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For its most recent line, MBombay focused on the uniqueness that comes with using tobaccos from a single farm, in this case, a 70-acre plot of land in Ventana, Ecuador that the company says it has leased since 2008.

The first crop was planted in 2009, and since that time the tobacco has developed into a usable option for the company, in this case by way of a line called MQBA, which is pronounced em-kyoo-bha. The cigar is a bit of a rarity as Ecuadorian puros are rarely seen, as the country is generally best known for its wrappers but not as much for fillers, let alone having offerings that could be rolled into a cigar of single-country origin.

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MQBA is offered in four sizes.

  • MBombay MQBA Torpedo (6 x 52) — $14.29 (Boxes of 24, $342.96, Four-packs, $57.16)
  • MBombay MQBA Toro (6 x 52) — $14.29 (Boxes of 24, $342.96, Four-packs, $57.16)
  • MBombay MQBA Nikka (6 1/2 x 42) — $12 (Boxes of 24, $288, Four-packs, $48)
  • MBombay MQBA Diadema (7 x 56) — $16.59 (Boxes of 24, $398.16, Three-packs, $49.80)

Released at the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, all of the sizes are offered in boxes of 24, as well as in a smaller format for gifting. The Diadema comes in three-count packs, while the other vitolas are presented in packs of four.

Also of note is that the cigars come bearing a secondary band indicating that they are part of the company’s Vintage Reserve line, which launched in 2015 with the Kēsara Vintage Reserve Nikka and then added the Vintage Reserve Lancero 1973 in 2016. The series is centered around tobaccos of a certain vintage as opposed to the non-vintage approach that the majority of the cigar industry uses for its regular production offerings.

  • Cigar Reviewed: MBombay MQBA Torpedo
  • Country of Origin: Costa Rica
  • Factory: Tabacos de Costa Rica
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Ecuador
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Torpedo
  • MSRP: $14.29 (Boxes of 24, $342.96, Four-packs, $57.16)
  • Release Date: October 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The MQBA Torpedo certainly looks like a fairly typical cigar with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper; its lightly-tanned, almost golden hued wrapper leaf matches well with the colors used on the band, which looks like it has a bit of copper to it. One sample has some odd chips to the wrapper, making me wonder if the wrapper wasn’t completely sound when being applied or if something happened to it along its journey. The cigar is evenly firm from top to bottom, with a bit of give and seemingly rolled well, with very clean seams and a well-formed head. The foot has a very complex aroma, with sweet butter, floral notes and a bit of pepper, all light and bright in the nose. The cold draw can be a bit firm, notably with the air flow feeling a bit squeezed as it passes through the narrowed opening, though I wouldn’t say it’s worrisome. The flavors are quite mild, with just a bit of buttered white bread and its associated sweetness, but no pepper or complexity.

While the initial puffs aren’t loaded with pepper or big flavors to command attention, they do develop steadily in the first few minutes after the cigar is lit, particularly a mix of white and black pepper that wakes up the senses quite efficiently. There’s a bit of creaminess to be found as well, though it’s not the MQBA’s dominant characteristic. I’d peg the strength at mild-plus thanks to some peppery accents, but overall it’s a fairly subtle beginning with no technical problems, two traits that stay with the cigar throughout the first two inches. The cigar also burns beautifully, with an easy draw, even burn line and plenty of smoke.

There’s not a lot of change at the start of the MQBA Torpedo’s second third, and that’s not a particularly bad thing. While it isn’t the pepper bomb or flavor symphony that some smokers might fancy, the relative mellowness is appreciated and enjoyable, especially as the first cigar of the day. One thing that is helpful in getting the most out of the cigar is regularly retrohaling the smoke, as there are more pepper and body to be found through the nose than there is strictly on the palate, with a more complete picture of the cigar delivered via this combination. By the midway point, white pepper is still dominating most of the profile, with pinches of black pepper adding some heavier notes but not as much sensation. The profile is edging closer to medium-bodied thanks to the increased pepper, while some dry, woody undertones are helping that journey, though it still feels like a cigar on the mellower side of the spectrum for my palate. The final inch of the second third sees another step forward in strength, though not a pivot in flavor. if anything, it feels as if the cigar is distilling its core flavors and shedding any excess and reducing the profile to a more concentrated version.

At the start of the final third, the cigar is at its most pepper-forward and now has a more even mix of black and white pepper, whereas the profile had been more white pepper dominant. I think I’m detecting the first touches of char on the wood, as it has pivoted a bit and is now a bit more biting on the tongue. During the first two samples I smoked, within just a few puffs the cigar makes a significant departure from its previous path and quickly gets rough and aggressive on the palate, with one sample turning sharp, sour, chalky and metallic, a profile that is both immediately off-putting and hard to figure out given how well the flavor had been progressing otherwise. The third sample does not show nearly the same levels of the off-putting flavors, but does let the black pepper get a bit out of balance, though the result isn’t as negative as with the others. The final puffs increase the aggressiveness though in various amounts based on the sample but still bringing the cigar home with a rough, turbulent landing after just about 90 minutes.

Final Notes

  • From what I have seen, the smaller gift boxes are much more elegantly designed than the boxes, with the former prominently featuring the same design found on the band, while the latter is largely a plain wood box with a small version of the band’s design.
  • I’m a bit intrigued by the thought to release two 6 x 52 vitolas, one in a parejo and the other in a figurado, but I’m more intrigued to know which one ends up selling better. I tend to lean to parejos rather than torpedos or belicosos, but I’d be interested to know if the market does the same.
  • While not a new release at the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, MBombay also featured its Classic Torpedo, which was getting a widespread release after being released exclusively as part of a sampler in January 2018.
  • I can’t say there is much in the way of nicotine strength from the cigar, though the rapid change of the cigar’s flavors in the final third provide plenty of shock to make up for it.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by MBombay.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 30 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. and JR Cigar carry the MBombay MQBA Torpedo.
82 Overall Score

One of the hardest things to account for is inconsistency among samples and what that does to the final score and any recommendation that might be offered. After the first two samples, I would have said that the MBombay MQBA Torpedo is a decent smoke until the final third when it should be put down almost immediately, and if that was an acceptable proposition to give the cigar a shot. The third sample has me a bit more optimistic, though still guarded in my recommendation of the cigar, while the cumulative thoughts are murkier than I’d like to have in order to sum up this cigar. I’d still take the first two thirds almost without hesitation, though the impending shift towards harshness and funky flavors just don’t inspire me to give this a glowing endorsement. This cigar could have been quite have good from start to finish, yet its derailment in the final third really hurt its score and overall impression. If you’re willing to live with a suspect final third, give it a try; otherwise, there are plenty of other cigars in this profile that don’t seem to suffer the same fate.

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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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