In January of 2017, cigar fanatics were delivered a shocking blow, as industry deviant Matt Booth announced his departure from the premium cigar market. Booth had made his debut eight years prior, crossing-over his Room101 jewelry brand into the premium cigar scene by partnering with Camacho Cigars in 2008; eventually launching the eponymous Room101 cigar at the 2009 IPCPR trade show.

In the process of collaborating with Camacho, the company was bought-out by Davidoff of Geneva, bringing Booth on board with one of the largest companies in the industry. Room101 maintained its connection with Camacho, showcasing the exclusive side of Camacho’s factory in Honduras (still run by Christian Eiroa at the time) by incorporating rare tobaccos, creative packaging, and small batch production. This, combined with Booth’s whimsical and charismatic demeanor, set Room101 on par with the emerging “next generation” of premium cigars—often compared with the phenomenon of America’s craft beer industry.

Room101’s first big hit was One Shot One Kill (OSOK), a limited edition collaboration between Christian Eiroa, Matt Booth, and Edgar Hoill. The cigars featured unique vitolas and packaging unlike anything cigar enthusiasts had become accustomed to. This was followed by other fan-favorites, such as Namakubi EcuadorDaruma, and Johnny Tobacconaut—all offering unorthodox presentations and limited production that collectors and die-hard enthusiasts craved.

But in early 2017, Booth cited FDA over-regulation as a sign that it was time to return his focus to his origins in boutique jewelry, opting to end his contract with Davidoff. Six months later, Booth announced his return to the cigar industry, partnering with Robert Caldwell to introduce two new projects unlike anything he’d released prior. The first of these two projects is a collaboration between Matt Booth, Robert Caldwell, and Caldwell’s usual manufacturing partner with the Ventura family in the Dominican Republic (the second project is “Truth,” a collaboration between Caldwell, Booth, and AJ Fernandez).

Hit & Run Corona Gorda Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano
  • Binder: Indonesian
  • Filler: Dominican
  • Factory: Tabacalera William Ventura (Dominican Republic)
  • Production: Limited (100,000 cigars)
  • Vitola: 6″ x 46 Corona Gorda
  • Price: $10.50 (MSRP)

Until 2017, every Room101 cigar has been manufactured in Honduras, at Camacho’s Agroindustrias Laepe S.A. factory. Hit & Run introduces a host of “firsts” for the brand, such as the first Dominican-made cigar, first collaboration with another cigar brand besides Camacho, and even the first traditional/Cubanesque-style blend from Matt Booth.

Hit & Run began shipping to a select number of retailers in early July, with larger shipments directly following the 2017 IPCPR show, where the cigars made their first public appearance. Five sizes have been rolled in a limited batch of 100,000 cigars (spread out between all sizes), with the companies reportedly being open to additional runs if demand is strong enough. Room101 has become known for their common usage of intricately-shaped salomon vitloas over the years—and there are, in fact, two figurados in the Hit & Run lineup—but the 6″ x 46 Corona Gorda appears to be another “first” for the brand (as far as we can tell).

Appearance

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The cigars are a true collaboration between Caldwell Cigar Co. and Room101, with Hit & Run absenting from listing either brand on the packaging; instead using Room101’s cherry blossom logo and a “101” symbol that displays Caldwell’s familiar bicycle spokes within the “0”. Transitioning from the highly glossed finish of Room101’s last two projects (Johnny Tobacconaut & Chief Cool Arrow), Hit & Run reverses course, showing a matte finish and distressed imperfections in the artwork. The style shows Caldwell’s influence clearly, as if Matt turned over the cherry blossom logo to have it screen printed through Caldwell’s own color palate.

The cigar’s bands carry over the same look, with a matte finish and oversized Room101 cherry blossom logo. The sub-band uses a gold foil texture and simply reads “101,” which is an interesting, nostalgic appearance, as “101” hasn’t been prominently displayed on a band since the brand’s second release, Room101 Conjura Ltd. Similarly, the sides of the band read “2017” and “LTD,” showing further resemblance to their first limited edition cigar.

Hit & Run is a much lighter cigar than fans will be accustomed to with Room101, but no stranger to followers of Caldwell. The wrapper has a toffee hue with a muted, oily sheen. There appears to be a double cap (though it could be triple), medium-sized veins, and absolutely invisible seams. The bunch is on the firm side, giving a solid feel to the cigar in the hand.

The Ecuadoran Habano wrapper emits a light and papery aroma of musk and leather. On the foot, there are notes of cedar and vegetation. With a double guillotine cut, the corona gorda shows a medium resistance with flavors of hay and spice in the back of the throat.



Smoking Experience

As with the look and composition of the cigar, smokers shouldn’t be surprised that Hit & Run tastes nothing like any Room101 cigar before it. Flavors are on the lighter side to start and take a few puffs to formulate a tangible profile, which comes in the form of vanilla, graham crackers, an almost sour-like buttermilk, and a nice whiskey buzz on the finish. Unlike the Honduran profiles of previous Room101 cigars, there is almost no zest of spice in the retrohale, instead being very refined and nuanced.

Room101 Caldwell Hit & Run Corona Gorda cigar ash

Through the first third, the cigar’s flavors are the focus, having a medium flavor output, mild strength, and just under medium body overall. Additional flavors are of white pepper (on the palate, not a spice in the retrohale), salted crackers, and orange citrus. Construction-wise, Hit & Run is spot on, with a straight burn revealing a solid, white ash, clinging in roughly two-inch chunks.

Burning further into the cigar, the experience feels very Cubanesque. It’s a profile that’s a little tricky to pin down every individual note, instead enveloping the whole palate at once. Passing the halfway point, there’s a noticeable increase of flavor on the finish, with a great cedar note lasting long after each puff of smoke is gone. It is an overall bright profile, with fresh-cut cedar, citrus, brown sugar, and somewhat of a tannin/cheek-puckering sensation that you may expect from a cabernet sauvignon. Passing the band, the cigar becomes stronger (medium-plus on all fronts) and begins to darken in flavor until it is extinguished.

Room101 Caldwell Hit & Run Corona Gorda review

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

I’ll say it outright—this is one of the best cigars I’ve tried from 2017’s crop of new blends thus far—yes, I would and will smoke this many more times. Hit & Run is very reminiscent of 2016’s Dos Firmas, which went on to receive a 93-point rating and the #3 Cigar of the Year for 2016. At the same time, I found lots of similarities to Warped’s Maestro del Tiempo 5205, which received Cigar Dojo’s #1 Cigar of the Year for 2016. Perhaps the overall experience of Hit & Run could be described as a mix between the two—not being as light and delicate as Dos Firmas, but restraining a bit from the extremely rich characteristics of Maestro del Tiempo. If you’ve experienced these two cigars for yourself, the picture painted by that combination should be more than enough to have you stocking up on this special collaboration—especially given its limited status!

On paper, I can’t imagine any of the other sizes outperforming this, the Corona Gorda, but I would certainly love to try each and every one.

  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: blonde roast coffee with high acidity, chardonnay, wheated bourbon
  • Purchase Recommendation: full box (or more)

Room101 Caldwell Hit & Run Corona Gorda cigar nubbed

Hit & Run
Matt Booth makes the triumphant return cigar fanatics had hoped for, forging a befitting partnership with Robert Caldwell and his Caldwell Cigar Company; theoretically allowing for more creative control for Booth, one of the industry's most creative/eccentric talents. The first collaborative project from the new alliance is Hit & Run, a Dominican blend made at Caldwell's usual choice of Tabacalera William Ventura. The resulting experience is a profile more befitting of Caldwell's style than Booth's, offering a palate unlike anything seen before from Room101. Subtle, refined, delicate, nuanced, Cubanesque—all can be used to describe Hit & Run. The cigar offers superior construction (0 - 1 touchups), a fantastic draw, and a bright and complex profile that evolves nicely from the beginning of each puff to the long, whiskey-like finish. There is little to be said in the way of criticisms, except the obvious gripe that the cigars will likely not be rolled again after the initial allotment is sold. Getting picky, Hit & Run could've benefitted from more of an "it factor" flavor; something to truly set it apart from other, similar-performing cigars.
Appearance97%
Burn/Construction93%
Draw94%
Flavor92%
Complexity94%
Price/Value90%
Pros
  • Refined flavors envelop whole palate
  • Great draw
  • Nice evolution of flavor within each puff
Cons
  • Limited
  • Could use more of an "it factor"
93%Medley
  • Jun

    Looks like more Caldwell than Room 101