Cigar

601 Black From Espinosa Cigars

601 Black

With Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s a day that can bring back the memories that we love and sometimes within the cigar industry a certain cigar may be brought back to remind us how much we missed and loved that particular cigar. 

Here we have the 601 Black Connecticut.  The 601 Black had been out of production for several years.  In 2020 this cigar was reintroduced as an annual limited editiion.  The 601 Black is a cigar that traces back to EO Brands, the partnership between Espinosa Cigars founder Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega.  601 Black was one of the original 601 blends released in the EO portfolios.  At the time it was released, it was considered a groundbreaking cigar in that it was one of the early Connecticut Shade blends to break the mold of traditional, milder Connecticut Shades and as Espinosa Cigars Director of Operations Hector Alfonso quoted, “the 601 Black was a cigar ahead of its time”. 

The 601 Black is certainly a cigar that might change your view on Connecticut Shade cigars.  Underneath the Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf is a core of perfectly aged Nicaraguan long filler and binder tobaccos, yielding a more powerful and bolder smoke than an old-school Connecticut smoke. 

Getting ready to light this cigar up I take a few dry pulls to get the FULL aspect of the experience I am about to have.  In my dry draws I was able to pick up some caramel, toasted nuts, and cedar notes.  The cigar definitely started to get my glands active with saliva which was all before the cigar was even lit. 

As I began to light up, right off the rip, I was getting some very rich and flavorful pepper, cream, cedar, toasted nuts and dried fruit.  I can immediately understand why this cigar is typically not your traditional Connecticut Shade cigar.  As I continue to smoke the first 1/3 of the cigar it was staying strong with robust flavors of caramel, toasted nuts, cedar with a hint of floral notes to enhance my experience.  Continuing on with the second 1/3 of the cigar a nice frothy latte with some cocoa powder came to mind; coffee, cocoa, hints of sweetness, and molasses certainly surprised me yet the transition was certainly enjoyable.  As I continue with the last 1/3 of the 601 Black the strength and flavor really became prominent; molasses, espresso, cocoa, with hints of brown sugar.  

This cigar certainly illustrates why it stands out above most traditional Connecticut Shade cigars.  This cigar will absolutely pair well with your drink of choice.  The 601 Black is offered in boxes of 10 and ONLY in a Toro Size.  This cigar is most certainly one you want to hunt for. I would rate this cigar 4.9 out of 5 which say’s a lot because I can be quite picky on a cigar from start to finish but this cigar was absolutely delicious and almost flawless.  I did have one tiny burn issue half way through but it didn’t last long and the flavor profile was impeccable. Check out your local B&M to track some of these down!

Wrapper –  Ecuadorian Connecticut

Binder – Nicaragua 

Filler – Nicaragua

Price: Around $9.00 a stick

Website: www.espinosacigars.com

Rating: 4.9 out of 5 pints.

Plasencia Reserva Original

The Reserva Original from Plasencia had been staring at me through the glass door in one of my humidors for a while now so, I decided it was time to light it up and see what I thought. Touted by Plasencia as the first and only cigar on the market made solely with tobacco certified by the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) and in the same way Nicarao Indians did over 500 years ago. It debuted at, the then named, IPCPR show in 2017 but was originally an exclusive cigar for Famous Smoke Shop for years prior. Plasencia has been around for ages, growing and rolling tobacco for a variety of big name companies, which I touched on this in the Alma Del Fuego review written a while back, but as they continue to produce more and more blends for themselves there’s always something new to try.

Taking a good look at the cigar the wrapper is dark brown in color with small but noticeable veining and some mottling. The seams are visible but tight, it is smooth to the touch, firm when pressed and no dead spots could be found in the construction. The smell from the body was chocolate, roasted coffee beans and hay. From the foot I picked up a distinct odor of sweet dried fruit.

The triple cap cuts easily and does not damage the construction of the cigar. Of the few I smoked pre-light draw varied between light and medium in resistance. It has as a rich sweet tobacco flavor along with hints of spice.

The first third of the cigar started off creamy with a bit of spice and cedar flavors that linger on the tongue. The burn was even and it produced a fair amount of pleasant smelling light weighted smoke.

Creeping into the second third the creamy flavor stays but now I’m getting the sweeter flavors of the dried fruit noticed when smelling the foot. There is still spice and cedar on the retro hail (if you like doing that sort of thing). The burn continues in an even manner and smoke production is ample.

In the final third the flavors become a bit more difficult to describe. The cedar and spice are present but also salt and sweet when pressing the tongue to the roof of the mouth. Over all it finishes as a nice mellow smoke. The burn stays even for the duration and the smoke doesn’t fail to satisfy and fill the room.

From start to finish this was a thoroughly enjoyable cigar. As it has a medium body it’s an easy smoke and could be paired with just about anything. With its intriguing story of the tobacco used it makes this Nicaraguan puro both a great cigar as well as a novelty. Priced reasonably I would definitely recommend grabbing a handful next time you’re in your local B&M shop and see them, if you don’t see them ask them to bring them in, it doesn’t disappoint.

Wrapper – Nicaraguan

Binder – Nicaraguan

Filler – Nicaraguan

Price: $7.50 – $10.00 depending on vitola

Website: https://www.plasenciacigars.com

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 pints

La Sirena’s Original

La Sirena Original

So who knows about the La Sirena line? Yeah, me either (well maybe you did know about them but I didn’t). I’m not even sure how I got one but since it was something different I thought it would be good material for a review. Started in 2009 by “Arielle Ditkowich after a successful collaboration with Nestor Miranda and Miami Cigars & Co. Today La Sirena continues to be requested at many tobacconists nationwide rolled and sourced by Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Factory (La Sirena -Original), Plasencia’s El Paraiso factory in Honduras (La Sirena LT), La Aurora Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic (Merlion & Merlion Maduro) and Quesada’s MATASA factory in the Dominican Republic (Oceano) and more recently the Aniversario Especial 10th Anniversary limited edition vitola by Nueva Matacapan de Tabacos S.A. de C.V., Casa Turrent’s factory in San Andrés, Mexico.  La Sirena brand cigars are distributed nationwide and available at over 300 retail stores. The La Sirena is blended with a rare Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper and one of the three ligero leaf fillers utilizes Erik Espinosa’s “magic leaf”, which adds a layer of creamy complexity.” It boasts some pretty big factories for their manufacturing, let’s see how it holds up.

The wrapper has the color of tanned leather in color, there is noticeable veining and a slight oily finish. The seams are tight and the cigar has a fair amount of pliability when pressed between the fingers. It has the smell of fresh earth, dried fruit and a touch of brackish notes. This could be a subconscious smell caused by the name but I swear it’s there. The cap cuts easy enough causing no damage to the body. The cold draw is very easy with sweat dried fruit, bit of raisin and maybe anise. Again could be caused by the name, but it reminds me of sangria. Not saying it tastes like sangria its just what it makes me think of.

In the first half I picked up flavors of roasted nuts and toast. I had to re-light it a few times to keep combustion which is a bit of bummer but it could be due to it being over humidified however, it’s been in my humidor for 6 months and everything else out of it has smoked fine so, I don’t think that was the issue. The burn was fairly even and there was plenty of smoke. The draw offered little resistance making it easy to smoke.

In the second have the burn was much better and only required re-lighting twice. The flavors became more spicy on the finish. The flavor of nut is still there and a lovely creamy flavor. While the burn is a touch wonky there is loads of smoke production.

While the annoyance of re-lighting was there I did still enjoy smoking the cigar. I liked the draw and the full smoke production. The flavor is easy enough for anyone to not be overwhelmed by but still complex enough to enjoy. If you see it I would say give it a try and see what you think. Because of the burn problem I’m going to give it another try when I find them again and then update this article to reflect any new findings.

Wrapper – Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro

Binder – Nicaraguan Criollo

Filler – Nicaraguan Jalapa & Condega

Price: $7.50 – $8.00 depending on vitola

Website: Lasirena.com

Rating: 4.1 out of 5 pints (This rating will also be updated after smoking additional cigars.)