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In 2018, a new cigar from Room101 began showing up at a handful of retailers and in the social media posts of those fortunate enough to find some to smoke. That cigar didn’t officially have a name, but quickly became known as the Death Bucket due to its band, which bears an image of Matt Booth’s head emerging from a bucket of fried chicken.

It was a cigar that was said to be one of the first cigars that Matt Booth developed after separating from Davidoff in 2017, and as he was seemingly eyeing the next chapter of his time in the cigar industry. It was created at Tabacalera William Ventura in the Dominican Republic, the factory that is the main home of Caldwell Cigar Co., whose Down&Back company distributed the relaunched Room101 until late 2019.

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The cigar was a 6 x 52 toro that used an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, Dominican binder and fillers from Nicaragua. The first batch contained 7,500 cigars, which were sent to a small group of retailers that had been supporters of the Room101 brand. In early 2020, another 10,000 cigars would be released to just five stores. As shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, the cigar became fairly coveted given its rarity and the rather unique imagery on the band.

While that second batch has largely come and gone, Room101 has released a second Death Bucket release, this time moving production to Joya de Nicaragua’s factory in Estelí. This second incarnation of the Death Bucket uses a Nicaraguan habano wrapper, Indonesian binder and fillers from Nicaragua’s Condega, Estelí and Jalapa regions. Like the original, it is a 6 x 52 toro, this time priced at $12 per cigar. Booth has not disclosed how many were made for this latest installment.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Room101 Death Bucket 2
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Habano)
  • Binder: Indonesia
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Condega, Estelí & Jalapa)
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $12
  • Release Date: December 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

I’m not sure what else one could really focus on when looking at the Room101 Death Bucket 2 other than the band, and I will admit, it is eye-catching and done well, even if not embossed or treated with shiny gold ink. In holding two of the samples, the fingers get a generally smooth, slightly oily feel from the wrapper, which also shows off a bit of its elasticity. Veins are incredibly small, tooth is nonexistent, and the color is a very well-tanned shade that reminds me of nuts or toffee depending on the sample and lighting. The only knock on the leaf is that it is clearly two different shades between the upper and lower halves, but that is simply a fairly minor visual concern and limited to the first sample. The third cigar is quite different with a rougher cover leaf that seems a shade or two darker than the others while offering slightly bigger veins and what appears to be a patch job just above the band. The feet of two cigars offer a very cool aroma that I can’t quite place at first; it’s just a touch oily and slightly sweet, yet still very subtle overall with no pepper or pronounced smells. In some ways, it smells like the bottom of a bag of potato chips. The other cigar smells like a pile of freshly chopped firewood, a singular term with a bit of complexity of aroma. The shape and size of the first cigar’s head seem to make it harder to just scalp the top of the cigar, so I find myself doing taking a smaller cut at first and then expanding on it. The cold draw has good airflow, while flavors are mild here as well, offering a very subtle bit of peanut butter and whole grain cereal flakes. Once again, there is no pepper to speak of. The one outlier cigar has a much woodier profile though it doesn’t seem as far of a departure from what the others offered.

The Room101 Death Bucket 2 starts with a profile that tips its hand about its habano wrapper, leading with the earthy, woody and peppery combination that tend to be associated with the varietal. The pepper isn’t a surprise, other than there was none of it to be found prior to lighting the cigar. The first inch shows remarkable balance, taking those three core flavors and letting them each do their own thing, then introducing creaminess to tie everything together, add complexity and keep anyone component from dominating the profile. Retrohales are pleasantly restrained, offering a profile that has white pepper and creaminess, with the wood and black pepper in reduced amounts as accents. Construction is fantastic through the first third, while flavor is a very well balanced medium-plus, body is medium-plus, and strength is medium but slowly ticking up.

While the creaminess doesn’t stand out on its own, it is holding everything together quite well. So when the profile changes to a bit of pretzel or pizza dough at the start of the second third, it has some noticeable effects. As such, the black pepper feels it elicits a bit more of a pointed reaction, though it’s not any more intense or plentiful. From there, the profile gets a bit earthier and just a touch grittier, with the creaminess largely gone from the profile, along with its ability to smooth over the other flavors. The Death Bucket 2 is still very palatable and enjoyable, though it definitely a change in both flavor and physical reaction. The back half of the second third brings about a light nuttiness that is first revealed through the retrohales before moving into the flavor. As I smoke the third cigar and reach its midpoint, I find myself almost paused by the quality of the retrohale, which on its own is a complete experience of balance, aroma and physical reaction. Yet when paired with the flavor, the two complement each other quite well, almost yielding to each other so one can lead while the other follows along. Flavor is still medium-plus if a bit more robust and rough than the first third, body is around medium-plus and strength is medium-plus. Construction of the cigar is still essentially flawless.

There is a spot in the transition to the final third where the Death Bucket 2’s flavor gets brighter quickly, a change driven by the woodiness of the habano-led profile becoming much more vibrant. Not long after that, black pepper joins the retrohale in the final inches to give it a bit more oomph, yet it is still only medium-plus in terms of its strength. The flavor picks up a bit of it as well, and it too is a bit more vibrant and pointed than I remember it being earlier. The flavor turns a bit drier in the final inch or so, and I initially wanted to use the word char, but it’s not appropriate as the cigar hasn’t gone that far. Even the term robust doesn’t feel quite right, but the flavors have a bit more edge to them, particularly the woods which are shifting into the forefront of things. Where things are really stellar is some final retrohales as the end of the cigar is imminent; they seem to take everything that the cigar has offered thus far and packs it into a tight but still accessible aroma with some subtle tingle for the nostrils. The Death Bucket 2 finishes medium-plus in flavor and body, while strength has backed down to more of a medium level. Combustion, smoke production, burn line and draw are all great.

Final Notes

  • While it’s not a smokestack, the Death Bucket 2 puts off more smoke than the pictures would suggest as it was a decently windy day when the photos were taken.
  • I am fascinated by the idea of patch jobs being acceptable on premium cigars. I don’t think I’ve ever had that conversation while at a factory, but I do wonder how that passes quality control, or if it’s allowable on some cigars but not others.
  • I can’t say that I picked up any appreciable nicotine strength from the cigar, even though there is some there at times. None of them had me reaching for any post-cigar white sugar, for those curious.
  • The Room101 Death Bucket 2 was sold via the retail members of the Limited Cigar Association.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average, though individual smoking times ranged from just under two hours to just under three hours.
  • Site sponsors Cigar Hustler offers the Room101 Death Bucket 2 as part of three different samplers, while STOGIES World Class Cigars also carries the cigar but indicates it is out of stock.
93 Overall Score

It's my final review of 2020 and what a treat of a cigar it is to wrap up the year. The Room101 Death Bucket 2 checks every box: flavor, balance, complexity, flawless construction, and an overall very enjoyable experience. I can’t say that there was a single unenjoyable puff from start to finish, with the profile bouncing between very good and outright great, rooted in a habano-forward profile of woods, earth and pepper, while tying everything together with creaminess. There is both stability in the profile from start to finish but also some subtle transitions that show some range of the tobacco. The only thing that has me a bit perplexed was the huge variance in smoking times, but that is so minor that it is quickly forgotten. If you can find this cigar, buy them and clear a few hours to enjoy an incredibly crafted smoke.

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About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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