In March of 2012 — nine years ago — Cigar Press magazine featured a small group of what have typically been referred to as boutique cigar makers that had taken the industry by storm. Pete Johnson of Tatuaje, George Rico of Gran Habano, Dion Giolito of Illusione, Jonathan Drew of Drew Estates, John Huber of Crowned Heads all joined cult jewelry maker, Room 101’s Matt Booth, on the cover of Cigar Press magazine with the headline “The Unusual Suspects.”
All six of these fledgling cigar makers have followed divergent paths to continued success while countless other companies have entered and left the industry. Of the six, Matt Booth may have taken the most interesting path along the way.
The Room 101 brand started as a custom jewelry manufacturer after Booth finished his service to our country as a US Marine. His LA based jewelry operation has a cult-like following, finding their wares on the fingers and around the necks of rappers, athletes, actors and even chefs over the years. And, as a passionate cigar lover, Booth extended his wildly successful brand name to a line of cigars in partnership with Davidoff.
While successful, the partnership with Davidoff didn’t last and Booth stepped away from the cigar industry for a brief time. Before the split, Room 101 had built a solid following — much like Booth’s jewelry business, his cigar brand had built a solid cult-like following as well.
Room 101 cigar devotees demanded Booth spread his wings and revive his dormant brand, dusting off the cobwebs and firing up the cigar factories once again. Ever set on giving his fans what they want, Booth heeded the call and brought new cigars to market once again.
During Booth’s time with Davidoff, he introduced a line named The Big Payback. This value priced premium line was Booth’s “Thank You” to his loyal customer for all their support (the payback) and it was very popular. When the Davidoff partnership dissolved, so too did Booth’s cigar lines, including The Big Payback.
As Booth rebuilt the Room 101 cigar line as a standalone venture, he once again felt like he wanted to thank his loyal customers and he reintroduced The Big Payback.
While the initial Big Payback line was available in funky sizes, with funkier names, the second act has embraced standard names and sizes — Robusto, Toro and Gordo. And, in addition to the original Maduro blend, Booth added Robusto, Toro and Gordo sizes in Connecticut as well.
Keeping the retail prices reasonable — $6 to $8 range with MD tobacco taxes included — is a huge part of the concept of being a “payback” to Room 101 fans. More important than the price is that these cigars be better than anything else in the same price range. Both the Maduro and Connecticut blends are in stock now at Chesapeake!
The Big Payback Maduro
The Big Payback Maduro is made for Room 101 at General Cigar’s Honduras American Tobacco S.A. factory. Wearing a deep and delicious Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, this dark & oily leaf is laid over a Connecticut Shade binder and fillers from Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. The medium-full bodied, spicy flavor profile will have you sitting up and paying attention, but still exhibits smooth notes of cream, leather, and cocoa to make for a truly relaxing and interesting experience.
The Big Payback Connecticut
Produced at the venerable Joya de Nicaragua factory, The Big Payback Connecticut is wrapped with a flawless Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf, and features a Mexican binder and packed with Dominican fillers. Mild to medium in body, this blend features creamy notes of coffee, hay, cedar, and soft spices to make this a balanced treat for any cigar enthusiast.