East India Trading Company Red Witch

The Red Witch was is the second line of cigars to be released under the Gurkha Cigar Group subsidiary, the East India Trading Company.  It was in 2011 when the East India Trading Company was launched.  This subsidiary has been focused around providing a premium cigar at a value price point.  At the same time, it broadens the marketing range for Gurkha by allowing them to do things that might not fit under the parent Gurkha company name.  East India Trading Company’s first release, the Wicked Indie proved to be a success.  The Red Witch follows up the Wicked Indie and follows nicely in the Wicked Indie’s footsteps.  This proves to be another excellent line under Gurkha’s East India Trading Company umbrella.

The Red Witch was announced prior to the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show and then showcased at the actual show itself.  According to the initial press release, the Red Witch derives its name from a British Empire trading ship.  In that press release, Gurkha Cigar Group Chairman Kaizad Hansotia said, “Trading ships were a vital part to the importing and exporting of goods during this era, where tobacco was one of the earliest traded goods.”

Ultimately any cigar will be judged on how good it smokes.  Let’s take a closer look at the East India Trading Company Red Witch and see what this cigar is all about.

Blend Profile

The East India Trading Company Red Witch features a multinational blend with tobaccos from three countries.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Rosado
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Nicaraguan (3 year aged from Jalapa)

Recently, there has also been a modified blend of the East India Trading Company released called the Red Witch Double Fuerte.  This blend features extra ligero and is only available in a special East India Trading Company Cargo Chest consisting of 284 cigars.  The focus of this assessment will be on the core Red Witch blend and not the Double Fuerte.

Vitolas Available

The East India Trading Company Red Witch is a box-press cigar.  The cigars are packaged 50 per box.  It is available in five sizes.  Note the perfecto and Grand XO are only sold to retailers who purchase the East India Trading Company Cargo Chest which also contains the Red Witch Double Fuerte.

Robusto: 5 x 52
Rothchild: 6 x 54
XO: 6 x 60
Perfecto: 5 1/2 x 60 (Cargo Chest Only)
Grand XO: 7 x 60 (Cargo Chest Only)

Note: The Red Witch Double Fuerte mentioned above is only available in a 6 x 56 box-press vitola.


For this cigar experience, I went with the Rothchild vitola – which pretty much is a toro size. While we mentioned the origins of the Red Witch name above, it is clear another reason for this the rosado colored wrapper.  This wrapper has a rich, red clay color to it.  I wouldn’t describe the wrapper as oily or coarse.  I also would say there is a bit of ruggedness to the wrapper.  The wrapper has visible wrapper seams and visible veins.  The box-press itself seems to be more of a slight soft box-press (with a tiny bit of rounding).  The box-press is well-packed.

The band is one that does have an more elaborate design to it – something that East India Trading Company’s parent company Gurkha is well aware of.  It features a black and white clipper clip sketch.  The sketch is surrounded by gold medallions and adornments.  The remainder of the band has red, gold, white, black, navy blue, and sea blue to it.  Over the clipper ship sketch is a red ribbon with the text “EAST INDIA TRADING COMPANY” in gold font.  There is a red ribbon at the below the sketch with the text “RED WITCH” – also in gold font.  Below that ribbon is the text “MMXII” in white font on a black background (referring to the release date).  On the lower left of the band is a white ribbon (with red trim) with the text “Fine Tobacco” in thin black font.  To the lower right is another white ribbon (with red trim) with the text “Merchants”  – also in thin black font.  Finally, the left side of the band has a design of swords while the right side of the band has an anchor design.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my cigar experience of the Red Witch Rothchild, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap.   It was then on to the pre-light draw.  The cold draw was definitely unique as I was treated to a mix of mint, natural tobacco sweetness, and some exotic pepper spice notes.  Overall, I found this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw.  At this point, I was very excited to light up the East India Trading Company Red Witch and see what this cigar would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The start to the Red Witch pretty much continues where the dry draw left off.  I was treated to notes of natural tobacco and exotic spice in the forefront.  The mint flavors I got from the pre-light draw were still present as a background note.

Around the five percent mark, a very interesting syrup-like sweetness emerged.  This sweetness holds very nicely throughout the first third and is a dominant flavor.  From time to time, you can still detect the natural tobacco, exotic pepper spice, and mint.

Late in the first third, the syrupy sweetness faded somewhat and soon became more of a complementary flavor to the natural tobacco.   The Red Witch then settled into a flavor profile of natural tobacco sweetness as a primary flavor, exotic pepper spice as a secondary flavor, and the mint notes as tertiary.  This flavor profile held on right into the final third of the cigar.

The sweetness pretty much dissipates in the last third.  The flavor profile becomes mostly earthy with some of the spice notes.  In some respects, you can save toward the end, the flavors lost a little steam.  There was no harshness at the end of this cigar. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and slightly soft to the touch.

Burn and Draw

The construction to the Red Witch is outstanding and this is reflected in the burn and draw.  Both the burn and draw were extremely low maintenance.  The burn line remained sharp from start to finish – requiring minimal touch-ups.  The ash was firm with a salt and pepper color.  There was also little in terms of flaking.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

The draw was also ideal.  I found the Red Witch to be an enjoyable cigar to puff on throughout the entire smoking experience.

Strength and Body

From a strength perspective, the Red Witch is not going to overpower you.  The strength to the Red Witch is pretty much medium for most of the smoke.  Toward the last stages of the smoke, it progresses to medium to full.

As for the depth of the flavors, I assessed the Red Witch to be a full-bodied smoke for most of the smoking experience.  Toward the end when the “flavors lose a little steam”, it mellows to more of a medium to full-bodied smoke.

The Red Witch is a cigar that will emphasize flavor over strength.  The edge for the flavor is significant for most of the cigar experience.  Even at the end where the strength and body are both medium to full, I still give a slight edge to the flavors

Final Thoughts

As mentioned in the introduction, part of the mission of the East India Trading Company line of Gurkha is to provide premium cigars at a value price point.  No doubt, the Red Witch falls into that category. The price point to the Red Witch carries an SRP $4.99 to $6.39.  While price does not factor into our assessment ratings and scores, it is worth mentioning this for informational purposes.  In the case of the Red Witch, this cigar provides an excellent smoke.  The flavor profile is definitely different from anything Gurkha has produced before.  The construction is excellent, and the overall cigar experience is enjoyable.  This is the kind of cigar that can appeal to both the novice and experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is nice cigar to have in my rotation – and one I would definitely smoke again.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium (Medium to Full at end)
Body: Full (Medium to Full at end)
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 90

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Tobacco World in Marietta, Georgia.