With a successful 2 years under the the belt of Room101’s The Big Payback cigars, it came as little surprise when the brand debuted the blonde-hued Connecticut variant earlier this year. The original cigars were released as a “thank you letter” from Room101 to supporters of the luxury lifestyle brand over the past 7 (then 5) years.
The cigars in this series are priced well below where they should be. This is a Payback of a different sort – my payback to you for the support and dedication over the years.
Now, with a growing demand for the modernized Connecticut Shade cigar style, Room101 and brand runner Matt Booth again deliver to the fans. The Big Payback Connecticut brings back the 3 original sizes from the original Payback cigars (5×50, 6×60, 7×70), this time ditching blacks, grays, and silvers for a fittingly clean look of white and gold. And while the sizes and design are a complete mirror of the original, the cigars make a detour with the actual blend—featuring a more diverse, multinational variety, as opposed to the original’s Nicaraguan puro blend.
The Big Payback Connecticut Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Mexico
- Filler: Dominican Republic (three growing regions)
- Factory: Agroindustrias Laepe S.A. (Honduras)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5″ × 50 “Chavala” robusto
- Price: $5.50
One of the signature styles from the original Payback was the massive packaging, helping to bring down costs for consumers. This carries over to the new Connecticut, with 30 and 50-count boxes. Of course, in typical Room101 fashion, the packaging is completely first-rate. A matte-white finish covers the majority of the large, hingeless box, topped with gold highlights showing the classic Room101 “FU” logo. This is also branded onto the underside of the lid, painted in black over a cedar finish. The cigars are then tissue-wrapper and laid in 5 rows of 10 cigars.
You’ll find the same color scheme on the bands, with “The Big Payback” displayed in gold embossing over a white backdrop. There is also a gold ink print of the brand’s classic “FU” logo on what appears to be a rice paper foot band—you’ll recognize this from the original Big Payback cigar. Clearly this is a fine-looking product, which is more impressive considering its budget pricing of $5.50. And while I’m a fan of just about any Room101 cigar design, I find myself leaning towards their more clean styles, such as this and the Master Collection Three.
The cigar has a golden hue to the wrapper, looking perhaps a shade darker than your average Connecticut—a grittier look/feel. There’s a few thin and prominent veins running the length of the cigar, and the seams are well placed and visible—topped with a triple cap. It has a light feel in the hand, and with a squeeze, it feels like a medium-light pack of fillers.
The wrapper smells of grass, musk/leather, and hay, with a light spice on the foot. All-around, a very attractive Connecticut cigar.
With a quick cut, the draw feels very easy (hopefully not too easy), showing light, grassy notes. And with the proper flame applied, the cigar jumps off to a much more peppery start than I’d imagined… Peppercorn flavors lead to freshly cracked black pepper notes and a little zest in the retrohale. The draw, which I’d pegged as too loose, is actually about perfect, producing a nice amount of smoke on each puff. Toasted nuts and a little (refreshing) sweetness soon join the mix, a well as further evolutions in the pepper department—having more of a white pepper quality.
One of the more interesting aspects is a very intriguing taste of the open tobaccos on the tongue. With pepper, salt, and savory, charry notes, it’s like licking the crust of a flame-cooked steak. The retrohale is very lively, with a vast array of cabinet spices—this is where the majority of the cigar’s flavors reside.
At this point, the body is around mild/medium and the flavor out put is a medium-minus. The strength isn’t anything to be concerned with, but I have the feeling it’s rising pretty quickly. Soon there is an interesting sourdough-like tanginess, backed by a flooding of creaminess on the palate—it seems to be finding its balance, right around the 2.5″ mark.
The construction is great, yes there are a few touchups here and there, but they’re very minor. This is due to a wavy burn line that occasionally gets a tad too wavy. This produces a dusty, gray ash, which can easily hold 2.5-plus-inches. As the peppers and spices pull back, notes of hazelnut creamer, hay, and toasted bread begin to dominate. Nearing the cigar’s end, the toastiness increases, with toasted bread and nuts, as well as a little musk and floral notes in the retro. The strength increases, but never passes medium-plus, with the entire profile hovering around medium-light to medium-plus.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
No question—yes. Connecticut cigars are increasing in popularity in the cigar world and I, for one, am fully on board! This is a style that was once easily written off as “too mild” by many enthusiasts. And while “mild” is often just what the Dr. ordered, most fans are looking for a little oomph to their smokes. The Big Payback seems to have just enough of this “oomph-factor” to give those ol’ taste buds what they’re after—whether it be morning, afternoon (my personal recommendation), or early evening (to start a bingeful night of smoking).
As I said, the ideal timeframe for this smoke (for me) would be early afternoon. I’d like to see it paired with a clean and refreshing drink, maybe a Mojito, Moscow (or Kentucky) Mule, cream soda, or even sparkling water. My pairing was a W.L. Weller bourbon, which was great for an evening pairing—giving the smoke a healthy dose of vanilla and heavily increased sweetness. Weller made for a nice match (as far as bourbon goes), as the mashbill replaces the usual rye for wheat, making for a sweeter compliment to this milder smoke.
- Good construction & near-perfect draw
- Anytime, daily smoke
- Long, 1.5 hour smoke time
- A few touchups / wavy burn
- Not complex