As the cigar industry turned its eyes to the new year, in December 2016 Gurkha turned its eyes to the re-release of a cigar from its archives.

Formerly a regional release called the Dynasty, Gurkha announced in July that the cigar was being reborn as a national limited release called the Jubilee, with just 10,000 cigars being made and which went to retailers in the final days of 2016.

The Jubilee is a single vitola release, as the company selected a beefy 6 x 56 toro gordo vitola. The cigar is made with an Ecuadorian habano wrapper while Nicaraguan leaves make up both the binder and filler, with American Caribbean Tobacco producing the cigar at its Estelí, Nicaragua factory.

gurkha-jubilee-open-boxImage via Gurkha

Gurkha also gave the the Jubilee a dressed up presentation, packing the cigars in a 10-count humidor box that features both a hygrometer and humidification device. Interestingly, just 500 of the boxes featured cigars with cedar wraps and a gold ribbon foot band, while the others were shipped without them. A Gurkha spokesperson said that some customers prefer and request the cigars one way or the other, so the company accommodates their preferences.

Gurkha Jubilee 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha Jubilee
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: American Caribbean Tobacco S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 56
  • Vitola: Toro Gordo
  • MSRP: $20 (Boxes of 10, $200)
  • Release Date: Dec. 20, 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 (10,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Gurkha Jubilee is certainly a stout cigar and its presence gets reinforced with a sizable band. The wrapper is a uniform shade of light brown that reminds me of a latte, among other things. From a rolling perspective, it is laid on quite well with flat seams and nice caps that lead to a small pigtail or fantail twist at the top, as there is some variance between the samples. The fill is also fairly firm, though given how thin the wrapper is I’m not willing to give it too much of a squeeze. The foot of the cigar is ready with sweet cereal grains, offering a nose-in-the-box smell of Cheerios and Corn Flakes, and in one sample a touch of orange peel. The cold draw is a bit less upfront with flavors, but it does offer some dry tobacco notes and a very subtle creaminess that is quite nice first thing in the morning, while trace amounts of pepper stand out in the second sample.

It’s a very pedestrian start for the Gurkha Jubilee, as minimal amounts of pepper and cereal grain get paired with just a touch of chalk in the first puffs to wake up the palate. The flavor slowly begins to build as the smoke thickens up and adds a bit more creaminess, pepper begins to emerge, and the grains begin a gradual morph into woods that have me thinking of chewing on a pencil for a few puffs. One thing that is immediately noticeable is that the ash is quite fragile, as the first clump unceremoniously departs for my lap during the first sample. It’s also just about 30 minutes after lighting the band must come off, which risks doing a bit of damage to the wrapper and does significant damage to two of the three samples. My first retrohale contains more pepper than I would have thought; I was preparing myself for a sweeter, creamier smoke through the nose and instead got a good amount of white pepper that provided a lingering tingle throughout the nostrils. The burn rate of the Jubilee is quite quick and I find the sharp burn line quickly at the second third, as well as needing to have its band removed fairly quickly, which turns out to be problematic as it took pieces of every wrapper with it and created a rather ugly look for the cigar.

Gurkha Jubilee 2

By the start of the second third, the Gurkha Jubilee has settled at a mild-plus level of flavor that has seen the creaminess shift just a bit to a more powdered creamer note, while there is still a bit of pepper and wood in the background. The smoke is holding onto the level of thickness that it picked up in the first third though it now is more aggressive in drying out the mouth, as I feel my lips and tongue requesting water to rehydrate them. The thin wrapper is also becoming a bit problematic, as a piece gets stuck to my lip at one point and the crack that the removal of the band generated is now flapping in the breeze. At the midway point the cigar introduces some black pepper to the flavor, nudging into medium-minus territory in terms of strength. While the cigar remains fairly tame on the palate it certainly doesn’t lack for mouthfeel. The burn line continues to race up the cigar, and as quickly as the second third started it now concludes and gets into the final third.

Gurkha Jubilee 3

I must start by saying that the ash does a bit better job hanging on in the second half of the cigar than it does in the first, hanging on for close to an inch. The flavor has continued to creep up the strength and intensity scale with the woods and pepper becoming more prevalent and intense, and while the Jubilee hasn’t undergone much in the way of changes in the flavor, the growing intensity does give the palate and senses something to latch onto. The creaminess is back to being more along the lines of something liquid, and while subtle is still fairly thick in its layering. In the final inch and a half, the cigar shift again to take on a dueling flavor of vanilla ice cream and charred wood, as heat begins to affect the flavor. Other than the wrapper problems, which haven’t caused seemingly anything more than a cosmetic annoyance, the Gurkha Jubilee continues to burn flawlessly, with a crisp and even burn line, plenty of smoke and an easy draw.

Gurkha Jubilee 4

Final Notes

  • I don’t smoke a lot of Gurkhas, but I was intrigued to find the phrase “Authorized by Kaizad Hansotia” on the back of the band, along with his signature. A company spokesperson says it appears on all Gurkha bands, which I have either never noticed or simply didn’t commit to memory.
  • Also on the band is the marking “No. 0034,” which is the company’s internal blend code.
  • As might be expected, the band can and does take off some of the wrapper. While I like the band from a design perspective, it is almost a completely failure from a usage perspective. It needed much less glue and for what glue was used to be placed much more strategically.
  • The second cigar also developed cracks in the wrapper near the foot as it was being lit, while I could see a micro fracture in the leaf while taking the first draws of the third cigar.
  • For the record, we don’t factor things like wrapper issues into the score, unless it begins to affect the draw or burn of the cigar, which it didn’t in the case of the Gurkha Jubilee.
  • Given the issues with the wrapper, I found myself bringing a bottle of wrapper repair adhesive out with me for the final sample, something I can’t say I’ve done with many other cigars.
  • I certainly don’t feel like laying blame on anyone in particular for the wrapper issues at this point; a choice was made to use a certain leaf to produce a certain flavor and strength level, and it happens to be a bit more delicate than many other wrappers. I certainly don’t like the fact that it has issues and maybe smoking this in a more humidified environment would help mitigate that.
  • While I would like to try this blend in smaller ring gauges, the 56 ring gauge didn’t bother me at all. It’s a beefy stick, but the cigar is on the light side and the smoke isn’t overbearing whatsoever, which seems to counterbalance the cigar’s large vitola.
  • I would also be interested to try the cedar-wrapped version to see what sort of differences the two might present. Again, this cigar did not have the cedar wrap.
  • Gurkha advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar and Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136) carries the Gurkha Jubilee.
89 Overall Score

While I never smoked the original Gurkha Dynasty, I can certainly see why the company chose to bring it back for this release. This mild smoke may not offer the most exciting adventure of flavors, but for the first cigar of the morning or when the palate is in the mood for something milder, it would more than fit the bill. The building intensity of flavors and strength is noticeable and enjoyable, while the cigar restrains itself from imparting any sort of nicotine hit or unfavorable flavors. The fragility of the wrapper remains a concern for me and should be for anyone who smokes it, but thankfully that is about the only thing to worry about with this cigar.

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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.