Mutante (Lancero), 7” x 38 ring gauge /
~$8.25, Burns Tobacconist
Seems like just yesterday...the second Room 101 Limited Edition, dubbed “Namakubi” was released at the 2011 Chattanooga Tweet-Up. This year...second year in a row...we got to see the 101 LTD introduced in Chattanooga during the Tweet-Up. This year’s cigar is called “Daruma,” which is a reference to “a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism,” according to Wikipedia. The Daruma cigar is a bit of an amping up of the Room 101 lines, at least according to what I tasted in the pre-release sample Keith brought back from the IPCPR show and that I talked about a few weeks ago. After that sample, I was sure I would be buying a box and when the event started, I snapped up a full box of Lanceros (dubbed “Mutante”). I found that the Camacho website, several blogs and a couple of online retailers all disagreed on the exact makeup of this cigar. Some of that could be due to some erroneous early information that was attempted to be corrected later, but it seems like there are still several discrepancies, including where the wrapper is from. Camacho says “Habano,” at least one site says Ecuadorian Habano and a couple other locations noted Nicaraguan Habano. Filler is said to be Honduran and Dominican...or Honduran and Nicaraguan, depending on where you look. And I saw both Mexican and Brazilian Mata Fina noted as the binder. I just smoke these things and offer up an opinion...in this case, don’t expect me to be an expert on where the cigar is from because I’m not sure anyone knows for certain. As noted, I bought a box...this review stick is my second or third that I’ve smoked.
Wherever the wrapper was from, it was truly lovely...medium in hue with hints of gold and red, and a rich oiliness to the eye and to the touch. I brought it to my nose, and got a rich hay-like aroma, with a sweet molasses touch to it. To me the look and aroma suggests Ecuadorian Habano, but I could be wrong...on this matter and this matter alone, do not trust me. :) The foot had some earthiness and a bit of coffee. I want to backtrack just a bit to talk about the packaging, a thing that has been evolving a bit with the Room 101 lines. The overall appearance of the box is virtually the same as the Namakubi last year...different art and color scheme, but same basic idea. You could put them two boxes side by side on the shelf at the cigar store and they look like they belong together. Then you note the band, which is a sideways-turned band, as used on the OSOK, but totally different from the Namakubi. The band faced the wrong way when you hold the cigar in your left hand while smoking, which is my norm since that’s the hand closer to the ashtray when I’m on the porch, closer to the open window when I’m driving. I used my Xikar Xi cutter for the normal straight cut and found the cold draw to be excellent, tasting of cedar, earth and touches of molasses sweetness and pepper spice. I elected to use a Commonwealth Cedar Spill to light the cigar tonight, another souvenir of the Chattanooga Tweet-Up.
I have to admit to being a bit skeptical about the whole “taste your cigar” campaign that Commonwealth is waging...I never noticed a bad flavor using butane...but the rich woody flavors imparted by the burning cedar to the cigar truly make for a great experience. The Room 101 Daruma started off rich and earthy, with a little sweetness and spice, especially on the nose. The smoke was thick and oily, starting off at the bottom edge of the full-bodied range. In the first 10 minutes of smoking the Daruma Mutante, I was amazed by its full flavor. To say this was the best I can remember any 101 product starting would not be an understatement.
Deep into the second third, I noted that the construction on the Room 101 Daruma was very good. I saw a perfectly straight burn line without any need to correct it, a flawless draw and a fairly strong ash. That was the weakest point of the Daruma so far: the ash. It “gatored” early on and continued to do so several times through this point, weakening the ash and making me have to tap off about twice as often as I would expect. It didn’t get flaky and fall all over my lap, though, and I had not experienced the same problem with previous samples. The flavor in the second third was still excellent, as well. I still got a strong earthiness with a growing pepper spice on the palate. There was plenty of cedar in the background and an underlying molasses sweetness to balance everything.
The Room 101 Daruma continued to keep serving up full earthy flavors through the final third, too, and the pepper spice grew on the palate until it was a nice constant burn even between puffs. The body was full, but really got past the bottom end of the full range for me. Strength was about the same...up there, but not overwhelming. I really enjoyed this smoke (and a good thing, too, since I have most of a box left!); it was easily my favorite of the Room 101 branded sticks, which is saying quite a bit after the last year when we saw the Namakubi, OSOK, and San Andres, all of which were very good.