Search results: Gurkha

Cigar Review: Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild

17 Apr

While cigar companies are well-known for never missing an opportunity to commemorate an anniversary with a special cigar, not many companies can claim a milestone as old as 125 years. Gurkha, despite only being introduced in the U.S. in the mid-1990s, has a better claim than most.

The company’s 2012 125th Anniversary series was meant to celebrate the first association of Gurkha’s name with cigars, as opposed to the anniversary of the cigar company itself. It is made at the Tabacos Don Leoncio/PDR Factory in Tamboril (many of Gurkha’s recent offerings are made at this Dominican factory).

The cigar employs a dark, reddish-brown Brazilian Habano wrapper with some black discolorations but a consistent sheen. Beneath, it has an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos.

I smoked four of the Rothchild size (6 x 54) for this review. This vitola retails for around $10 but, since it has been on the market for a few years now, you’ll be able to find it for significantly less online if you shop around.

The large toro features a complex mix of flavors: medium-roast coffee, toast, pine nuts, slight citrus, and clove. And while there are myriad flavors, the complexity is in the Rothchild’s depth, not its changes from start to finish (which are minimal).

It is medium-bodied with a long, leathery finish. Construction is excellent with an even burn and sturdy ash. (Though I did discard one additional sample that had cigar beetle holes beneath the band; fortunately, thanks to improved quality control industry-wide, this is a rarity these days.)

In certain circles, I think it’s safe to say Gurkha has amassed a reputation as a brand with more marketing skills than cigar-making chops. That said, the Gurkha 125th Anniversary rightfully is seen by many as a turning point. (It was also introduced shortly after the company brought in cigar veteran Gary Hyams to assist in establishing Gurkha in the premium cigar market, a space to which Gurkha has always aspired.)

Complex, well-constructed, and (now) priced around $6-8, this cigar offers good value. That earns the Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild a rating of four out of five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Avo Adds to Improvisation Series, C.L.E. Announces a Colorado Cigar, Gurkha Celebrates a Cellar Reserve Anniversary, and More

10 Mar

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 521st in the series.

Avo Improvisation

1) Avo is once again adding to its Improvisation Series. Avo Improvisation LE17 is a combination of three previously released Avo cigars: Syncro Nicaragua, Syncro Nicaragua Fogata, and LE05. “The new blend utilizes the same variety of Dominican binder and filler tobaccos that were featured in the Avo LE05, blended with the same Estelí filler tobacco used in the Avo Syncro Nicaragua Fogata, and presented in the 6 x 60 boxed-pressed format of the Avo Syncro Nicaragua Special Toro,” according to a press release issued by Davidoff, Avo’s parent company. Avo Improvisation LE17 is the first Avo limited edition to be presented in a box-pressed format, and the first to feature a ring gauge of 60. The super-premium, Habano Ecuador Marron Claro-wrapped cigar will retail for $18 for a single cigar or $288 for a box of 16. It will launch on March 22 with a limited production of 2,000 boxes available for the U.S. market. European and other markets will launch shortly thereafter.

2) C.L.E. Cigar Company this week announced the continuation of the Eiroa The First 20 line with the Eiroa The First 20 Colorado, which will begin shipping on April 3. The Colorado is a continuation of the Eiroa The First 20 Line that was officially launched in 2016. “I absolutely love the authentic Corojo seed and finally, after decades of trying, I finally have the exact Colorado color I have been looking for my entire career”, says Christian Eiroa. “I want to share these with guys that actually appreciate the work involved. We are not looking to make millions of these, just the right amount of cigars for the right people.” Each of the cigar’s four sizes will be packaged in boxes of 20 and retail in the $12.36 to $14.36 range.

3) Philip Morris thinks this is the future of tobacco: “To use an IQOS, you push a flavored packet of tobacco called a heatstick into the mouth of a tubular, pipelike holder, which is a bit smaller than a kazoo. When you press a button on the holder, it heats up a metal blade inside, which cooks the tobacco to roughly a third of the temperature of a traditional cigarette. Then you puff away. The tobacco is warmed without combusting, so it doesn’t release any fire, smoke, or ash… In between heatsticks, you holster the cyberpipe in a mobile charger, a smooth, palm-size contraption that calls to mind a cigarette pack mated with a smartphone and designed by Apple’s Jony Ive.”

4) Inside the Industry: Gurkha Cigars is expected to reveal a special edition 15-year Cellar Reserve cigar at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. The cigar is intended to commemorate the Cellar Reserve’s 10-year anniversary. All that is known at this time is that the cigar will be featured in a “special vitola” and be packaged in a 50-count humidor box. “The Cellar Reserve was our very first brick and mortar exclusive cigar and it has had continued success and amazing ratings,” said Kaizad Hansotia, CEO of Gurkha Cigars. “This cigar speaks to the cigar lover and will be created to encompass everything that is loved of our signature cigar.”

5) From the Archives: People primarily think of four or five countries when it comes to cigars, but the list is far deeper. Last year, we counted down our top ten cigar countries (and noted some countries that could have made the list but missed the cut). Check out six through ten, then the top five.

6) Deal of the Week: The Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection is 100 cigars (ten each of ten sizes) all made in Miami. The $1,200 price tag makes it a major splurge purchase, but with only a limited number available, we wanted to highlight the availability of this rare item.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Avo Cigars

Cigar Review: Gurkha Cellar Reserve Prisoner

3 Jun

I’ve had a handful of Gurkha Cellar Reserve Prisoners tucked away in one of my humidors for over three years now. While they seem to leer at me every time I come across them, I’ve been avoiding working on a review. Why? For one, Gurkha is—at best—a hit-or-miss brand for me. Also, this huge smoke (7 x 54) seems like a major time commitment for a blend that, frankly, I’m not all that excited to sample. So, try as I might go into every cigar review with an open mind, I feel I need to be upfront about my hesitations.

Gurkha Cellar Reserve PrisonerSome of you may recall the Gurkha Cellar Reserve line was introduced in the summer of 2011. “The vintage Cellar Reserve uses the finest quality 15-year-old aged tobacco, comprised of an oily Criollo ’98 wrapper, that combines an aged Dominican Olor binder with a 15-year-old Dominican filler,” reads the Gurkha website. “Housed in unique wooden boxes that aesthetically evoke a maturing wine barrel, the Cellar Reserve is a delicious medium- to full-bodied cigar that is full of flavor and complexity.”

In addition to the Prisoner (an interesting name for a vitola that’s sure to suck up a lot of time), there are four other sizes: Koi (4 x 58), Solara (5 x 58), Hedonism (6 x 58), and Kraken (6 x 60). Back in 2011 and 2012, the Prisoner’s MSRP was about $10-11 apiece, and it was only sold at brick-and-mortar tobacconists. These days you can find them online for $8-9 when bought by the box of 20.

The first thing that strikes you about the Prisoner—aside from the daunting size—is the large, unique band that sports a three-sentence description of the cigar. Also included on the band is a batch number, quantity, and blend strength (mine says 97.6%, and I have no idea what that means). In addition, Gurkha includes the phrase “Dominican Puro” on the label, despite reports there are Nicaraguan filler tobaccos in the blend.

Beneath the band is a Criollo ’98 leaf with an intricate roadmap of veins, some thin others on the thick side. The feel is firm throughout, and the foot shows a cross-section tightly packed tobaccos. The cold draw has just a little resistance, and the pre-light notes remind me of leather, wet leaves, and sawdust.

At the outset, the Cellar Reserve Prisoner tastes of baking spices, oak, and brown sugar. The texture is bready and the resting smoke is highly aromatic and sweet. The first transition is characterized by overwhelming sweetness (the cigar almost tastes infused). Then, after about an inch of smoking, vanilla, leather, and a meaty bitterness take center stage. From there until the nub, the flavors change only at the margin. Construction—save for a few torch touch-ups here and there—is commendable.

Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy if you must, but I find it hard to smoke the aptly-named Prisoner. It’s a constant struggle between intense sweetness and meaty sourness, and there’s a severe shortage of completely or subtlety, especially for a two-hour behemoth. I rate the Gurkha Cellar Reserve Prisoner one and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Gurkha Ghost Shadow

27 Apr

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”


Another cigar sporting the seemingly ubiquitous Brazilian arapiraca maduro wrapper, this time encasing a criollo ’98 binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. A medium-strength, five-inch stick, this Gurkha delivers a pleasant experience with only a hint of the dirt that I link to Brazilian tobacco. It also displayed little of the sweetness often found in maduros, though there was a bit of cocoa and coffee. Construction, burn, and draw were excellent in the pair I smoked. Judge it by your own preferences, and if they match up, give it a try. Oh, and check out that stunning black and silver band.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Gurkha Cellar Reserve Prisoner

23 Mar

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Change seems to be the hallmark of Gurkha these days, whether it’s producing budget-priced smokes under the East India Trading Co. subsidiary or increasing presence at tobacco shops. An outfit once frequently derided for overemphasizing packaging and glitz is putting some interesting cigars on the shelf. This specimen, called the Cellar Reserve Prisoner, is certainly one of those. It sports a criollo wrapper along with filler Gurkha says is aged for 15 years. I found it to be a medium-strength, flavorful, and complex smoke. Well worth trying.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Review: Gurkha Legend Robusto

6 Feb

Before working on this review, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I fired up a Gurkha. And that’s saying a lot for a guy who needs to smoke a wide variety of cigars.

Gurkha LegendIt’s also saying a lot because of the excessive number of unique blends Gurkha produces. On its website, Gurkha lists no less than 13 “core brands,” 10 “limited edition” blends, and 2 lines under its “East India Trading Company” umbrella. And these listings apparently aren’t even comprehensive. The blend I’m reviewing today, for example, is nowhere to be found on the website. I’m sure it isn’t the only one missing.

No matter. The Gurkha Legend is pretty easy to come across. It features an aged Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper, a Cameroon binder, and eight-year-old Dominican filler tobaccos. The Robusto (6 x 50) retails for about $10 (and can sometimes be found for considerably less when on sale or thrown into a sampler pack).

I found a couple Robustos at the bottom of one of my humidors. No telling how long they had been buried there, but the cellophane on each had started to yellow. Once exposed, the cigars gave off potent pre-light notes of cocoa and hay. Each felt very firm in some spots and soft in others, inconsistencies that often foretell construction issues.

After torching the foot, a profile of dry wood, musty earth, and coffee emerges. Cinnamon and syrup add spice and sweetness, respectively. The texture is coarse and the body is on the lighter end of medium. Each puff leaves a long finish on the palate with a spicy tingle on the tongue.

Moving into the midway point, the flavor stays consistent but the aroma of the resting smoke becomes decidedly sweeter. The final third witnesses a slight increase in intensity with occasional bitter notes. All the while the Robusto’s combustion performs better than I imagined. The draw is smooth, the smoke production is solid, the burn is straight, and the gray ash holds well.

True, the Gurkha Legend Robusto can hold its own. But it’s also a far cry from memorable. While I won’t be forking over $10 for one of these in the future, I won’t mind picking up a few at bargain prices, or as inclusions in sampler packs. This cigar earns three stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Gurkha Wicked Indie Churchill

9 Jun

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Introduced as a new line by Gurkha, the Wicked Indie comes in four sizes, including the Churchill (7 x 50), the only one I’ve seen or tried. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper covers a Nicaraguan binder and filler. And they combine for a nice pepper blast in the first third. Things settle down a bit after that with a little yeast and sweet tobacco. Smooth, short finish. I’d like to try this in the Robusto format where I think quicker development might make for a more interesting smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: N/A