Review: 601 La Bomba Warhead
Espinosa Cigars announced the 601 La Bomba Warhead in early June, when the company put out this press release. While the announcement of a Maduro-wrapped version of the original La Bomba was interesting, it was the artwork that was most eye-catching. From the press release:
The packaging is inspired by several themes in the World War II era. When unraveled, the foot band on the cigar is revealed to be in the form of a bomb. This “bomb” features nose art or aircraft graffiti, which was common in this era. Most prominent is the shark-face which is a reference to the Flying Tigers, the 1st American Volunteer Group, who would paint the shark-faces on their military aircrafts.
The Espinosa Cigars crew brought the 601 La Bomba Warhead to life at the 2013 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, as they had an actual decommissioned bomb at their booth, which they invited all active duty military and veterans to sign. The bomb is currently located in Espinosa’s Miami offices.
The La Bomba Warhead is also a single-vitola release, coming in a 6 1/2 x 54 Toro-like size that has a soft box-press. The reason for this unique size is two-fold, according to Anthony Jimenez of Espinosa Premium Cigars. First, with the name “Warhead” they wanted to make a big cigar, but they knew that automatically going to a 6 x 60 would turn a lot of people off. So they went to a 54 ring gauge, which is still sizable but in the wheelhouse of more cigar smokers. The box-press further helps bring the size down a bit by making it feel a little less bulky.
Here’s what the boxes look like:
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s light this stick up.
Cigar Reviewed: 601 La Bomba Warhead
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Size: 6 1/2 Inches
Ring Gauge: 54
MSRP: $10.50 (Boxes of 10, $105.00)
Date Released: August 6, 2013
Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Like the yellow-banded 601 La Bomba, the 601 La Bomba Warhead features a fuse-style cap with a skinny piece of twisted tobacco extending from the cap and the band placed at the foot of the cigar. The wrapper is incredibly soft and smooth and the cigar is well-filled with no soft spots. It’s a challenge to remember the last time I felt a wrapper with this texture and it’s an aspect of the cigar that makes quite the impression. The veins are few and flat and there doesn’t appear to be much toothiness on the dark brown wrapper, though there is a good bit of sheen from the oil. As for the cap, there is certainly a temptation to pluck it off as opposed to using a cutter, and the one time I tried that, the results were not favorable. Best to stick with whatever method you usually prefer; in my case, the double guillotine cutter worked just fine. The pre-light aroma largely lacks any big notes of spice or pepper, somewhat of a surprise given its name and billing. One of the three cigars I smoked had a more pronounced pepper note, though all of them had a distinct sweetness; one was light and had me thinking of marshmallow fluff or powdered sugar, another was fuller and brought rhubarb pie to mind, while a third manifested more as dark berry jam. The cold draw has just a bit of resistance and a faint background note of spice, while the forward note leans more towards graham cracker and ever so slightly echoes the pre-light aroma.
The first puffs of the 601 La Bomba Warhead mean business as the pepper steps right out of the shadows and smoke billows out of the cigar. There’s still a hint of light sweetness in the smoke, tangy with a few floral notes mixed in for complexity. A faint note of ever-so-slightly charred wood note comes out to add a bit of enjoyable bite to the equation, and really keeps the palate alert in the first ten minutes. The burn line hasn’t progressed an inch before the La Bomba Warhead feels like it has really opened itself up, as the smoke coming off the cigar is incredibly complex with notes of white pepper and what I feel compelled to describe as a wood-based potpourri.
The second third sees the complexity dial down a bit, and the strength takes somewhat measured steps backwards as a chalky note leads the way, keeping lockstep with a white pepper note to provide a tasty back-and-forth. The flavors are still bright and bold, just not as heavy or complex as they were in the first third. By stripping down some of the complexity, the 601 La Bomba Warhead has isolated two very good and enjoyable flavors that make for an enjoyable and distinctive second third. At this point the strength isn’t at knock-down levels but even for a seasoned cigar smoker, it might be a bit much for a first cigar of the day, even after lunch.
It’s subtle, but the complexity builds back in the final third and the leading note of what reminds me of red chili pepper flakes seems to be more noise than signal. There’s a touch of harshness that comes out almost right at the border between second and final thirds as the flavors get a bit out of balance, but quickly reorganize themselves like a bunch of hyper school children getting back in line to come in from recess. In the final inches, that touch of bitterness fades and the complexity found in the first third returns but in an evolved way; a touch heavier, a touch thicker, and just a bit stronger thanks to an increase in pepper, which is most noticeable when the smoke hits your eyes. For my palate, it stops just short of being overbearingly strong, though those who favor milder cigars will likely find this a bit too much to handle. The 601 La Bomba Warhead stays rich and clean all the way down until you either need to put a draw poker in the side or you’ve grown tired of burning your fingertips wringing every last ounce of flavor out of the cigar.
- This will be kept in my mind as a nominee for our year-end packaging awards.
- I challenge you to find a moment where you are lacking for smoke production in the 601 La Bomba Warhead.
- Every time I picked up the cigar, the texture of the cigar was the first thing to catch my attention.
- Included in every box of 601 La Bomba Warheads is a sticker version of the band, though significantly larger.
- There is discussion of a new vitola for next year, though nothing has been set in stone. The official response I got is that we can anticipate a new version of the 601 La Bomba Warhead in 2014.
- As a corollary, there are several references to this being the 2013 Limited Edition, which would lend some additional credence to there being a new version next year.
- In April 2013, the original La Bomba line grew to five vitolas with the addition of the 7 x 70 La Bomba F-Bomb.
- Earlier in the year, Espinosa Cigars issued the La Bomba Challenge, where consumers were asked to submit a picture of themselves before and after smoking a 601 La Bomba.
- The original 601 La Bomba, in the similarly sizes 6 x 50 Nuclear vitola, was reviewed on halfwheel here.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Espinosa Cigars.
- Final smoking time is about two hours and 20 minutes.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Cigar King and Famous Smoke Shop all carry the 601 La Bomba Warhead. Superior Cigars also carries 601 but hasn’t listed the Warhead yet. Make sure to tell them halfwheel sent you.
The Bottom Line: The 601 La Bomba Warhead achieved something that seemed to be missing from the original 601 La Bomba: balance. While there was no doubt that the 601 La Bomba, particularly the first batch or so, packed a significant pepper punch, they always seemed to lack balance and a sense of being more than just a pepper bomb. The Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro used in the 601 La Bomba Warhead adds richness and a level of complexity that just wasn’t found in the original version and would make me reach for this version nine times out of ten when picking between the two. The single vitola doesn’t offer much choice in terms of size, but I’ll give Espinosa Cigars a lot of credit for making a size that fits both the project and should appeal to a fairly wide array of preferences. Between the artwork and the flavors in the cigar, Espinosa has made a cigar worthy of picking up when you see it on your retailer’s shelves.
Final Score: 88
We are giving away a box of 601 La Bomba Warheads with a La Bomba t-shirt.
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