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If you ever feel like bringing up a cigar topic that has been discussed beyond the point of benefit, the demand for lanceros is a good place to start.

Essentially, there is a group of cigar smokeres—some halfwheel staffers included—that really like the lancero vitola and want to see more of them. This group is also fairly vocal, disproportionately so, some would say.

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Talk to retailers and manufacturers, and they will tell you that while the lancero is a perfectly fine vitola, it doesn’t sell as well as robustos, toros, and other vitolas do. Case in point: the seemingly default size for single-vitola releases has become a 6 x 52 toro or thereabouts in recent year.

Yet that doesn’t mean lanceros are completely done, so when one does pop up, it gets some attention. One company that has been keeping lancero lovers happy is Espinosa Premium Cigars, adding them to a number of lines in recent years. Sometimes those are regular production lines, and other times, it’s a small run of cigars released as a retailer exclusive.

In this case, it’s the latter, with the cigar released to Embargo Cigar Lounge in Phoenix. They received 100 five-count bundles of cigars, making for a total run of 500 cigars. Each bundle was priced at $49.95, making for a per-cigar cost of $9.99.

The blend is still a Nicaraguan puro highlighted by a habano wrapper, with production handled by the La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. This limited edition became the seventh size in the yellow-banded La Bomba line, joining the other six regular production vitolas:

Embargo Cigar Lounge put the 601 La Bomba Lancero on sale on Jan. 26 during an event with Erik Espinosa.

  • Cigar Reviewed: 601 La Bomba Lancero
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Habano)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 7 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 38
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $9.99 (Bundle of 5, $49.95)
  • Release Date: Jan. 26, 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: 100 Bundles of 5 Cigars (500 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The 601 La Bomba Lancero lacks the band found on the other sizes of the 601 La Bomba lines, which I’m not inherently bothered by but I think any cigar benefits from being banded. There is a yellow ribbon foot band that is an echo of the band’s color if a bit lighter, while the fuse cap is another telltale sign of the line. The cigar wears an earthy brown wrapper that has some veins and a bit of tooth, and while it doesn’t look overly oily, there is no mistaking the oily feel that the fingers get. It appears to be rolled well, and when squeezed I find just a bit of give in the cigar, something found across the three samples but each is still a firmly rolled stick. It also looks good visually,  though I think the fuse feels a bit thin, however, that might just be how the cigar needed to be made. The foot of the cigar has some dark aromas that remind me a bit of smelling a hand of ligero tobaccos in a factory. There’s a bit of a syrupy texture to the aroma, with a bit of pepper to be found as well as some aloe. It’s not an aroma that will jump out at you, but if you know the smell, you know what it means. The cold draw is nearly perfect in terms of airflow, while I get a combination of flavors that reminds me a bit of craft root beer as it takes some time to pick them all out. There’s a bit of pepper, some molasses sweetness, dry wood, and surely a few other things that I’m overlooking, as it tastes so complex and well mixed that it’s tough to separate everything. If we gave points for flavorful cold draws, this would certainly score well.

The 601 La Bomba Lancero starts off with a fairly tight flavor profile, reintroducing that combination that has me thinking about a well-made root beer but not necessarily offering those same flavors. One sample shows the habano wrapper better than the others, as it is a bit woodier and drier than its counterparts, though doesn’t have much pepper out of the gate. What is consistent is some distinctive ligero strength and flavors tucked in the core of the profile, not yet dominating things but certainly letting the palate know it’s there. There are puffs where the cigar seems to want to distract from that strength with a lighter profile that is just a bit chalky, though that isn’t consistent among the three samples or where those puffs occur. There’s plenty of thick, creamy smoke in the early going, though it dissipates quickly and the overall volume is less than what I’d imagine the 7 x 70 F-BOMB version offers. The first third wraps up with a bit more robust strength emerging, as some charred black pepper becomes a more pronounced part of the profile. There is also a fairly bright white pepper beginning to really tingle the nostrils on retrohales, which makes for a very good pairing between the two senses. The draw is fantastic, burn and smoke production are quite good, while flavor and strength are at medium-plus.

I’d be lying if I wasn’t waiting a bit apprehensively for the 601 La Bomba Lancero to unleash some serious strength, but as of the start of the second third it hasn’t happened yet. It is a bit drier than it was in the first third, and I’m getting a bit more of a lingering, peppery tingle on my tongue and lips, but I can’t say the strength is growing by leaps and bounds. If anything, the cigar is really enhanced by retrohales, which offers a more vibrant profile to pair with and brighten up what is still a relatively heavy profile on the tongue. There is certainly some transition that begins around the midpoint, as the white pepper moves down to the tongue. By the final puffs of the second third, it feels like the habano wrapper is becoming more distinctive, separating itself from the core flavors with a bit of wood and a different pepper than what I figured was coming from the filler tobaccos. 

The explosion of strength still hasn’t happened at the start of the 601 La Bomba Lancero’s final third, which—in the grand scheme of things—I’m pretty okay with, particularly since I’m generally smoking these in the morning. While the earlier portions of the cigar had a flavor I described as tightly packed, they unfolded a bit in the second third and now seem to be slowly falling away, as the profile seems less complex and engaging than it did earlier. There’s still a good bit of chalk-tinged earth and white pepper, with just a bit of black pepper showing up in spots. It’s an engaging, if not enamoring profile, one I wouldn’t hesitate to smoke again but one that I find myself simply wanting more from. The pepper doesn’t become irritating or grating on the palate, but it hits it with a distinctive tingle that makes it feel like each taste bud is operating independently rather than as a collective. The final third of the 601 La Bomba Lancero definitely feels like the cigar has moved into a different place from where it started, with white pepper leading the profile and sitting atop just a bit of earthiness, which dries out the palate just a bit, becoming less palate-friendly as the cigar comes to its conclusion. The technical performance remains very good, while flavor finishes at medium-full, with body and strength at medium-plus.

Final Notes

  • There are times that I think saying the word lancero in the presence of some cigar smokers is like saying treat around a dog. The ears perk up, the tail starts wagging, and attention snaps into place.
  • Lanceros have never been known for having great ash, but the 601 La Bomba Lancero is fairly decent. It starts to let go just shy of the one-inch mark, but it holds on well otherwise. It’s also a fairly bright white color.
  • The fuse on one sample was glued down with a pretty decent amount of adhesive, so much so that it left an interesting look when it was peeled off. I’m hesitant to call it a blistered look, but it fits.
  • This may be called La Bomba and have a distinctive black bomb icon as its logo, but I can’t say I got much in the way of nicotine strength. There’s a bit, but this is more a bomb of flavor than of nicotine.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes on average.
  • The 601 La Bomba Lancero is available exclusively at Embargo Cigar Lounge (602.831.2404).
89 Overall Score

In addition to the comments about the sales potential of lanceros, the other key question to address is whether or not the vitola helps a blend shine as well as if not better than others. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it's no, and in this case I find it to be somewhere in the middle. Having smoked a number of 601 La Bombas in other vitolas, I can't say that the lancero size is the best, yet I don't think it hurts the blend either. If anything, there is a certain richness to the blend that I didn't find in this size, yet in does seem to allow the habano wrapper leaf to shine better in certain spots. As I've said with other cigars, this is certainly good but it did leave me wanting a bit more depth and complexity, which I'm just not sure is possible in such a thin ring gauge. If you're a fan of the 601 La Bomba line, I certainly think this is worth trying, if nothing less to compare it to the other sizes, but also because it's an enjoyable cigar in its own right.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.