Since late 2011, shortly after Gary Hyams began his tenure at Gurkha, there were murmurs of an anniversary cigar for Gurkha. While Kaizad Hansotia has only owned the brand since 1989, the brand has used the 1887 date for a while, which is the claimed birthdate of the brand.
In July, short before IPCPR, Gurkha sent out this press release detailing the line:
The year 2012 commemorates the 125th Anniversary of the Gurkha cigar, where it was this year back in 1887, at the height of the British rule that colonial soldiers first began to smoke and enjoy their own cigars from local tobacco. The fondness of the British for these legendary Nepalese fighters inspired them to name their cigars ‘Gurkhas’.
“We are very proud to continue the legacy and tradition of the Gurkha cigar,” said Gary Hyams, President of Gurkha Cigar Group, Inc. “The blending process has been a fascinating and creative journey and we are excited for cigar enthusiasts to try the finished product, which we feel appeals to all palates.”
Working in close collaboration with the Tabacos Don Leoncio factory in the Dominican Republic, the 125th Anniversary blend features an oily Cubra, Habano wrapper that is accompanied by an Ecuadorian, Habano binder and a complex combination of Nicaraguan, Brazilian and Dominican fillers. This intriguing medium bodied cigar encompasses a very smooth and flavorful taste profile, with tasting notes of rich tobacco and subtle hints of sweet spice, vanilla and chestnut. World-renowned for their packaging and design, the 125th Anniversary is worthy of another Gurkha masterpiece with each box being hand-carved using the finest mango wood and finished with exquisite brass fittings.
“We have been meticulous with every detail surrounding the 125th Anniversary project,” said Kaizad Hansotia, Chairman of Gurkha Cigar Group, Inc. “From the blend to the packaging and presentation, we are proud to have created a cigar that we believe truly lives up to the expectations of an anniversary cigar.”
The Gurkha 125th Anniversary will be available in 20 count boxes featuring four vitolas: 5 x 52 Robusto, 6 x 54 Rothchild, 61/2 x 54 Torpedo and a 6 x 60 XO with an MSRP ranging from $8.39-$10.99. These cigars will be on display at the 2012 International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers convention, booth numbers: #1067-1374.
And the particulars.
Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Tabacos Don Leoncio
Wrapper: Brazilian Cubra Habano
Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
Size: 6 Inches
Ring Gauge: 54
MSRP: $8.89 (Boxes of 20, $177.80)
Release Date: October 2012
Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
The band would be ornate, if we weren’t talking about Gurkha. It compliments the light Brazilian wrapper well and like most Gurkha bands, manages to handle the complexity quite well. While the caps across all of the PDR-made Toro Gordos look good, the overall finish leaves a bit to be desired. There’s a sweet leather, cocoa and earth mixture from the wrapper around medium-full, which is also a fairly accurate description of the smell from the foot. Cold draw features mint, earth and leather — sweet, but not terribly complex.
The first third begins with cedar, leather and earth. Once again, the sweetness is distinct, while the woodsiness is the lasting flavor of the medium-full profile. Aroma-wise, the Nicaraguan tobacco seems dominant. It remains relatively sweet with leather, earth, creaminess and some great bark. The mint remains on the finish, which is nice, but the flavor is once again a tick above medium and missing some complexity. Smoke production starts fine, but is quickly falling apart.
As the second third peaks, the smoke production has become pathetic, something that took place in both examples I smoked. The burn is still fine, but the draw has tightened coinciding with the struggling smoke production. Flavor-wise, it’s still sweet with generic tobacco, leather, crisp cedar and a touch of nuts. There’s little pepper to be found, although a decent harshness is present. Strength has actually declined with the first third being medium plus and the middle portions much more medium.
The final third brings a lot more nuttiness and tobacco. There are far less flavors, but it’s a much better dynamic with the contrast making the harshness enjoyable. Unfortunately, the draw and smoke production have gotten predictably worse with the 125th eventually going out with an inch or so left.
- While I’m not sure how this qualifies as a Rothschild, which is generally accepted as 4 1/2 x 48, I appreciate Gurkha has adopted the XO name for all of its new 6 x 60s. In fairness, this apparently is “Rothchild” — without the “s.”
- The 125th is featured only on the sides of the band. If you put these in a plain box and placed them on a shelf there would be ZERO way to tell this is the 125th Anniversary. With the plethora of Gurkha lines, something a bit more distinctive seems absolutely necessary.
- That being said, the fact this isn’t a $125 cigar boxed in a box made with a 125 year-old wood seems odd.
- On the second of my two Gurkha 125ths, I removed a gigantic stem.
- If we accept Gurkha as 125 years old, I can’t imagine a non-Cuban brand that is older.
- Many of the recent Gurkha releases have been marketed as being B&M only. While lines like Cellar Reserve don’t appear to be sold from the major catalog retailers, it’s unclear where the B&Ms stand with Gurkha’s efforts.
- It’s been a while since I’ve had a cigar with this much underlying sweetness. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much contrast.
- Abe Flores’ two factories are easily the hottest in terms of producing other brands. In the last year, Flores & Co. have added Gurkha, La Palina, El Primer Mundo, Herrera Cigars/La Caridad del Cobre, in addition to the host of new brands under the A. Flores, Flores y Rodriguez and Pinar del Rio labels.
- Gurkha and Washington D.C. retailer W. Curtis Draper are both celebrating 125th anniversaries this year. Draper’s has four anniversary cigars being made, none by Gurkha.
- The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Gurkha.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes.
The Bottom Line: As much as I welcome Gurkha’s change, moving away from the absurdly expensive marketing-centric lines that made the brand notable, this seems like neither time nor place for it. If you are going to celebrate this 125th anniversary, which would be almost akin to General Cigar celebrating Cohiba’s 45th anniversary next year, do it in style, particularly if you are Gurkha. For the 125th anniversary of Gurkha, you expect the extravagant, what you are given is easily one of the plainest Gurkha’s ever in appearance. In terms of flavor, it’s incredibly forgettable. While it wouldn’t affect the score, the absurdity in the branding would at least make this a bit more special, but as is, there’s not much more to say than you likely won’t remember this in any way.
Final Score: 79