PROLOGUEThis ain't the oldest blog out there. It's well under a year old and its cigar focus is even a tad younger than that. From the beginning, however, I've wanted to write a review of Mr. Shah's beautiful offerings. So when he called me to do so, I was on cloud eight. It's like cloud nine, but with more Donald Trump supporters and less ethical barbers... nothing is perfect. Except for just maybe --
Ecuadorian wrapper & binder
Peru & Dominican Republic fillers
7 1/2 x 54 (at its widest shaggy foot)
Courtesy of MBombay Cigars and Mel Shah.
PRE-LIGHTThe now famous and dare I say iconic Persian rug inspired 2 1/2" wide band rips upon removal, as does the more normal yet same intricate background patterned under-band. So much for memento collecting. The band, the pyramid shape. The shaggy foot. I feel so far from home. It's a feeling I've grown accustomed to.
Cats out east in my Brooklyn roots respond to being called by a "psss psss psss" sound. Here out west, they are called with a high-pitched rolling of the tongue. It's a regional thing. Sack/bag, pop/soda, Teeth, no teeth (Howdy to my W. Virginia, now former readers) ... But this exotic stick is even more foreign than mere regional dialect. I refuse to judge it on that, however -- lest Donald Trump's policies begin to speak sense to me and I begin building literal and figurative walls. I went through a phase, years ago, of smoking beedis -- I'm reminded of them as I roll this MBombay offering in my hands and wonder as to what sound I'd use to call it over.
As I roll it about, I first notice its imbalance of weight due to obvious reasons of shape. Then I notice the uber smooth hand-feel of the even complected cocoa with dollop of cream complected wrapper. There is a greenish undertone to it and nary a vein to be seen, and none at all to be felt. Seams are tight if not invisible and even. The shaggy foot introduces a lively red. Squeezing the stick, it shows a -medium firmness and evenly so.
Schnoz time yields very mellow tobacco from the shaft with a light, sweet hay backing. There are hints at mild exotic spices. At the shaggy foot, I pick up additional subtle red spices and a sweet note of vanilla. I clip the cap and a cold pull gives me sweet vanilla and warm red spices and I don't normally single it out, but in those red spices, I'll say Saffron. Hey, if the stuff is good enough for Pharaohs to use for ceremonial washings prior to entering sanctuaries and other consecrated places -- it's good enough to mention here. Especially since this cigar is named for it. The cold draw really emphasizes the odd shape, as you know right away that some smoking needs done prior to allowing the thing to comfortably hang from yer smoke-hole. It's a bit like pulling from a pipe, actually -- regarding a steadying hand. The draw gives just the very least bit of resistance. Another cold pull shows a green herb undertone.
LIGHTToasting the foot, which I leave untrimmed, lets loose sweet grass notes with a floral backing and maybe a slight trace of macadamia. First hot draw gives a hay backing that features sweet green herbs and grasses and mellow spices. The finish has a bit of raw sugar to it. Second hot pull is retro-haled to the addition of sharper spices, but no pepper and a heightened greenery that hardens to a fresh cut wood. A third hot draw shows a light cedar moving in with some cream.
Mouth-feel is very nice, sweat and creamy but light and not sickly. Profile this early seems -medium. Burn is surprisingly even off the near inch of shaggy foot. Draw is -medium. Smoke, cool and kind. Foot-smoke is of medium+ output with a fresh hay aroma. Room-note is all that and a vanilla hint. The smoke actually looks creamy -- but don't ask me to explain. I'll allow the cumulus clouds around me to field any follow-up questions you might have.
ACT IAs the shaggy foot ash clumps off expectedly, a new savoriness is added and I smack my lips. Wonderful balance of sweet and savory here. The finish is mainly a sweet one and of medium length but amping up. A couple of pulls into this segment and it settles into a hardwood/cedar one/two primary punch of deceiving complexities. Hardwood is a still fresh almost green oak that grows from sweet green grass and fresh hay. Cedar is sweetened with vanilla roasted cream notes. These meet in the finish, now of medium length that is at once sweet and fresh. Wonderful mouth-feel. On a retro-hale, the green notes launch into dried and roasted herbs and the cedar picks up a seasoned note.
Construction holds well and the burn is mainly even and when not, is self correcting. Burn-line is medium+ thickness. Ash is pale to dark grey in an even-ish ratio and quite flaky -- I lay out my schmatta across my lap.
As the opening act closes, herbal notes come in on the draw, as well and head straight to the vanilla cream. The two flavors dance, taking turns with the lead. The backing is a wonderfully mellow and inherently sweet tobacco that begins to spin off a nicely brewed blonde coffee note.
Profile is medium. Body is a light yet complex creaminess where herbs and vanilla hold. Draw resistance has upped a tick to medium. A slight crack in the wrapper shows near the cap, but is cosmetic only. Ash clumps off as I set the MBombay carefully in the tray. It exhibits a more oily feel than I expect but is still quite powdery. Foot-smoke's output slows but its characteristics remain unchanged. Coffee moves closer to the front; green stuff downs a notch.
ACT IIGreenery doesn't mute for long and re-emerges on a sharper pine needle note. A whole grain and toasted bread gets intoduced as a nice under-note. There's a white pepper, albeit slight, on the retro-hale now. Sugar cane note builds some steam and all flavors roast in balance. Ash again misses the inch mark and its construction is unchanged but a tad warmer. Profile-wise, we're at medium still, but body ticks up to + on a denser mouth-feel of heightening vanilla and thickening sugar cane. A draw consists of those notes and a seasoned cedar with a hardwood going to the further back. Finish is sweet spices from the draw's end and a coffee, blonde, with cream and sugar.
Even with the up-ticking, this Kesara is a very mellow smoke. It is, though, just shy of smooth on account of complexities and a building retro-hale of sauteed white peppers. At the midpoint, a touch-up is required, as half the stick decided to not hold lit. A suede note comes in as we head into --
ACT IIIA cup of joe stirred with a leather spoon. There is now a walnut vibe to the finish as it all becomes a tad less sweetened. Then, just as quickly, green comes back in and all that was a late-ish yet impressive transition. The roasting remains in a very cool temperature and the vanilla rises. We're back to a cedar vanilla cream affair, but in a more mature and only slightly less complex manner. White pepper rises to near forefront. Coffee hides. The walnut was but a dream. Sweet spices lead from the back and more exotic spices carry to the finish which meet a creme brulee served in cedar bowl and torched perfectly. It's a long finish now and the profile rises evenly to a medium+. Not you, strength. Yer still a medium. Evenly balanced, nonetheless -- and superbly so throughout.
Construction remains the same firmness as ever and always, no small feat for a pyramid. Smoke output at both ends hits a sweet and mellow crescendo. Grassy notes come on heavy and sharpen the profile and finish in a cleansing sort of way. Burn squirrels a good bit but corrects sans re-touch. A slight crack appears just ahead of the burn-line but smokes through cleanly.
Ends on a very herbal note sweetened by vanilla and laced with sandalwood. A sandalwood foot-note is at the conclusion, as well.
NOTESI wish the ash held. Complex but easy to enjoy. Exotic but not foreign. To answer my question at the onset of my prattling on, it'd most likely answer to the same call as does a "Merica" cigar. (Which sounds a lot like me begging my wife to use our Visa card.) Although it might accidentally speak using the metric system on occasion. Charmingly foreign. Calls the trunk of its car the "boot." Aw.
PAIRINGSA white wine would be nice. A Chai tea, perhaps. 2.37 deciliters of blonde coffee. Practically begs to be paired with any kind of Rum.
I am back from my exotic adventures and require a cheeseburger, fries, and slice of American Pie. AMEN. The stories I can tell. First, a nap.