Red Witch by East India Trading Co. Prerelease
As a lover of cigars and tradition, I find the Gurkha empire extremely alluring, with their mix of history cleverly woven into quality handmades. Today I find myself trying a prerelease of Red Witch, a new launch from East India Trading Company, a subsidiary of Gurkha Cigar Group, Inc. The East India Trading Co. actually has its roots buried deeply in history, with its origins stemming around 400 years ago. Similarly, the new Red Witch launch takes its name from a shipping vessel of the 1800s, which is awesomely displayed on the mammoth band. Read Gurkha’s Red Witch announcement here.
Red Witch features an Ecuadorian, Rosado wrapper, coupled with a carefully selected Dominican binder and 3–year aged filler from the mountainous region of Jalapa, Nicaragua. Available in beefy sizes: 5 x 52 robusto, 6 x 54 rothchild, and a 6 x 60 XO with an MSRP: $4.99-$6.39. I also like that this particular stick is available in 50-count boxes.
I was very excited to smoke this new stick because of how lovely it looked in my humidor. With a tanned-leather color coupled with the oversized traditional-looking band, it had a rustic, mature appearance. Closer inspection of the construction reveals tiny papules along the body, with small veins visible and some palpable, and an overall oily feel. The stick doesn’t feel densely packed, which is sometimes a reason for concern with me, but of course it all comes down to the smoke. The wrapper gives off a very earthy aroma, like a hand-full of fresh topsoil, mixed with some mild leather.
Right off the bat I was able to toast the foot to get a beautiful even light with great smoke production. The first thing I noticed was an incredibly loose draw, to the point where I felt little to no resistance. While I don’t prefer such a loose draw, the smoke production and quality was such that I wasn’t immediately turned off by the lack of feedback on my pull.
The first 1/3 of the smoke yielded almost entirely earthy flavors, with almost no spice at all (contrary to the company’s description) except on my lips, but I didn’t mind. The smoke was a milky white and there was plenty of it, which was expected from the loose draw, but I still liked it. After each draw, a nice mixture of earth tones and leather linger on your palate, but only for a small while, and each of the flavors were surprisingly mild. There is something very organic tasting at the end of each draw. It’s not inherently negative, but it does draw my attention enough to make me wonder if it’s intentional. At first I’m not in love with it, but it dissipates quick enough to not be overtly offensive. In all honesty, I prefer the loose draw, allowing for big mouthfuls of quality smoke that fulfills but doesn’t overwhelm.
As I near the meat-and-potatoes of this stick, I begin to find some of the spice I expected toward the beginning. It’s subtle at first, but grows into a nice, medium body, with hints of smoked wood. The organic off-flavor I found earlier is nearly gone now, much to my delight. The draw is steady and smooth, with a tiny bit more resistance now. Red Witch has maintained a nice, even light and burn thus far and has been the perfect cigar to light and leave. I have been relaxing outside and have at times forgotten about this stick for 15+ minutes. When I come back around to smoking it, it has kept a very even, slow burn, and allows me to pick up right where I left off. I am very happy with the quality of the grey/black ash I am getting as well.
The finish is a much more robust and spicy, with more of the same flavors of earth. I have determined the taste I found earlier to be mossy or moldy tasting. Not bad, necessarily, but more like a Brie cheese. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first, but now in the final stage of the smoke I am getting it in lesser amounts and I have figured it out. I’m getting just enough spice to feel a nice warmth with every draw. A little surprising, though, is the lack of a major build-up at the end. I expected the flavors to culminate and pack a little punch, and they are, but not as much as I was expecting. The flavors are, however, each changing into a more mature flavor profile, still with a nice easy finish.
My overall impression of this smoke is a good one. Beautiful construction lends itself to a very relaxing smoke with easy to handle flavors. The body, I would argue, is more mild than anything else, and the strength is very light on the nicotine. The size of the cigar creates an opportunity to enjoy the flavors without adding much urgency. I was a little turned-off by that Brie flavor, as it tended to overwhelm the nice woodsy, earthy tones I was trying to enjoy, but it did dissipate (although not fully) as the smoke progressed. Red Witch does not harness the power and attitude I am used to with many Gurkha smokes, but then again, this isn’t a Gurkha. Happy smoking.