When it comes to looking at 2019 in the context of Gurkha, it seemed to be a transformative one for the company.

At the beginning of the year, the company hired Jim Colucci as its chief operating officer and president. There were staff changes, adjustments to the company’s structure and by the middle of 2019, some of the product was heading in a different direction.

While Gurkha has worked with a number of factories in various countries, it had never made a cigar at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory owned by AGANORSA. That changed with the introduction of the Gurkha Nicaragua Series.

As with many cigars made at TABSA, the Gurkha Nicaragua Series is a  Nicaraguan puro using AGANORSA’s tobacco. For this blend, corojo 99 is used as both the wrapper and binder. The fillers include both corojo 99 and criollo 99, with the cigar released in four sizes:

  • Gurkha Nicaragua Series Robusto (5 x 52) — $9.75 (Box of 20, $195)
  • Gurkha Nicaragua Series Toro (6 x 54) — $9.95 (Box of 20, $199)
  • Gurkha Nicaragua Series Magnum (6 x 60) — $10.95 (Box of 20, $219)
  • Gurkha Nicaragua Series Belicoso (6 1/8 x 52) — $10.95 (Box of 20, $219)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha Nicaragua Series Toro
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Corojo 99 & Criollo 98)
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $9.95 (Box of 20, $199)
  • Release Date: Oct. 8, 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

It’s a solidly colored shade of mud that has a bit less oil in person than the pictures taken both by me and others would suggest. Once removed from the cellophane, it’s pretty apparent that the wrapper is from Nicaragua and that is unlikely to be a mild cigar. There’s quite a bit of acidity along with some dark chocolate and barnyard from the wrapper. The foot is sweeter, though still full in intensity, with milk chocolate, Spanish cedar and floral flavors. Retrohales have the acidity, chocolate and some dry pasta notes, right around medium-full.

The Gurkha Nicaragua Series starts with a mixture of earthiness, chocolate, leather and some allspice, though the latter is only on the middle of the tongue. It gets a bit drier thanks to nuttiness, joined by French bread and a bit of floral sweetness. Retrohales have semi-sweet nuttiness, leather, white pepper and an acidity that reminds me of some bad sparkling wine. It finishes nutty with white pepper, some Worcestershire sauce and a bit of tarragon, the bittersweet herb that is often compared to anise and is a key ingredient in Bérnaise sauce. Flavor is full, body is medium-full, strength is medium.

Things get spicier in the second third with an uptick in the white pepper as well as an added paprika flavor. Elsewhere, there’s an earthiness and some concentrated apple flavors in the mouth. Retrohaling the Gurkha delivers key lime, Ruffles and white pepper. The finish had white pepper over nuttiness and some peanut shells. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-full. Construction remains great, though if I had to nitpick, the draw is a bit open.

The final third continues to get spicier, though there are a number of contrasting flavors. With each puff, chocolate gets stronger and is joined by a toasty flavor, lemon and some amaretto. The white pepper increases its intensity on the retrohale and is increasingly isolated. At times I get some lemon flavor, though the white pepper overwhelms it. The finish is dominated by peanuts for about 15 seconds after the smoke has left my palate; after that, the white pepper comes in and takes over. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is full.

Final Notes

  • This definitely seems like a cigar that would be best enjoyed on a cold winter day. The dark nuttiness and chewy profile seems preferable this time of year compared to a day with a scorching sun.
  • The draw was great on one cigar, the other two had some issues in their middle parts.
  • I’m guessing this cigar is a direct result of Gurkha’s hiring of Jim Colucci, who has worked with AGANORSA during his tenure at Sindicato.
  • While still very much Gurkha-themed, the packaging looks like Montecristo. The shape of the top band is the same and the color scheme and layout are very similar to the Montecristo Nicaragua Series. I’m not sure if this was intentionally meant as a shot at Altadis U.S.A., which Colucci once ran, but that’s certainly how many at Altadis took it.
  • I’m not really sure why one would do it with this cigar; it’s a lot stronger than the Montecristo Nicaragua in my opinion. If you are going to knock off Montecristo’s packaging, I’d think you’d want to do it with a cigar that is similar, that is to say a milder profile.
  • The bands do look good and in a world of not only massive bands, but also second and third bands, it’s refreshing and appreciated to see a cigar where 80 percent of the wrapper isn’t covered in paper.
  • AGANORSA Leaf, the factory that makes this cigar for Gurkha, advertises on halfwheel.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the Gurkha Nicaragua Series Toro.
88 Overall Score

The Gurkha Nicaragua Series marks a very different chapter for the company. This is not the best cigar to come from the TABSA factory, but it is what I would expect from it. Gurkha has had some good cigars in its extensive portfolio, but the Nicaragua Series easily ranks as one of the more enjoyable cigars I’ve had from the company. The flavors are rich and blend well, the construction is fantastic and the price point is great. I know there were many retailers who brought the cigar in on the idea that it’s from AGANORSA, not Gurkha—and I know that some have been very impressed, a feeling I share.

Avatar photo

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.