It’s a tale as old as time—man ventures into the darkness of space in search of exotic leaf—man exploits said leaf in the form of premium cigar—man discovers he’s not alone and pays the consequences for his negligences.
This is the barebones version of Room101’s latest project, featuring a narrative that has unraveled to become a bit more intricate than originally anticipated. The brand surprised consumers in 2015, switching gears from their Master Collection series to the offbeat imagery of a cartoonish astronaut, bouncing over space craters in search of “The freshest, most metagalactic & flavorful tobacco the cosmos have to offer!” This was the concept behind 2015’s Johnny Tobacconaut, a limited edition project that offered a twist on the American imagery of Johnny Appleseed.
It was unclear at the time what would come of this unique concept, but Room101 again surprised consumers in 2016 with the cigar’s followup: Chief Cool Arrow. The series is now dubbed the Artist Collection Series, adding a second character to the expanding universe created by the eccentric vision of brand owner Matt Booth. Matt’s enigmatic rendering of the cigar’s origin never seems to begin or end in the same place, producing more questions than answers—each more entertaining and/or perplexing then the last.
Chief Cool Arrow Ranflajo Breakdown
- Wrapper: Mexican Ligero
- Binder: Honduran (Camacho Original Corojo)
- Filler: Pennsylvania Ligero | Estelí Ligero | Piloto Cubano
- Factory: Agroindustrias Laepe S.A. (Honduras)
- Production: Limited Edition (1,500 boxes of 20 cigars)
- Vitola: 5½” × 30 × 50 × 19 “Ranflajo” (figurado)
- Price: $13.50
Chief Cool Arrow mirrors the style of Johnny Tobacconaut—20-count, high-gloss, black boxes—three, identically intricate, figurado vitolas—individually tissue-wrapped and bound in black paper sleeves. The changes come in a new, pearlescent, cool blue color scheme (replacing the copper of JT), the new Chief Cool Arrow character, and a completely new blend. The tissue/paper wrapped cigars, as well as the three intricate shapes, are fixtures in the Room101 portfolio; used throughout their most special projects for years.
And while Room101 retains a familiar lineup of vitolas, they’ve never been constrained to the vitola’s titles. The sizes have gone through many name changes to suit the project. For JT, there was Fileroid, Ranflactic, and Chingonova. The sizes now take on the Native American tone of CCA, offering Filerokee: (4½ x 52 x 45), Ranflajo (5½ x 30 x 50 x 19), and Chingonomo (8 x 60 x 44).
Where the blend of JT was Nicaraguan puro, CCA introduces a much more diverse, multinational experience from a whopping five countries. This is highlighted by the uncommon usage of ligero leaf on the wrapper (most recently seen with the Whiskey Rebellion 1794). Combined with the cigar’s filler, CCA is ligero-heavy (the most intense priming from a tobacco plant), used in three of the five listed varieties for the blend.
After unfurling the various layers of tissues and paper protection, which primarily serve as eye candy, the Chief Cool Arrow Ranflajo emerges. The shape is impressive as usual, carrying a medium-dense bunch and a weight that feels slightly light for it’s size. Most noticeable is the toothy, sand paper texture of the wrapper—exactly what you’d want from a cigar that touts a ligero leaf in this critical component of the blend. The leaf is scattered with veins, including one or two light-colored, prominent channels. The seams are also very noticeable, with an interesting seam that ran completely horizontal around the cigar’s foot—like you’d expect at the cap—likely a feature of this individual cigar.
While the boxes showcase the Chief, smoking his peace pipe and carrying JT’s head/helmet under one arm, the cigar bands are much more clean. Here you’ll find a primarily black band, using a satin finish that is absolutely gorgeous (wait, is there a manlier word for that?). This is highlighted by the same pearlescent blue from the cigar’s box, reading “Chief” “Cool” “Arrow”, with the words stacked and vertically centered. This is contained within a sleek, rectangular shape, with Room101’s cherry blossom logo on the backside.
The cigar’s Saddle Brown hue is complete with loads of black pepper and cedar aromas. The pre-light draw is predictably tight, giving subtle, musty notes.
The cigar’s ring gauge at toast is only 19, which quickly expands to 50 within an inch. This makes for a fairly snug draw at start. Nevertheless, the smoke output outpaces the draw, giving brash notes of black pepper spice; which is very sharp in the retrohale. Loads of zesty cabinet spices can be found, lead by the familiar black pepper. The combination is almost too sharp for a good retrohale, forcing me to exhale 25% out the nostrils and the rest over the palate (I’d prefer a ratio that’s reversed).
Of course, the ring gauge quickly expands, bringing a medium resistance draw and slightly more smoke. The ash is stark white and tightly stacked, although the burn line becomes more than wavy—bringing a quick touch-up. And it isn’t just the construction that shifts with the ring gauge—there are notes of anise, steak sauce (yep), and a subtle sweetness building on the finish—reminiscent of custard or nougat. The strength is a tic under full, the flavor medium-plus, and full overall body. The strength builds quickly, bringing a warm and tingling sensation in the lower throat and chest.
From the point after CCA reaches its 50 RG, to the following two inches, you will find the cigar’s sweet spot (in both senses of the term). Friendlier, sweeter notes replace the fiery retrohale from before. Added flavors are of hickory barbecue sauce, sweet cedar wood, aromatic spices, and an acidic, black coffee note on the finish.
The end of the second-third takes the profile to “full” on all counts. The flavors return to the spice and herb qualities from the cigar’s beginning—not as sharp, but more complex—finishing with wild herbs, anise, camp fire smokiness, and bitter/acidic qualities.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
No problem. Chief Cool Arrow has all the sexy allure a craft fanatic craves—fun backstory, limited in production, intricate vitola, and top tier presentation. Unfortunately, this is also reflected in the price point, making it more of a fun sampler buy (although the packaging itself is just about tantalizing enough for the full box purchase). This is definitely a nighttime smoke—it’s fiery and a lot of fun—jolt your taste buds awake and pair with a high gravity Belgian Quad and it’ll no doubt be a fun experience.
- Smoking Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Belgian Quad
- Purchase Recommendation: 5-pack
- Visually stunning
- Flavors in second-third are a must-try
- Above average smoke output
- Tight draw at start
- Two to three touch-ups