Tag Archives: 601

An Espinosa Comfortably Numb Cigar at Cigars International Superstore in Hamburg PA

Espinosa CIYesterday was a big day at the Cigars International Superstore in Hamburg, PA.  Erik Espinosa was on hand all day selling his cigars there, and there was a line wrapping around the building of people waiting to but their CigarFest tickets. I understand that tickets sold out in under a minute on-line, and I also was told that people started lining up at 4pm Friday! The crazy part of this (or one of them) was that it was brutally cold out, the very crowded CI store looked like a ski lodge with all the people bundled up.  I understand that Espinosa Comfortably NumbCigarFest is a big event, something like 3000 people per day over two days, with many making a weekend of it, but that kind of crowd isn’t my bag.  But a lot of people dig it, so more power to them!  I made for a crowded store, it was hard to find a seat, what with people leaving their coats and stuff on seats and tables and socializing elsewhere, which is in very bad form, in my opinion. Some patrons like to sit and relax, some like to wander and socialize, but you can’t have it both ways.  We found a table by the door, which was constantly opening so it wasn’t very comfortable. I had bought a selection of Espinosa cigars, and lit up a CI exclusive that was recommended to be by a CI staff member called Comfortably Numb Vo,. 1. The band on this is in the classic Bob Masse ’60s Comfortably Numbconcert poster style, very psychedelic. This 6″ x 52 Toro has an Ecuador Habano wrapper, Corojo binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The wrapper is milk-chocolate-brown with very fine veins, it’s an attractive cigar.  I was very surprised with this cigar, pleasantly so. It was perfect for early in the day, the flavors were smooth and creamy, with some sweetness akin to a coffee with cream and sugar (which paired nicely with the cup of black coffee I enjoyed). I really should have grabbed another handful of these, but I had spent too much there already! Great cigar.


Espinosa CI 2Erik Espinosa is one of those guys in the cigar industry that I don’t know as well as some, however, when I walked into the store he walked up behind me and greeted me like an old friend, as did Juan Cancel from Cubariqueno Cigar Co. and Jose Galvez, our local Espinosa sales guy. While I haven’t smoked a ton of Espinosa branded cigars, Some brands made at his La Zona factory in Esteli are among my favorites.  Cornelius & Anthony, La Sirena are in my list of go tos, and I’ve enjoyed my fair share of Arandoza cigars too, and I’ve bought plenty of 601 La Bombas in the past, going back to EO brands days. One of the cigars I bought was the 601 Steel, which was an exclusive for Famous Smoke Shop, oddly enough. At some point that exclusivity agreement ended, and CI took on the line.  Considering CI is headquartered in Bethlehem, PA, which was known for it’s steel mills, it makes sense 601_Steel_Girderfor CI to carry it. It’s a reasonably priced cigar, and while it’s billed as full-bodied, I didn’t find it to be that at all.  It struck me as medium at best, but what do I know. It’s listed as having a dark Habano Oscuro wrapper and Nicaraguan fillers and binder. I didn’t find the wrapper to be all that dark.  It had a nice flavor, burned a little off, but OK, and was a perfectly nice smoke.  I also picked up some Murciualago (with red bands and silver, a Dread, and another event exclusive that looks like an Ecuador Connecticut wrapped cigar.  I’ll get to some of them in the near future. We left the shop after the one cigar, it was just to noisy and crowded for my liking. It was nice of Matt Cook, who’s the Director of Retail Operations, to stop by and say hello. I probably wouldn’t know Matt if we didn’t have a mutual friend.


In related news, it was announced this week that Thompson Cigars has been acquired by the parent company of Cigars International.

Scandinavian Tobacco Group today signed an agreement to acquire the business of Thompson and Co. of Tampa, Inc.  “Thompson”). The purchase price amounts to USD 62 million and the acquisition will be financed by existing cash at hand. The closing of the deal is expected to take place by the end of March 2018.

There’s a lot more to the press release, which is at many of my colleague’s sites, but I’m going to offer my unsolicited $0.02. Over the last year or so Cigars International’s mail order division had a major problem with a new computer system, which damaged their brand significantly in the eyes of the consumer.  I’m sure many retailers in both the brick and mortar and mail order spaces rejoiced. Thompson has been selling cigars for over 100 years, I ordered a special out of a magazine add in 1996 and am still on the mailing list, and have gotten plenty of phone calls from them (I wrote about their auction site back in 2012, the story is here), and never was a fan of dealing with them. Other’s have had great experiences, and, given the history, many must like them. So from my biased perspective, a company that had big problems buys a company with a questionable marketing reputation?  I don’t get it, but the people spending the $62 million are much smarter than I am.  I’ve never had an issue with CI, granted I live close by, and it’s nice to visit their stores, but I like visiting most stores (see last weeks post!).  With plans to also open a superstore in Texas announced by CI, and Altadis’ parent company and Davidoff  buying and opening stores all over the place, clearly the trend is to go direct to consumer.  Will Swisher be looking to go this route? What’s the future hold for the mom & pop shops? Kinda sounds like how Walmart killed small business a little, doesn’t it?


That’s all for now.  To those afflicted, enjoy Super Bowl Sunday! I know as a resident of the Philadelphia are I should be excited, but I’m not a football fan. The Flyers better get their shit together though! I have some of Bernie Parent’s cigars that I want to smoke in honor of a Stanley Cup win one of these days!  Until the next time,




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601 Pennsylvania Edition from Espinoza Cigars and Best Cigar Prices

Since taking most of December off from my regular schedule, I decided that this year I’m going to try something a little different for me, the occasional post dedicated to one cigar. I’ve got a bit of a backlog of review samples, and I wanted to start out with one which hits close to home, in a couple of ways. Best Cigar Prices, a valued sponsor and fellow Pennsylvanians, recently launched a the 601 Pennsylvania Edition, available in Robusto, Toro and Gordo, and was kind enough to allow me to be among the first to smoke it.  Here is their information on the cigar:


Blended in honor one of America’s top cigar states (and our home base), the 601 Pennsylvania Edition combines the finest of Nicaraguan tobaccos to bring you a fantastic full-flavored salute to PA. Showcasing a hearty Habano Oscuro wrapper over specially-selected Esteli & Condega leaves, each 601 Pennsylvania Edition cigar includes a single PA Broadleaf in the filler to ensure an authentic taste of Pennsylvania in every stick.


Handcrafted under the careful eye of Erik Espinosa at La Zona Cigars in Esteli, the 601 PA welcomes you in with a wave of peppery spice before introducing it’s dense and layered profile with tones of smoky wood, subtle sweetness, toasted bread, and almond. A bold, complex cigar with medium-full body, these special edition smokes present a wealth of rich character that’s right in line with the cigar excellence that 601 is known for.


601_PennsylvaniaEdition_RobustoI’ve been a fan of the 601 line for many years, and Erik Espinoza’s La Zona factory has been creating some great cigars since their inception. As it says above, the Pennsylvania Edition is an homage to my home state, and the band is modeled after the PA license plate.  That reminds me, I handed down my vanity plate to my son recently, I had C-SLICE for 30 years, and I need to find a new one. I wonder if 601 is available?  (One time I was travelling through New Jersey and got home to an e-mail from someone on the alt.smokers.cigars USENET group asking if it was me they saw!  Maybe a little creepy, as this was in the late 90s, and quite a bit off the topic of this post.)  I digress.  I smoked two of the Robustos in this line, generously provided by Best Cigar Prices, over the last two evenings and was most impressed. While both examples had a looser draw than I would like, the flavor and strength was very much to my liking. This cigar has a different flavor, there’s a twang in there which is uncommon. There have been quite a few cigars recently utilizing leaf from the next county over from where I live,  but this one is quite different from those. The smokiness is the predominant flavor to my palate, and it’s not a cigar that I would smoke on an empty stomach. I can see this aging well, and I, admittedly, smoked these relatively soon after receiving them.  It was hard to resist the urge to try them out. I would, and will, buy these cigars to have in the humidor, and I look forward to trying the other sizes. My only real complaint with this cigar was that the band was quite hard to remove, a minor issue.


That’s it for now, until the next time,







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Getting Back to Normal: A Fernando Leon, a Papas Fritas and a La Bomba

I’m getting back into my normal routine after the excitement of the holidays and the contests and all. I’m back to my “take a cigar for a walk” thing on a regular basis. Lucky it hasn’t been bitter cold yet, too many degrees below 30 Fahrenheit and it isn’t good for the cigars or me. That doesn’t mean I won’t do it, it just means I’m a bit more selective in the size and makeup of the cigar. Smaller maduros are my usual choice for super cold walks. Enough about the cold, I prefer to think about warmer weather.


Fernando Leon_FamilyReserveMonday evening I was in the mood for something a little out of the norm so I grabbed a La Aurora Fernando Leon Family Reserve from the IPCPR show samples.  I smoked one of these at the Miami Cigar and Co./La Aurora after party at the show, but by that point I had developed quite a head cold and along with everything else going on I really couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked.  This was Fernando Leon’s personal blend which was released at  the show last summer and has a Dominican Corojo wrapper and binder and fillers from Brazil, Dominican Republic and Peru.  This cigar burned nicely and had an enjoyable flavor.  It’s a fine smoke that I wouldn’t mind revisiting on a nice, balmy evening.


LigaPrivada_PapasFritasTuesday I got home a little later than normal due to inventory at work, and needed something short, yet awesome.  I had a couple sample Liga Privada Papas Fritas from the show that have been burning a hole in my humidor, so it seemed like the perfect occasion to fire one up.  The Papas Fritas (French Fries in Spanish) is a super premium mixed filler cigar from Drew Estate, using the cuttings from the Liga Privada production.  They collect up these cuttings and re-sort them and make these little guys up.  It’s a 4½” x 44 cigar with a dark broadleaf wrapper.  This is like smoking a miniature No. 9 and it’s impossible to tell its not a long filler cigar.  These come in tins of four, and the tins are modeled after tins that Cuban petite coronas used to be packaged in that I believe, and I could be wrong, they used to give out on trans-Atlantic flights back in the good old days when you could smoke on planes.  I have an old Romeo y Julieta tin around someplace that I picked up many years ago because I though it was cool.  If I wasn’t so lazy I’d have dug it out and taken a picture, but it’s buried in the basement someplace.  These aren’t cheap at around $24 for the tin of four, but boy is it a satisfying little smoke.


601_La Bomba_AtomTonight I took the dog for a walk with a 601 La Bomba Atom. This is a powerful smoke, but loaded with flavor.   I picked this example up back in November of 2011 and age hasn’t hurt it. Maybe it wasn’t quite as super strong as it was back then, but still packs a punch.  The Atom is just about my favorite size cigar, a 5½” x 46 Cuban Corona with a long, fuse-like, pigtail cap.  The Habano wrapper is quite tasty and the cigar starts with a tingly spicy blast and never really calms down too much. It was a terrific companion on my walk and was hard to put down.  This is a terrific smoke if you like them strong, it’s a flavor bomb.

Ironically, I received the following information from Espinosa Premium Cigars today:



Miami, Florida (January 9, 2013) – Can you handle the STRONGEST cigar around? Think so? Well take the 601 La Bomba Challenge today!

Espinosa Premium Cigars announces the promotion for the 601 La Bomba Challenge, where cigar enthusiasts take a BEFORE and AFTER picture of their smoking experience with the 601 La Bomba cigar and share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The contest will run for 6 weeks and a different winner will be selected each week [6 winners in total]. The winners will be announced on the following 2013 dates 1/18, 1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/15 & 2/22. Each winner will receive a 601 La Bomba Ashtray and a 601 LA BOMBA SQUAD t-shirt.


Complete rules of the contest are posted on the company’s newly redesigned website www.espinosacigars.com/601labombachallenge.

The 601 La Bomba is a full bodied and full flavored BOMB! Handcrafted in Esteli, Nicaragua with 100% Nicaraguan tobacco. WARNING: Extremely full bodied cigar. Not recommended for novice smokers.


…Not that I am a fan of contests or anything :-)!  Check it out, get your hands on some La Bombas and take a shot at winning some cool goodies!  It’s really hard to go wrong with anything from Eric Espinosa in my opinion.  He makes some great smokes and is a heck of a nice guy.


That’s it for today, until the next time,







Filed under Review, Take a Cigar For a Walk

This Weeks Cigar Recap: 601, El Credito, Gurkha, Liga Privada, HC, Etc.

Here we go, another weeks worth of CigarCraig’s micro-reviews. I awoke today to find that ALL of the comments were gone from the site. Every comment ever! Of course, I am in a panic. Friday evening the site was inaccessible for a period of time, and I imagine whatever caused that problem must have had something to do with it. At this point I’m waiting for my hosting provider to correct the problem, and, since it’s the weekend, and the level 2 support folks don’t work weekends, I’m in limbo as far as my comments go. From what I can tell you can not leave a comment at this time.  I’ll be working tirelessly with Network Solutions threatening them often to fix this problem, as well as a couple other issues I’ve found.


First up was a 601 Green, which came along with the La Bomba and a Murcialago courtesy of Eddie Ortega at EO Brands. This has long been one of my favorites, but I think it may have been an unwise choice for a Monday evening smoke after fighting off a migraine earlier in the day. It’s a powerful maduro cigar that is lush with heavy cocoa and coffee. Accompanied by an IBC root beer, it held my attention, but I couldn’t smoke this too far past the band. I do love these cigars under normal circumstances, but the migraines and the meds to get rid of them take more out of me than I had available to fully enjoy this one.



Wednesday’s walk to the convenience store started late, so I grabbed another El Credito La Parrita and took a little dog for a walk! As I start typing, I know this is another tangent, so I beg your indulgence. I have long felt that smoking time was more a function of length than girth. I maintain that a 5” cigar of 42 ring gauge will take just about as long as a 5” cigar of 60 ring. I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to test this theory, but there are so many variables and I just haven’t had the time to work out a good, scientific test to prove the theory. Something to work on, I suppose. Back to the cigar, I found this example to be a little bitter and off. The “war of flavors”, which this cigar is sub-titled by the factory, did not go well for me in this instance, I guess I lost. Anyway, people love these cigars, and I think it there’s a big cool factor in the format of these ugly ducklings, and I either hit one at a bad time or something.



Next up was a Gurkha Para la Gente Robusto that I had purchased at De La Concha in NYC a few months back. This is another of the cigars that were produced exclusively for the New York market in an effort to provide retailers some relief from the onerous cigar tax in that state. As of this writing, I understand that the state is working on a modification of that tax which would provide a cap so that a $10 cigar wouldn’t be jacked up to $17.50, but would be a more reasonable $11. For the tobacconists that are left in the state, I hope this goes through, as many have closed their doors in the last year due to this tax. Anyway, I have not smoked many Gurkha cigars. I have a perception that they either produce cigars that are ridiculously high priced and over packaged and marketed, or budget priced cigars that CI sells for $40 bucks a bundle and tries to make you feel like you’re getting a $50 cigar for two bucks. (at this point writing this feels like it’s more editorial on state taxes and brand marketing…sorry…off my soapbox now!). Anyway, the cigar was very nice. The short robusto size was just right for the time I had available and it worked very well. I like a nice Brazilian Matafina, which I believe this is wrapped with, and it was well balanced and smooth. The cheap bastard in me still recoils at a $8 robusto, but it was a special treat and a souvenir from a nice day in the city.


I decided I deserved a treat for getting through another week and grabbed a Liga Privada No.9 Flying Pig that I received at an even in Reno back in November of 2009. It’s a cool perfecto format dating back to the late part of the 1800s. Drew Estate has since released their T52 blend in this same size, and the Cubans (who, ironically, are suing Drew Estate for using the word “Kuba”), recently ripped off the size for a special release for one of their “Festival” humidors! My biggest complaint about this little piggie was that it was just too short! It’s 4” x 60, remember what I was saying about length and smoking time? This one just was gone too quickly. It did hold the ash for the entire time I was smoking it, which was probably under an hour, which is almost a tease, considering the hearty and delicious flavors that this fat little bastard provided. I would have loved to have smoked this for another hour, but the ash fell off with under an inch to go and I was beginning to burn my fingers. Plus, my wife said I looked ridiculous smoking the cigar with a 3” ash…. I’m glad I have another one of these that I was given at Cigar Safari, because I am confident that there are not a lot of these still around.


Finally, I spent Saturday with my family at Monmouth Park in New Jersey watching horses run around in circles with little men on their backs, which is always entertaining. I did manage to have a cigar, no small feat at a public venue in the Garden State. The cigar I chose was a HC Connecticut robusto which I had purchased several months ago at an event at one of the local shops. I was disappointed in the event, there was a rep there who represented Xikar, and other brands as well. The were offering a “buy 3, get one” special, and I still don’t think $25 for 4 robustos, especially ones I don’t end up enjoying represents a good value. The Habano wrapper was the best of the bunch, for me, at least. This Connecticut had an acidic bite to it that was off-putting. It got better as the cigar progressed, but was always there somewhere. I understand that they have dropped the price on these, which I think was a wise move, but I still won’t be buying any myself anytime soon, they just didn’t have what I’m looking for in a cigar. To the credit of the manufacturer, they are exceptionally well made, and I’m sure there are plenty of folks who enjoy these. It’s just not a cigar that suits me.


That’s it for now, I’m still annoyed with whatever is going on with my comments. It’s bad timing, that’s for sure. At this time, the Oja contest will be extended for another week after the comments are fixed, and I will asses the situation when my technical issues are resolved.


Until the next time,




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The Week’s Cigars: 601, Camacho, La Aurora – Sunday October 10, 2010

Autumn is my least favorite time of the year.  The days get shorter and there just seem to be fewer opportunities to enjoy a nice cigar.  Undeterred, however, I did manage to get a few interesting cigars in this week, as well as a cigar store visit.

I started out smoking a 601 Habano Robusto, which I had gotten a couple weeks back when I met Eddie Ortega at Old Havana Cigars in West Chester, PA.  I had previously smoked and enjoyed some 601 cigars a few years ago that I had received as samples at the IPCPR show.  I had really enjoyed the samples, which I believe were green and maybe red banded varieties.  This one was a fine cigar, it had a nice taste, it burned very well and all in all was nice.  It didn’t “wow” me like the previous samples, which was a  disappointment, but despite my expectations, was still a very nice cigar.  I think, when given the option, I’d probably opt for the Murcialago over the 601.

Friday evening was a nice, warm evening, so I selected the last Camacho Corojo Monarca from my humidor.  I have had this one for years and had passed it by more than once.  I love these cigars and smoking the last one was a little sad to me, but I finally said the heck with it and fired it up.  It was a disappointment. It really didn’t burn very well, although the draw was fine.  It was very bitter tasting to me, not as rich as I think this cigar should be. I figured it would lose a little of it’s punch over several years storage, but I didn’t think it would actually turn bad.  I’ve smoked many of these in the past and always enjoyed them, I guess I’ll have to pick up a few more and give them another shot.  I’ve enjoyed Camacho cigars since I first reviewed a Monarca in 1996, which I liked better than a Montecristo #2 in a blind review.  I still have a few Candela Monarcas that always make me smile.

Saturday October 9 was the anniversary of John Lennon’s birth, he would have been 70.  As a Beatles fan, and the husband of the public relations person for several Beatles related artists, we decided to make a trip up to New York City where one of her clients was having a gallery show and demonstrating her craft.  We got there plenty early and walked over to De La Concha on 6th for a cigar.  I have been itching to smoke the La Aurora 107 corona and I haven’t been able to find them around home.  They had them, and I was pleased to find that they were priced at $7.77, which I thought was OK considering NY taxes.  Most of the cigars there were over $10, which offends my sensibilities being from Pennsylvania where there are no oppressive cigar taxes.  Despite the sudden onset of a head cold, the La Aurora 107 corona was a really nice cigar.  I look forward to ditching this cold so I can properly enjoy the one I brought home.  Burn and flavor were terrific.  I’m guessing that if i can find these in PA, or most places that aren’t New York, it’s probably a very reasonable cigar, maybe in the $4.00 range.  From De La Concha we headed to the Gallery at 25 Central Park West.  There was good foot traffic as there had been a viewing of the movie “LENNONYC” a few blocks further down Central Park.  Shannon is “the Worlds Greatest Beatles Artist”, and has a huge collection of Beatles related art.  She capped the evening off by painting her vision of what
John Lennon would have looked like today.  It was incredible to watch the image take shape.  I stepped out for a bit at one point and encountered a very nice old guy taking a Davidoff 3000 for a walk. He was in his 70s, lived in the building the gallery was in, and enjoyed his cigar while walking the street as he had family visiting.  It was nice see someone enjoying his cigar in NYC.

I couple posts ago I promised to select three people to send some Hamiltons House Selection Torpedos to, so I once again consulted Random.org and selected the following people:Joel Solomon, Joel Scott and Keith911,  please e-mail me their addresses so I can mail you each a cigar. Congrats to the winners!

That’s about it for now, hopefully this cold will run it’s course and I won’t have to bore you all to tears with a tour of my lighter colllection!



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