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It’s been a little more than 18 months since the cigar world was introduced to Mbombay, a line of cigars created by Mel Shah, the owner of Fame Wine & Cigar Lounge in Palm Springs, Calif. He debuted in June 2014 with two lines, the MBombay Classic and MBombay Maduro, before adding the shaggy-footed Mōra that August.

At the end of 2014, Shah began releasing his fourth line, called Kesara. This new line leaned towards Ecuadorian tobacco, using an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper from 2002 with a Ecuadorian Havana binder underneath that. For the filler, Shah turned to tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Peru.

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MBombay Kesara Toro Box

Kesara is the Sanskrit word for saffron.

The new line was released in three sizes, a 7 x 54 pyramid, 4 1/2 x 54 robusto larga and 6 x 52 toro, each with a sizable shaggy foot.

MBombay Kesara Toro 1

 

  • Cigar Reviewed: MBombay Kesara Toro
  • Country of Origin: Costa Rica
  • Factory: Tabacos de Costa Rica
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Deas Florado 2002
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Havana
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Peru
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $16 (Boxes of 15, $240)
  • Release Date: September 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

The MBombay Kesara is an imposing cigar with both length and girth working in its favor and the shaggy foot and sizable band loaded with detail adding even more character, partially due to the different colors near the foot of the cigar: the caramel shade of the wrapper and the chocolate brown color of the binder and filler. The cap is a cleanly applied fantail, and while the small wrinkles that are present as a result of the twisting of the tobacco aren’t perfectly smooth, the final product is certainly appealing. There’s a bit of give from head to toe in the Kesara, not soft by any means but certainly not overpacked. The first thing to note about trying to gather a pre-light aroma profile is the tactile sensation of the tobacco at the foot of the cigar; unlike a cleanly clipped foot, the Kesara’s foot has a rough finish and as such feels different as it touches my nostril. As for what it offers, the first impression is of sweet rolls or warm glazed donuts—fairly neutral but with a subtle glazed sweetness that the senses gravitate to because of both familiarity and appeal. There’s also a bit of wood and dried apple that comes out with further inspection, with the notes subtle enough to force your mind to find an appropriate comparison. The cold draw mimics the pre-light aroma almost perfectly with a sweet roll taste, subtle but noticeable and the one thing that the palate latches onto.

It takes just a quick toasting of the foot to get the Kesara going, with the unwrapped foot delivering a somewhat neutral flavor profile that isn’t overly peppery but gets its flavor from earth, a bit of wood and a hearty bread note that stays largely in the background. The burn line moves fairly quickly through the section but gives the senses plenty of opportunity to see what the cigar offers prior to the wrapper being added, which when it finally is delivers that same sweet roll note found in the cigar before it was lit. While the unwrapped foot didn’t offer any harshness or overt pepper, the addition of the wrapper seems to both smooth out the overall profile while bringing in just a bit of light pepper that adds complexity and depth to the profile. It also starts to add a bit of strength as the burn line approaches the second third, as I can feel it leaving much more of an impression with each puff. The Kesara has performed flawlessly since being lit, with no problems when it added the wrapper and plenty of smoke production.

MBombay Kesara Toro 2

I find myself struck by the mouthfeel that the smoke from the MBombay Kesara offers; while the strength hasn’t progressed much farther, I’m now getting a fairly dry and wood-based sensation from the smoke, which manifests itself in the texture of the smoke more than anything, While the flavors are very smooth, the smoke itself isn’t as much, calling to mind the experience I had with the shaggy foot as I gave it a couple of sniffs. The retrohale has also gotten a bit more aggressive, showing wood and pepper that give the nostrils a good tingle as the smoke passes by the olfactory nerves. It’s hard to find many changes through the middle section of the cigar, as it settles in early and seems geared towards staying the course of offering a dry and grain-forward profile, with touches of wood and light pepper providing complexity around the edges of the flavor and bits of hay and sweetness contributing at times as well. The burn line continues to be sharp and even and produces what seems to be an increasing amount of smoke as the burn line reaches the final segment.

MBombay Kesara Toro 3

While the MBombay Kesara doesn’t seem inclined to want to shift direction in the flavor department, at the start of its final third the cigar doubles down on what is has been offering: a slightly sweet and somewhat dry flavor profile marked by wood and grain, as well as a bit of lemon citrus coloring the ambient smoke at times. It’s hard to call it a mild cigar, though for my palate it leans that way, yet it has never lacked for flavor and has shown a bit of strength at times, putting it more in the medium-plus category for overall flavor. A slight bit of char comes into the flavor during the final two inches which throws the balance off as it skews the profile off its previously palate-friendly course without totally derailing it. Tha ash also gets incredibly flaky in the final third, with small bits blown out with each puff, and with a more than satisfactory smoke to this point, generally warrants calling it a wrap on this cigar.

MBombay Kesara Toro 4

Final Notes

  • While I love the band on this cigar, none of them came off cleanly, each doing a bit of damage to the wrapper. On one cigar, it created a small tear the proceeded to audibly get larger as I smoked it. It would seem to benefit the enjoyment of the cigar to find some sort of adhesive that is easily removed, as it’s such an ornate and detailed band that it might merit saving, or at least getting off in one piece to appreciate it.
  • The size of the band also gives MBombay a good amount of space on the back side to talk about the brand, the blend, or include links to the website and social media accounts. Given its size, the blank space feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity to connect with the consumer.
  • There were also wrapper issues not related to the band, as I had small flakes come off on one cigar.
  • The technical size of this cigar is 6 x 52, though if you stretch it out from the tip of the fantail to the end of the shaggy foot, it’s almost seven inches long. I also found the ring gauge to be closer to 54, though it’s not unusual to see a bit of variation in that category. For the record, the shaggy foot part and the fan tail aren’t counted towards a cigar’s length measurement.
  • One cigar in particular had a good amount of excess adhesive on the wrapper, something we commonly see with cigars from Arturo Fuente.
  • I’d certainly recommend having some sort of beverage with this cigar as each sample left me with a fairly dry mouth.
  • The char note in the final third was consistent but varied in intensity, from being almost too much in the first cigar to hardly being an issue in the third cigar, with the second one in between.
  • MBombay has been an advertiser on halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was just over two hours on average.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by MBombay.
  • Site sponsors Serious Cigars and Stogies World Class Cigars both carry the MBombay Kesara.
86 Overall Score

I've always been pleasantly surprised by MBombay's offerings, and the Kesara Toro is no different. It's smooth and flavorful from the start until just about the very end, and given the variance I've seen just in these three cigars, I'm inclined to think the char I got on one cigar might be more exception than rule. There's no denying the price isn't going to sit well with everyone, but that's about the only thing holding this cigar back from being a no-brainer to pick up when you see it. While I woudn't have complained about a bit more depth and complexity, the Kesara isn't lacking in flavor and has enough strength to satisfy pretty much everyone but the most ligero-craving smoker. Assuming you have some sort of beverage to pair with this cigar and keep your mouth from getting too dry, this works from morning until night and shows that MBombay is headed on the right track.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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