If there was a motto for cigars in 2017, specifically the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, it was what’s old is new again.
Due to regulations by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), it became easier for companies to reintroduce brands from their past rather than create completely new lines. As such, last year saw a plethora of familiar names, now updated with new packaging and oftentimes blends that aren’t identical to the original.
Blendmaster’s Cask qualifies for the what’s old is new again moniker, albeit, in a different form. The cigar was first shown off in 2016, but the company opted to release a different version for a wider release in late 2017.
The updated blend uses an Ecuadorian wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder with Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco used for the filler.
There’s a total of five sizes offered. Two come in traditional boxes of 20, while the other three are packaged in tubos placed in cardboard boxes of five:
- Blendmasters Cask XO (6 x 60) — $13 (Box of 20, $260)
- Blendmasters Cask Ambassador (7 x 55) — $12 (Box of 20, $240)
- Blendmasters Cask Solara (5 x 52) — $12.80 (Pack of five tubos, $64)
- Blendmasters Cask Churchill (7 x 55) — $14 (Pack of five tubos, $70)
- Blendmasters Cask Toro (6 x 52) — $12 (Pack of five tubos, $60)
- Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha Blendmaster's Cask Toro
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $12 (Pack of five tubos, $60)
- Release Date: December 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
I’ll talk more about the packaging below, but for now, the cigar. Despite all the pageantry of getting the Blendmaster’s Cask out of its packaging—and I’m not just talking about the tubo—there’s not much aroma from the wrapper, just some leather. And due to the shape of this cigar, trying to smell the nose leads to me basically just sticking the foot up my nose. It produces a slightly more interesting and intense experience with flavors that remind me of a bakery, with some whole wheat scents being the most notable part. The cold draw is far more complex with wheat, processed sugar, cold tortillas, creaminess and a bit of spices.
Once the Gurkha is lit, the draw tightens up. Given the shape, I’m not that concerned about it, but the super tight draw does make tasting flavors a bit challenging. I pick up some earthiness, creaminess and pralines—around medium-plus, but there’s just not very much smoke. Pretty quickly, the Blendmaster’s Cask burns down enough to allow the draw to open up. Once that happens, there’s far more flavors: corn tortilla and roasted nuts, a salty earthy flavor that I find in a lot of Gurkhas, and some bits of pepper. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium. Despite the tight opening, the construction is great and I avoid making any touch-ups in the first third.
I am struggling to find differences between the first third and second third of the Blendmaster’s Cask, but that’s what I’m here to do. The tortilla and nutty flavors remain the dominant flavors, though there’s now some earthiness and a more generic readiness. At times, a semisweet floral flavor enters the fray, but it’s never particularly consistent. There’s no real pepper, but I do get some irritation on my lips. Elsewhere things are pretty much the same, though smoke production reduces and leads to a touch-up on one cigar.
The Blendmaster’s Cask gets a lot toastier in the final third. A layer of earthiness and spices produce a mixture that masks some of the complexities. Smoke production continues to be an issue, though I avoid having to touch-up any of the cigars in the final third. Flavor and body are now medium-full, while strength picks up to medium-plus.
- While the first few minutes were challenging due to the foot, construction was very impressive throughout the three samples with only one cigar losing points for an issue.
- For those wondering about the original version of the blend versus the one that was released, the 2016 version was listed as a Nicaraguan habano wrapper over a Dominican binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic. In addition, it was only offered in the Ambassador (7 x 55) and XO (6 x 60) sizes.
- That cigar was also being marketed to pair with whisky, whereas the new version was described as both “mild” and “creamy,” descriptors I wouldn’t use.
- As to why the blend changed, I’m told that the 2017 blend was one that was made when the cigar was being developed. The company originally went with a different one, but then after the delays rethought its decision.
- The foot uses two different pieces of the wrapper and on one sample it was noticeably a different color.
- The packaging is beautiful, but a bit excessive. I’m somewhat curious if both the band and the sticker on the tubo are necessary as the two manage to cover up all of the wrapper.
- Speaking of the sticker, it reminds me a lot of the Alec Bradley Fine & Rare.
- While I appreciate all of the information, it’s difficult to take much of it seriously with the “Aged 15 Years” text on it.
- I’m really not sure if the super thin nipple on the bottom of the cigar is the right approach. The first few minutes are legitimately tough to smoke as there’s very little air coming to the head of the cigar.
- On that note, while I reviewed the cigar in our normal even-thirds method, a better way would probably be: during the nipple, the next half or so and the final half. There wasn’t a ton of change after I burned through the foot, but that change was pretty dramatic.
- Gurkha advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 55 minutes on average.
- Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. has the Blendmaster’s Cask Toro in stock. In addition, Cigars.com and Corona Cigar Co. carry other sizes of the Blendmaster’s Cask.
There’s nothing wrong with the Gurkha Blendmaster's Cask, but there wasn’t anything that would want me to smoke it over a variety of Cellar Reserves. It falls somewhere in the middle of Gurkha’s brick and mortar portfolio, though I imagine that won’t be an issue for a lot of the people buying this cigar. The packaging is super impressive and for some—that combined with the price—is more than enough.