MBombay Gaaja | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Hybrid (Connecticut Desflorado & Mejorado 2004)
Binder: Ecuadorian HVA Mejorado Seco
Filler: Dominican HVA Mejorado Ligero, Dominican Criollo 98 Viso, Ecuadorian Criollo 98 Viso, Peruvian Hybrid Habano, Paraguayan Hybrid Habano 2000 Viso
Size: 5 x 50 Robusto
Strength: Medium
Price: $12.50

Today we take a look at the MBombay Gaaja. I know all you hip smokers have already tried this cigar ages ago which makes me the last guy on the planet to follow suit. Bear with me and I will pay for an all expense paid 3 nights, 1 day vacation in Ukraine for you and whichever beloved individual you are willing to give up once you become hostages.

I was excited when I first saw the cigar. As I’m half blind from excessive masturbation, I thought it said “Ganja.” Imagine my surprise when I got the cigars home.

BTW- I voted last week and discovered that Wisconsin has a referendum to legalize marijuana. Jubilant. Relief. And then I remembered that Wisconsinites still think this is the 1950’s. Brain damage from wearing cheeseheads that are too small. I’m not holding my breath…hopefully, it becomes legal before NASA lands humans on Mars.

Released 2016
Regular production
From Halfwheel.com:
“Mel Shah of Bombay Tobak has embraced his heritage in all of his cigars, naming lines and vitolas for Sanskrit terms. For his latest cigar, which he has said is its own stand alone line, he once again reaches into Sanskrit for Gaaja.

“Pronounced GUY-yuh, the new line’s name comes from Gaja, a word which has roots in Hindu mythology and refers to the elephant, a symbol frequently seen in that religious tradition. The elephant is a teacher and symbol of patience, which Shah felt was appropriate for this cigar release as he began working on in it in 2012.

“The four year development process was done with the goal of making a cigar that offers plenty of flavor but not overpowering strength, and Shah has tapped into tobaccos from four countries to achieve his goal. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian hybrid, while the binder also comes from that country. For the filler, Shah used tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and one country not often seen on blend lists: Paraguay.

“Shah said that the leaf of Paraguayan habano hybrid tobacco was used as much for body as anything, though it helped to preserve the sweetness of the Dominican criollo. It also helps to develop the mouthfeel of the smoke from the Gaaja.”

Robusto 5 x 50 $12.50
Toro 6 x 54 $14.00
Torpedo 6.5 x 54 $15.50

Rarely do we come across a really beautiful cigar. The wrapper is golden and so smooth that you want to rub it all over your face. No seams visible. Veins? What veins? A gorgeous squared off cap. A crisp box press. And a cigar band that is right out of the Jimi/Janis era making me feel quite at home. Lastly, construction seems spot on with the perfect amount of resistance consistently throughout the entire stick.

Aromas are defecating all over my palate…rich milk chocolate, malts, molasses, big notes of red pepper making me sneeze, espresso, cedar, barnyard, vanilla/lemony sponge cake, cumin at the clipped cap, strong banana, luscious creaminess, buttery pistachio pudding, and salted caramel. Whew.

Right on moon doggies and kitty kats…the draw on the Gaaja is as clean as a spring day in the Arctic.
Let’s carry on…

I should mention that I’ve had a couple Gaajas for a few months so it’s good to go.
First out of the chute is a simple touch of vanilla, caramel, butter, malt, red pepper, ripe banana, lemon sponge cake, and cedar. A nice sweetness permeates the entire blend.

Not a single person I know nor any of you my dear readers have the curse I possess. Every box pressed cigar burns terribly for me. To this day, I’ve not figured out what it is that I do that causes this. I require a touch up early on.

Strength is very mild.

The leaf stats are mind boggling and impressive. Normally, you see this in an $18 cigar…although this stick isn’t that far off from that number.
Considering how many months I’ve had this stick and the price point, it should come out swinging. It isn’t. Just another slow moving target.

This cigar is not going to be a flavor bomb. It is planning on being understated and mild bodied. For nearly $13, I want it to pull on my pecker while whistling “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

An inch in and things perk up. Complexity arrives unexpectedly. Transitions haven’t kicked in nor is there much of a finish. But flavors are now more pronounced and individualized. Creaminess, butter, spice, lemon, malt, cedar, and a lovely sweetness are the main contributors to the flavor profile.

I will now shamefully eat my words. The MBombay Gaaja is kicking into high gear. The first bit of blah-ness was just a tease and the cigar warming up. Now it has all the earmarks of a high premium. The arc of complexity is impressive. Even the missing transitions make their move. The finish is now behaving with a nice chewy insistence.

And hallelujah, the char line is totally on my side; not showing any burn problems.

This is exactly what I was expecting from yesterday’s review of The T. Connecticut. But it never climbed out of its ditch dug by its 3 blenders. The Gaaja is a far superior semi-Connie blend.

Flavors are all over the place. So complex now that it is difficult discerning those individual components as the whole supersedes the parts.
A perfect morning cigar.
Strength hits a solid medium.

A wonderful sweetness seeks refuge among the other flavors. Made up of various elements like caramel, vanilla toffee, custard, a touch of sweet tea, and chocolate covered raisins.

Instead of rushing, I slow way the fuck down and just take a couple of puffs every couple of minutes to allow my palate to settle down between each puff so as to excite my mouth with each re-introduction.

With 137 leaf ingredients, this ain’t exactly a bona fide Connie. So, I shall throw that hypothesis out the window. All those exotic ingredients are doing their job in making this a super complex blend.

I’m so tired of seeing a decent cigar going for $12 these days. Ezra Zion seemed to have started the whole michegos with their weekly releases of the best cigars they’ve ever blended; and every one of them costing $12 a pop. That’s a lot of dough for a single cigar. Now all the new 2018 IPCPR releases seem to be treading water in nothing but double digit price points. Absolutely absurd and greed merchant mentality.

There are so many choices out there since the trade show this summer. And most are not cheap. I get so many emails from readers thanking me for reviewing a $7 cigar because most of us just can’t stock up on expensive cigars. Unlike the cigar forums where members get to show off their collection of 4000 cigars in some sort of George Jetson standing humidor, the rest of us have a couple or so humidors and must be cautious about price.

Yeah, The Gaaja is a great cigar. For nearly $13, it better be. But to be honest, I’ve lately reviewed some inexpensive cigars every bit as good: Crafted by JR Jaime Garcia, Aganorsa Leaf Connecticut 2018, Southern Draw Cigars 300 Hands Habano, Flatbed Cigar Company Track 7 2:46, and Camaleon Huevo de Oro. You should check these out. Great cigars for a reasonable price.

At the halfway point, the MBombay Gaaja is soaring like a hungry eagle. And I just noticed that I put on my boxers backwards last night. A lot of things make sense now.

Here they are: Malt, creaminess, lemon custard, molasses, caramel, butter, cedar, milk chocolate, espresso, raisins, sweet tea, and banana.
Well-rounded, smooth as ice, ridiculously complex, transitions performing 24 pickup, a lovely chewy finish, balance is spot on, nuanced, and soothing. I’m at peace.

If you haven’t smoked one in a while maybe this is the time to revisit the Gaaja.

I know most reviewers agree that price should not be factored into the outcome. But c’mon…you know that’s ridiculous. If I’m smoking a $13 cigar that has its rivals for equal quality among $7 cigars, I’m going to take that into consideration. And I will probably opt for the less expensive cigar that expresses what my palate enjoys. But in order to keep up with reviewers who get sent truck loads of free cigars from manufacturers, I will have to keep reviewing overpriced sticks.

The Gaaja is a real joy to smoke. Strength moves up a notch to medium/full.
The spiciness is now all black pepper. And has become much stronger than earlier reports.

Nicotine begins its journey to eating my brain.
The quotient of price vs. quality is a conundrum. The problem with a not so cheap cigar is that we all expect superior quality. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when it delivers. Although, I have a long laundry list of $17 cigars with massive leaf stats that fell flat on their faces.

One constant that does not disappoint is the ever-present sweetness of this blend. Not overpowering but lays down a nice bedrock for other flavors to play upon.
Chocolate moves to the forefront. And the creamy banana element with a topping of caramel and whipped cream is all I can think of at this point.

Most of the products from MBombay aren’t cheap. But you can taste a whole lotta passion in each blend. Consistency is their main frame. I wish I could afford to stock up on their blends as they make for great treats; but spending over $60 for a 5 pack is only for special occasions.

I need to update my lists for great cigars in two different price ranges. While I love the Gaaja, it doesn’t fit into either category I’ve set up with certain price parameters.

As the cigar begins to come to a close, an unpleasant bitterness appears that it unwelcome. It changes the trajectory of the blend.
After a couple minutes, the bitterness is on the wane and we are back to normal.
If you have a few bucks you don’t need and can hide it from your wife, I recommend trying the MBombay Gaaja. It’s a good, solid blend. And it doesn’t shame itself for being overpriced.


And now for something completely different:

A little reminiscence from the late 1980’s while Charlotte and I still lived in California. Fullerton, I believe.
She mentioned this to me and it all came rushing back.

I was maybe 38. We had a two-year-old daughter. And I was working for my dad who didn’t pay me shit as a structural steel project manager at his own shop in Orange, Ca.

Meanwhile, his partner, Arthur Bagatourian, (Called Bag-a-bullshit by the contractors because he never kept his word.) hired his own son a few years later and paid him more than twice what I got paid. My dad had no spine. And this young man, who was maybe 24, knew NOTHING about construction or steel. Another time maybe for that story.

Anyway, I worked three jobs to make ends meet. Charlotte stayed at home to be with Katie. I was in total agreement.

We had a neighbor who had a 4-year-old boy that was a living terror. You know the type. Mom never says no. Let him be who he is. And the tragic part is that she was a single mom who spent every bit as much time at work as possible to avoid dealing with her son who was stuck in daycare 12 hours per day….Arrgghh.

She talked us into babysitting him one night when she said she was going out to dinner with co-workers. She didn’t show up til the next morning totally unapologetic.

We knew why she needed a night out without Beelzebub. This little boy just screamed non-stop for hours and hours. He ran around our small apartment knocking shit off the walls, off the tables, etc. He tried to break every one of Katie’s toys.

It was the first time in my life I thought euthanasia was a good idea.
Anyway, I got off track.

I worked my main job. I got work as a structural draftsman but not at home. I had to drive to the guy’s shop and work there.

And I was a Pinkerton security guard. Back in 1988, the money wasn’t bad: $10.00 an hour ($21.31 in 2018 dollars).

I turned out to be good at what I did because my I.Q. was more than 80 and so I got some decent posts that changed a lot as was needed. I never said no to a last minute request.

My boss, who was younger than me, talked me into applying for a carry license. Back then it was crazy. You had to take the test and apply twice a year. It took 6 months to get approved so you were always 6 months behind.
I got better gigs after I got to wear a .38 revolver. $12 an hour. I had my own Taurus .38 that was a pretty good gun. But they gave me something made in the 1940’s. I felt like Barney Fife.

Then they wanted me to work in a bank on Saturdays. Something like 8am-2pm.
The bank was in downtown Fullerton..
A really boring gig. I just stood around and said hello to customers or sat at an empty desk and looked mean.
But patrons couldn’t see my gun if I sat down so I mainly walked around the bank with my chest stuck out.

Then it happened. Two banks of the same name got robbed nearby and they killed the Pinkerton guard immediately.

Charlotte told me I was no longer allowed to guard banks. I got her to concede just to finish the month up. She reluctantly agreed.

Sure as shit…
In came two guys in ski masks screaming and waving pistols.
I saw them as they were opening the door and I immediately hit the silent alarm.
They didn’t see me as I was on the opposite side of the bank. But 3 seconds later, they saw me.
I was behind a corner at the end of a hallway. Gun drawn.

I had my own .38 with 4” barrel at home and went shooting all the time. So, I wasn’t scared enough to shit my pants. I saw that they had pistols, not revolvers. Gulp. More bullets than me. I would have to reload much sooner.
We screamed at each other to put the guns down. Patrons and employees were on the floor. Women were crying too loud and the gunmen screamed at them to shut up.

No shots were fired. But I was ready.

It took less than 2 minutes for the cops to arrive. They stormed the entrance and shot the two fuckers dead with shotguns upon entrance. They don’t do that shit anymore.
I yelled who I was and I had a gun.
I threw the gun away from me; unloaded.
And I walked out with my hands up.

The bank manager immediately identified me to the cops so they left me alone.
I was stuck there all day while they did interviews.

Meanwhile, the bodies of the two bad guys lay there the whole time. The cops asked if I could identify them so I walked up to take a look. I said no.
And then I spit on both of them and squeaked: “You mother fuckers! I have a family!”
One cop cracked up and asked me to spit again.

Needless to say, that was the last time I did a Pinkerton gig with a gun.
And I do believe it was the start of my back problems.

Two years later, we moved to Phoenix and went back to Pinkerton. This time I found myself guarding watermelons all night long. It was really hot and I wasn’t allowed to stay in the refrigerated warehouse with millions of watermelons.

I would make my rounds once an hour and grab a watermelon. I found a place I could hunker down and cracked the melon open with my knife. Since watermelons were plentiful, I only ate the hearts where there were no seeds.
I had no napkins and ended up having my duty shirt completely covered in watermelon juice. When the next guard showed up, he would always ask what happened to me. I never responded.
That gig lasted about a week. No more guard work.


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6 replies

  1. W-o-o-o–w. Glad you made it past the cops arriving. Not fun seeing those guys storming the door, no matter whose side you’re on.

  2. Just another day in the life of your average cigar reviewer.

  3. I wonder how many of these kids got the Spinal tap reference? Great review as usual.

  4. Well now…..
    I love great cigars…but who can afford these crazy prices?
    Actually that’s a good question. The way I do it is to order up 15 or 20 cigars at a time. I find the expensive gems…say like Bespoke Daughters
    And they’re not discounted much but…I combine other packs in my order and maybe they’re throwing in say a Padron if you buy more than 150 bucks worth
    Add that to the total amount of cigars divide the total after discount and low and behold.
    .My cigars cost an average of $7.58 a piece. That’s 20 cigars.4 Bespoke and 1 Padron and 15 other great cigars.
    That’s the only way to fly. Yes…you have to be vigilant. .waiting for the right discount but again. ..persistence pays off. The average Joe triumphs. Life is good and cheaper.
    I use small batch mostly to do these deals because of the excellent service.


  5. Hi Richard,

    First off – thank you for the supporting us!
    We truly appreciate it, please feel free to drop me an email at vlada@bespokecigar.com.

    The DoTW Pyramide wasn’t discontinued, the Small Batch Exclusive series was a small number 5 year aged Pyramides that we made a store exclusive (along with the boxes).

    The regular ones are still available through (average of 3.5-4 year age on those ones) which Phil reviewed some time back.

    We ran into some issues of simply not being to source the tobaccos used in the original blends any more, so instead of taking the easy way out by using something similar and saying “Ehhhh, close enough”, we decided to reblend them.
    Like the old adage goes: “Good is the enemy of great.”
    So we tweaked the new blend for almost 6 months before we landed on the final one, we had to do a TON of tastings(i can hear the tiny violins playing for me already).

    Phil should be getting some new ones to taste soon (waiting on my samples to arrive currently).

    In addition, we will be adding a more affordable Robusto (9.25 MSRP) to the line called the Pony.
    It will be available in 10 count boxes to make easy for people who loved it after the first puff. 🙂

    Thanks again for the support!


  6. For $13, I will pull on your pecker while you whistle “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. Or is it ME that does the whistling? Or maybe your pecker? I’m lost. Never mind. There will be no whistling. And now I want $15.

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