When Matt Booth burst onto the scene a few years ago with his Room 101 cigar brand, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. And based on what I heard in the rumor mill at the time, I wasn’t alone. I saw the flash and style, but my gut told me that might be all there was to it, a slick Asian-inspired counter culture image. And then I tried the cigar.
I don’t think it’s a secret I didn’t like the original Room 101. At all. And I tried. I met Matt Booth, and he struck me as a good guy, and surprisingly down to earth. Like everyone who takes the risk of entering the industry, I wished him well, and decided not to make a big deal about disliking his cigar. Based on the reception, it spoke to some people, I just wasn’t one of them. And so I wrote off the brand assuming it would fade with the buzz.
But it didn’t, and Matt didn’t give up on cigars and retreat to his successful sterling silver jewelry business. He spiked his hair and came out with a couple new cigar lines. Curiosity, and the cool packaging of his limited edition Namakubi got the best of me, and I gave it a shot. And you know what? It didn’t suck. It didn’t suck at all. I had another when they hit the shops, and that one didn’t suck either. Intrigued, I decided to spend a little quality time with the cigar and write a review.
Symbolism is an important part of the Room 101 brand, so much so the website even has a page dedicated to explaining the symbols and imagery. As you may have already heard, the name Namakubi means “freshly severed head”, which is a reference to Samurai culture, specifically, the presentation of the heads of the vanquished to the leader of the victorious. (Heads, much like donuts, are best served fresh, it turns out.) I suspect that it may also be a subtle reference to either the clipping of the cap (or head) of a cigar, or, maybe a bit of a stretch, the challenges of a cigar’s creation which culminates in honoring the consumer with the head (or best) of the tobacco. Or simply, the cigar is a celebration of success. Whatever the intended meaning, Jerry found out for sure it definitely doesn’t mean “pimp head”.
Though very limited, the Namakubi is still available in a few shops around the country, in the following sizes: Papi Chulo (4 x 42), Roxxo (4 x 48), Tiburon (6 x 44) and Sucio (7 x 48). I like the look of the “pretty boy” (i.e. Papi Chulo) and picked it for this review. Now let’s get to it.
Size: 4 x 42
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano
Binder: Honduran Generoso (proprietary)
Filler: Dominican and Honduran Vuelta Abajo
Smoking Time: 1 hour
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $6.00
The blood-red and black band on Namakubi Papi Chulo certainly is an eye catcher, even if the diminutive size makes it a little easy to miss in the humidor. The slightly reddish brown wrapper on the cigars I smoked for this review had a few medium sized veins, and were a little rustic looking.
I found no obvious surface flaws, and the cigars felt firm and well packed with tobacco. The wrapper had a faint woody compost aroma, and a sweet, cedary cold taste that gave no indication of future draw problems.
With the exception of some minor burn line wandering, the Papi Chulo smoked flawlessly, and produced solid, sturdy light gray ashes. The draw was also perfect.
The Papi Chulo begins with a slightly musty cedar and spice profile with a rich, syrupy feel that really characterizes the majority of cigar. While it lacked major flavor transitions, there were changes over the course of the short smoke. The first half had a touch of sweetness, that at times reminded me a little of ginger. The sweetness faded midway, with pepper stepped in to take its place. By the end the cigar had a pronounced pepper and cedar flavor.
With the fan base Room 101 has, and reasonable price of the Namakubi line, I’m a little surprised these haven’t sold out yet.
My initial impression was right on the money, the Namakubi Papi Chulo most certainly does not suck. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it a great deal, and will be a little sad when the last of them disappear from shop shelves. It’s little flavor bomb that’s reasonably priced and ideal for those occasions when you want a cigar, but don’t have much time. If, like me, you were not a fan of earlier Room 101 releases, now’s the time to forget about that and get a little head. A freshly severed one, that is.
Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.