This review takes a look at the Gaaja, the latest release from Bombay Tobak owner Mel Shah, a wine retailer in California who entered the cigar industry a couple of years back with his MBombay line. The Gaaja (pronounced : Gaa-ya) is a Sanskrit word meaning elephant, and is the first box-pressed offering available in the Bombay Tobak portfolio.
CIGAR STATS: The Gaaja, produced at Tabacos de Costa Rica, features tobacco from four different countries, including a portion of the filler from Paraguay. From their press release:
“We had been working on the blend of Gaaja for more than 4 years. The process involved in logistics and long fermentation of tobacco from countries like Peru and Paraguay, really tested our patience. We had to wait for 3 vintages of the Hybrid Connecticut wrapper leaf for the perfection we wanted. As the elders say, “patience pays off”; hence Gaaja.”
The Gaaja uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut Desflorado (variety Hybrid Mejorado 2004) for the wrapper, an Ecuadorian HVA Seca Mejorda for the binder, and a combination of Perúvian Hybrid Habano (Seco), Ecuadorian criollo 98 (Viso), Paraguayan Hybrid Habano 2000 (Viso), Dominican criollo 98 (Viso) and a Dominican HVA Mejorado (Ligero) for the filler. The 6 x 54 box-pressed toro is the only size offered and is available in 24-count boxes for $15.50 per stick.
APPEARANCE: The wrapper is medium-to-light brown, silky smooth and is adorned with a simple yet colorful band that features artwork created by Mel Shah’s better half.
THE SMOKE: The Gaaja starts off with lots of white pepper that quickly transitions to herbal notes with a cedar and tobacco sweetness playing out in the background. Floral notes add to the sweetness which balances nicely against the white pepper that is still in play at this point of the review. The last inch or so is a combination of natural tobacco and an overall earthiness that makes for pleasing finish to this well-constructed, evenly burning stick.
VERDICT: The Gaaja is easily my favorite blend produced by Mel Shah and Bombay Tobak. Appropriately, the strength never leaves the medium range, allowing the flavors, complex and well-balanced, to shine through. For more information about Bombat Tobak cigars, visit: www.bombaytobak.com – Jason Zahner