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Last month, Room101 announced that it would be creating a new series of cigars for eight select retailers around the country. Named Ichiban, which translates into first in Japanese, each of the eight retailers will receive an exclusive size of the singular blend.

The first of those retailers is Smokin’ Joe’s & Old City Cigar, located in the Knoxville, Tenn. area, which took delivery of the Room101 Ichiban Tiburon last week. The debut vitola is the 6 x 44 lonsdale size that was used in the Namakubi line previously. As for the blend, Ichiban uses an Ecuadorian wrapper, Nicaraguan criollo 98 binder and Nicaraguan corojo 99 fillers.

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Room101 Ichiban Tiburon Box 1

Room101 Ichiban Tiburon Box 2

Room101 Ichiban Tiburon Box 3

The cigar is limited to 1,000 boxes of 10, which is the same amount each of the eight sizes will be capped at. Pricing is set at $8.69 per cigar.

Room101 Ichiban Tiburon 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Room101 Ichiban Tiburon
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Agroindustria LAEPE S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo 98
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Lonsdale
  • MSRP: $8.69 (Boxes of 10, $86.90)
  • Date Released: Jan. 28, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 4

While I generally am not for anything that adds to the difficulty of smoking a cigar, I thought the paper wrapping was really well done and provides some protection, perhaps even a bit more than cellophane outside of the humidity aspect. Underneath is a dark brown wrapper with a fair bit of oils and some veins. Aroma off the wrapper is sweet with some leather and dried cranberry, and from the foot there’s coffee and a sweet cinnamon flavor that reminds of Red Hots candy. I’m a bit taken back by the cold draw, because the Red Hots are there again. Behind the cinnamon candy flavor is some dried earth and not much else.

Like the cold draw, the first puff is a bit open. That being said, the Ichiban Tiburon delivers some smooth nuttiness, mild black peppers and cocoa. There’s a semisweet finish but the peppers overwhelm the sweetness, which I can now identify as coming from citrus. While I was hoping the finish would change, it unfortunately does not. Throughout the first third there’s a harsh black pepper flavor in the center of the tongue. It can become bitter with the help of some toastiness, but the larger problem is that it also becomes overwhelming. When retrohaling there’s a lot to enjoy: meatiness, nuttiness and some hickory, but those flavors disappate after 15 or 20 seconds and then it’s a parade of black pepper. Even more problematic, that flavor lingers in the mouth until the next puff. The flavor is medium-full, strength is medium and body is medium-full. The draw remains a bit open, but I’m fine with it as the smoke production is great. Unfortunately, the ash isn’t very firm, falling off in weird chunks pretty early.

Room101 Ichiban Tiburon 2

There’s a bit of good news by the second third, the harshness has toned down, slightly. In addition, raw cocoa and citrus are now joining the other three flavors in the nose. On two samples, it’s still being overwhelmed in the finish, although it’s now happening a bit later, 35 or 40 seconds after a puff. The only other positive thing about the harshness is that it’s now solely black pepper, devoid of some of the bitter characteristics I found in one cigar. As for the other two, there’s enough balance for me to enjoy the Ichiban. Not much else has changed. Three of the samples still have a flaky ash, while all have a somewhat loose draw and very good smoke production.

Room101 Ichiban Tiburon 3

Each puff through the second third of the Room101 Ichiban Tiburon gave some indication that the harshness was being lessened and by the final third, there’s a fair bit enjoyment. Citrus and woody flavors are able to last well after each retrohale while a generic sweetness lessens the impact of the black pepper. As it has been through the entire cigar, each flavor has a ton of life, but you can tell they aren’t fully developed. I’m able to smoke each sample down without the temperature heating up, which is good, because the last thing I wanted an hour and half in was an increase in harshness.

Room101 Ichiban Tiburon 4

Final Notes

  • Ichiban is probably best known in the U.S. for being a line in the Kirin brand of Japanese beers.
  • I take a pretty conservative amount off of a cigar when cutting, so finding draws that are loose is not all that common. I didn’t have any issue with it, particularly given the smoke production was plentiful.
  • Smokin’ Joe’s will have a party with Room101’s Matt Booth tomorrow at its Alcoa store. In addition to receiving an Ichiban release, the store has also gotten Uncle Lee, which will be offered at a limited amount of locations.
  • None of the other retailers for Ichiban have been announced, although expect it to be stores that are big supporters of Room101.
  • Smokin’ Joe’s has received two E.P. Carrillo exclusives: the E.P. Carrillo Lounge Exclusive and E.P. Carrillo Smokin’ Joe’s Limitada.
  • It’s not the boldest packaging for Room101, but this is really compete. Everything ties together: the boxes, the tissue wrap and the secondary band. It’s clean and tasteful in my opinion.
  • While I have written the word “harsh” probably more than any other review, this wasn’t even the harshest cigar I’ve smoked in the past month. It was isolated solely in the center of the tongue and largely on the finish. The retrohale featured a rich diversity of flavors from start to finish, but they each had to battle with the aforementioned harshness. While some other cigars have the ability to blend the overall flavor into one big pot, I found the nose and mouth to be very isolated making the negative flavors easily identifiable even if they weren’t the dominant flavor.
  • The flavors were quite similar and the draw was great on all four samples, but the ash showed some real inconsistencies. One had a burn line that was rarely even, two featured some of the flakiest ash I’ve seen in the last 12 months, one burned evenly and firmly and another was somewhat flaky. While the flakiness quality is annoying, particularly for my lap and table, it’s not part of our scoring process. What is concerning though is how diverse things were and that there was no correlation between the amount of harshness and flakiness in the limited amount of samples I smoked.
  • This is definitely a cigar that I see improving with a short rest. Lots of potential, just needs to settle a bit.
  • Strength was on the lighter side of medium, quite possibly the mildest Room101 I’ve had, albeit not by any sort of large margin.
  • Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Room101, who advertises on the site.
  • Final smoking time was one hour an 40 minutes.
  • The Room101 Ichiban Tiburon is available for purchase here.
83 Overall Score

If your experiences are similar to mine, things are going to depend on two variables. One, are you retrohaling, because if you are not, there’s not going to be a ton to enjoy based off of the four cigars I smoked. Two, how prevalent is that harshness. On two samples, it was able to be restrained enough that the flavor through the nose not only overwhelmed it, but also lasted far enough into the finish that there was an enjoyable cigar. On the other two? It was too much at various points of the cigar, although by the final third, all four were enjoyable. If the Room101 Ichiban Tiburon can calm down, there’s remnants of a lot that could be very enjoyable, but as it stands right now, the harshness makes it challenging for me to want to grab another in the immediate future.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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