I was recently contacted by Mel Shah, owner of Bombay Tobak /MBOMBAY. Mel wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing his Kesara cigar which is one of a number of cigars the company offers. Having seen a lot of social media activity on MBOMBAY, I was humbled that he would want my opinion and of course I replied positively. A few days later I received a package that contained three MBOMBAY Kesara Torpedo #2’s. I was immediately impressed with the art work on the outer sleeve of this gorgeous cigar which brought back fond memories of my visit to India a few years ago. We will touch on that at the end of the review.
Speaking of Mel Shah, he graduated from North Maharashtra University before he moved to sunny California in his early twenties. Mel worked hard in industry for a while before opening his own cigar lounge – Fame Wine and Cigar Lounge – in Palm Springs California. His love of cigars did not stop there as he finally branched out in 2014 with the founding of Bombay Tobak/MBOMBAY. One thing I learned from my visit to India is the great determination and work ethic the folks I met had. From what I know of Mel Shah he too has that determination and his following is nothing short of amazing.
On with the review…
The blend of the Kesara Torpedo #2 is:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder – Ecuador
- Filler – Peru and Dominican Republic
The MBOMBAY Kesara is available in 8 vitolas:
- 7.5 x 54 (Pyramid)
- 9 x 47 (“A”)
- 6.5 x 52 (Toro)
- 6 x 58 (Salomon)
- 5 x 58 (585)
- 4.5 x 54 (Robusto Large)
- 5.1 x 44 (No. 4)
- 6 x 52 (Torpedo No. 2)
I sampled the Kesara Torpedo No. 2 for this review which was provided to me by Mel Shah from Bombay Tobak/MBOMBAY.
It was an early Saturday morning on the Stogie Press deck; the sun was just rising and took out the MBOMBAY Kesara #2 torpedo to start the day. The word Kesara is an expression of a woman’s spirit. Thinking about that I chose to cue up some Aunushka Shankar to fill the air with wonderful sitar sounds. Aunushka is the daughter of Ravi Shankar the famed Indian musician.
As the music played and my dog Ziggy chased the squirrels and morning birds, I examined the Kesara which is adorned with a large colorful outer sleeve that resembles classic Indian tapestry. There is also a closed foot on this cigar, gently twisted and pressed flat.
The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper is a light tan and virtually veinless. Giving a little sniff I don’t pick up much pre-light aroma. It is difficult to do a dry draw as a result of the closed foot so onto igniting this beauty and see what kind of spirit she has. I sliced it to open up just about 1/4 inch of the head and fired it up. The closed foot opened right up giving me a perfect draw of fruit and spice. The spice was gentle but long on the finish. I also picked up a splash of cedar and a bready aroma.
Like the sun rising over the palm trees in the yard, the wrapper begins to develop a nice shine to it. The retro-hale is as smooth as the sounds of the sitar playing in the background. The developing white ash rests on a thick char line of a perfect burn line and there is excellent smoke production at this early point.
The spice takes a prominent role in the profile by the end of the first inch and the ash holds tight. I should have removed the outer sleeve first but like playing the game “Operation”, I gently lift the sleeve over the ash with a steady, hand revealing the hidden band that simply states MBOMBAY. The ash fell after an inch plus, I guess the operation didn’t go as planned.
There is subtle touch of nut that enters and so far the Kesara is mild to medium smoke – a good start of the day.
As it moves into the next third, the strength moves up a notch as a delicate citrus joins the spice. The Kesara is not complex, but so far it is quite delightful. The ash picked back and held on for a solid third and the burn has been spectacular.
Moving into final third there is a caramel aroma that appears and a slight wave on the burn that eventually found itself. Notes of cinnamon and fruit fill out the profile at this point.
Overall the MBOMBAY Kesara Torpedo #2 is one of those hidden gems of a Connecticut wrapped cigar. Mel Shah has done an excellent job with this cigar. The construction was pretty much spot on. I will save the last of these to age and smoke it again in a few more months to see if there is an aging quality to it. I would certainly pair this with a morning cup of coffee or afternoon chardonnay. If it was the last cigar of the night a good highland malt Scotch would bring out some of the fruit that is in this.
Total smoking time was about 90 minutes.
And now for a little trip to India.
India is a country with rich traditions and history. I feel blessed that I was able to visit and partake in some of these traditions.
My trip took me to Mumbai and Pune which is about 350 miles south of Vadodara, the home city of Mel Shah. The road from Mumbai to Pune was eye opening as you drive from the Arabian Sea east through the Maharashtra state over some deep ravines and through some interesting country side.
I recall driving over this one ravine where wild monkeys perch on the guardrail.
We wanted to take some photos and rolled the window down only to be told by our driver not to do that, as they will jump in the vehicle hoping for food. Good thing we had a driver during the visit.
Our visit to Pune was chocked full of work and of course after work cultural experiences including an amazing traditional Indian dinner complete with a tour of Fort Jadhav Gadh, hookah smoking, and a classic Indian dance show.
Of course a visit to Pune is not complete without a stop at the Hard Rock Café. It features a magnificent statue of Freddy Mercury from Queen.
For those that don’t know, Freddy spent most of his childhood years in India especially Mumbai. His parents were Parsis from the Gujarat region of the then province of Bombay Presidency in British India. I had to mention that being a huge Queen fan and of course Mel Shah was from the Gujarat region also.