Erin and I headed down to Vancouver for a trip I was not in the mood to make; therefore, the only sensible thing to do was to invite another contestant from the Big Brand Showstopper Full-Bodied Sampler I acquired at Pipes and Cigars.com. This next stick was to the be 601 La Bomba Napalm. It promised to be exciting with its bright yellow wrapper suggesting Nascar by its speedy slant, and it suggested power with its old-fashioned bomb logo in gold and its black bay wreath implied a championship won. A Don Pepin release, it was blended by Erik Espinosa in a dark oily Nicaraguan wrapper, with well-fermented, dark Nicarguan ligero long-fillers. Everything I’d read set this little baby at the far end of full-bodied maduro and exceptionally dark. I was excited!
The wrapper note was a little less impressive than you might expect. Just Nicaraguan tobacco. No tantalizing hints of chocolate or coffee or anything like that. Well, I don’t let that sort of thing deter me – certainly my Rocky Patel “the Edge” was mostly a tobacco smell – so I carried on with my observation. The pack was firm and perhaps on the dry side. The scent of the stick suggested just a slight undertone of hay, but only if you stretched for it. It was leafy in texture with good straight seams and it featured a fuse-like, traditional pigtail cap. It was the easiest cigar punch I’d ever had, using my trusty keychain bullet punch.
The pre-light draw was of tobacco and that same hint of hay. Toasting the foot created a strong tobacco, toast and nut scent that, again, reminded me of the Edge, which suggested it might be exceptionally potent!
The first draw was rich, oily and entirely unsubtle. It was exactly what it had promised to be: a strong tobacco with slight elements of hay, leather and nut. Its ignition released a massive plume of smoke that required rolling down the windows and it created an instant nicotine tingle on the mouth. It was a very sharp taste; almost bitter; I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. And I started with a very weird and wonky light.
I found as I smoked the first third that the buttery promise of new-lit cigar did not make up for the bitter. There was also a sour aftertaste, so I found myself wondering how long the stick had been in storage. And, all of fourteen minutes into the smoke, it went out. So far, the La Bomba was bombing.
The initial draw after re-light was better. I discovered that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Napalm smokes better hot! The cooler you smoke it, the more bitter it gets, and it does not stay lit well at all. But it’s also very strong; so definitely not for the novice cigar smoker. I found it a little overwhelming. It occurred to me that the La Bomba would do well jutting from the jaw of a bomber pilot headed over the English Channel to bomb Normandy, because it would definitely keep you awake!
Half an hour into the smoke, the wonky light had not corrected itself, nor was I able to fix it despite my best efforts. It had also gone out twice. And that bitterness lurked around the edges every time I allowed the smoke to cool to just below tongue-bite level.
Somewhere in the middle of the second third, forty-two minutes in, the light finally sort of corrected itself with a weird fanning-out effect on the ash. The second third was almost indistinguishable from the first third. We purged it fifty minutes in, at which point it lost its bitterness almost entirely, gathered a little touch of espresso, and resumed a pleasant oiliness.
Actually, I rather enjoyed the last third! It finished strong. Though I was disappointed that I had to chew through so much of the smoke to get there, I would have to say that the La Bomba goes out with a bang!
Almost exactly an hour after I began the smoke, one hour and two minutes, it went out and I decided not to re-light, especially since it was falling apart by then. I was a little dizzy from the nicotine.
My final thoughts: well, it’s okay. I won’t seek it out again; the negative aspects were not sufficiently balanced by the positives for me. If you like strong cigars, this one won’t disappoint you, but it’s about as subtle as a strafing run; and if you don’t smoke it hot, it bombs. Overall I rate it:
In other words, meh is this lady’s perspective.