While Matt Booth and his Room101 brand of cigars continue a steady climb into an increasing number of both retail and personal humidors, this month he brings to an end one of his lines, the three-headed beast known as Master Collection.
The Room101 Master Collection line dates back to February 2013, when bits of information began to trickle out about what was being described as “the most premium Room101 offering to date” and Booth’s “most ambitious project.” A few early test samples were seen that month at Smoke Inn’s annual The Great Smoke event, though those weren’t intended for public consumption. It was in July when the official announcement about Room101 Master Collection One was made and the public first saw the five-vitola line packed in shiny black lacquer boxes that bore a new symbol, the Japanese cherry blossom, or sakura, a mark that would adorn all Master Collection releases and become increasingly used in Room101’s branding. The cigars were made available to retailers at the 2013 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show and hit store shelves in October.
With a name like Master Collection One, it figured that there would be a Master Collection Two, and indeed there was, albeit a bit delayed from its original late 2013 release date. The cigar began shipping in late January 2014, with a new blend, a new color scheme that went heavy on gold, but the same five sizes and production numbers.
This month, Master Collection Three will hit stores, the final installment in the series of limited edition cigars, once again capped at 105,000 total cigars spread over the same five vitolas as the previous two releases, though again with a new blend and new colors for the packaging, using a shiny white base for the packaging and black for the logos and text.
The line was announced shortly after the start of 2015, and when it was, Matt Booth had this to say about the cigar:
AS THE MOUTHWATERING TASTE OF THE THIRD AND FINAL INSTALLMENT OF OUR MASTER COLLECTION CASCADES OVER YOUR TASTE BUDS AND CRASHES DOWN ON TO YOUR PALATE LIKE A 900 POUND SACK OF FLAVOR NAILS, I COMPEL YOU TO CONSIDER SOMETHING. WHAT ELEMENTS CAN TRULY COMPRISE THE FLAVOR OF “THE END”?
DEEP, I KNOW. FOR EXAMPLE, BY THE TIME YOUR OCULAR UNITS GRAZE UPON THIS TEXT I WILL BE STRADDLING A LOUNGE CHAIR JUST OUTSIDE OF BOYS TOWN IN PATTAYA BEACH, THAILAND SIPPING A NON SPECIFIC UMBRELLA LADEN BEVERAGE, ADORNED IN THE FINEST OF EUROPEAN SWIMWEAR (PURCHASED SECOND HAND OF COURSE), BEING FANNED WHILST PEERING OUT ACROSS THE INEXPLICABLY BROWN SEA WATER.
WHAT, YOU MAY ASK, DOES THIS CLAYMORE-ESQUE VISUAL EXPLOSION HAVE TO DO WITH FINE CIGARS?
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I SIMPLY WANT THIS IMAGE TO LIVE INSIDE YOUR MIND RENT-FREE FOREVER – FOR MY OWN PERSONAL SATISFACTION. FOR “FUNSIES” IF YOU WILL…
OK, ACTUALLY THAT’S NOT ENTIRELY TRUE EITHER. MY BEACH SCENE WAS, AMONG OTHER THINGS, A SNAPSHOT FROM THE GOOD LIFE. WITH CIGAR IN HAND, ENJOYING THIS ULTIMATELY PLEASURABLE MOMENT IS THIS INDIVIDUAL SOMEONE’S (MAYBE NOT YOURS, SPECIFICALLY) “GOOD LIFE” MOMENT. IN THIS SAME WAY, I WOULD LIKE YOU ALL TO IMMERSE YOURSELVES IN YOUR OWN MOMENT WITH OUR MASTER COLLECTION THREE.
WRAPPER. YES. BINDER. UH-HUH. FILLER. INDEED.
WHATEVER. IT’S OVER NOW, SO SMOKE IT UP. MASTER COLLECTION THREE – BECAUSE TWO SIMPLY WASN’T ENOUGH.
This is the biggest release of the three cigars, though by a mere 5,000 cigars as there was an additional 50 boxes of the Papi Chulo vitola made this go round.
- Room101 Master Collection Three Mutante (7 x 38) — $10 (Boxes of 20, $200) — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Room101 Master Collection Three Sucio (7 x 48) — $11 (Boxes of 20, $220) — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Room101 Master Collection Three Monstro (5 x 60) — $12 (Boxes of 20, $240) — 1,500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
- Room101 Master Collection Three Roxxo (4 x 48) — $9 (Boxes of 20, $180) — 1,500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
- Room101 Master Collection Three Papi Chulo (4 x 42) — $8 (Boxes of 50, $400) — 500 Boxes of 50 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
The series stopped at three because the Room101 team thought it was just the right amount of releases for the project. According to Dylan Austin, director of marketing for Davidoff of Geneva USA, Master Collection One was “to introduce the new Sakura mark and the concept of a short and beautiful life, to set the tone for the series.” The second came from Booth’s adventures into the world of gold, where he was doing a lot of work with it. The third installment came to because of the strength of the blend, which made sense to serve as the wrap-up for the collection. Austin said they have been sitting on the blend since the third quarter of 2014.
As for the progression of colors used in the series, Austin said that the black face and silver branding was a nod to Room101’s first ever release which featured the same combo. The gold used in the second release was an extension of what Booth was doing at the time as mentioned above, and the third came out of a series of designs, with Austin saying that it was “just too clean and crisp not to wrap the series up with.” Booth added that there was no secret or deep meaning to the sequence of colors; it’s just how it happened.
- Cigar Reviewed: Room101 Master Collection Three Mutante
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Agroindustrias Laepe, S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 38
- Vitola: Lancero
- MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 20, $200)
- Date Released: Feb. 6, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
The pigtail cap is one of the most intricate ones I can recall, coiled into a cinnamon bun style and then some, all neatly tucked together and bearing the sign of a skilled rolero. As you’ll notice in the picture above, the Mutante is the only one of the five vitolas to feature a pigtail cap, making an already difficult cigar to roll that much more decorated and appreciated. The wrapper is a fairly dry, earthy brown with little in the way of oils, veins or tooth, and the seam lines, while visible, are perfectly flat and the cap appears to be applied as well as any I can recall. While it’s not gushing oils, it has just a bit of a shine to it and the texture of the leaf has a smoothness The only construction issue I could find to mention is the firmness; there’s a bit of give throughout the cigar with the most showing above the band, with a squeeze confirming that there’s more than I would prefer. The pre-light aroma off the foot has a distinctive barn wood note, dry and aged with only the best part of the aromas left, while the wrapper is a bit sharper thanks to some touches of pepper. The cold draw is just a touch on the loose side but not worrisome, with subtle flavors of baking spices coming through and little to no pepper.
The first puffs of the Room101 Master Collection Three Mutante are much lighter than I was expecting, with clouds of light and fluffy smoke emanating from the cigar and offering subtle touches of white pepper and dry wood to kick things off in easy style, with only one sample approaching the medium mark in terms of strength. A retrohale early on delivers more of the white pepper but it’s so gently tingling that it’s not much of a challenge to handle. Before long the flavor fills out a bit with some subtle earth and light coffee, a change first picked up in the smoke as it wafts off the cigar while it rests. As I feared, the light gray ash isn’t terribly strong on the cigar, plopping off at just under half an inch in while I was getting set up for a photo, and there’s a bit of flakiness on top of that, though the next bit held on much better. Strength stays just above mild throughout the first third, as the smoke picks up a bit of creaminess in the approach to the second third that masks most of the pepper found earlier. There are some hints that there’s more pepper just waiting to emerge, but at this point it’s a suggestion rather than a clear sign, and instead the Master Collection Three is happy to stay the course of offering a bit of sweet cream, some light wood and the aforementioned white pepper. The burn line holds sharp even with no technical issues to report, and assuming you puff at the right frequency, there’s no need to relight the cigar.
I find myself struck by how mild and creamy the Master Collection Three is, offering just touches of dairy sweetness with a few remnants of white pepper to balance things out. Through the first half, the word elegant is the one that keeps coming to mind, and I feel like I should be sipping a glass of Champagne while noshing on some light pastries. No sooner than I write that and snag a few photos does black pepper come into the equation and step on the throttle, adding a punchy strength that hasn’t been felt to this point, and one that lingers on the palate and just touches the throat. While it’s more of a single shot of pepper than a steady barrage, it has definitely altered the course of the cigar towards a much fuller and stronger profile with plenty of kick. In order to keep the cigar burning, the puffing rate needs to be closely monitored; otherwise the burn is fairly good if a little jagged, and smoke production continues to be plentiful.
With the flavor and strength now sufficiently ramped up after the increase of black pepper on this side of the midway point, the Room101 Master Collection Three Mutante pretty much guns it towards home from a flavor profile, staying strong and peppery while the burn rate is moderate at best. I’m a bit surprised by just how long it’s taken to get to this point, as it seems like the tobacco is in no rush to hurry things along, rather preferring to let each puff go through the entire process and squeeze out every ounce of flavor the tobacco has to offer before proceeding. While I’m not complaining about the pepper, it does get to a bit monotonous and a change of pace would be appreciated, especially if it involved bringing back the sweet creaminess that started off the cigar.
- It bears repeating here, there’s no space in Room101; it’s written as one word. That said, the Room101 Facebook page shows the logo without the space but a space between the two.
- Room101 also released the Ichiban this month, a series of limited edition cigars bound for eight stores around the county beginning with the Tiburon, which is available at Smokin’ Joe’s/Old City Cigar in the Knoxville, Tenn. area.
- While the official ship date for the Room101 Master Collection Three is Feb. 9, a small group of Room101’s biggest supporters got them last week.
- As with the other two Master Collection releases, if you put two boxes together, you get a full Sakura logo. The boxes are labeled as left and right.
- The details aren’t being released yet, but Austin said that there are a few other collections in the works that will come out July and will carry the same kind of format as the Master Collection. “These will be a little higher in concept, but will feature the same style boxes, each with a different theme,” he said.
- Final smoking time was just about two hours on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Davidoff of Geneva, who advertises on halfwheel.
- None of halfwheel’s sponsors currently list the Room101 Master Collection Three for sale, but several of them carry Room101 and should be adding this in the coming days.
You can add the Master Collection Three to the list of Room101 releases that I genuinely like and would be happy to smoke pretty much any time. The first half, especially in the milder samples, was almost sublime and a great example that a milder smoke can be incredibly enjoyable. The transition at the midpoint was pronounced and attention-grabbing, leading to a much stronger and pepper-laden second half. While I would have loved a bit more progressive of a transition and that the first half flavors weren't totally shed, the Master Collection Three still offers a pair of distinct and enjoyable profiles. A fitting conclusion to the very enjoyable Master Collection Series and another feather in the decorated cap of Matt Booth.