In August 2018, Room101 released a cigar for a small group of brick-and-mortar stores as a thank-you for their support over the years. The cigar didn’t have an official name, though based off the band, which showed Room101’s Matt Booth in a bucket of chicken, “Death Bucket” became the popular choice. In April 2020—a very different time than the one we live in today—Room101 released a second batch of those cigars to five different retailers.

The 6 x 52 toro uses an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, Dominican binder and Nicaraguan filler. It was made at the original Tabacalera William Ventura factory, the one that caught on fire earlier this year and is now being rebuilt—and was limited to 10,000 cigars for the second batch, slightly more than the 7,500 cigars that were created for the first batch.

Here’s what I said about the cigar when I reviewed it in July 2020:

The Room101 Death Bucket was one of the more flavorful cigars I’ve smoked from Matt Booth, but it also was one of the most unbalanced. While the first third was consistently enjoyable, the second third was oftentimes dominated by a wet leaf and white pepper combination. To some degree, the final part of the final third was my favorite part of the cigar in terms of taste, but the 15-minute barrage of sourness wasn’t worth the payoff. This is an eclectic flavor profile and a pretty easy cigar to smoke but the cigar has some unavoidable issues.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Room101 Death Bucket
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $10 (Bundle of 10, $100)
  • Release Date: April 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: 17,500 Total Cigars
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

This particular Room101 Death Bucket is still in its original cellophane, which isn’t as clear as the cellophane of most new cigars. The cellophane is quite snug when I remove the cigar, though it’s not snug enough to cause the cigar’s bands to shift as I remove it from the plastic. Once removed from the cellophane, the wrapper really shines, showing lots of red colors and visible oils. There are some veins and I find the sides of the cigar to be abnormally bumpy, but the cigar itself is very pretty. The aroma is medium and smells like copy paper, leather and some lavender. I find the scent of the foot to be slightly more intense, around medium-plus, with a milk chocolate sweetness, red pepper, cedar and smells that are reminiscent of a container of raisins. Cold draws taste like fresh chocolate chip cookies that are so hot the flavors are muted. There’s also some foul fruity flavor, sesame seeds and sugar.

The first puff of the Room101 Death Bucket is remarkably smooth. Flavor-wise, there are a lot of campfire flavors along with a less burnt oak and honey mustard. It’s medium-plus, but the flavors last for a good 45 seconds after I take my first puff. About 15 minutes in, I make a second cut of the cigar. I’d say my first cut was slightly more conservative than my normal cut, but I didn’t any issues with draw on the cold draw. I’m also pretty sure that even with a normal cut I still would have found the draw tight because even after the second cut, the draw is still tight, though better. Flavor-wise, the campfire flavor has transitioned into more of a woody core with less toastiness. Secondary notes include mineral flavors, leather, roux-like creaminess and a mild peanut butter flavor. The finish has lots of woodiness along with some animal cracker sweetness and ground black pepper. Retrohales have peanut butter over some more of that roux flavor and cinnamon. The finish tastes like unseasoned and grilled steak over cedar and black pepper. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium and strength is medium. Construction is okay: the burn line is even and I don’t need to make any touch-ups, but the draw is not great. I can feel a knot in the center of the cigar and it’s creating for a tight draw.

Now I need to break the fourth wall. Normally, this section is where I would talk about the second half in more or less the same way I did in the paragraph above. Had the Room101 Death Bucket kept burning like the first half, I would be able to write in that style. Unfortunately, shortly after the halfway mark I noticed the smoke production waning and used my lighter to touch up the cigar, just lighting the ring around the foot of the cigar. About 15 minutes later, I felt the smoke wane again and performed another touch up. Flavor-wise, there were some minor changes I noticed: the creaminess was more intense, the pepper was sharper but not as prevalent, the campfire notes were returning thanks to added toastiness. None of that seems relevant though.

After the third touch-up—this is something I keep track of during reviews—I noticed the smoke production had gone to zero. I took the cigar out of my mouth and picked up my lighter and then I noticed that nearly all of the lit end of the cigar had turned black. Furthermore, the ash formation on the sides of the cigar, which oftentimes looks lik a stack of coins, was much more parallel with the cylinder itself. The ash was also abnormally firm, as you can see in the video. While the end of the cigar was jet black, the sides of the ash were still a form of gray. I made one more attempt at relighting the cigar, but I knew where this was going and was not surprised to learn that even after a full relight, the cigar was unable to stay lit for longer than 30 seconds.

This is an issue that I’ve experienced in a number of cigars over the last couple of years, something that I’ve been told is the result of underfermented tobacco, though I’m not sure how I would go about verifying that’s the cause. What I do know is that when this happens during a review, it causes a number of problems because my experience tells me that relighting the cigar is a fruitless effort. Even after knocking off as much as I can, the cigar is unlikely to stay lit for more than a couple of minutes. In this situation, the only way to actually keep smoking is to cut off all of the ash and start over as if it’s a new cigar. The problem there is that it’s not a new cigar and what’s left of the cigar can oftentimes taste substantially worse than what the cigar previously tasted like. For a review, this is a nonstarter and halfwheel’s policy is that the review ends when the cigar can no longer be smoked.

73 Overall Score

A year ago, we determined a method for addressing these situations when it came to scoring a cigar that could not be finished due to construction issues. In short, we believe that each cigar should be smoked to a spot where there is an inch remaining, meaning in this cigar, I should be able to smoke 5 inches. Our scoresheet is divided into thirds, meaning that each scored segment is 1.67 inches long. We decided that if you could not smoke through half of a third, then the cigar should get a zero for that third and any subsequent thirds. If you made it at least halfway into the third, then the cigar is scored however you would score it up until that point. If this sounds familiar, this is a bit like how boxing and MMA adjudicate with fights that cannot be completed for peculiar reasons like an accidental foul that forces the fight to be stopped. In this case, I needed to smoke the cigar to less than 1.835 inches remaining for the score to count. Measuring from the part with the least amount of unlit tobacco remaining, there was less than 1.835 inches, meaning that the final third's score could be counted. For some visual context, that’s right near the top of the circle of the Room101 logo.
This is a weird one because the cigar probably should score lower than it did. On a subjective level, it had a much more serious problem than the score is going to indicate. For the most part, what I smoked of the Room101 Death Bucket was pretty enjoyable. I certainly didn’t find it as complex or full as it was when the cigar was fresh, but outside of the draw, I didn’t have much to complain until the very end of the cigar. Unfortunately, this issue is much more prevalent today than it was 10 years ago. 

Original Score (July 2020)
Redux Score (November 2022)
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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.