In 2009, Matt Booth, a former marine, made the transition from luxury jewelry designer to cigar brand runner. Working in collaboration with Camacho Cigars (and parent company Davidoff of Geneva), together they gave birth to the new Room101 (the brand now produces jewelery, cigar accessories, and cigars). Booth’s ambitions were simple – to create a quality boutique cigar – but with an edge. This dream came into fruition with huge success for Booth and Camacho, and Room101 now stands high among quality cigars everywhere. But Room101 is not only known for quality, but also for its unconventional releases. These range from the expensive and limited Master Collections, created for their full flavor, high-grade tobacco, and precision construction; to the big-flavor/low-price Big Payback, released as a love letter to fans who wanted more of that ‘Room101 edge’ for less buck.

This year, Room101 announced yet another love letter to fans, the Ichiban line. But this time Booth doesn’t direct it to his faithful consumer, per say, but to his faithful retailers. Room101 describes the release as “ultra-limited”, totaling at 1,000 boxes of 10 cigars (per size). Not only that, but Room 101 is only giving them to their most trusted shops around the country. Only eight brick and mortars will be graced with the Ichiban, ranging from New York to Tennessee, and each will receive a unique vitola only available at their store.

I will be smoking the Ichiban Tiburon – exclusive to Smokin’ Joe’s & Old City Cigar, a renowned retailer in Knoxville, TN. The word “Ichiban” actually means “first” in Japanese, and the cigars feature a throwback design for Room101; resembling a look similar to their 1st breakout release – OSOK.

Click images below to show full-size

Room101 Ichiban Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo 98
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Factory: Agroindustrias Laepe S.A. (Honduras)
  • Production: Limited Edition – 10,000 cigars per size (80,000 total)
  • Vitola: Tiburon (6×44 Lonsdale)
  • Price: $7.60

The cigars come with a very nice presentation, being wrapped in white tissue paper and then covered by a nice paper sleeve with Room101’s popular, black and white, Japanese-infused design. Once unveiled, the cigar reveals a very nice light brown coffee bean-hued wrapper, with very tight seams and minimal veins, and a slight tooth around the wrapper. The Ichiban band is also very “Room101” and has an additional band sporting Smokin’ Joe’s text. Both bands are black and white and the negative space is contrasted very nicely together. I did however notice a significant crack in the wrapper, from the foot to about an inch down. I was a bit worried how the burn and smoke would react to this, but I’m happy to say it was never a serious issue.

Smoking Experience

The Ichiban has a nice tobacco aroma with just hints of coffee. On the cold draw, I could detect light pepper and wood, maybe oak, and some herbal notes as well. While toasting, a deep pepper and earth aroma floats heavily through the air in a nice, white, thick smoke. Huge amounts of chewy smoke rush in off the first draw, met with a full-bodied kick of pepper and earth that was just a little too harsh. After the cigar has a chance to cool down, however, the harshness dies away (for now), along with the earthy undertones. The body also dies from a full to solid medium. The first few minutes of cool smoke bring that same black pepper, along with a nice, gentle cream and leather. A bit of a spicy retrohale adds a pleasant pecan tree wood with additional blasts of pepper.

Room101 Ichiban Tiburon cigar review

Getting through the first third only took about fifteen minutes – a bit of a fast burn – but not too unusual, due to the small ring gauge. This is where the cigar really begins to flourish. A medium-bodied creamy leather has taken over, producing extremely smooth and abundant, rich smoke. The profile consists of pepper, a gentle oak, plain tobacco, and a hint of cocoa and herbal spices. The finish is also very quick – only lasting a few seconds. At this point, the construction is fairing very well. A very loose draw brings enormous smoke output every time, never needing to puff more than once. The first inch of ash was a tiny bit uneven (I suspect due to the cracked wrapper) and also very flowery/flakey – falling in short intervals.



Good news meets me as I enter the second half of the Ichiban. For one, the burn has corrected itself perfectly, holding on very tight and with a razor sharp line. Thus the crack was not an issue. Second, during the last half of the cigar, I was never met with any more of the harshness that I experienced from the first light. Some smokers note the cigar maintained a harsh earth and pepper all the way though – but I found this not be the case with mine. This may be due to the cigars getting an extended seven months rest from their release date.

Beverage Pairing
I also decided to pair my cigar with a Fentimans Cola, a ginger root botanically brewed soda. (Note: I did not pair until the second half of the cigar, so that my tasting would not be affected). When first tasting the Cola, it has a very strong ginger and herbs flavor, along with a general sugar cane and spice. Paired with the Ichiban Tiburon, it really brought out the herbal notes of the cigar, as well as the leather and oaky wood. I was slightly afraid the Fentimans would bring out too much pepper from the stick, resulting in a pepper domination, but I was relieved that it didn’t.

Room101 Ichiban cigar review and beverage pairing

At about 45 minutes, I began to reach the end of the Tiburon. I was disappointed to find that a small amount of harshness came back towards the last third, but it wasn’t unmanageable, as it stayed well under a full body. I was pleased to find that the leather and cream lasted throughout the stick, as well as the cocoa popping in and out. Both the draw and burn remained perfect, and when leaving it for a few minutes at a time, it always picked right back up with a burst of smoke from just one puff.

Would I smoke this again?

Yes, definitely. I really enjoyed the uniquely creamy leather flavors this stick offers. This is a rock solid medium-bodied cigar with great flavors and construction. I did find myself wishing it would throw in a little more body with the flavors, however, as it never really went above a medium. It definitely makes a nice evening–desert stick worthy to compliment any steak you throw at it. But all in all, a great value for a delicious cigar, you just have to find one!

For those wondering, this is not the original blend of the Room101 OSOK (despite the unmistakably similar appearance) – do not expect a similar flavor profile or you’ll surely be disappointed.

Room101 Ichiban cigar review and rating

Room101 Ichiban
Room 101 has created yet another fun cigar with the Ichiban line. I really enjoyed those notes of creamy leather mixed with the gentle undertones of wood and herbal spices. Pairing with a spicy drink like the Fentimans Cola was an excellent choice that really brought out those rich flavors from the cigar. Overall, the construction was flawless, though it did start out a little on the rough side (due to the crack in the wrapper). The Ichiban Tiburon is a very consistent stick, with little to no transitions in flavor, but this is not a problem at all – because these flavors are very enjoyable. I only wish it gave me more body to meet the flavors, it always left me wanting just a little bit more.
Appearance95%
Burn/Construction85%
Draw98%
Flavor86%
Complexity77%
Price/Value88%
Pros
  • Exceptional flavors
  • Good construction
  • Tons of rich smoke
Cons
  • A little harsh when burning too hot
  • Body leaves you wanting
  • Quick burner
88%2-pack purchase
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)
75%