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Presmoke thoughts:

The Room 101 Daruma has the “Sakura” flower styling from Matt Booth that I love. When I was looking at buying a new cutter earlier this year, the Xikar with the Sakura style on it was a no-brainer for me. I instantly felt that was the cutter I needed to have. I’ve been really happy with it since, though I think the blades are starting to dull and I’ll probably send it in for sharpening soon.

I’ve seen this in my local B&M several times, but the folks working there could never tell me anything about them outside of their strength so I passed them by for a while. Eventually I saw a Room 101 sampler for sale at a really great price on Cigar Bid so I picked that up.

Going into this cigar having recently smoked the Room 101 San Andres and absolutely loved it, I have high hopes for Sakura-labeled beauty.

In fact, once I start doing some looking into the name I find a variety of really interesting information. First off, apparently when these are bought by the box they come with a pamphlet that reads like this:

The single eye I have penciled in on my Daruma doll is my silent reminder that I have set a goal that is pending completion. My Daruma will become a bi-oculared character once my task is complete. I have one year in which to complete my task – and if one of my attempts should fall short of victory I will not quit, but rather try again. Because, I know that if I do not give up and my will does not falter it is never a question of “if,” but only a question of “when.” We have named our latest series after the Daruma as he symbolizes resilience – a key ingredient to our success. Use your Daruma to set a goal of your own.

Fill his left eye when you have decided what you will be committing yourself to, his right when your task is complete. As the tradition is to burn the Daruma at the end of the year, take a brief moment to ignite a fine cigar in celebration of your accomplishment.

So what’s the deal with the Daruma then? Here’s some wiki snippets I found interesting:

The Daruma doll, also known as a Dharma doll, is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism.

Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century CE. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch’an (Zen) to China. Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend. According to one tradition Bodhidharma gained a reputation for, among other things, his practice of wall-gazing. Legend claims that he sat facing a wall in meditation for a period of nine years without moving, which caused his legs to fall off from atrophy. Another popular legend is that after falling asleep during his nine-year meditation, he became angry with himself and cut off his eyelids to avoid ever falling asleep again.

The eyes of Daruma are often blank when sold. Monte A. Greer, author of Daruma Eyes, described the “oversized symmetrical round blank white eyes” as a means to keep track of goals or big tasks and motivate them to work to the finish. The recipient of the doll fills in one eye upon setting the goal, then the other upon fulfilling it. In this way, every time they see the one-eyed Daruma, they recall the goal. One explanation how this custom started says that in order to motivate Daruma-san to grant your wish, you promise to give him full sight once the goal is accomplished. This practice might also have something to do with the “enlightenment”, the ideal attainment of Buddhism. This custom has led to a phrase in Japanese translated as “Both Eyes Open”. Referring to “opening” the second eye, it expresses the realization of a goal.

In addition, the wiki page for Bodhidharma says “According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolinquan.” Very cool stuff.

 

PalateJack_Room101Daruma_001

 

Construction:

Bumpy, one prominent vein. Nicely applied cap. This cigar has a good “feel” to it, outside of the bumpiness. The wrapper has a nice texture.

 

PalateJack_Room101Daruma_003

 

Prelight:

The Room 101 Daruma has a wrapper that is a great color and very beautiful. It is a very inviting, light, leathery brown color. The label on this cigar is of course gorgeous, in no small part because of that Sakura that I love.

I smell grass on the nose, kind of like a “shiny” earthy smell. Not what I expected, but I don’t mind it. On the cold draw I’m getting a really crazy mix of plum and chocolate. It’s a very unique mix for me and I like it.

Stats:

  • Cigar Brand: Room 101
  • Cigar NameDaruma
  • FactoryTabacos Rancho Jamastran
  • Country of OriginHonduras
  • WrapperEcuador Habano
  • BinderBrazilian Mata Fina (peep the more detailed info on Mata Fina at the link)
  • FillerDominican Republic and Honduran
  • VitolaRoxxo
  • Length4″
  • Ring Gauge48
  • Costn/a purchased as part of sampler, appears retail is ~$7-8/each.
  • Where purchasedCigar Bid
  • StrengthMedium to full, though it never reached full for me.
  • Smoked2014-05-08
  • WhereIn car
  • When~8pm
  • Occasionn/a
  • Mealn/a
  • Wheren/a
  • Drink Pairingn/a
  • Link: I can’t find an official site, so here they are on CI.

 

First Third:

This cigar was more challenging to get lit than normal. It required a surprising amount of toasting the foot to get it going. My first draw is a crazy pepper blast. I should have known better, but the retro is almost enough pepper to make you cry. This cigar just maced me.

The taste soon turns to primarily toasted nuts with a very subtle chocolate taste behind it. It’s a very nice taste and quite enjoyable. Even better, the pepper spray in the retro and the taste disappears as that transition takes place making this further enjoyable.

 

PalateJack_Room101Daruma_004

 

Second Third:

 

PalateJack_Room101Daruma_005

 

In the second third we have a pretty substantial change in taste, moving to one of leather and earth. The leather and earth notes are even more pronounced on the nose, but add a bit of spice as well.

I briefly get hit with the horrendous tar taste, so I recut the cap hoping that’s gone, purge the cigar, and go along my merry way. The tar seems to be gone, but the burn has suffered a bit — coincidentally or not. I touch that up and we move into the final third.

 

PalateJack_Room101Daruma_006

 

Final Third:

The final third is similar to the second third, but we find a little dark sweetness introduced. Surprisingly for me, this is not enjoyable. In fact, the final third is just generally not that enjoyable for me. It’s burning pretty hot and, while that roasted nut taste periodically shows it self, it’s proving to be a fairly boring final third for taste. The nose, however, is nice and I’m getting that same roasted nut from earlier except now it’s more like peanut butter. Very interesting smell and from that aspect I’m enjoying it.

About halfway into the final third the smoke output rapidly decreases and I’m really fighting to keep it burning. Eventually I lose that fight, it dies, and unfortunately I don’t feel it’s worth relighting so I let it go.

 

PalateJack_Room101Daruma_007

 

Burn:

Never great, but I only felt I “needed” to touch it up once.

 

Final Thoughts:

Would I smoke another? Yes. Would I pay full retail in a B&M for it? Definitely not. If I saw these on cigar bid for a great price I’d probably pick a few up, but I really only enjoyed them enough to keep a couple around and wouldn’t be very excited to smoke another — at least in this vitola. That lancero is mighty tempting…

PalateJack_Room101Daruma_009

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