601 Natural – aka 601 White Label

2011 is an exciting year for EO Brands and their 601 line.  Many 601 fans were happy when EO abandoned the band changes made in 2010 and reverted back to a band similar to the original 601 band.  In addition, the 601 line is introducing some new blends into the line.   Last month, we discussed a pre-release sample of the 601 La Bomba – easily one of the most anticipated new cigars for 2011.   The other release is a new Connecticut shade cigar called the 601 Reserva Limitada Natural.   It’s safe to say that by its color band it will be called the 601 White Label.  This represents a new milder cigar to enter the 601 line.  This cigar is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum in terms of strength and body when comparing it to the powerhouse La Bomba.  2011 is already shaping up to be a competitive year for cigars, so the big question is – how will this new release stand-up with the others?

There are two key points involving this blend.  First up, as many people know, EO Brands has dropped the 601 Connecticut (Black Label).  The Black Label was the previous Connecticut-shade offering in the 601 line.  The White Label is a different cigar with a different blend.  The other point is that this is another 601 cigar in which Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega teamed up with Don Pepin Garcia to blend.  Although Pepin worked with EO on the Black Label, Pepin isn’t known for doing a lot with Connecticut shades; so it’s always interesting when Pepin deviates outside his normal realm.

The 601 White Label uses a similar design that for the band that was brought back for the entire 601 line.  Without further adieu, let’s see what the 601 White Label brings to the table:

Blend Profile

While on the surface the 601 White Label appears to be the same as the Black Label, there are different tobaccos being used, thus leading to a different flavor profile.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Vitolas Available

The 601 White Label is available in four sizes:

Torpedo: 6 1/8 x 50
Churchill: 7 x48
Toro: 6 x 50
Robusto: 5 x 50

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

I selected the Toro for this cigar experience.  I placed a straight cut into the cap and initiated a pre-light draw.  The pre-light draw actually surprised me quite a bit – it gave me notes of cedar.  These notes were deeper I expected..  I would classify the “body” of these notes as “medium” on the pre-light draw. (Note: When I assess “body” of a cigar, I exclude the pre-light experience)

As for the cedar flavor, this really wasn’t cedar spice, but more of straight cedar wood.   I also got some secondary notes of cream.    Overall it was one of the better dry draws I got from a Connecticut Shade cigar.   From that point, it was on to see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

Upon the initial draws, I noticed an interesting thing that would be prevalent throughout the smoke – namely I was picking up some pepper through the nose.  The pepper wasn’t overwhelming, but more than I would expect from a Connecticut Shade cigar.

The initial flavors on the tongue were cream and wood.   Shortly afterwords there were some toast notes that could also be detected.   This was pretty much the flavor pattern during the first third of the cigar.  As the second third of the smoke started, some mild pepper notes began to creep in.  By the time the cigar passed the midway point, the pepper (still mild) had moved to the forefront with the cream notes.   When the cigar reaches the last third, there was a little sweetness that joined the cream and pepper.   I couldn’t put my finger on the specific sweetness this was but I’m inclined to say it had hints of sugar cane.  As the cigar progressed to the nub, all of the flavor notes did gain some more depth and were definitely more pronounced.

Overall, the 601 White had different flavor profile than the 601 Black – reaffirming that this is a new blend. The nub was firm but warm.  The entire smoke was smooth – right down to the nub.

Burn and Draw

The 601 line is known for quality with the attributes of burn and draw.   There were no issues as far as burn or draw go – excellent scores in both categories.  While 601 might have had a little hiatus on new blends, it’s great to see they still are making well-constructed cigars.

Strength and Body

I have not done a detailed formal assessment of the 601 Black, but the 601 White seemed to be milder in terms of strength.  It definitely rates a mild in terms of nicotine kick.   The body was interesting – namely the depth of the flavor notes seemed to increase as the smoke progressed.  I’d say the majority of the smoke falls into Mild to Medium in terms of body.  The first 10 percent of the smoke can be categorized as Mild body and the last 20 percent actually crosses the realm into Medium-bodied.

Final Thoughts

I’ll state up-front that mild strength and mild to medium cigars are not in my preference when it comes to a cigar.  This is a quality smoke that was enjoyable.   I still have it a notch below the E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut and the JD Temptation Habano Claro as the milder cigars that I enjoyed this year.   When compared to the 601 Black, I put the 601 White a notch above it (and that’s not a knock on the 601 Black as I enjoyed that cigar as well).

The 601 White is definitely a great cigar for new enthusiasts and for those cigar enthusiasts who enjoy something milder and smoother.  Mild doesn’t mean bad – it represents an important sector of the cigar business that does move off of retailers shelves.  It’s good to see 601 maintain a presence in this sector but time will tell on how this stands up with the competition in this segment.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Mild
Body: Mild to Medium (Mild at beginning, Medium toward the end)
Assessment: Nice to Have

Disclaimer: The cigars for this assessment wer purchased from Empire Cigars in Raleigh, NC