Red Congo or Congolese Red is a very popular sativa in Canada. Standing out beyond many other offerings, this cultivar maintains a relatively high listing count and also, a relatively high price. Despite its extreme popularity with Canadian cannabis consumers, the Red Congo is not offered by any of Canada’s Licensed Producers.

In the dispensary markets, Red Congo has a much greater presence in Canada than the US. There were 226 listings for Red Congo in Canada August 2018 with an average price of $11.36 per single gram, about 10% higher than the average price observed that day. Bulk price discounts are also comparatively lower for this cultivar, an ounce of Red Congo typically is priced 16% above the average ($251 per oz, $8.96 per gram).

Five months later (January 2019), its presence has not decreased, 217 listings in Canada, from 44 operators, available at an average price of $10.90 per single gram. Per gram, I see it for as low as $6 per gram, up to $15 per gram. Bulk prices have also fallen slightly in the 5 month span, $226 per ounce of Red Congo.

I’ll tread lightly into the genetics conversation about Red Congo. The cross includes some African Landrace influence which is where the Congo name appears. Other than that, there are just snippets of information. I have no idea where this particular cultivar comes from. A breeder called SnowHigh Seeds makes a Congolese Red, a pairing of Black Congolese (landrace) and Panama Red. There is also some information on a Reeferman creation called John Sinclair, which is the Red Congolese renamed for a 60’s writer/activist.

Visual appeal on this Red Congo is high. The 1 gram package lacked any top buds but the 3 small lowers appeared very well taken care of. Red hairs (pistils) on these buds seem more numerous than other cultivars, giving the buds a ‘redder’ appearance. The trim is tight but it doesn’t look machined, it’s very attractive.

Moisture content is really good. The buds feel internally squishy but have an outer rigidity. Feels dry, but with enough internal pliability to make it feel fairly fresh.

Up close it looks typical of dispensary cannabis, which unfortunately means a lot of errant hairs and fibres. You don’t see a lot of hair in licensed produced cannabis, which is a good thing. In dispensary stuff you tend to see a rainbow of fibre, hair and a bunch of other stuff I could generalize as ‘foreign material’. For example, in these buds I found a few green fibres and a few brown ones, which I’ll sarcastically refer to as the colours of nature.

Red Congo’s scent is a bit deceiving, I sense more fuzzy cheese than I do ripping haze. There are slight hints of menthol, which become more apparent after grinding. A deep drink of the scent can provoke a blend of deeper spices that come out more in the flavour.

Red Congo’s flavours are unique. Aromatic woods mark the top notes, plentiful and deep, they give the profile some graceful opulence. Base notes show the haze influences, but they manifest as low tone spices, playing secondary to the wood tones in a lovely way. A base layer of oil soaked earths appears after some use in the vaporizer, which is also complimentary to the primary wood tones featured here. Overall, the wood flavours are mature and momentous, but those looking for traditional haze tastes will be appeased by the zippy base notes.

This Red Congo is produced by the Air Cannabis Collective and is priced at $11 per single gram, which is about the retail price I would like to pay for something like this. This cultivar is popular, rightly so, but it’s not rare. The quality of production is observable. There is no lab testing, which there should be at this price. Apart from viewing the attached fibre and thread up close, I found it enjoyable.

In the value proposition between quality and price, this absolutely compares with the best I’ve seen from Canada’s licensed producers, some of which compete at lower price points. That’s a nice little statement, but on average, licensed produced cannabis is laughable compared to the quality to this Red Congo. Check back to my review of this Alta Vie Cabaret which is priced at $13.99 per single gram, there is no caparison between the two. When you factor in the reliable producers of seedy bud, like CannTrust, Organigram, and Starseed, the comparison gets worse. In small places, licensed produced cannabis can compete with the existing dispensary markets, but largely, LP cannabis compromises quality, and is beginning to be a rip-off for Canadians. Lab testing and proper grow/trim room operating procedure (because of the hair/fibre) are the obvious fundamentals lacking in this Red Congo, but those could easily be corrected.

I suppose it’s up to consumers to decide if the lacking elements are worth more than the benefits to quality and variety of taste. In order of priority for these reviews, I want to experience a variety of quality cannabis, I expect lab testing and beyond that, I don’t give a shit about what company produces it, because I think it compromises the first priority. Within the larger narrative of these reviews, I feel this Red Congo offers quality well beyond what an average licensed producer is capable of, but lacks the fundamentals, like lab testing, which is upsetting as a consumer. Why should I be confined to the trudge of low quality product and high prices from (the majority of) Canada’s LPs, when something like this could be lab tested and potentially offer consumers better value and higher quality?

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