As you probably already know from some of my reviews (Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo, Camacho Triple Maduro, La Flor Dominican Double Ligero, just to name a few), I am a fan of strong cigars. I weigh about 200 pounds, I smoke cigars pretty much constantly, and prior to smoking today, I ate a huge meal. But even with all that on my side, the 601 La Bomba Napalm just kicked my ass.
If you’re not familiar with the 601 La Bomba line, it’s Don Jose “Pepin” Garcia’s latest and probably strongest creation, which was unveiled at the 2011 IPCPR show. It’s made entirely with Nicaraguan tobaccos, including an extra dark and oily Nicaraguan Habano wrapper and what I can only assume is an incredibly ligero-heavy filler blend. The stick I smoked was very well-made with no significant soft spots or large veins, and the draw was incredibly fluid and easy once I clipped the cap. Also worth mentioning was the fuse-like pigtail that covered most of the length of the robusto-sized cigar. Pre-light flavors were deceptively mellow with notes of coffee, leather, and a little bit of pepper. Expecting another “full-bodied” pushover, I went to work on the cap with a triple-torch.
Now, unlike with many other Pepin blends I’ve had, the spice blast didn’t start right away. The smoke started mellow for the first 4 or 5 minutes, but once the spice hit, it came in like a freight train. Red pepper coated my entire palate and was only reinforced by a strong, heady leather note and some coffee and sugar on the finish. This pepper built to a point where I actually thought I’d have to put the stick down, but I’m not one for wasting cigars, so I smoked on.
Making note of the picturesque burn line, I continued puffing, the pepper still coating my palate. Right around the halfway point, the pepper turned significantly mellower and I started tasting the most in-your-face floral note I’ve ever tasted. Usually a flavor like this will hide in the background, maybe behind some coffee and earth, but this thing was right at the front, as noticeable as ever. While the pepper was a little mellower at this point, the nicotine was still hitting me with full force, and I had to consciously slow down my smoking to keep myself from being overwhelmed.
As I burned through the end of the second third, it felt as though I’d made it through the woods, and the rest of the cigar would be significantly easier. I was half right. The flavors really opened up with the pepper finally making its retreat, and I started tasting cocoa, coffee, baking spice, and a creamy finish that I thought was very uncharacteristic of such strong cigars. It was almost as if the cigar was getting me an icepack after repeatedly punching me in the face. From this point on, the flavors stayed consistent, and while the nicotine was still fairly present, it wasn’t nearly as diesel at it was in the first 60 percent or so of the smoke. With my head swimming and my legs wobbly, I finally decided to put the Napalm down with about 1 inch remaining.
After smoking all the powerhouse cigars I mentioned above and tackling their respective nicotine buzzes like a champ, I had sometimes wondered if there was any cigar that was actually too strong for me. Well, the 601 La Bomba is that cigar. This is probably the only stogie I’ve ever reviewed on this blog that I’m wary of smoking again, at least until I’ve had some more practice. That’s not to say that I regret smoking it, or that it wasn’t damn delicious, because it absolutely was–the flavors were solid, and the pepper blast wasn’t any more intense than some of the other DPG’s I’ve had. Not to mention, the construction was top-notch. But the level of nicotine, at least in the stick I had, was just too much for me.
The 601 La Bomba is strictly for experienced smokers only, and is well-deserving of its “Extra Full Bodied” designation on our website. If you’re looking for something that will taste amazing but make it difficult, if not impossible, to write your own first name after smoking it, this is for you. Here’s to Don “Pepin” Garcia and EO Brands for creating what was hands down the strongest cigar I have ever smoked. Oh, and thanks to the few of you who voted in the reader poll!