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At the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Gurkha Cigar Group Inc. unveiled a new limited edition line called the Château De Privé, heralding it as a “traditional mild and creamy smoke,” adding that it was a departure from the company’s other blends.

While not accompanied by an elaborate backstory, the cigars did come in one of the more decorated boxes of the year, a bright, domed box encased by what could be called a metal cage or lattice design. Inside the box is a black cloth-lined interior with a badge indicating the brand attached to the inner part of the lid.

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The line is offered in three sizes, each limited to an initial run of 300 boxes of 20.

  • Gurkha Chateau de Prive Bishop (5 x 50) — $10 (Boxes of 20, $200)
  • Gurkha Chateau de Prive Rook (6 x 46) — $10 (Boxes of 20, $200)
  • Gurkha Chateau de Prive King of Warriors (6 1/2 x 52) — $11 (Boxes of 20, $220)

The cigars began arriving at retailers in the fall of 2018.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha Château De Privé Rook
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: PDR Cigars
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Olor)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Grand Corona
  • MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 20, $200)
  • Release Date: December 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 20 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Like most Gurkha releases, the band commands the eye with plenty of bright, metallic and reflective colors. As for the wrapper leaf, it’s lightly tanned, almost cinnamon color in some samples, and has an extensive network of very small veins that reminds me a bit of a fractured pane of glass, though without quite as many individual lines. There aren’t many big, prominent veins, but the network of smaller veins is impressive. The cigar is rolled firmly but not to the point of being hard, and while the seam lines are visible they are clean and flat. The cinnamon-bun style cap almost gets overlooked as it is pressed fairly flat, but it too is well constructed with a couple of coils of tobacco packed tightly together. Similarly, I didn’t make much note of the covered foot until the third sample as given how tightly packed it is, it doesn’t immediately stand out, looking like it’s how every cigar comes naturally. The foot of the cigar has an interesting aroma that initially reminds me of a dandelion or generic garden smell but quickly evolves to bring in pepper and graham crackers to create a more well-rounded and sensory stimulating smell, with one sample having a bright banana smell as well. The cold draw is good as air flow, while the flavors are largely the same as those found on the aroma but with a buttery, almost oily coating that I can’t immediately recall where I have experienced it before. It’s almost a bit like popcorn butter, but richer and nowhere near as artificial. Pepper is minimal here, while some thick base level sweetness can be found with a bit of exploration and a brighter vanilla makes an occasional appearance, as does the banana in the one sample.

The first puffs of the Gurkha Château De Privé Rook are medium-bodied, thick, chewy and with a mix of dry earth and pepper that are the first things to stand out. One sample is a bit sharp with its opening salvo of flavors, as the wood and earth are both just a bit out of focus. Regardless of the beginning, a flavor of sweet wood begins to develop around the one-inch mark that is quite enjoyable, although can veer off towards tasting a bit artificial before crossing over into tasting sour, almost candy-like in one sample. Fortunately, when the first clump of ash goes it takes most of that flavor with it and leaves a bright, vibrant and smoky wood aroma and flavor behind, swinging the pendulum quickly back to a very enjoyable profile. The draw is quite smooth and easy through the first third, with good amounts of smoke produced with each puff. A bit of white pepper comes into the aroma towards the end of the first third to punch up the profile, while a bit of chalk sneaks in on the finish.

The middle portion of the Gurkha Château De Privé Rook takes on a decidedly wood-forward profile, reminding me a bit of the firewood bundles I’d see at the grocery store when I was a kid and its distinctively dry smell. One sample—the one with the banana aroma on the pre-light aroma—gets a bit sweeter than the other two and it’s for the better. That said, while the first third had some variance between the samples, the second third sees a much more unified and enjoyable progression and profile of flavors. There’s still some white pepper through the nose, but for the most part the flavor does register as on the milder scale, though not bland or boring. Through the first half I’d peg flavor intensity at medium-minus with a few spikes that push it over the line, while strength stays generally medium-minus. Beyond the midway point, there’s bit of melted vanilla ice cream sweetness and creaminess to be found which takes the cigar into its final third, still burning quite well and with a developing undertone of earth, vanilla and just a bit of white pepper.

The final third begins to get a bit sharper in terms of flavor, mainly by way of the white pepper but also picking up a very slight but noticeable metallic finish. The wood flavors that have been part of the most of the cigar’s profile also pick up a bit more edge and now seem targeted at the top of the throat, creating a disparate duality of fairly enjoyable flavor with less than enjoyable physical reaction. If anything, the change in flavors is consistent among the three samples, taking an otherwise enjoyable, relatively mild profile and sharpening it up to something that doesn’t settle on the palate as well as it did earlier. The draw and burn both remain stellar, as does smoke production, a bit of conciliation in light of the flavor’s derailment.

Final Notes

  • The wrapper is a bit on the brittle side and struggled to stay in tact in its final third. Not every sample showed problems, but there were enough that I would want to be extra delicate when removing the wrapper or smoking it in a dry environment.
  • Speaking of removing the bands, instead of just being laid flat and glued together, one end of the band was folded back and then glued to the other end. It’s not something I’ve come across often, and made the removal a bit more challenging but also seemed to keep glue off of the wrapper leaf.
  • Every time I look at the humidor that the Gurkha Château De Privé comes in, I am instantly reminded of a bottle of Beau Joie Brut Special Cuvee, a brand of Champagne.
  • The Gurkha Château De Privé took the #8 spot on our 2018 Packaging Awards.
  • This is definitely a milder cigar on the nicotine strength spectrum, though I was more focused on the lingering and stinging flavor that was left in my mouth when I put the cigar down.
  • I have not smoked the other sizes in the line, so I’m intrigued if the bigger sizes might provide a bit more balance and soften the sharpness in the final third.
  • Each size in the line received the same initial run of 300 boxes of 20 cigars, making the total initial run for the line 18,000 cigars.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 20 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co., JR Cigar and STOGIES World Class Cigars carries the Gurkha Château De Privé Rook.
86 Overall Score

The first two thirds of the Gurkha Château De Privé Rook live up to the billing of being on the milder side of the spectrum, and despite a few detours through the first two thirds, the profile is enjoyable on the whole. The final third is where the problems come in, as despite nearly flawless construction the profile quickly veers away from the both the path the cigar had been on and the billing that the cigar is given. As much as I'd like to give this cigar a full recommendation, there is just enough to leave me hesitant about it, though I certainly put each cigar down with some fond memories of its better puffs.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

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 the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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