For the eighth installment in Smoke Inn’s Microblend Series, Abe Dababneh turned to Erik Espinosa for a new addition to Espinosa Cigars’ 601 La Bomba line, a 5 1/2 x 56 figuardo that would be known at the Bunker Buster.
The project was announced in November 2013 before the first picture of the cigar was posted in January. While the official release date was set for June 6, a small number of consumers received a special five-packof the cigar if they attended the VIP dinner that was part of Smoke Inn’s annual event, The Great Smoke, held on February 21.
The Smoke Inn website describes the inspiration for the cigar:
Strength, honor, grit, and freedom – all are characteristics of the US soldier and what they stand for. And so, Smoke Inn and Espinosa Cigars have set out to create a cigar with the same virtues – one to honor our courageous troops, a cigar that smokes like a true warrior.
For the newest release in the Smoke Inn Microblend Series™, we’ve teamed up with Espinosa Cigars to create one full-forced, power house cigar – introducing the 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster. Inspired by our US Military, the Bunker Buster features an old-school army-green design – with ammunition-style boxes and military stripes across the band. But that’s not where this tribute to our armed forces stops. This cigar is truly relentless! Featuring a full strength/full body flavor profile, the 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster gives a full arsenal attack on the senses.
Between the two lines, Smoke Inn’s Microblend Series™ was the first to debut, with its inaugural cigar coming out on December 10, 2010 in the form of the Tatuaje Anarchy. Dababneh cites the microbrew movement in the beer world as the inspiration for the Microblend Series™, and each release has been comparatively small, with the debut Anarchy remaining the biggest release, and the Bunker Buster coming in as the second smallest, trailing only the Padrón 1964 SI-15 in production numbers. With a fairly regular release schedule, the line has steadily grown to eight releases and nine total cigars, as Padrón’s 1964 SI-15 came in both natural and maduro version when it was released in February 2011.
- Tatuaje Anarchy (6 x 54) — December 10, 2010 — 1,500 Boxes of 15 Cigars (22,500 Total Cigars)
- Padrón 1964 SI-15 Natural (6 x 60) — February 4, 2011 — 225 Boxes of 15 Cigars (3,375 Total Cigars)
- Padrón 1964 SI-15 Maduro (6 x 60) — February 4, 2011 — 225 Boxes of 15 Cigars (3,375 Total Cigars)
- My Father El Hijo (5 1/2 x 52) — August 12, 2011 — 650 Boxes of 15 Cigars (9,750 Total Cigars)
- Arturo Fuente Solaris (6 x 49) — May 28, 2013 — 550 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,500 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Anarchy Apocalypse (5 1/4 x 48/52) — December 14, 2012 — 1,300 Boxes of 15 Cigars (19,500 Total Cigars)
- Room101 Big Delicious (6 1/4 x 54) — April 26, 2013 — 750 Boxes of 15 Cigars (11,250 Total Cigars)
- Quesada Oktoberfest Dunkel (6 x 54) — September 20, 2013 — 750 Boxes of 15 Cigars (11,250 Total Cigars)
- 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster (5 1/2 x 56) — June 6, 2014 — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
As for the 601 La Bomba line, it was launched on June 25, 2011 and got its full introduction to the cigar world at the IPCPR Convention and Trade Show the following month. When it debuted, the line was still part of EO Brands, the company headed by Espinosa and Eddie Ortega. Its origins were a bit secretive, rumored to be made at the My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua where the rest of the EO portfolio was being produced at the time. The name and presentation left little to the imagination in terms of what the cigar was going after, which Ortega described at the time as simply being “very full bodied.” It debuted in three sizes and has since grown to nine vitolas.
- 601 La Bomba Atom (5 1/2 x 46)
- 601 La Bomba Napalm (5 x 52)
- 601 La Bomba Nuclear (6 x 50)
- 601 La Bomba Atomic (6 x 60)
- 601 La Bomba F-Bomb (7 x 70)
- 601 La Bomba Warhead (2013) (6 1/2 x 54)
- 601 La Bomba Sake Bomb (4 1/2 x 42)
- 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster (5 1/2 x 56)
- 601 La Bomba Warhead II (5 1/2 x 56)*
*Not yet released
The vitolas in the 601 La Bomba certainly have a theme, though it’s not 100% military themed, as evidenced by the recently released Sake Bomb and the massive F-Bomb. For this release, the term bunker buster is a generic one that originated in early 1940s Germany, when August Cönders developed Röchling shells, which were artillery delivered shells. In World War II, the British developed aircraft delivered devices: the five tonne Tallboy and ten tonne Grand Slam “Earthquake.”
Cigar Reviewed: 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: La Zona
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Claro
Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo
Size: 5 1/2 Inches
Ring Gauge: 56
MSRP: $8.95 (Boxes of 10, $89.95)
Release Date: June 6, 2014
Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
At first look I’m torn between which to like more: the unique vitola of the cigar or the well done band that sells the project. The box-pressed perfecto is definitely unique, though other cigars have shared at least the general idea behind it. The band is fairly sizable with bold green and gold coloring and some thick embossing. The wrapper is smooth to the touch with minimal veins and a peanut butter brown color to it, though there was one spot on the first cigar that had just a slightly green tint to it, something familiar to smokers of Cuban cigars but rarely found on their domestically available counterparts. There is one notable touch missing on the Bunker Buster: the fuse that has been found on many of the other La Bomba releases, and one that is slightly missed, if for nothing more than its aesthetic appeal given the line’s billing. A few squeezes reveal that the Bunker Buster is a bit soft with an almost pillow like quality, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest it was underfilled, it has a touch more give than most cigars. Maybe it was the power of suggestion from the color, but the pre-light aroma coming off the foot reminds me of warm peanut butter on toast, a thick and very enjoyable aroma to offer as a first impression. The cold draw is loose with air moving through it with little governance, offering notes of peanut, lumberyard wood and a touch of light leather.
Having momentarily forgot that the Bunker Buster was part of 601 La Bomba’s line when I was lighting it, the first few puffs quickly reminded me, with a hearty amount of pepper right out of the gate that packs a big, blunt punch. While it doesn’t go after the individual taste buds with reckless abandon, it gives the whole tongue a peppery sensation with some leftover for the nose and eyes as well, so much so that the second cigar I smoked was tear-inducing. Once the fallout from the initial pepper explosion settles, the cigar picks up an earthy note with subtle steps into that same warm peanut butter on toast note I found on the pre-light aroma; a taste I can’t recall experiencing in any recent cigars and one that has certainly piqued my taste buds. The draw is a bit open but not so loose that it becomes a detriment to the cigar, with ample smoke and an even burn line in the first few inches. Retrohales early are almost futile, as my capacity for the pepper in the nose simply can’t keep up with what the Bunker Buster has to offer, though it does provide an opportunity to get a concentrated hit of the peanut butter note that seems to be setting itself up to be a constant component.
There’s a bit of a retreat in strength at the start of the second third, with the peanut note standing out and much less earth or pepper. In one cigar, the burn line gets a bit wavy as it hits a spot it can’t immediately get through but quickly rectifies itself without the assistance of the lighter. With the band removed the peanut note picks up a bit of a charred taste as the earth comes back with some touches of pepper bringing back some of the punch found at the start of the Bunker Buster and ramping the strength back up to medium-plus prior to the midway point. The earth note has come back as well and the cigar now sits at just a touch more than medium in strength, not overpowering but giving some indications it is headed towards being full bodied. Combustion and smoke production have both been fine, with the burn line staying straight and even after one slight hiccup. While the first clump of ash was fairly tight, the second began flowering but holds on for well over an inch.
The tease of becoming full bodied comes to fruition with about two inches to go, as the 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster brings back the pepper in spades and with more pointed force this time, hitting much more of the mouth and throat while also giving the lips a good tingle as well. The draw remains very good, still a bit loose but with more than ample smoke production and no need for touch-ups or relights. If there’s one complaint it’s that I’m not getting much in the way of aroma from the smoke; the warm peanut butter on toast note continues to be there—and it is very good—but has fallen off in terms of its prevalence. Strength continues to inch forward with each puff in the final inches, recalling the beginning of the cigar and giving the palate and chest a good workout with the finish appearing on the horizon. One final retrohale still proves to be a bit much for my tolerance, but the smoke stays fairly smooth on the palate given its pepper-laden nature, and the cigar gets taken down to less than an inch and a half in length before needing to be retired.
- This is one of those cigars I worry about ending up in the hands of an inexperienced cigar smoker, simply because the first few puffs might turn him or her off to the whole idea of enjoying premium cigars due to its strength.
- On the side of the band is the abbreviation S.I.M.B. 2014, which would make sense as an abbreviation for Smoke Inn Micro Blend 2014. I have generally seen Micro Blend spelled as one word, both with and without the B capitalized, but always with ™ at the end.
- I only have one gripe about the band, and it only applies to the cigar I used for the photos: the top point of it is a bit too high and ends up on the lips more times than not. Normally, I take bands off before I smoke them, so this wouldn’t be an issue had it not been for need for pictures.
- Incidentally, both bands came off fairly easily with no damage to the wrapper.
- The United States became known for the 12,000 pound Tarzon which was used in Korea, before further developing a new generation of bunker busters in the early 1990s during Operation Desert Storm. The current high-end model of U.S. bunker busters is the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), a 30,000 pound device.
- Those who pre-ordered the 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster received a military challenge coin with their order.
- The June 6 release date coincided with the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when more than 160,000 Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy to fight Nazi troops during World War II.
- How in the world there are still boxes of the Room101 Big Delicious available for purchase is beyond me. It ranked #12 on the 2013 halfwheel 25.
- Earlier this month, Espinosa Cigars announced that the 601 La Bomba Warhead would be returning with a new version for 2014.
- Wikipedia has some interesting background on bunker busters.
- Final smoking time was o e hour and 40 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Smoke Inn.
- Smoke Inn is the only place to get the 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster. You can order them online or via phone 888.766.5371; either way, be sure to tell them you heard about it on halfwheel.
There is no doubt the 601 La Bomba line is about strength more than anything else, and while I have generally faulted the line for being too strong and not showing much in the way of transitions, balance or complexity, that's not so much the case here. The 601 La Bomba Bunker Buster really plays with strength more than anything, exploding out of the gate before dialing back a bit, returning with some strength, backing off again and then finishing on another strong note. Make no mistake, this is a strong cigar, but it is by far the most flavorful incarnation of the line I have had to date. The peanut butter note is incredibly enjoyable and becomes a great note that carries the cigar from start to finish, pairing well with the pepper and earth that come and go. While this is a cigar that might overpower many palates, it certainly brings a good amount of transitions and variety to those willing to take the challenge.