Building on the success of its 125th Anniversary release in October 2012, Gurkha decided to add a trio of cigars to the line in the summer of 2013, with the cigars being unveiled at the 2013 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show.

Joining the company’s portfolio were a pair of 6 x 60s, one that used an Connecticut broadleaf maduro wrapper and the other that used an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade-grown wrapper, and a 6 x 52 toro that used a Honduran corojo wrapper. Each sits on top of an Ecuadorian habano binder and filler leaves from Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Honduras. At the trade show, Juan Lopez, the company’s national sales director, told Charlie Minato that Gurkha was focusing more on extending some of its more popular brands instead of introducing completely new brands.

For the history of the Gurkha 125th Anniversary line, we have to go back to a press release issued in July 2012, which proclaimed that:

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.”

For a company known for its elaborate packaging, Gurkha seemed to stay on the classier and more subdued side of things, giving a nod to some Cohiba packaging for this release. A relatively simple yet classy black lacquered mango wood box with a yellowish-orange color on the underside of the lid sufficed for the presentation, which was a significant departure from the wood and metal design of the original Gurkha 125th Anniversary release.

Gurkha 125th Special Edition 1 Gurkha 125th Special Edition 2

Unlike the regular production original release of the Gurkha 125th Anniversary, these special editions are all limited in production, with only 1,000 boxes of each size produced.

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Special Edition Corojo Toro 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha 125th Anniversary Special Edition Corojo Toro
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: PDR Cigars
  • Wrapper: Honduran Corojo
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic & Honduras
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $13.89 (Boxes of 18, $250.00)
  • Date Released: August 15, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 18 Cigars (18,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Gurkha 125th Anniversary Corojo has a brown and splotchy wrapper with a bit of oily sheen to it and not much in the way of veins or tooth. There’s a bit of a parchment like texture to it, and the wrapper feels soft to the touch. A first glance suggests the cigar is well rolled, with a closer inspection revealing a few small bumps under the wrapper, and a few squeezes suggests it is well rolled, showing just a touch of give. The pre-light aroma has a thick candy store complexity to it with notes of peppermint and a bit of pepper, with the third cigar showing a root beer candy note that was both new and enjoyable. The cold draw shows more of the pepper on the tongue with a continued background note of sweetness, while the draw is fairly well dialed in, erring on the loose side in one sample. The thick root beer candy note showed up again on the cold draw in the one cigar, a unique flavor not found in the other two.

A peppery start with a bit of a new flavor that is hard to immediately put my taste buds on opens the Gurkha 125th Corojo. I’m a bit surprised by how fast the cigar burns early on, as it seems like the draws to get the cigar evenly lit have revealed more than a quarter inch of dark gray ash already. There is certainly no shortage of smoke in the early going and the burn line stays even and sharp in the early goings. There seems to be an almost oily texture to the smoke, a bit surprising given that the cigar itself doesn’t show much of a sheen, but it certainly leaves that kind of impression in the first few puffs. The first retrohale is surprisingly peppery as well and provides a challenge when trying to pass the smoke through the nostrils; white pepper dominates and lights up the olfactories. Notes of sweet wood start to emerge along with a trailing note of peppermint that is a touch more prevalent in the nose than on the tongue in two of the cigars; while the thick root beer note that is present in one sample offers a completely different and markedly less enjoyable flavor. With the preferable peppermint note, it’s an interesting combination that while not the most attention grabbing, earns points for not being a set of run-of-the-mill flavors. The ash holds on throughout almost the entire first third, measuring close to two inches before finally letting go. The flavor seems to flatten out just a bit at the end of the first third, leaving the sweetness and peppermint to lead the way while the pepper moves to the background.

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Special Edition Corojo Toro 2

Smoke production continues to be plentiful heading into the second third of the Gurkha 125th Anniversary Corojo, with each draw producing copious amounts of smoke and a steady whisp coming from the cigar while at rest. The wood note—something that has me thinking of new furniture—that started to emerge at the end of the first third has shed the syrupy sweetness and now stands largely on its own with a bit of support from a more black pepper note that is coming forward. A retrohale at the halfway mark proves to be a challenge due largely to the pepper, and while a small amount is passable, anything else seems to be too much of a challenge from which to find increased benefit. Pepper quickly becomes the leading note at the midway point, with the wood being joined by a touch of leather to create the overall flavor profile of the cigar. The thick, syrupy sweetness starts to rejoin the aroma as well, providing a complex sensory experience that very quickly pushes the cigar into the realm of an attention grabber.

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Special Edition Corojo Toro 3

There is a marked return to in both the flavor and fragrant aroma and is about as full-bodied as it has been to this point, though with that comes the downside of some harshness from the pepper that really hits hard in the throat. Starting at nearly the same spot in each cigar—with approximately two and a half inches left—the largely enjoyable flavor starts a quick nose dive into the realm of harshness. The wood has picked up a charred note and almost cries out for the sweetness it had earlier on; it has diminished from both the taste and aroma and my palate is almost pleading for it to come back and soften things out before it is time to put the cigar down. In a surprising twist, it was the cigar with the root beer candy note early on that had the most agreeable finish; a head scratcher since it offered the least enjoyable first two thirds. While a bit of fragrance in the aroma tries to salvage things, the parting impression left on the palate is too much to overcome, especially as it lingers in the back of the throat; an unfortunate ending to an otherwise enjoyable cigar.

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Special Edition Corojo Toro 4

Final Notes

  • Given the anniversary and “special edition” nature of this cigar, I’m a bit surprised it didn’t get more play on the bands.
  • There is some debate to be expected as to the accuracy of the anniversary. For reference, Kaizad Hansotia has owned the Gurkha brand since 1989, though 1887 is the claimed birthdate of the brand.
  • That said, remember that the 125th Anniversary happened in 2012, which is when the original release came out.
  • Gurkha’s website offers a bit of an explanation, tracing the history to the height of British rule when colonial soldiers began making their own cigars from local tobacco and named them Gurkhas out of fondness for the legendary Nepalese fighters.
  • I’m hard pressed to think of a cigar brand that consistently offers flavors that I have a hard time identifying, or are simply unique in the broad spectrum of flavors found in cigars, as those I find in Gurkha’s offerings.
  • The peppermint note is one such offering, as was the root beer candy note, which seemed to be mutually exclusive in the samples I tried.
  • The two 6 x 60s that were added to Gurkha’s 125th Anniversary line come in 16–count boxes, while the Corojo toro comes in 18–count boxes.
  • Also debuting in Gurkha’s booth at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show was the Cellar Reserve Limitada, Prize Fighter, Pure Evil Goliath and Rogue.
  • Charlie Minato reviewed the original Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild here.
  • Gary Hyams, who was the president of Gurkha Cigar Group when the Gurkha 125th Anniversary debuted, left the company in March 2013.
  • The Gurkha 125th Anniversary won a Golden Label award for “the printing, design, innovation and technical execution” of the 125th Anniversary cigar band.
  • W. Curtis Draper in Washington, D.C. celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2012 with cigars from Cabaiguan, Arturo Fuente, La Aurora and two cigars from Padrón, a natural and maduro.
  • Villiger Cigars celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2013 with the Villiger 125 Lucerne.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
83 Overall Score

Had the Gurkha 125th Anniversary Special Edition Corojo Toro stopped after the first two thirds, it would have gained back a good number of the points lost due to its final third. While not the most complex cigar I've ever had, it did show a good bit of balance and a unique flavor profile, one that agreed with my palate on the majority of puffs. The final third took what had been great about the first two thirds and almost completely wrecked it, shedding the sweetness and delicious wood notes and replacing them with a harsh charred wood note and piling black pepper on top of that. I'll give Gurkha plenty of credit for coming up with two-thirds of a very good cigar, but if you decide to give the 125th Anniversary Corojo a try, enter the final third at your own risk.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.