La Bomba. Yes, it is the name of a song on Ricky Martin’s 1998 album Vuelve, which reached the number five spot on Spain’s “Hot Latin Songs” list. Yes, it is the name of a book written by Spanish journalist José Antonio Gurriarán, who was injured in a bomb explosion outside the Madrid headquarters of Swissair in 1980. Yes, it is the nickname of Italian alpine skier Alberto “La Bomba” Tomba, holder of three Olympic gold medals. And yes, it is the name of a series of cigars originally blended by Eddie Ortega and Erik Espinosa and manufactured in Estelí, Nicaragua.
The La Bomba cigars were introduced to the market in 2011 as an extension to the company’s 601 brand, with the objective of offering a more powerful and fully-flavored smoking experience. Composed with a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper surrounding a Nicaraguan binder and long-leaf Nicaraguan filler, the original release was produced in four sizes sporting spiffy names—the Atom (5 1/2” x 46), the Napalm (5” x 52), the Atomic (6” x 60), and the Nuclear (6” x 50). The vitolas were visually unique with a pigtail cap topped off with a long twist of tobacco, designed to resemble a fuse. With their uncommon names and appearance, the La Bomba cigars quickly gathered momentum through frequent posts on social media sites. In 2012, the 601 La Bomba Napalm was reviewed on Cigar Dojo, receiving a 87-point “POWERHOUSE” rating. Over the next few years, the company continued to introduce additional vitolas under the La Bomba banner.
At the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show and Convention, Espinosa Cigars introduced the limited-edition 601 La Bomba Warhead. Instead of the Nicaraguan Habano wrapper used on the original La Bomba cigars, the Warhead was constructed with a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. Additionally, the Warhead featured new artwork and creative packaging. In the original press release for the cigar, the company stated—
“The packaging is inspired by several themes in the World War II era. When unraveled, the foot band on the cigar is revealed to be in the form of a bomb. This “bomb” features nose art or aircraft graffiti, which was common in this era. Most prominent is the shark-face which is a reference to the Flying Tigers, the 1st American Volunteer Group, who would paint the shark-faces on their military aircrafts.”
Click images below for full resolution
601 La Bomba Warhead III Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Factory: La Zona (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited Edition (1,000 boxes of 10 cigars)
- Vitola: 7½″ × 38 Lancero
- Price: $10.95 (MSRP)
The Warhead III is the third 601 La Bomba cigar to carry the Warhead designation. The first Warhead was introduced four years ago—a 6 1/2″ x 54 ring gauge, soft-pressed cigar composed with a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and long-leaf Nicaraguan filler. The production was limited to two-thousand boxes containing ten cigars (twenty-thousand total cigars). In 2014, Espinosa Cigars released the Warhead II. One inch shorter and two points wider (5 1/2” x 56), the cigar shared the same general composition as the original, except for the fact that the blend was slightly tweaked to accommodate it’s new size. Once again, the production was limited to two-thousand boxes containing ten cigars.
Last year, the company introduced the Warhead III—a soft-pressed lancero with the initial production limited to five-thousand cigars (eventually becoming ten-thousand cigars total). The cigars are arranged horizontally in ten-count dress boxes with a hinged lid. Additionally, the blend was modified a bit from the previous Warhead releases to fit with the thin lancero format.
Click images below for full resolution
The 601 La Bomba Warhead III is a unique looking lancero-sized cigar, with a short torpedo cap which bears resemblance to a diminutive Hershey Kiss. Unlike the original La Bomba releases, it lacks the long tobacco twist at the top of the cap. The cigar’s Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper is a bit battered—with two raised seams, one long keloid scar vein, and sandpaper tooth in several areas. Softly pressed, the color of the lancero is a mixture of dark chocolate and chestnut, with contrasting splotches of Phthalo green appearing in several areas across the face. A medium amount of oiliness produces a burnished sheen in the late-afternoon sunlight.
The Warhead III is encased with a rectangular foot band printed in the colors of black, green, red, and white. Lightly embossed, the “601 La Bomba” logo resides in the center with “Warhead III” printed underneath a black laurel leaf. Fairly firmly packed from the foot to the cap—with two discernible soft spots in the middle of the cigar—the wrapper aroma is a faint assortment of damp soil, leather, and pepper, while the open foot smells of barnyard and a touch of cedar.
After the cap of the lancero is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the initial cold draw is just a bit resistive. Flavors of dried fruit, grass, light chocolate, and natural tobacco immediately touch the palate, while a touch of spiciness formulates on the upper lip.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft double-flame lighter in the traditional manner (see: The Cigar Enthusiast’s Guide to Soft Flame Lighting), the first few draws deliver a cornucopia of flavors—earth, light espresso, powdered cocoa, Napa leather, and spices. These initial notes are quickly enhanced with a bit of sweetness from the burning of the Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. The draw of the Warhead III is nearly perfect—which is not the case with many lancero cigars—generating an unexpected amount of smoke output from both the cap and the foot. Additional aromas and flavors of anise and Canadian maple syrup mingle with the primary notes to produce a creamy and smooth smoking experience, while assorted spices, a touch of chocolate, and white pepper are dominant on the retrohale. As with most fairly complex cigars, focused concentration and retrohaling is an essential part of the smoking experience (see: How to Retrohale a Cigar).
As the lancero enters into its second third, it begins to display the following general characteristics—full in body, medium-to-full in flavor, and nearly full in strength. The aromas and flavors present in the first third of the cigar continue to build, while the initial light espresso note shifts toward an a ristretto shot pulled onto a small brown sugar cube residing at the bottom of a cup. Subtle flavors and aromas of cedar, dark chocolate, dried mango, salted nuts, raisin, and a drop of vanilla flirt in and out of the mix, adding to the overall complexity of the cigar. The smoking experience is luxurious and tasteful.
Room aroma is fairly faint—as usual from a cigar with a small surface area—delivering a bit of char, along with a bouquet of aged tobacco. The burn line is very sharp and unwavering, holding almost two inches of light concrete ash, highlighted wth streaks of onyx between the tightly-compressed stacks. On the delectable retrohale, the white pepper present in the first third is replaced by a stronger mixture of red and black pepper with trace amounts of hardwoods, licorice, and wet soil.
As it burns through its final third, the La Bomba Warhead III continues to provide an outstanding smoking experience. The draw remains perfect, requiring only single puffs to produce a plentiful amount of smoke. Aromas and flavors continue to be a complex and smooth combination of practically every category on the cigar tasting wheel, while a slight increase in minerality in the final third produces a desirable amount of saliva on the palate. The burn line remains razor sharp with the ash naturally falling off in nearly two inch clumps. Nearing the end of its life, the maple-syrup sweetness reappears in moments, motivating the smoker to puff the lancero all the way down to the nub.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “Absolutely.” While I do not have many narrow ring-gauge cigars in my normal rotation—preferring the heft in the hand of a thicker cigar—the La Bomba Warhead III now resides in one of my humidors along with the Crux du Connoisseur No. 2. The Warhead III is a superbly constructed cigar, delivering a complex and fully-flavored smoking experience. While the lancero is nearly full in strength, it is also a perfect accompaniment to an espresso or two after a big British-style breakfast (see: The Cigar Enthusiast’s Guide to Espresso).
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 6 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Coffee and espresso, stout beer, bourbon, and dark-whiskey cocktails
- Purchase Recommendation: Full box
- Outstanding construction
- Mouthwatering flavors
- Overall complexity
- Limited availability
- Fairly quick smoke