Over the past couple of years, Room101 Cigars has been resurrecting some of the brands it had on the market from the days when Davidoff was handling production and distribution. This year at the Total Product Expo 2023 Trade Show, Room101 Cigars (now a part of Forged Cigar Company) showcased a new iteration of the Room101 Daruma. This was a cigar brand that was released over a decade ago. When Room101 owner Matt Booth split from Davidoff, the Daruma went on hiatus. This year, the Room101 Daruma has made a return -albeit on a limited basis. This iteration of the Room101 Daruma features a new look and a new blend.
Daruma was influenced by Booth’s time in Japan. A Daruma is the Japanese name for the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma – considered to be the father of what is known as Zen Buddhism. Daruma dolls are modeled after Bodhidharma. Daruma dolls are small papier mache figures used in Japan, often symbolizing perseverance and good luck. Room101 Daruma is the first major project by Room101 since it was acquired by Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG). When the re-release of Daruma was announced, Booth explained how the release was tied in with Room101 moving forward as a part of STG.
“The return of Daruma symbolizes the relationship with STG and Room101 moving forward. It represents the opportunity for Room101 to spread its wings, which has always been our goal. And just as goals change and times change, Daruma has evolved. The Daruma of 2011 would not be the Daruma of today. The blend is correct and appropriate for now and begins a new chapter for both Daruma and Room101. This cigar is exactly what it needs to be and gives people exactly what it needs to give them. Light up a Daruma and celebrate how far you come and set a course for your next big adventure.”
Without further ado, let’s turn our attention to the 2023 edition of the Room101 Daruma cigar and see what it brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The 2023 edition of the Room101 Daruma features all Nicaraguan tobaccos. This is an entirely different blend from the original 2012 release of the Room101 Daruma. Production for the Room101 Daruma comes from a factory that both Room101 and STG do not work with frequently – TABOLISA. This is the factory owned by Oliva Cigar Company.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
The Room101 Daruma is offered in one size – a 6 x 50 Toro. The cigars are presented in ten-count boxes.
The Room101 Daruma comes wrapped in tissue paper and paper wrap. We’ll discuss more of that later in the “BANDING AND PACKAGING Section.” When the paper is removed, one can see the roasted coffee bean color of the Nicaraguan wrapper of the Room101 Daruma. Upon closer examination, some mottling can be seen on the surface of the Daruma. This wrapper has a slightly silky complexion to it. There are some thin visible seams as well as some visible veins. The cigar is finished with a covered footer.
A straight cut was used to commence the cigar experience of the Room101 Daruma. Once the cigar cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The pre-light draw combined classic wood, cedar, earth, and mineral notes. Overall, this was not a very enjoyable pre-light draw. Since the pre-light draw is not included in the numerical score or value rating, there was no loss of points here. At this point, it was time to toast up the footer of the Room101 Daruma and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Room101 Daruma opened up with white pepper, classic wood, cedar, coffee, and mineral notes. Early on, the classic wood and coffee notes moved into the forefront. The cedar, pepper, and mineral notes settled in the background. During the first third, some unsweetened cocoa notes entered the forefront. The retro-hale had a dull (not sharp) black pepper note. The pepper notes did get sharper throughout the smoking experience.
As the Room101 Daruma moved into the second half, the cedar notes increased and moved into the forefront, joining the coffee. The cedar pretty much eclipsed the classic wood notes, which dissipated. Meanwhile, the unsweetened cocoa note receded into the background, joining the pepper and mineral notes.
The final third saw the cedar notes become the sole primary note. The coffee receded into the background, joining the pepper, mineral, and some of unsweetened cocoa notes. Of these primary notes, the pepper was the most prominent. This is the way the Room101 Daruma came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
For the most part, the Room101 Daruma maintained a straight burn path. However the amount of touch-ups needed was somewhat excessive. Throughout the smoking experience, the burn line had some jaggedness on it. The resulting ash wasn’t overly firm, but it wasn’t loose or flaky and was nearly white. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both maintained ideal levels.
The draw performed exceptionally well on the Room101 Daruma. This was a draw with a touch of resistance to it – which I like. At the same time, this was still a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
For the most part, the Room101 Daruma delivered a medium strength, medium-bodied smoke. There was not much in the way of variance in the intensity levels of the strength and body. The body maintained the edge throughout the smoking experience in terms of strength versus body.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
While Banding and Packaging is not factored into the score. There are several points I want to make here.
First, as much as I like the tissue and paper wrap over the cigars, I don’t see this as retailer-shelf friendly. This is because it hides the cigar. Personally, I think consumers want to see the cigars they buy.
Second, the black and gold color scheme is confusing. This is because there was an offshoot of Daruma called Daruma Gold during the Davidoff days. Daruma Gold featured a gold-colored packaging scheme. Much like the 2023 edition of Daruma is not the original Daruma, it is also not Daruma Gold.
I don’t understand the obsession of using black and gold packaging across multiple lines. In the past few months, we have seen Johnny Tobacconaut and the Sancho Panza Limited Edition all feature black and gold – complete with the tissue and paper wrap. To me, it’s creating confusion among the lines. At a minimum, if tissue and paper wrap are used, I’d like to see different colors. The bottom line is that I know STG and Room101 can be more creative here.
I was pretty excited to see what type of cigar Oliva would deliver for Room101. Unfortunately, this cigar simply did not hit the mark. This cigar fell short of expectations except for a few glimmers of hope early on. While there were no negative flavors, there simply was no wow factor. In the end, this is a cigar that I would recommend trying a sample of first before deciding whether to make a purchase.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Classic Wood, Cedar, Earth, Mineral, Chocolate, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop