At the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, Mel Shah and Bombay Tobak showcased a 5 x 54 box-pressed Robusto size to its Gaaja Natural line. The Gaaja was a new brand by Bombay Tobak that was released in 2016. Bombay Tobak is best known for its MBombay line of cigars. Gaaja would become Bombay Tobak’s first box-pressed cigar. The blend itself is quite unique as it is highlighted by the use of Paraguayan tobacco. Today we take a closer look at the Gaaja Robusto. Since I was introduced to the Gaaja line last year, I’ve not only found this to be a unique blend, but one that is quite enjoyable. The Robusto is no exception as it lives up to the high standards set by this blend.
As for the name Gaaja, it traces back to the Sanskrit name “Gaja” (pronounced guy) which means elephant. Gaaja was a project that Shah worked on for four years – and one where he took a slow and patient process to develop the cigars in the brand, thus the connection with the elephant.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Gaaja Robusto and see what the cigar brings to the table.
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Ddesflorado, Variety Hybrid Mejorado 2004
Binder: Ecuador HVA Seca Mejorada
Seco: Perú Hybrid Habano
Viso: Ecuador Criollo ’98, Paraguay Hybrid Habano 2000, Dominican Criollo ’98.
Ligero: Dominican HVA Mejorado
The hybrid wrapper is a combination of a Connecticut Seed crossed with Cameroon grown in Ecuador using the Desflorado technique. This is a technique that involves removing the tobacco flower resulting in nutrients being passing to the leaves; which in turn results in more flavor. There were three vintages of the wrapper produced. Vintages from 2002 and 2003 were considered until finally the 2004 vintage was chosen.
The Paraguayan viso is definitely something different. For the most part, Paraguayan tobacco is used in cigarettes. The flavor imparts of an herbal note with less spice.
In terms of the Peruvian tobacco, that is a staple across the whole MBombay portfolio as it also is found in the other five lines.
There are three sizes in the Gaaja Natural line. The Robusto is packaged in 14-count cedar boxes.
The Gaaja Robusto follows suit with its Toro and Torpedo siblings delivering an exquisite wrapper. The Ecuadorian wrapper is smooth with a light brown color to it. Depending on how the light hits the wrapper, it might give off a slide reddish hue. I didn’t find much in the way of oil on the surface of this wrapper. There were a couple of thin visible veins and any wrapper seams are on the thin side. The box-press is firm with no soft spots.
The band was designed by Shah’s wife (who designed the other MBombay bands). With the Gaaja band, it is a departure from the Indian mosaic style band found on the other five MBombay lines. The band features colors to represent the four elements: Red (Fire), Gold (Earth), Green/Blue (Water), Dark Blue Swirls (Wind). The left and right side of the band is gold with blue trim. On the left side of the band is the text “Bombay Tobak” in red cursive font. The right side has the text GAAJA: in red print font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I normally do, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap of the Gaaja Robusto. After the cap was removed, it was time for the pre-light draw ritual. The dry draw delivered a mix of classic wood, cedar, and natural tobacco. While all of the Gaaja Natural cigars have delivered a very nice pre-light draw, I found the Robusto size delivered the best one. At this point, I was ready to light the Gaaja Robusto and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The Gaaja Robusto started with notes of natural tobacco as well as some of the blend’s signature notes – namely cedar and herbal notes. Early on the cedar notes became primary while the natural tobacco and herbal notes settled in the background. Meanwhile, on the retro-hale, there was a nice combination of cedar and black pepper.
During the first third, the natural tobacco remained the primary note. As the Gaaja Robusto moved through this stage of the cigar experience, the natural tobacco developed a lemon-like sweetness to it. Simultaneously some cream notes developed and floated between the forefront and background. In the more distant background were the herbal and cedar notes.
As the Gaaja Robusto moved into the second third, the cream and herbal notes increased in intensity and by the midway point, they moved into the forefront as the primary flavors. While the cedar, natural tobacco and lemon sweetness were now secondary flavors, there were times these notes still crept into the forefront.
The final third of the Gaaja Robusto saw the blend’s signature notes – the cedar and herbal combination, as the primary flavors. There still were notes of natural tobacco, cream, and lemon that kept things interesting. This is the way the Gaaja Robusto came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch but cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
For the most part, the burn line and the burn path remained straight on the Gaaja Robusto. The cigar required a few touch-ups along the way, but this didn’t prove to be a high maintenance burn. The resulting ash had a salt and pepper color. The ash wasn’t overly firm, but it was far from loose. The burn rate and burn temperature maintained ideal levels.
The draw performed quite well. This was a draw that was not too loose, nor too tight. This made the Gaaja Robusto a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The Gaaja Robusto delivered a medium strength, medium-bodied smoke from start to finish. I found there to be a slight increase in intensity in both attributes throughout the smoking experience. In the end I found the Gaaja Robusto closed out the way it started – medium strength and medium-bodied. I also found that both the strength and body balanced each other out with neither one overshadowing the other.
When I smoked the Gaaja Torpedo earlier this year, I found it had a slight amount of more strength and body than the Gaaja Toro. In terms of the Gaaja Robusto, I found it more in line with the Gaaja Toro.
The Gaaja line has been getting some very high scores on Cigar Coop – and with good reason. This is simply an outstanding blend that has never failed to disappoint. While the Robusto size shares a lot in common with the Torpedo and Toro size of the Gaaja, this size will deliver its own story. I have never smoked a purito of Paraguayan tobacco, so its hard for me to single out the characteristics. What I can say is that this is quite a unique blend, and one that is quite good.
As I said with the other sizes of the Gaaja, the Gaaja Robusto is a cigar that you want to smoke uninterrupted to get the most out of it. It’s a cigar I recommend to either a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s one I would smoke again and one that is worthy of fighting Chuck Norris for.
Key Flavors: Herbal, Cedar, Lemon, Cream, Pepper
Assessment: 4.5-Fight Chuck Norris for Them
News: Bombay Tobak to Launch Gaaja Robusto at 2017 IPCPR
Source: Bombay Tobak
Brand Reference: Bombay Tobak
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop