In 2017, Room101’s Matt Booth announced that his partnership with Davidoff—which made and distributed his cigars—was ending and he was retiring.
As is more increasingly the case, Booth’s retirement wasn’t much of a retirement at all. Only a couple of months later there were whispers that he was working Abdel Fernández of AJ Fernandez and six months later it was confirmed that Booth was back.
As it turned out, Booth was working with a couple of factories. There were projects from AJ Fernandez as well as Tabacalera William Ventura, the main home of Caldwell Cigar Co. whose Down&Back company distributed Room101 until late last year. Room101 is now distributed by La Palina.
During that time, one of the first cigars Booth blended was the subject of today’s review. Booth claims the cigar has no name, though it’s referred to as Room101 Death Bucket.
The 6 x 52 toro uses an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, Dominican binder and Nicaraguan filler. Originally, there were 7,500 cigars made, which were sent to a group of stores in August of 2018, but Booth opted to make another 10,000 that were released to five stores earlier this year. The name comes from the band, which shows a KFC-inspired bucket with bones inside of it, as well as a drumstick with a bite taken out of it.
Pricing is set at $10 per cigar and the Death Bucket is offered in bundles of 10.
- 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: August 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: 17,500 Total Cigars
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
This is a great looking cigar with quite a bit of red and lots of oils present even before I take the cigar out of cellophane. While the wrapper has a nice supple leather feel, there are some bumps and veins that disrupt the smoothness. Aroma from the wrapper is just above medium with barnyard and a touch of citrus. The foot is medium-full with cocoa, lots of pecans, some barnyard and a bit of peppermint. The Death Bucket’s cold draw initially has some vanilla ice cream and a generic nuttiness, but after the third cold draw there’s more of a Thai basil and peppermint mixture, right around medium.
Once the smoke hits the palate I Immediately get a flavor remind me of fire-cured tobacco. It’s incredibly distinct and distracts from some of the rest of the flavors, which includes some nuttiness, a freshly varnished wood flavor and a touch of raisins. The Room101 Death Bucket both smokes quickly and seems to enjoy a faster puff rate. After just 15 minutes I’m surprised that there’s already a solid inch-long chunk of ash built up. The profile is a bit muted with lots of minerals, the generic nuttiness, walnuts, earthiness and a lemon acidity. Retrohaling produces a cleaner version of that profile with an added Worcestershire flavor, strawberry and a decent dose of the fire-cured flavors, particularly on the finish. If I don’t retrohale, the finish is a mixture of straw and nuttiness, quite pedestrian compared to the rest of the profile. The draw is slightly loose, which probably helps to explain the aforementioned commentary on burn rate, but construction is excellent in the first third with tons of smoke ready to leave the cigar on command.
The profile seems to complete its shift closer to the halfway mark than the final third, but it’s pretty clear when it does. Once the smoke hits my palate it starts with wet leaves before a white pepper, sharp lemon and some of the fire-cured notes take hold. Retrohaling is much milder with a watered-down peach tea flavor, lots of earthiness and some creaminess. The white pepper that was present before ramped up but then completely disappears shortly after the halfway mark. The finish has a touch of caramel sweetness that is quickly overwhelmed by some white pepper. Flavor is full, body is solidly full and strength is very close to medium-full.
For 15 minutes, I’m quite concerned with how the Room101 Death Bucket is going to finish. There’s a heavy barrage of sourness that transitions between the middle parts and the emerging nub. Fortunately, with about an inch and a half left, it disappears and gives way to a resurgent earthiness with a bit of sweet vanilla underneath. The retrohale is much milder with toastiness, strawberries and a heavy dose of peanuts on the finish. When I don’t retrohale, the finish has more of a ground taco meat flavor at times, while other times it’s what I imagine eating a pile of wet leaves would taste like. After 20 seconds or so, there’s a paprika kick that emerges and then leaves more of a soy sauce flavor. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full. The most notable change outside of the 15 minutes of sourness is the burn, which has slowed down and is in need of help. Each sample needs at least one touch-up to help make it to the finish but the smoke production never gets to the level that it was at previously.
- Room101 claims that there is no name for this cigar, to me, that is bullshit marketing. Much like when La Galera claimed there wasn’t an MSRP for a cigar, this reads like some sort of anti-marketing that I find annoying. While there may have not been a name, the moment Room101 put out a press release trying to explain how there wasn’t a name—but that people called this cigar Death Bucket—the game was up. I don’t understand the point of saying “this cigar has no name, but people call it X.” If you truly don’t want the cigar to have a name, don’t include that line in the announcement about the cigar.
- I also have no idea what the point of the charade is. It just confuses consumers. Imagine telling someone you smoked a “Room101 Death Bucket” last week and them replying by saying “actually, that cigar has no name.”
- If your name is Brooks Whittington, you are probably thinking to yourself that that sounds like something I, Charlie, would do.
- I really wish there weren’t the type of regulatory implications, financial constraints or inevitable complaints from retailers that probably deter Room101 from making an actual bucket of chicken-style packaging for this cigar. To this day, one of the best packaging designs I ever saw was the Room101 Uncle Lee.
- If you are wondering how this relatively calm-looking wooden box is what I’m talking about, it’s because it’s not. Room101 and Davidoff had originally created the above cereal box. Unfortunately, a number of retailers complained because of FDA concerns, specifically marketing to children—though some of them probably complained because, like me, that’s what they do seemingly every day of the week—and Davidoff scrapped the boxes. Eventually, the cigars were released in a somewhat quiet fashion but without all the fun.
- You can’t really make it out from the picture above, but the nutritional facts panel of the cereal box is a gem.
- For about eight hours halfwheel ran some ads promoting the cigar which were even crazier. One of the ads had a chicken getting its head cut off amongst a barrage of other animations.
- I understand why people complained. I’ve written more about the FDA’s regulations of cigar than probably anyone outside of the attorneys working the case. That being said, some of the reactions definitely seemed more like the fun police than those people concerned with FDA.
- That being said, if you took the original Uncle Lee packaging, with the cereal box and toy inside, to FDA’s offices in Silver Springs, Md., the agency would inevitably not be impressed. It would hurt a lot of the claims that the cigar industry has made about how premium cigars are not marketed towards children.
- There’s a world that exists where I can say, “that’s cool really packaging, but not good from a regulatory perspective,” just as I can say, “a Ferrari is a cool car but not practical as your only car.”
- Room101 is known for putting some rather provocative messages in hidden parts of its band. This one includes a relatively mild, “SUPER DUPER LIMITED 2018.”
- Booth said that he is considering another run of these cigars that would be available to more retailers and would come in a box instead of a bundle.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- All three samples burned super quick until the final third and it ended up pushing the final smoking time to just shy of two hours.
- Site sponsor Cigar Hustler carried a Room101 Death Bucket sampler but has since sold out.
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.