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Blind Review 2016-01

Blind Review 2016 01Blind Review: MBombay Habano Churchill!

This is my first time compiling one of our blind reviews, so I hope I do OK, and that all of you can follow along.

Cigar Weekly has a tradition of doing blind reviews of new and/or boutique cigars whenever the maker asks.

Cigar Weekly's blind reviews are scored by a panel, and averaged using 7 criteria within a 50 point scale.

Criteria Max Score
Appearance /Construction 5
Burn 5
Draw 5
Aroma 5
Flavor 10
Taste/Aftertaste 10
Overall quality 10
Grand Total 50

We do not require that the maker be an advertiser, nor do we charge a fee for these reviews.

We do ask the maker to send the cigars to a central location, and provide $35 to reimburse some of the shipping charges. All cigars are de-banded and shipped to the volunteer reviewers by priority mail.

How it works: Cigar Weekly members volunteer for the task, and are asked to complete the review by smoking both samples within a two to three week window. They are requested to take copious notes, and then to enter their data into an online form. It's the 21st century, right? We used to use paper…

The results are compiled, scores tabulated, and then the article is written up for publication.

Interested in participating? Well, you need to be a member of the forums! You can register – it’s always free – at

The cigars for this blind review, our first of 2016, were offered up by Mel Shah of MBombay cigars. By the way, you might also want to have a look at Nathan Hale's recounting of his conversation with Mel Shah, published on the Cigar Weekly Home Page just last week, and viewable by clicking on the link HERE. Alright... Let us begin!

The panel:

Nathan Hale (nhale1300), George Anderson (CSMAnderson), Ken Sayer (Kilobyte), Greg House (PoohDVM) and Jeff Slatton (Jefslat) formed the panel for this review.

Appearance and Construction:

Color, texture, cap, and bunch are rated here. The consensus from the panel was:

Color: Brown/dark brown

Texture: Medium to rich, with one vote for veiny

Cap and Head: Smooth (unanimous)

Bunch: Firm/even (unanimous)

Average Reviewer Score = 4.4 / 5

Pre-Smoke Comments: (Most positive and most negative)

Jeff Slatton: Smooth chocolate brown wrapper with slight veining. Construction very good, so clipping and lighting were not a problem. Light to medium aromas of tobacco and cedar from the wrapper and the foot. Light flavor in pre-light draw.

Nathan Hale: Both samples were veiny, spotty and course. Big veins on both. One vein even was sticking up and out of the stick. Tunnel in prelit inspection on both sticks but it did not affect the smoking.

The Burn:

The coal, ash and ash structure, as well as any burn problems, are rated here.

Overall Burn: Even

Coal: Flat (3 of 5 reviewers)

Ash Color: Gray or dark gray

Ash Structure: Solid (this typically indicates good internal construction with an ash that holds on for more than 1")

Problems: No problems (such as bad runs, tunneling, splitting) were encountered!

Average Reviewer Score = 4.3 / 5

While they observed the burn, the panel also assessed the cigar during their smoke for draw and aroma.

Draw and Aroma:

Two of the most important parts of cigar enjoyment (and these are also fairly subjective, though a plugged cigar is a plugged cigar!) are DRAW – how well you can pull through the cigar (the draw) - and AROMA - how the smoke smells, feels and tastes. These are each rated on a 5 point scale. You might ask, "Taste?" Yes, aroma and smell have a huge impact on the overall flavors you get from a cigar.

Draw: Perfect (2) or easy

Draw Score: 4.2/5

Aroma / Room smoke: Faint / subtle was chosen, though one found it fragrant.

Aroma Score: 4.0/5

The “Smoke” is rated on a 10 point scale, and includes judging some more subjective catagories like flavor, body, strength and balance. Remember, these are subjective – you may not agree – so we’ll provide as much detail here as we can.

Richness: Medium (2) or weak (2) was the dominant appraisal of our judges

Balance: Perfect (2) and one dimensional (3) were the opinions voiced here, exposing the variations in our judges' palates.

Strength: Medium (3) and mild (2) – again revealing palate differences in our judges. The consensus is that most smokers would find this cigar on the mild/medium end of the strength scale. In cigars, strength is one of the most subjective and debated characteristics.

Body: Mild and medium were the choices our judges tallied here, with one judge counting the body as "generous". A generous body means he felt that the cigar smoke filled his mouth in a very satisfying way.

Flavor: The following key words were selected by our judges to define the flavor of the cigar as they smoked it:

Nathan medium, woody
George modest
Ken generous, earthy, woody
Greg modest, earthy, vegetal
Jeff medium, earthy, woody

Over All Smoke Score: 7 (out of 10)

The next category goes right after the tastebuds, as our judges are asked to frame the taste and aftertaste of the cigar.

Sweetness: Light (3), medium (1) and none (1) were selected

Bittterness: Light and medium (2 each) were selected. One reviewer found none.

Burn on tongue: Light or none comprised the majority. The cigar provided a smooth smoke on the tongue.

Sharpness: Medium or light. Sharpness is usually detected on the back of the palate

Saltiness: Light or none was the consensus score here.

Score: 6.9 /10

Smoke Comments: (Most positive and most negative)

Greg House: The cigar lit easily and burned straight throughout the smoke. It produced a strong dark gray ash. Mild to slight medium body. Slight earthy flavors with a peppery bite on the tongue at times. Also noted a slightly bitter 'green' taste or a not quite mature almond flavor.

George Anderson: Very smooth cigar, but it does not have a great deal of flavor.

Finally, we ask for a summary / overall impression of the cigar.

In the summary, we ask for the reviewer to judge the 'character' of the cigar. Character, just like with people, is subjective… It’s like, "Would you hang out with that guy?" or, "What do you think about that person?" Reviewers select from key words like common, coarse, elegant and/or pedigreed to share their impressions.

Our consensus leaned very much toward the favorable end, with Agreeable being the most selected response.

They also ranked the overall 'body' of the cigar as medium/mild.

Summary score: 7.4/10

The reviewer’s summary comments:

Overall, a good stick. The bad stick still haunts me, but the good stick made up for it. I leaned to the good stick because occasionally a bad one happens that's not typical. Construction was good. I'd like to see that big vein not there. I was hoping for a bit more on the flavor. However, overall it's a good stick. I'd keep a few around.
Overall, an agreeable cigar, but not enough body to make it a really enjoyable cigar.
This cigar had a dual flavor profile between the two samples that one would quite possibly think these would be two different cigars. With that, this cigar is one of a spicy profile, and anyone who enjoys small-gauged cigars with a robust spice will enjoy these cigars. With time, they may find the spice profile mellows out and a richer smoky profile takes over. Much like one experiences with other prominent cigars mellowing with age.

This cigar had excellent construction and burned razor straight. Nice flavor profile. I tend toward stronger fuller bodied cigars. Subtlety is lost on me. Even though this cigar does not fall in the area of cigars I usually smoke, I can see it appealing to a lot of cigar smokers out there.
Overall, pleasant medium bodied smoke with developing flavors. Depending on price point, would probably smoke again, although I would probably not actively seek them out.

SO - while our panel seemed to prefer stronger smokes, they thought quite favorably of this cigar!  How did it rate?


Cigar Weekly’s 50 Point Scale

Av. Score  Stars Rating description
0 – 9 1 Not recommended
10-19 2 Below Average
20-29 3 Average
30-34 3 1/2 Above Average
35-39 4 Excellent
40-44 4 1/2 Outstanding
45-50 5 Superior

These comments from Ken Sayer make a nice wrap up to this review:

Upon lighting the first cigar, it produced a roasted spice that was prominent but easily lending to a comfortable retro herf. As the first third burned, the spice picked up with distinct black pepper, clearly demonstrating the ligero leaf nestled within.

The spice profile continued throughout the center of the cigar with a full-blown profile of a black pepper bomb, but yet smooth in body to not burn the tongue or throat. There was also a long finish.

The last third continued the spice aspect and, as expected, making retro herf less comfortable. The burn provided an abundant amount of smoke throughout the cigar - a definite plus.

The second sample was fired up the next day with a full expectation of the spice volley, however the spice was significantly mellowed and lent to a smoother, smoky caramel flavor profile. Also with a long finish.

This cigar has a unique taste when the black pepper spice is mellowed. Time may contribute to that.