For the fourth release in its eight-part Ichiban series of store exclusives, Room101 selected STOGIES World Class Cigars in Houston, a retailer in the midst of launching its own limited edition series.

The Room101 Ichiban Series was announced in January 2015 as “one of our finer works over the past five years and a recipe that I have been holding close for a while; waiting for the right time, the right project and the right people to share it with,” according to Matt Booth of Room101.

Each of the eight retailers will receive a unique size, with up to 1,000 boxes of ten cigars produced and the same blend used throughout the series. The first installment went to Smokin’ Joe’s in Tennessee, a 6 x 44 Lonsdale called Tiburon. The second went to Cigar Realm in Ashland, Va. in the form of the 4 x 48 Roxxo, a Petit Robusto. Doc James CIgars in Mamaroneck and Shrub Oak, N.Y. got the third release, the 6 1/2 x 30/50/19 figurado called Ranfla. For the fourth release, the 7 x 38 Mutante, STOGIES was chosen, while the fifth cigar lands again in the eastern half of the United States, with Franklin Cigar slated to get the Sucio, a 7 x 48 Churchill.

Room101 Ichiban Mutante Box 1

Room101 Ichiban Mutante Box 2

For STOGIES, the cigar is especially fitting, as the Houston retailer is currently in the midst of releasing its own line of store exclusive lanceros, collectively banded under the H-Town header. Jorge Ahued, the store’s co-owner, told halfwheel that the Ichiban Mutante is not part of that series.

Room101 Ichiban Mutante 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Room101 Ichiban Mutante
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Agroindustria LAEPE S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo 98
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo 99
  • Size: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 38
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $9 (Boxes of 10, $90)
  • Date Released: June 18, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: 600 Boxes of 10 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

If there’s one thing you will get a lot of with the Room101 Ichiban Mutante, it’s presentation. Each cigar is individually wrapped in both tissue paper and a paper print, with the twisted tails of the former sticking out from the ends of the latter. If you wanted, you could really make quite a ritual of taking each cigar out of its garb, slicing the single piece of tape that holds the outer paper wrapper in place, untwisting the tissue paper and unrolling it, or you could just slide the cigar out and show about as much abandon as a kid opening presents on Christmas morning. Once unwrapped, it’s readily apparent that this is a soft cigar with a bit of give, with the softest spots consistently being above the primary band. The wrapper is an attractive dark brown, a bit earthy in color with some small veins and a bit of sheen. At the top, the pigtail is curled into a couple of different shapes; the first looks like a pretzel, the second was flat and gave off a spiral look, while the third tried to get close to a cinnamon bun but fell just a bit short. From the foot I get a note that sits somewhere between semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa powder and coffee, with a very faint suggestion of wet firewood and tree bark in the background. While I had noted the softness before clipping the cap, it becomes even more apparent once I do and take a cold draw. The air moves well if a tad loosely, carrying a bit of cold meat with a bit of char and a buttery texture.

With the cigar taking just a few seconds to light up via a single torch lighter, I’m greeted by a bit of sour chalkiness with a bit of pepper in the background on the first two cigars. It’s big in flavor and while not exactly mouthwatering, it’s not a total turnoff. The third cigar, which got a day of dryboxing, didn’t show quite the same profile, but was equally palate-grabbing out of the chute. The sourness settles down and departs quickly, leaving behind a bit of chalk and pepper to set the tone before the first clump of bright white ash breaks off fairly quickly, somewhere around half an inch in length. The draw is a bit loose and that accelerates the burn rate, something I’m trying to be mindful of from the get go in order to keep the cigar as cool as possible. The sourness returns again, then gradually fades away as a bit of earth and pepper come into the mix for the start of the second third.

Room101 Ichiban Mutante 2

There’s a slight increase in the pepper and strength that signals the start of the second third as the central notes find their footing and the profile moves just beyond medium in strength, while a retrohale shows a bit of orange sweetness in the nose, slightly acidic, a bit tart, and used sparingly but effectively. Through the first half the burn has remained very even, and it’s not too much of a challenge to pace the cigar properly when it comes to each draw. Past the midpoint I find the first spot where it needs a relight, as well as a bit more strength from the pepper that wants to linger on both the tongue and in the nose a bit longer than it did earlier. It’s a bright profile, punchy at times but mostly just clean pepper doing the majority of the work.

Room101 Ichiban Mutante 3

There’s not a ton of transition from the second to the final third, as the Room101 Ichiban Mutante stays pretty linear, though what it is offering at this point is about the best it has offered so far. While the flavor has stayed enjoyable, I’ve found myself needing another relight in each of the cigars I smoked at some point in the final third, while the ash continues to be fickle in terms of its desire to build into anything substantial. Fortunately it isn’t flaky at all, as that would be a double whammy against it. I continue to get more of the earth and pepper with just a touch of harshness approaching the final few puffs before a bit of very subtle dairy creaminess comes in under the two-inch mark. It’s hard to pick out and easily could be glanced over, but it’s there and adds one last twist to the flavor as well as a bit of softness and balance to the flavor that has picked up a touch of harshness.

Room101 Ichiban Mutante 4

Final Notes

  • This is the second Room101 lancero that STOGIES has received; in 2013 the store got the Room101 Namakubi Ecuador H-Town Lancero, which I also reviewed.
  • While lanceros aren’t known for having the strongest ash, this one was definitely on the weak side, falling off between a quarter and a half of an inch in length with no prompting. This in turn made getting pictures a bit of a challenge as the ash would often fall off right before a suitable shot could be taken.
  • In his review of the Room101 Ichiban Tiburon, Charile Minato stressed the importance of retrohaling with this blend, and it’s equally as applicable with the Mutante.
  • A bit of dryboxing also seemed to help the third cigar, though there were still some combustion issues in the second half.
  • Strength topped out as medium-full on all three samples.
  • A minor note on the bands: they were glued on in opposite directions. The primary band peels off to the right, while the secondary comes off to the left.
  • Additionally, each of the bands were glued together perfectly straight, more so than I’ve seen from other manufacturers.
  • For its H-Town Series, which again the Room101 Ichiban Mutante is not part of, STOGIES has released cigars from La Palina, Fratello, Quesada, Alec Bradley and Room101.
  • We’ve reviewed several other Mutante vitolas from Room101: the Daruma (reduxed here), Master Collection Two, Master Collection Three,
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 25 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by STOGIES World Class Cigars.
  • Room101 is distributed by Davidoff of Geneva USA, who advertises on halfwheel.
  • Site sponsor STOGIES World Class Cigars is the only place to get the Room101 Ichiban Mutante; click the link or call 713.783.5100, and be sure to tell them you heard about it on halfwheel.
83 Overall Score

The idea of releasing of the Room101 Ichiban Series in a lancero format seems almost perfect for STOGIES World Class Cigars, though the actual result falls a bit short for my palate. The opening note is a head-scratcher, and while the cigar gets better from there, it doesn't take off on my palate like a number of other Room101 blends have done, instead choosing to find a familiar place in the first third and then holding to it with a few subtle highlights. A solid, if not quite stellar release, at a very reasonable price.

Patrick Lagreid

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, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.