In March, Gurkha Cigar Group showed off its newest exclusive creation for members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) during the organization’s annual event that took place in Cabo San Lucas. Named Colección Especial, the first vitola in the line was a 5 1/4 x 58 double perfecto packaged in a glossy wood box with a pull-out tray.
After that double perfecto started shipping exclusively to TAA retail members in late June, Gurkha debuted three more sizes during the 2022 PCA Convention & Trade Show the next month—a robusto, a lonsdale and a toro—each packaged in more traditional 10-count boxes. According to the company, those three vitolas in the line are being offered to a limited number of 150 retailers across the country, with boxes scheduled to ship next month.
While Gurkha declined to give full details on the blend of the Gurkha Colección Especial, the company did confirm that the cigar features a Connecticut hybrid wrapper covering a Sumatra binder grown in Mexico and a filler blend made up of Connecticut broadleaf from the U.S. as well as habano seco and ligero leaves from undisclosed country or countries. Gurkha also confirmed that all the Colección Especial vitolas are produced by PDR Cigars in the Dominican Republic.
There are currently four different sizes either already released or due to be released in the Colección Especial line:
- Gurkha Colección Especial TAA 2022 (5 1/4 x 58) — $12.50 (Box of 8, $100)
- Gurkha Colección Especial Robusto (5 x 52) — $12.95 (Box of 10, $129.50)
- Gurkha Colección Especial Lonsdale (6 1/2 x 48) — $13.95 (Box of 10, $139.50)
- Gurkha Colección Especial Toro (6 x 54) — $14.95 (Box of 10, $149.50)
If you are unaware of what the TAA is, my colleague Charlie Minato has an excellent explanation:
The TAA, which also includes approximately 40 manufacturers, gathers annually to discuss issues facing the industry and retailers, as well as to have its annual trade show, a unique event that works on a group buying format in order to secure exclusive deals for these generally high-volume merchants.
During the event—which occurred in late March in Cabo San Lucas—the organization holds two selling events, one known as the Dream Machine where the retailers collectively order to secure larger discounts, while the other is a more traditional trade show. Typically, around a dozen manufacturers release new exclusive cigars for the retail members of the organization under the TAA Exclusive Series Program banner. Those manufacturers agree to give a portion of the proceeds to the organization, a minimum of 50 cents per cigar.
This year, a total of 13 different companies announced TAA Exclusive Series Program releases, the same number as last year:
- Crowned Heads
- E.P. Carrillo
- Ferio Tego
- Forged Cigar Co.
- Joya de Nicaragua
- La Flor Dominicana
- La Palina
- Rocky Patel
The Gurkha Colección Especial TAA 2022 has an MSRP of $12.50 per cigar packaged in eight-count boxes which began shipping to TAA retailers on June 29.
- Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha Colección Especial TAA 2022
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: PDR CIgars
- Wrapper: Undisclosed (Connecticut Hybrid)
- Binder: Mexico (Sumatra)
- Filler: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf) & Undisclosed (Habano Seco and Ligero)
- Length: 5 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 58
- Vitola: Figurado
- MSRP: $12.50 (Box of 8, $100)
- Release Date: June 29, 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
It is hard not to notice the combination of a muddy golden brown wrapper and a short, stubby vitola when seeing the Gurkha Colección Especial TAA 2022 for the first time. All three cigars are not only surprisingly heavy when I pick them up but also rock hard when squeezed, while the wrapper is smooth to the touch with virtually no tooth at all. Aromas from the wrapper are faint and include notes of generic wood, leather, nuts, earth and manure. Unfortunately, notes from the tapered foot are not much stronger and include oak, hay, leather tack, barnyard, pepper and light indeterminate sweetness. After a straight cut, the cold draw features flavors of strong oak and leather, a touch of varnish, earth, creamy peanuts, espresso beans and slight milk chocolate sweetness.
Just after lighting the foot, a blast of spice hits my tongue on one cigar, while the other two are much more restrained in that regard. However, all three feature the same bitter espresso flavor up front for the first few puffs, and while it recedes into a background note—allowing the main flavors of oak and nuts to take its place—it remains a very noticeable part of the profile. Additional flavors of leather, gritty earth, hay, bread and slight cinnamon flit in and out, while the retrohale features both light white pepper and faint milk chocolate sweetness, although both are not exactly getting much stronger as the third burns down. Flavor is at mild-plus by the end of the first third, while both the and strength are stuck firmly in the mild range. In terms of construction, the draw, burn and smoke production on all three cigars give me no issues whatsoever and are a joy to smoke in that regard.
Toasted bread and a massive amount of bitter espresso bean flavors take over the top spots during the second third of the Colección Especial TAA 2022, easily outpacing secondary flavors of earth, leather, oak, hay and cocoa nibs that show up at various points. The huge amount of spice in the first cigar is long gone, and while there is still a combination of milk chocolate sweetness and white pepper noticeable on the retrohale, they are just not strong enough to affect the profile significantly. Flavor increases enough to hit a point just under medium, while both the body and strength continue to be in lockstep, ending the second third at mild-plus. Two of the Gurkhas feature trouble-free burn lines, but one cigar does need a very minor correction with my lighter close to where the second third comes to end.
Unfortunately, things start to go wrong just after the start of the second third of the cigar, as the profile features not only an aggressive increase in the amount of bitterness but also an overall flavor profile that has become muted and uninteresting. There are notes of earth, hay, cocoa nibs and leather—as well as a small amount of milk chocolate sweetness on the retrohale—but all of them pale in comparison to the aggressive bitterness which slowly dominates the profile. The bright spot is the construction, which has regained the perfect form that it had in the first third, with nary an issue when it comes to the amazing draw, the close-to-razor sharp burn lines or plentiful smoke production. Flavor stays at just under medium, which is joined by both the body and strength that have increased enough to reach that point by the time I put the nubs down with about an inch remaining.
- The word Colección—which translates to Collection from Spanish—has been used by Habanos S.A. quite a few times in the past, but a few non-Cuban companies have incorporated it into the names of their creations as well, including Curivari, General Cigar Co., and Gran Habano.
- On a cigar this short, the combination of the large main band and the smaller secondary band means that the latter has to be removed right around the time the second third begins, while the main band needs to be removed around the halfway point.
- The wrapper used on this cigar has some elasticity to it but is still quite fragile, as you can see from this photograph of the damage after a standard straight cut. Fortunately, this did not cause any issues when it came to the burn or the draw.
- Having said the above, I can’t say enough about how good the construction was: all three cigars featured excellent draws as well as slightly thin but plentiful smoke production, while only one cigar needed a very minor correction in the second third.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time for all three cigars averaged one hour and 37 minutes.
It is always interesting when the nicest thing I can say about a cigar is how amazing the construction is, but that is the case with the Gurkha Coleccion Especial TAA 2022, which featured a combination of excellent draws, copious smoke production and a burn line that very rarely wavered from razor sharp. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the flavors—which are muted and linear for the most part—and have an ever-present bitterness that becomes aggressive enough that nearly overwhelms the profile in the final third. In the end, I love the amazing construction the Colección Especial TAA 2022 has to offer, but if you want to try this blend, I would recommend trying one of the other vitolas first.