Bombay Tobak M.Esteli | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican (Piloto Cubano), Nicaraguan
Size: 5 x 54
Strength: Medium
Price: $6.95



Today we take a look at the Bombay Tobak M.Esteli.

BACKGROUND:
According to Cigar Aficionado (August 30, 2019):
“Bombay Tobak, best known for its MBombay and Gaaja cigar lines, has shipped its most full-bodied brand to retailers nationwide. Called M.Esteli, the new line debuted at the PCA trade show this summer and started shipping to cigar shops last week.

“According to brand owner Mel Shah, M.Esteli is medium to full-bodied, and his strongest cigar to date. It’s rolled with an Ecuadoran Habano 2000 wrapper over a Dominican binder and a filler blend of mostly Nicaraguan tobacco with some Dominican Piloto Cubano as well.

“M.Esteli comes in three sizes: Robusto, measuring 5 inches by 54 ring gauge; Toro, at 6 by 54; and Torpedo, 6 by 54. Priced at $6.95 to $7.95, every cigar is made with an uncut foot. They ship in bundles of 30; but are presented at retail in a tray that displays all three sizes.
“Like all Bombay Tobak cigars, M.Esteli is produced at the Tabacos de Costa Rica cigar factory in Costa Rica.”

APPEARANCE:
This is a delicate and fragile stick. The wrapper is thin and prone to cracks. But I like the color. In the sunlight, the oily wrapper reminds me of a 1941 Ford Woodie.
It has a closed foot.

One thing very noticeable is that this cigar is not 5” long as described. It is barely 4.5”. I have a few and they all measure the same; more or less, but none come close to the 5” mark. How odd. I will go from thirds to halves for this review. I consider this a major issue for their quality control. Either that or all the press releases sent out to reviewers made an error.

Seams are tight but lots of stray veins looking for a way home. The triple cap is kind of a mish mosh of lumpy and bumpy applications changing from one cigar to the next. There are definite hard spots and desires more resistance as I massage the stick. I’m concerned with construction issues before I light up.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Aromas are on the light side: floral, milk chocolate, malt, cappuccino, black pepper, cedar, and some creaminess.
The cold draw presents flavors of cedar, cocoa, peat, barnyard, pepper, and caramel.

FIRST HALF:
As hard as the cigar is, the draw is clear and wide open. No need for my PerfecDraw adjustment tool.

But the cigar feels very light as it dangles from my lips. Methinks this will be a quick smoke.

Nice flavors expel from the cigar to my palate immediately: Black pepper, wonderful creaminess, chocolate, espresso, malt, caramel, and cedar.
Some complexity kicks right in. Nice surprise.
Strength is an easy going medium.

I smoked my first one a week in. Wrong thing to do…flushed a decent cigar down the commode. I am nearly one month with this baby and its night and day.

The burn reflects the poor construction. It is a wildfire gone mad. I’m hoping I don’t find myself chasing the burn line throughout the duration.

Smoke begins to pour out of the foot like something inside the cigar is on fire. A continuous plume of smoke rises 8” into the air. Now…I’m afraid. Could this be one of those cesium plants affected by terrorists from Northern Sweden?

I’m going to stick my neck out at this early juncture…I believe this cigar’s main attraction will be its creamy caramel flavor.
It’s much milder than I expected. Still, for a $7 boutique stick, it’s not bad. Just no ball busting explosions of depth.

It’s burning quickly as predicted. The cigar is sorely underfilled. One dead lift of the cigar’s weight and you will know this before lighting up.

The depth and complexity are that of a child from a lesser god. Sort of like the little engine that could…huffing and puffing and maybe getting there. But at this rate of burn, the cigar may run out of track.

Creamy caramel with some kick from the black pepper. A touch of malt. Some minor sweet entries. Not a lot of savory qualities which causes the blend to be a bit off kilter.
It does improve with each puff; but I don’t see this blend making a dent in the cigar forums.

A pleasant cigar. That’s the best I can do. I do not taste any lurking masterful potential at play. If I had blind taste tested the cigar, I wouldn’t have a clue who made it. And I would say just another inexpensive catalog brand.

A slight contradiction as the spiciness is potent but the cigar’s strength remains at medium.

It would be an ED fixer if in the second half, this blend really took off. I’m not holding my breath. Although, I’m much better at holding my breath now as I took up smoking weed 2 years ago after a 35-year hiatus. Just got to train, that’s all.

SECOND HALF:
Didn’t take long to get here. About 20-25 minutes.

The flavor profile does not linger. Moments after placing it down, the finish disappears. Transitions are disappointing. The character and depth just aren’t anything special.

Bombay Tobak got lazy with this blend. And it is overpriced. While in today’s market, $7 is not a lot, this cigar is more in line with a $4-$5 stick. Construction is sloppy. Sometimes I wonder how a cigar really gets to market. Bombay Tobak ain’t no slouches yet this cigar is more of a stain than something to be shouted about.

Strength actually reduces to mild/medium. I do believe this is a first for me.
The complexity begins to wane considerably. There is some citrus showing up for the first time. But nothing you can sink your teeth into. It is a dessert cigar blend. It does not challenge the palate or the brain. I’m pretty sure extended humidor time ain’t going to fix it.

It won’t take long for the Bombay Tobak M.Esteli to end up on sale on your favorite discount online stores. The number $3.50 comes to mind.

There is zero progression of the blend’s integrity. It was more complex during the first puffs than it is now as it enters its final phase. This does not bode well.

I was wrong about the burn line. It has held its own for nearly the entire cigar.
But the draw and resistance are too loose for me. It might be the cause of the lack of meatiness to the blend. It has no heft.

The lemon citrus becomes custardy thanks to the inherent creaminess.

With time, the black pepper should calm down but at this point, it is the only potent ingredient.
So, what went wrong with the Bombay Tobak’s blending team? How did this cigar pass muster? I have no fucking idea. These guys are not idiots and they have to know this is a basically a mediocre blend not worthy of splashing their name on it.

I mentioned earlier how delicate the wrapper is…well, now it is disassembling on me with 1-1/2” to go.
What a major blunder by Bombay Tobak. Too bad. We all bought the PR.

Man, once word of mouth hits the forums, this cigar will die an untimely death. But then maybe the bigger two sizes would have done better. Being half an inch shorter than it should be was a big red flag. Maybe they counted that you would unfold the closed foot and it would give you that extra bit of length. Sort of a reverse circumcision.

It is now a waste of your time and mine to continue any further. The cigar is not going to mystically improve at this point. So, I’m done.

RATING: 77

And now for something completely different:
Skip Behind the Wheel…

I had just passed the audition. A band was being formed around the famed violinist, Darryl Way. On drums was Stewart Copeland. On guitar was Mick Jacques. Our singer was an American named Butch Hatcher. And me, on bass.

We called ourselves Stark Naked. A band in the Berkeley area had that name and since Stewart had gone to school there, he remembered that name. So, he suggested it. After all, we were 5000 miles away.
We rehearsed in Miles Copeland’s house in St John’s Wood. A block away from the famous EMI Studio…or Abbey Road Studio.

Stewart got himself a bachelor flat about 5 doors down from the studio. We would sit on his stoop, smoking hash, and watch the tourists risk life and limb trying to get that famous Beatles’ crosswalk photo. But drivers rarely slowed down and it appeared to be a sport to see how close they could come to running them down.

Our first gig got booked in Nottingham. The money was lousy but Miles supplied us with equipment and roadies….sort of.

Nottingham was a couple hours’ drive north. Butch Hatcher got his best buddy to roadie but we needed one more. I asked my best friend, Skip, if he wanted to make 10 Quid? He said yes. Skip never roadied and took the gig for fun…and the $25.

The two roadies drove a huge lorry with the equipment. Neither had driven a stick on a big truck…let alone drive on the left side of the road. Skip learned on the job. He was a complete wreck on arrival.

There was no freeway to Nottingham so one had to take the “A” roads through towns and neighborhoods.
Not only had he not learned to drive a stick, but he had to do it with his left hand and backwards. Apparently, there was a lot of screaming during the trip.
Meanwhile, the band was driven to the gig by our road manager.

The gig went really well. Butch had worked in carnivals in the Southern U.S. And he knew how to spew fire from his mouth. We decided to add that during our encore. As the band played furiously, he turned his back to the audience, slathered some Vaseline on his lips and chin, and then squirted lighter fluid into his mouth. A lot of lighter fluid.

He turned around. His buddy lit a torch for him and Butch held it to his mouth and out came fire. The crowd went absolutely bonkers. He did it a couple more times because he liked the applause.

The band was on Cloud 9 afterwards and decided to hit a restaurant for food and drink. Back then, most restaurants closed by 10 and it was only the Indian and Chinese places that stayed open til midnight, so we had to hurry.

The roadies had a couple hours of packing…plus the horrifying drive back. Only this time in pitch blackness. There were no streetlights then. You took your life in your hands driving those A roads in total blackness.

I still remember the look on Skip’s face when I told him I was going with the band. He was crestfallen. I wanted to stay with my best friend, but the band expected me to come with them. I was new to the band and this was not the time to act out. Butch had no problems with saying nighty night to his buddy.

The next day, (we lived in the same flat); Skip would not talk to me. I didn’t blame him. I felt pretty guilty and apologized.

We did several more gigs as Stark Naked but when I asked Skip if he wanted to roadie again, he politely told me to go fuck myself. A short, but brilliant, career as a roadie.

During a band rehearsal, Darryl told us that there would be a 3-month hiatus. Apparently, his old band (Curved Air) had one record deal to finish. They owed Decca Records an album so the decision was to put all of the original members back together and do a tour and record it giving them a live album. The easiest way to get that commitment out of the way.

And as Darryl finished telling this, he looked at me and said, “Kohn. You are going to be our bassist.”
Just like that.
I had no idea what he was talking about or what I was getting myself in to.

And now for something completely different Part 2:

February, 1975, the day after my 25th birthday, and the huge LSD fest we had the night before still lingered in our blood stream.

We had our first gig of the European tour in London. Most tours were 7-8 weeks long. We’d take a month break and hit it again. I went crazy in that month. Once you’ve tasted the exhilaration of playing live, improvising, and the audience…well…it’s an addiction.

You wander the city or drive all day from gig to gig. But you live for those 2 hours on stage that night.

The band Renaissance had also taken the same acid as my bandmates. Another Miles Copeland band with a lead singer that was a chick; Annie Haslam. While her band was a bunch of regular guys who smoked the ganja like us, Annie did not.

Apparently, the potent dose of Berkeley California acid that Stewart passed around was too much for the Renaissance guys. They were too fucked up the next day to do anything and ended up canceling their first gig of the tour that night in London.

Of course, Curved Air members were tough fuckers. What’s a little LSD to idiots like us. We went on stage that night, high of course, and did 5 encores.

Now I didn’t hand out the acid. Stewart did. But it was my birthday party and the dumb bitch Annie decided it was my fault that they had to cancel their gig. Miles was furious with Stewart and the boys in Renaissance.

Just before going on that night, Stewart decided to smoke a huge bowl of hash. Well, there were consequences to pay for that. It brought all that LSD rushing back.

We had the same boring set list every night. No spontaneity whatsoever. Just one night it would have been nice if Darryl called out a different song. But no. It was deemed by the All Mighty that we did the same songs in the same order every fucking night.

Throughout the 2-hour set, Stew kept doing long extended drum solos. Not only when they were designated, but during the songs. Stewart Copeland would go on to be a beloved drummer by the masses once he was in The Police. But while in Curved Air, he was an out of control mad man.

The violinist and guitarist did a lot of woodshedding by trading riffs during the instrumental breaks. Darryl would play 4 bars. Mick would play 4 bars, etc.

Stew would do a Keith Moon through the whole thing and the boys couldn’t find “1”. The first beat of the bar. They were completely lost because of Stew’s incessant soloing through their solos.
They were just completely lost and couldn’t find the beginning of each bar. I saw Darryl, the violinist, give Stew the stink eye a’ plenty.

But Stew was as high as a kite. He didn’t care. After all, his brother was our manager. And he was hooked up with the lead singer. So, his place in the band was secure.

I had to save the day. Instead of me playing what I would normally play, I hit quarter notes with the emphasis of hitting the 1 at each new bar. This allowed the boys to find their way back to the start of each bar.

After the gig, in the dressing room, Darryl fired Stew.
This was nothing new.
Stew got fired every week. Yes, the drummer from The Police got fired weekly.
But since Stew and Sonja were an item, Sonja would threaten to quit. This happened over and over. It got very tiring.
It basically gave Stew carte blanche to do whatever he wanted.

It was at this concert, that at the end of a song, Stew raised his arms to signify that the song was about to end and then bring his arms down with a flourish on top of the kit. But the acid threw him off his balance and he fell backwards off the stage.

Most stages were 6-8 feet or so off the ground. But even farther on the back side.

The roadies always stored the drum cases behind the stage and drum riser. The drum riser was about four feet tall making it about a 10-foot drop to the stage floor. Fortunately for Stew, the drum cases broke his fall as he tumbled through them; all the way to the floor.
Sonja went running backstage to see if he was alive. We stopped playing.

He jumped up with large dinner plate sized eyes, and said he was alright…meanwhile, blood dripped from his forearms where he scraped long layers of skin away from the drum case latches.
He jumped back on stage and we finished.

The audience, of course, loved it thinking it was part of the show.
The entire couple years I was with the band, we never did a gig where we weren’t high on hash or weed.
But this night was a most memorable experience.





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