601 Habano (Red Label) Robusto Cigar
By Gary Korb
The “red label” designation for this cigar probably comes from the brick-hued patina found in the shimmering, yet toothy surface of its Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. The head has a classic, Cuban-style triple-cap (a Don Pepin hallmark), and it clipped-off in a perfect little disc.
The pre-light flavor was somewhat leathery, and I could taste the pepper as soon as my tongue touched the exposed head of the cigar. Now, I’m not a big fan of very spicy cigars, but someone’s got to do this job, so, I fired it up and the first few draws were surprisingly smooth and far from peppery. However, that changed rather quickly.
By the first quarter inch the pepper was flowing like lava, but in fairness to the cigar, it was not completely overpowering, and as the cigar continued to smoke it turned somewhat sweeter. Just past the midpoint, I noticed the cigar had a sort of ebb & flow to it: dark, spicy tobacco flavor followed by an enjoyable rift of sweetness, with a nice aroma, too.
By the third act the cigar was a real powerhouse, yet remained smooth and well-balanced until I finally had to put it down with just over an inch to go. Fortunately, I paired the cigar with a glass of Taylor Fladgate Reserve Port 2001, which has a sweet finish, and helped tame its red hot chili pepper aspects. Burn-wise, the cigar offered no significant problems, a firm ash, and kept on an even keel.
If you like cigars with a lot of muscle, don’t pass these by. The construction is first-rate all around, and the flavor you will not soon forget. New cigar smokers may want to hold-off on these for a while, too. Just be sure you don’t smoke one on an empty stomach.
Final Score: 8.6