Sometimes in the cigar industry, bringing back the past pays dividends. In the case of Erik Espinosa, owner of Espinosa Premium Cigars, that may well be the one of the stories for 2021.The original 601 Black was introduced over a decade ago, so far back in cigar time that it was part of the EO Brands portfolio owned by Eddie Ortega and Erik Espinosa. How many remember that? According to sources you have to go back to 2016 to find one that was in regular production.
Now here we are in 2021, and the Black is Back.
According to Erik Espinosa in a press release earlier in the year:
“We noticed, that in the last few years, there has been a trend towards stronger, fuller-bodied Connecticut wrapped cigars. We believe it is the perfect time to re-release this classic blend and introduce it to a new generation of smokers who never got a chance to try it.
That classic blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder – Nicaraguan
- Filler – Nicaraguan
The Espinosa 601 Black returns in a single (6 x 50) toro and comes packaged in glossy, jet black, 10-count boxes. The MSRP has been set at $10.00/cigar.
For this review I sampled 4 of these cigars, which I was fortunate to receive as part of the 2020 La Zona Palooza virtual event.
The Espinosa 601 Black is a finely constructed cigar that sports a smooth golden brown wrapper. There are just a few veins running along barrel. Giving it a gentle squeeze it demonstrates a just a slight give. When looking at the cap, I can’t help but notice how well it was applied. This is not a triple cap but more like a quad cap when I count the lines. There seems to be a lot of pride put into this 601 Black.
A single band adorns the cigar that uses primarily a black and gold foil motif. “601” is proudly presented in the center along with the word “BLACK” on the bottom. Between them is a ribbon that declares this as a “RESERVA LIMITADA”. Each side of the band displays two gold coins. The first identifies this as a 601 brand and the second, which is partially overlapped by the first, displays a tobacco leaf.
As I ran the 601 Black along the nose, I detected lightly pungent and cedar notes along the barrel, while the foot exuded notes of natural tobacco sweetness and nut.
I sliced the cap straight across the shoulder and proceeded to give it a few, well actually a few more, cold puffs that intrigued me with notes of sweetness, gentle pepper, and fruit notes. I found the draw to be spot on.
With the pre-light having me chomping at the bit or perhaps better stated comping on the head to fire this up, I used the soft flame of a cedar spill to warm the foot as I drew in the first blast of peppery smoke. This is turning out to be the start of a grand journey. Follow along as burn the Espinosa Premium Cigars 601 Black to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- 1st puffs offer nasal opening pepper especially on the retro hale
- Thick creamy smoke pours out on every puff
- Buttery oak notes enter as the pepper pulls back slightly
- Meaty umami spice rounds out the introductory profile
- Solid white ash forms on top of a thin even char line
- Ash fell in decent chunk with a flat but centered burn cone
- Coffee notes develop at the end of the first third
- Spice increases moving through the second third
- Strength begins to ratchet up
- Palate pleasing tobacco sweetness joins the mix in both flavor and aroma
- Hint of fruit lays in the background, moving into the final
- Medium to full in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 50 minutes down to the nub
The Espinosa Premium Cigars 601 Black is a welcome return to the premium cigar market. This is most certainly not your daddy’s Connecticut and I bet a decade ago it shocked the world. With an almost 2 hour smoking time of pleasurably balanced and well transitioning notes, this is a cigar that I would smoke anytime of the day. With the medium plus in strength I would suggest having a breakfast meal before lighting it up. This is a rare complex Connecticut that kept my palate interested. I especially enjoyed the buttery oak and umami spice notes early in the profile and the underlying tobacco sweetness moving through the second third. The burn was spot on as was the draw from foot to nub. This is a big winner for Erik and his La Zona team. Grab a box if you can and I rate this a 96.
Point Deductions: (-1) Flat Burn Cone
Bonus Points: (+1) Buy a Box; (+1) Equally Pleasurable across Multiple Samples; (+1) Complex