A while back I reviewed the original 601 Serie, a high-end cigar made by Don ‘Pepin’ Garcia in his Nicaraguan-based factory, El Rey de los Habanos. Since I wrote this review, a new breed of 601 has been released, in the form of a box-pressed maduro, which also represents one of the few, if not the only, super-premium maduros made by Pepin Garcia.
CigarFest ‘07 was the first time I tried 601 Serie Blue Box-Press Maduro. It was early in the morning on Cigar Fest Eve, and I was helping set up the show floor. I had nothing in my stomach but a large cup of D&D, and had I known what I know now, I would have waited until after lunch to enjoy this cigar.
It’s almost noon here at the office, and I already have 3 meals under my belt for the day, so I’m ready to revisit the 601 Serie Box-Press Maduro. Vitola du jour, Toro. Blue Box-Press Maduro is a serious cigar, for serious cigar enthusiasts. It’s powerful and loaded with complexity, offering a long, satisfying finish. But, like most Pepin-made cigars I’ve tried, it’s balanced and smooth, with a slow burn that never goes out, allowing you to puff sparingly if the strength becomes too much, but enjoy thoroughly. In case you didn’t figure it out, this cigar gets the nod.
This dark variety of 601 Serie is blended with Pepin’s traditional tobacco types. A Cuban-seed Nicaraguan binder securing a mixture of Cuban-seed, long-leaf tobaccos grown in Nicaragua. The wrapper, also Nicaraguan, but dark in nature with a smooth texture and even a few crystals shining here and there. In true Pepin fashion, each cigar is fitted with three perfectly applied caps. The pre-light aroma is somewhat sweet, with a barnyard finish. A touch of pepper hits the nose. And then the box-press, a nicely rounded press, making this cigar feel great (and heavy) in the hand.
The wrapper itself lends a dry flavor that becomes spicy when chewed long enough. Off the start, the cigar is relatively mellow, with a rich core and a vanilla-like sweetness. After each puff, a spice tickles the sides of my palate. I notice pepper and licorice through the nose, and in doing so, my eyes begin to tear. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again for a little while. After about 10 minutes, the full-bodied nature of this cigar becomes prevalent. I can now feel it in my belly and in my head, right behind the eyes. The salt and pepper ash is quite flaky, but holds until I help it into my ashtray after every inch or so.
After the first third, the cigar becomes earthy in character. The aroma is spicy with an earthy influence. Almost like potting soil. In addition to this earthiness, which now dominates, a hint of coffee bean finishes each puff, and the wrapper begins to lend a very (very) faint sweetness. Indeed, there is a lot going on here, and I am only half-way through. Which leads me to my next point: this powerhouse burns slow, and the smoke is thick and cool; the furthest thing from harsh. The final third seems to mellow a bit, just before the cigar unleashes a wealth of spice on its final leg. The finish is robust, completing an eventful cigar layered with bold flavors.