Just prior to the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, Mel Shah and Bombay Tobak announced their third line known as MQBA. Bombay Tobak had great success in the past four years in developing its two prior brands: MBombay and Gaaja. MQBA was an ambitious project being taken on. First up, MQBA would be a line that would feature tobaccos from a single farm. It’s the location of the farm that is most interesting as Bombay Tobak has leased a farm in Ventana, Ecuador; which makes the MQBA an Ecuadorian puro – something not commonly seen in the industry. With the MQBA set to hit the retail shelves, we had an opportunity to smoke the MQBA in the Nikka (Lonsdale) size.
Bombay Tobak has positioned MQBA as a part of its Vintage Reserve series. The Vintage Reserve Series started late in 2015 and it is a series that focuses on aged tobaccos in the blend. The first installment of the series was under the MBombay brand with the MBombay KeSara Vintage Reserve Nikka. This was followed up a year later with the MBombay Vintage Reserve Lancero 1973. With the MQBA line focusing on aged tobaccos as well, it made sense to make MQBA an extension of the Vintage Reserve Series. In the case of MQBA, it is using tobaccos from the 2009 crop from the farm in Ventana.
Without further ado, let’s break down the MQBA Nikka and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
As mentioned, the MQBA line consists of 100% Ecuadorian tobacco from Ventana, Ecuador. Consistent with the other brands by Bombay Tobak cigars, it is produced at the Tabacos de Costa Rica factory in Costa Rica.
Country of Origin: Costa Rica
Factory: Tabacos de Costa Rica
The MQBA is available in four lines with each blend optimized to the vitola. The cigars are presented in 24-count boxes. They will also be available in gift packs. The Diadem will be in three-count gift packs while the other sizes are available in four-count gift packs.
Nikka: 6 1/2 x 42
Torpedo: 6 x 52
Toro: 6 x 52
Diadem: 7 x 56
The Ecuadorian wrapper of the MQBA Nikka was a touch darker than a traditional Connecticut Shade wrapper as it had a near caramel color to it. The surface of the wrapper contained some oil on it. While there were some thin visible veins and thin visible wrappers, this was also a relatively smooth wrapper. The MQBA Nikka also contained a closed footer.
There are two bands on the MQBA Diadem. Each is white with a white-gold font. The center of the primary band contains an image of a peacock on an ovular background. A dotted pattern surrounds the image. To the far right is the text MBOMBAY.
A secondary band rests just below the primary band. It is also white with white-gold font. The text “Vintage Reserve” is in cursive font. There is a white gold pinstripe above and below.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the MQBA Nikka. It was then on to the pre-light draw phase. The cold draw delivered a mix of cream. butter, and cedar. While it seemed like a simple flavor profile, this was an excellent dry draw. At this point, it was time to light up the MQBA Nikka and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The MQBA Nikka started out with a mix of cream, cedar, hay, and black pepper. Early on the cream and cedar notes moved into the forefront. While the cream and cedar alternated in intensity, the cream had more of the edge during the first third. Meanwhile, the hay and black pepper settled in the background. During the early stages, a sweet tea note also emerged in the background. On the retro-hale, there was an additional layer of cedar present.
During the second third of the MQBA Nikka, the sweet tea notes took on an herbal quality. These tea notes increased in intensity while the cream present in the forefront decreased. By the midway point, the herbal sweet tea notes joined the cedar in the forefront. Meanwhile, the cream notes settled in the background along with the black pepper.
The last third saw the cedar and herbal tea notes in the forefront. Some of the sweetness present with the tea subsided. In the background, there were still some notes of hay and black pepper. The cream notes significantly decreased, but didn’t totally dissipate. This is the way the MQBA Nikka came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Overall the burn performed excellently. This is a cigar that had no problem maintaining a straight burn path. While there is a slight bit of waviness on the burn line in the photo below, this was more of the exception than the norm as this cigar maintained a straight burn line for most of the cigar experience. The resulting ash was light gray and was definitely skewed toward the firm side. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw of the MQBA Nikka was outstanding. This cigar had a touch of resistance – which is something that I like. Sometimes a little resistance on a thin ring gauge can impede the cigar experience in terms of deriving flavor, but there was no such problem here.
Strength and Body
One thing I was a little surprised about is that the MQBA Nikka seemed to have a little more in the way of strength and body than the larger ring MQBA Diadem. At the same time, this was not a bad thing and in the end, it worked out quite well for the blend.
I found the MQBA Nikka to have medium strength and the level remained pretty constant from start to finish. The flavors started out medium-bodied, but linearly increased throughout the smoking experience. Just past the midway point, the flavors crossed the medium to full-bodied threshold. While the body continued to build up in the second half, it was at a much slower rate.
In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had the edge throughout the smoking experience.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to smoke a pre-release of the Diadem size of the MQBA, and was quite impressed with that cigar. The good news is the Nikka was equally impressive and it proves to me that an Ecuadorian puro can really work. While they have common characteristics, the Diadem and Nikka each tells its own story. I liked the additional boldness that the Nikka brought to the table and it excelled in the most important category – flavor. While it’s a little bolder than the Diadem, it’s still a cigar that the novice and experienced cigar enthusiast can enjoy. As for myself, not only is this cigar box worthy, but its worthy of going up against Chuck Norris for.
Key Flavors: Cream, Cedar, Herbal Tea, Black Pepper, Hay
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Value: Fight Chuck Norris for Them
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop