, and wood.

The char line is dead nuts. The draw is now wide open. And within the first minute of the cigar, it becomes medium/full bodied.

I have a feeling that by the last third, I will be crying mommy.

I love the 601 Green Label and Red Label. But these have all needed loads of humidor time. So I am getting a fresh rolled cigar and that’s why the first couple of days or so allows me the wonderful blender’s intent.

Buddy, Patrick Hosler, gave me the only sensible reason for why most cigars, after 48 hours of dry boxing, taste so good. Not a single manufacturer I asked had a reason and/or ignored my question.
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Charlotte is at work. The TV classic rock channel is blasting. And they are playing a live version of The Doors’ “Light My Fire.” Reminds me of my only story about them. I saw them live at the L.A. Forum around 1968. After the review (with apologies to old time readers for redundancy).

Cedar jumps out at me like it was lurking behind a tree. It is sweet and delicious.

Here are the flavors of the 601 Steel: Spice, spice, spice, cedar, cocoa, coffee, nuts, black tea, wood, leather, and herbal notes.

The ash is hanging tough. Countdown to lap fire.

The 601 Steel is a very good cigar. It if tastes this good after two days, imagine how good it will be after months of humidor time. And I do believe that Espinosa planned this blend to be his strongest yet of the 601 line.

And now they are playing “Ventura Highway” by America. What a massive waste of time. A two or three chord song that seems to go on and on and on and on. Could have replaced water boarding.

I am really digging the cigar now. Flavors are forming into a more linear fashion. I have no idea if the cigar is too green to exhibit flavor bomb status. We shall see.

Creaminess pounces on the pack. I tripped over the dog that was lying next to me, as I type to get a Diet Coke and did that fall/fun where you can’t stop yourself and luckily the stove stopped me leaving imprints of dials in my chest.

The 601 Steel is heading into a heavy chocolate phase. And it is trying its best to blossom into a flavor bomb…but so far, it may, or may not do that until the last third.

The cigar has a 601 La Bomba quality. As I begin the second third, the strength moves to full bodied.

But the La Bomba didn’t quite have the flavor profile this blend has. I don’t remember the La Bomba having a complex nature to it; just strength.
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And with those words, the 601 Steel begins to find its complexity. The stick is very smooth despite the strength is giving me Groucho eye brows.

The char line is spot on. No touch ups required.

Caramel joins the group. Plus a nougat element.

I’m glad I snagged the 5 pack on CM. Famous Smoke has a supposed sale on them right now. The price point they are showing as a sale price is going to be their retail price after the sale is over. You think you are getting a good deal and all along they have been jerking your pud. How do I know this? I have a new Famous Smoke catalog and the “sale” price is listed as their retail price in the catalog. They would never publish a temporary sale price in a catalog. All the big online store pull this crap. A new cigar comes out. They have a sale or one day deal. You check their online catalog and sure as shit, you’re getting a deal. Then a week later, the sale price is their revised online cigar price. How did that happen?

Either way, $6.00 is a good price for the cigar.

The cigar is about to make its debut as a bona fide flavor bomb. I’m ½” away from the halfway point.

So far, no nicotine. Just power.

Did you know that the 601 Red Label has been called the closest thing to the Cuban Ramon Allones? I’ve read that but I made that decision for myself years ago when I was in Sacramento on a project and the hip B & M sold me some Cuban RA.

The flavor profile is shaken up now as flavor bomb status really kicks in: Caramel, creaminess, chocolate, malt, coffee, herbal notes, cedar, nuts, and tea.

I am now duly impressed.

Each sip of my Diet Coke gives me the egg cream experience. Only more like a chocolate malt with gooey caramel swimming inside.

For the first time, the char line needs a minor tune up.

I am dead center at the halfway point. I’ve invested 40 minutes…not counting the kitchen stove incident.
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The ash is so sturdy that I’ve had to force it off. I just don’t like it falling into my lap or the keyboard.

So it may have well still been intact up to now if not for my paranoia.

I stopped writing the review so I could write the after review anecdote.

I am now beginning the last third.

Nicotine begins its journey to the land of Oz. And I ain’t the Wizard. I’m one of those flying monkeys.
Smooth. Flavorful. Strong as hell.

I wonder why Espinosa made this a Famous house brand? That really baffles me.
Normally, when a big time blender makes a house brand, it is mediocre compared to the rest of his line. But not the 601 Steel. It is a premium cigar being sold at a very decent price. Kudos to Famous for pulling this off.

The cigar is beginning to kick my arse. I look at it in the ashtray and there is still a little less than 2” to go. Will I make it? Only the Cosmic Muffin knows.

I highly advise to have a full belly before smoking it. Don’t be stupid like me.

The flavors pop up here and there like riding a carousel where you pull the rings as you pass the dispenser.

They don’t do that anymore for liability reasons. But back in the day, every merry go round had the rings and you could trade them in for tchotchkes.

Caramel and chocolate and creaminess are the main flavors now. Everything else has moved to the back of the line.
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The 601 Steel is stronger than the La Bomba. I am having trouble finishing it. I put 3-4 minutes between each puff. I’m reeling.

Extensive humidor time should mellow the cigar out some. This is just too strong for me and I like full bodied cigars.

Regardless, the 601 Steel is a very good cigar with great potential. I recommend it.
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And now for something completely different:

I took this sweet young thing to see a Doors concert at the L.A. Forum in Inglewood. She was something else. I had just bought a brand new 1969 Chevy Impala custom. It was yellow with a black tonneau roof. I had the dough to trick it out completely.

For some reason, the promoter thought putting Jerry Lee Lewis as the opener was a good idea. Now if he had played his oldies, that would have been a show. But he was in his country stage. A big band all wearing the same country styled suits. And all the audience heard was country music.

He played for an hour and when he finished, he said good-bye. The crowd went nuts because he was done. Lewis mistook this for praise.

He asked the audience if they wanted more? In unison, the 25,000 people yelled, “NO!!!”

He was clearly taken aback. And then he leaned into the mic and told everyone to go to hell. As he stomped off the stage, the crowd erupted in applause.

The Doors had a wall of sound. Literally. They had speaker cabinets stacked 20 feet tall. And covered the stage from one end to the other.
The band comes on to thunderous applause.

Throughout the concert, Morrison drinks from a bottle of whiskey. He kept a cardboard box nearby so he could throw up in it. Lovely.

I was lucky to see the band in their heyday.

Move forward to the early 80’s when I was single and hanging in the Hollywood clubs. I was playing in my original band, “The Attitude.”

A buddy that was a big radio DJ and I hung out a lot and was always my wing man when we hit the Sunset Strip clubs.

There was a small one. The name eludes me. The band played upstairs. The Fabulous Thunderbirds was the house band and I saw Stevie Ray Vaughn a lot.

Upstairs would only seat 75 people at tables with four chairs.

One night, we sat down at the same table with Ray Manzarek. He was the keyboard player for the Doors.

He had gotten into producing and managing acts. Very down to earth and we saw him every time we went to that club and always sat with him.

I gave him the 45 single of Hound Dog that The Attitude recorded. I got the feeling that his attitude was, “Yeah, sure. Leave your name and number in the ashtray and I will get back to you.”

Regardless of his not caring about my group, we got to hear lots of inside dirt about the Doors. That was priceless.

He was managing the L.A. band “X” at the time. They were the “it” band in L.A. Plus they were a big deal nationwide.

He arranged for my buddy to interview them at their house. The chick singer (Exene Cervenka) and leader (John Doe) of the band lived together. Doe went on to become a movie actor. You’ve seen him dozens of times. Probably didn’t know it.

We got to their house and they let us in.

It was the biggest pig sty I had ever seen. Unfinished plates of old food were everywhere and it was furnished by the Salvation Army.

After leaving, I was disgusted.

I left something out. That honey I took to the Doors concert? I took her back to my parent’s house. I tried to screw her but she was a virgin.

It was like trying to stick your penis into drywall.

And then for some reason, I asked her age.
“I’m 15.”
&^$#$%$#(_(&^@@#$!!!!!

I threw her off the bed and took her home. Her mother called me and told me to stay away from her. No problem lady.
Had it been another time, she would have had me arrested.

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2 replies

  1. Great Review! I had a similar experience with drywall, and wish my carpentry skills had been better!

  2. I had the pleasure of meeting John Doe & Exene several times at shows in Milwaukee and Madison. Drank Old English 800 between sets with them at the Starship when I was 16 years old. Really nice people who made great music. Punk rockers that kept a messy house? How shocking.