I was checking out the EO Cigars Website a few days ago, and after escaping the clutches of the sirens who grace the front page I discovered their “blog” section, which is really more of a place to post comments and questions. Eddie Ortega was kind enough to answer a question I posed about the origin of the “601” name for this series of cigars. I was thinking maybe it was a birthdate, or part of an meaningful address, something like that, but it turns out that 601 was the date that Eddie and Erik first went to visit Pepin’s factory in Nicaragua.
There are now three 601 cigars created by Don Pepin Garcia for EO Cigars — the 601 Connect I reviewed a few days back, a newly released box-pressed maduro, and this one: the Red Label with a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper.
The wrapper on the Red Label is a dark oily rosado that could easily be mistaken for maduro. It has a leathery look to it and is heavily stippled with prominent “teeth” that are much coarser than than the toothiness of most Cameroon wrappers. The head is nicely finished with a classic Cuban cap, of course. This is a Don Pepin production, after all. The final result is a real winner in the looks department.
So with all those teeth it’s appropriate that this smoke should start up with a bite. It’s similar to the 601 Connect in this regard, but overall I think it’s comparatively tame for a full bore Pepin. The base flavor here is leathery, with the wrapper contributing some subtler spices. Cinnamon, maybe. After the mid-point the flavor gets sweeter, taking on a molasses like tang, and the pepper enters for a reprise. It’s similar, but not the same pepper as the Connecticut version — I tasted a lot of black pepper in that one and it had me sneezing pretty good for a while. The Habano is a sweeter rendition — instead of peppercorns I’m thinking hot northern New Mexico chiles.
The construction was good, but not perfect. This one suffered a little from an uneven burn and at one point the wrapper unraveled a little. But neither of these things really affected the performance of the stick.
The 601 Habano is a powerful little puro with a lot of sweet spicy flavor. At around 6 US greenbacks it’s not a cheap date, but ya gotta live a little sometimes. If you’re in the mood for a well-balanced but brawny cigar, check it out. Fill up at the dinner table first though. A big plate of chile rellenos, some black beans and rice, and a couple of Tecates would be a great prelude to this tough guy.