Matt Booth’s Room101 has made an annual tradition of a limited release at the IPCPR trade show. For 2012, Booth brought Daruma, which uses a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, as well as a Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Honduras.
As with the Namakubi, 2012′s Daruma is based on Japanese culture and philosophy.
The Daruma doll, also known as a Dharma doll, is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. These dolls, though typically red and depicting a bearded man (Dharma), vary greatly in color and design depending on region and artist. Though considered an omocha, meaning toy, Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement. The doll has also been commercialized by many Buddhist temples to use alongside goal setting.
The following is found in a small booklet that comes with each box of Room101 Daruma cigars:
Fall down seven times, stand up eight.
The single eye I have penciled in on my Daruma doll is my silent reminder that I have set a goal that is pending completion. My Daruma will become a bi-oculared character once my task is complete. I have one year in which to complete my task – and if one of my attempts should fall short of victory I will not quit, but rather try again. Because, I know that if I do not give up and my will does not falter it is never a question of “if,” but only a question of “when.” We have named our latest series after the Daruma as he symbolizes resilience – a key ingredient to our success. Use your Daruma to set a goal of your own.
Fill his left eye when you have decided what you will be committing yourself to, his right when your task is complete. As the tradition is to burn the Daruma at the end of the year, take a brief moment to ignite a fine cigar in celebration of your accomplishment.
Now get back to work.
The Room101 Daruma comes in five different vitolas at launch. They are (top to bottom):
- Mutante (7 x 38) — $8.25 (Boxes of 20, $165.00)
- Sucio (7 x 48) — $9.25 (Boxes of 20, $185.00)
- Monstro (5 x 60) — $10.25 (Boxes of 20, $205.00)
- Roxxo (4 x 48) — $7.25 (Boxes of 20, $145.00)
- Papi Chulo (4 x 42) — $6.25 (Boxes of 50, $312.50)
There are only 20,000 total cigars of each vitola released for a total of 100,000 cigars for Daruma in total. The boxes the Room101 Daruma are packaged in are a blue-hued grey with silver accents and look like this:
But enough of that, lets get down to business, shall we?
Cigar Reviewed: Room101 LTD Daruma Edition Mutante
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: Tabacos Rancho Jamastran
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Brazil Mata Fina
Filler: Dominican Republic & Honduras
Size: 7 Inches
Ring Gauge: 38
MSRP: $8.25 (Boxes of 20, $165.00)
Date Released: September 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 5
The Daruma has a gorgeous presentation with a dark espresso brown wrapper devoid of oil and veins, but slightly toothy to the touch. There is a cute little pigtail on top, but it is glued to the cap as opposed to hanging loose, a la Viaje TNT. The cigar is slightly spongy when squeezed, but not overly so, and the aroma off the wrapper is strong, reminding me of sweet cedar, rum, barnyard and leather.
The first third of the Room101 Daruma starts out with strong notes of slightly bitter espresso, coca powder, sweet cedar and tea leaves. There is a great sweetness underneath all of the other flavors, almost a cherry fruitiness, but it is not overly strong at this point only lingering on the palate. There are times when I notice a very sharp citrus note on the retrohale, a wonderful addition that sticks around for quite a while, but there is almost no spice or pepper to be found. Burn and draw are wonderful at this point and the smoke production is impressive. Strength starts out at a mild medium and ends the first third that way as well.
Coming into the second third and the flavor profile shifts a bit with less sweetness and more of a spicy wood background. Other flavors fight for dominance, including coca powder, coffee, leather, mocha and earth. That sharp citrus note from the first third has gotten stronger and is also a bit sour at points — in a good way — reminding me strongly of grapefruit. Strength increases slowly and by the end of the second third is a solid medium. The burn and draw remain impressive as well.
The final third of the Room101 Daruma Mutante features noticeable peppermint on the retrohale that replaces the grapefruit note, along with coffee, leather and chocolate. There is a little more sweetness at the end of the Daruma than in the second third, but not as much as the first third. Construction remains excellent to the end with a cool to the touch nub and a perfect burn line. Strength ends at a slightly stronger than medium, quite a bit less then I expected.
- I bought my box of the Mutante Lancero largely blind, based on some other people’s reviews on various forums.
- All of the boxes of Daruma contain 20 cigars, except for the Papi Chulo vitola, which is only sold in cabinets of 50.
- The Daruma is the first Room101 Limited Edition to use a Brazilian binder.
- There is, in fact, some Pelo de Oro fron the Dominican Republic used in the filler of the Daruma blend.
- Pelo de Oro, which translates into golden hair, is not used in many cigars, due to its vulnerability to disease. Pelo de Oro is considered the father of the modern Corojo wrapper which was made by combining Pelo de Oro and Sumatran tobaccos and the it is lighter than traditional Corojo.
- I smoked a Papi Chulo, five Mutantes, two Sucios and two Roxxo for this review. All of the sizes were remarkably consistent profile-wise, but there were noticeable differences between them. Compared to the Mutante, the Sucio (Churchill) was a bit stronger and had more of a floral note throughout the cigar, the Roxxo (Robusto) was a bit sweeter, while the Papi Chulo (Corona) was closest overall. However, that wonderful grapefruit note that was so prevalent in the Lancero was either much reduced or totally missing in all of the other vitolas.
- The Camacho website lists the Daruma blend as “5/5″ strength-wise, but I honestly would peg it no higher than slightly stronger than medium.
- Once again, there are 20,000 cigars of each of the five sizes for a total of 100,000.
- The Mutante is one of two Lanceros to come from the Camacho factory of late, the other is made for Jay Lundy’s AKA Cigars.
- I hold my cigars in my left hand when smoking, since I am usually surfing on a computer or phone with my right. When held that way the band is upside down.
- As with most cigars with a pigtail, there is no need to cut the cap on the Mutante, just pull the pigtail off and start smoking. Works perfectly almost every time.
- The Mutante vitola is the only size of the Room101 Daruma that has a pigtail.
- The band on two of the sizes (the Mutante and Papi Chulo) have “Fuck Yeah!” and “Portuguese Breakfast” printed on the end that is underneath the band. This is not the first time this was done, as it has been seen in other Room101 releases. Matt Booth has a habit of leaving various Easter eggs on packaging, this is one of them.
- This is the first Lancero that has been made in all of the limited releases that Room101 has produced. In fact, there are no other releases that are even close to the same combination of length and RG.
- The retrohale on this blend is amazing: smooth, complex and rich with almost no spice or pepper to be had. If you don’t retrohale, you are wasting your money on this cigar.
- For me, The history of the Daruma dolls is extremely engaging with quite a few interesting tidbits, including the fact that the Buddhist monk that the dolls are modeled after, Bodhidharma, was apparently well known for his practice of wall gazing.
- The burn and draw are very good for the entire smoke, never needing more than a minor touchup. Excellent in all regards.
- The final smoking time for all Mutante samples averaged around one hour and 20 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the the Room101 Darumas, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Casa de Montecristo and Tobacco Locker (1.800.474.4795) all have them in stock now.
The Bottom Line: I have enjoyed most of the limited Room101 releases, including the OSOK and the Namakubi to varying degrees, but there always seemed to be something missing in the blends, something that would put it over the top in terms of complexity and flavor. Well, I am happy to report that whatever was missing, the Daruma blend found it. While I usually gravitate to the Papi Chulo vitola in the recent Room101 releases, I actually enjoyed the Lancero the most in the Daruma blend, by quite a large margin. The grapefruit note that is strongest in the second third is refreshing and quite unique as well, but the lack of any significant strength might turn some people off. This is easily the best Room101 I have smoked, and I am quite glad I bought a box, and I suggest that anyone who enjoys complex, flavorful and medium strength Lanceros try them.
Final Score: 93