In early April, we saw the return of a classic Gurkha cigar: the Shaggy. First released in 2001, the Shaggy was just what it sounds like, a cigar that had an unfinished, shaggy tobacco foot.
The idea behind the unfinished foot of the Shaggy was that you could get a taste of the binder and filler, and once you hit the wrapper, you then should see a profile shift to include the now burning wrapper’s flavors. In the press release for the Shaggy’s return, Gurkha’s national sales director Juan Lopez had this to say.
In my travels throughout the country, visiting our clients and other tobacco shops, I’m always asked about the Shaggy cigar. People want to know what happened to the Shaggy and when is it coming out again? On a recent visit to our factory in Nicaragua, Carlos Llaca-Torano, Operations Director, was taking inventory when he came across a few boxes of the Shaggy. The Olivas Family, the original creator of the Shaggy, still had the recipe in their books from 2001. After a conversation with Kaizad and the Olivas, we decided to and make it available in limited quantities.
The Shaggy Vintage will be released in four different sizes.
- Gurkha Shaggy Churchill (7 x 48) – $9 (Boxes of 25, $225)
- Gurkha Shaggy Robusto (5 x 50) – $8 (Boxes of 25, $200)
- Gurkha Shaggy Toro (6 x 50) – $8.50 (Boxes of 25, $212.50)
- Gurkha Shaggy XO (6 x 60) – $10 (Boxes of 25, $250)
- Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha Shaggy Vintage Robusto (2016)
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos San Rafael S.A.
- Wrapper: Dominican Habano
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $8 (Boxes of 25, $200)
- Release Date: April 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: 4,000 Boxes of 25 (100,000 Total Cigars)*
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
*Annual production for each size
Not what I would call perfect or even, the mottled brown wrapper might be rough, but does have a very pleasant, oily feel to it. Overall it is quite firm, with very little give and no particular spots that give me pause. Coming off the wrapper is the light aroma of cocoa, earth, and a hint of leather. The cold draw is a bit more complex, starting off with a light grassiness, cocoa, some floral notes and then a sprinkle of spicy pepper hitting my tongue towards the finish.
Starting into the first third, spices, rich black pepper, a touch of cocoa and a slightly sour note make up the profile. As I somewhat expected, the lack of a wrapper on the first inch causes the ash to be slightly flaky, though the core of the ash does hold on easily to the inch mark. The draw is pretty tight, enough so that I would put it just outside of the acceptable range. I decide to cut another quarter inch off the cap in an attempt to open up the draw some, but it doesn’t really do much and is still requiring quite an effort on my part to get smoke going. Spices and black pepper still dominate the forefront of the profile, while a bit of cedar, cocoa and that still pesky sour note continue on in the background.
Moving into the second third, spice and black pepper are still the name of the game, though the sour note has grown a little bit, giving the entire profile a slightly harsh tone that isn’t too enjoyable. On a good note, the burn has been fairly even after the transition to the wrapper-covered part of the cigar, and the ash has tightened up as well, not flaking all over the place. There are some good flavors that are wanting to work past the harshness, including the cedar, cocoa, a little earthiness and a touch of vanilla, all being led by the spice and pepper.
Unfortunately the final third is still continuing with the harsh, sour notes, which if anything, have seemed to grow. The black pepper, spice, cedar, cocoa, earth and vanilla are still there, but the background notes are getting harder to distinguish. The tight draw has seemingly caused one section of the cigar to not ignite all the way, requiring a pretty significant touch up. The final inch and a half of the Shaggy kind of devolve the rest of the way, mostly becoming a mess of flavors behind a pretty strong helping of harshness and bitter notes.
- While all three samples did have a very tight draw, one sample seemed to finally open up slightly in the final third, though it was still pretty snug.
- I do enjoy the idea behind very distinct pieces of the blend being shown off on a cigar, whether it’s an unfinished foot, a covered foot, or a cigar that features different wrappers. Theoretically, each change should either include new flavors or leave old flavors behind, giving you a good idea of what each part of the blend adds to the overall profile.
- The 4,000 boxes of each size that are the annual planned production, are expected in shipments of 2,000 boxes twice a year.
- The box design is pretty neat—quite rustic looking, giving it that vintage look that they were going for—along with the loose tobacco inside makes it feel very much like an old wooden crate packed with delicate items.
- I was not sure what size I was sent for the review, so I measured it. The total length was 5 5/8″, or if you ignored the unfinished foot and just measured to the end of the wrapper, it was 5 1/4″ – neither of which match the 5″ Robusto or 6″ Toro. Charlie did confirm the bottom of the box said Robusto however, so I guess you get a little extra cigar for your money.
- Gurkha advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Gurkha Cigars.
- Final smoking time averaged a little under two hours.
Starting into the Gurkha Shaggy Vintage, I had somewhat high hopes. The cold draw ever so faintly had some characteristics of a Cuban Fonseca, which was surprising and a little intriguing. Moving on to the lit profile, the rich spice and pepper led what was a mostly interesting group of flavors, with the one nagging exception of the light sour note. Unfortunately, the tight draw, combined with the harsh and sour notes growing as I progressed through the cigar, really put a damper on my enjoyment, and in the end I doubt I will revisit this cigar again any time soon. I think the most frustrating part of the Shaggy is that underneath all that was a good profile that wanted to get out. The notes were there, but they just couldn’t work past the glaring problems. If you have fond memories of the original Shaggy release, which I never got to try, then I would say go ahead and pick up one of the new ones to try for yourself. Past that, it’s probably one of Gurkha’s blends that I would skip and move on to one of their other offerings.