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In 2011, Gurkha Cigars released the Spec Ops No. 1, a 7 1/2 x 52 toro extra made with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan and Dominican tobacco in both the binder and filler. Packaging-wise, 20 of the new cigars were encased in a Pelican-style travel humidor and included both a knife and a challenge coin, with the entire package retailing for $240.

Earlier this year, Gurkha decided to upgrade the release in some ways, while keeping some details the same. Gone was the Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, replaced by a blend dubbed Sniper that is composed of a Dominican wrapper, an Indonesian binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobacco. The 7 1/2 x 52 vitola, the Pelican-style case holding 20 cigars, the 7 7/8 fixed blade tactical combat knife with leg sheath and the challenge coin remain, and each case carries an MSRP of $240.

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Gurkha Sniper Case 1 Gurkha Sniper Case 3

Gurkha ceo Kaizad Hansotia had this to say about the cigars in a press release:

The Sniper cigars were made for the brave men and women who serve and sacrifice selflessly. Gurkha is proud to be part of America’s great military efforts. Therefore, we created a special cigar to properly recognize and commemorate the incredible job our military does, which is oftentimes unrecognized, occurring undercover and in the shadows. We also wanted to create something that represented a little piece of home that our soldiers can take with them and enjoy remaining safe on their journey. It’s a little reminder of the freedoms we have and our way of life that we are all fighting to preserve.

Gurkha Sniper 1 copy

  • Cigar Reviewed: Gurkha Sniper
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic
  • Binder: Indonesia
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 7 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $12 (Cases of 20, $240)
  • Release Date: March 26, 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Gurkha Spec Ops Sniper is physically impressive when held in my hand, with a dark espresso bean wrapper that is extremely rough to the touch. There is very little oil present, and the cigar is almost shockingly spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of barnyard, manure, earth, black pepper and mild raisin sweetness, while the cold draw brings almost shockingly light flavors of hay, earth, leather and grass.

The first third of the Gurkha Sniper opens with some mild oak and earth as the somewhat dominant flavors, followed immediately by notes of hay, dark chocolate, leather and dried tea leaves. There is some very obvious black pepper on the retrohale that begins to dissipate as the first third burns down, as well as some slight spice on my tongue. I am also picking up a nice raisin sweetness that seems to have been carried over from the cold draw, although the flavor is not overly strong at the moment. Construction-wise, the Sniper features an excellent draw after a simple straight cut as well as a decent burn that, while wavy, is not bad enough to need correcting as of yet. Although there is plenty of smoke coming from the foot, it is quite thin in body, and the strength fails to reach the medium mark by the end of the first third.

Gurkha Sniper 2

Unfortunately, the raisin sweetness from the first third continues to be quite light and fails to make much more of an impact in the second third of the Sniper. The dominant flavors continue to be a gritty earth and oak combination, followed by licorice, ground coffee beans, cream and slight cinnamon. Both the spice and the black pepper are reduced noticeably, and while the draw continues to impress, the burn has to be touched up a couple of times to keep it from getting out of control. The smoke production remains both high and thin, while the overall strength rises enough to hit a solid medium by the time the second third comes to an end.

Gurkha Sniper 3

The final third of the Gurkha Sniper continues on a very similar path to both the first and second thirds, with a somewhat stronger oak and earth combination leading the way, followed immediately by flavors of grass, espresso beans, dark cocoa powder, dried tea leaves and tobacco. Thankfully, the burn has evened up, and while the draw is as wonderful as ever, the smoke production has decreased noticeably. The strength takes a major jump right before the end of the cigar, putting the Sniper a bit stronger than medium by the time I put the nub down with about an inch to go.

Gurkha Sniper 4

Final Notes

  • Each one of the 20 cigars that were included in the box were so spongy when I first felt them that I could almost touch my fingers together while squeezing them. A day of dry boxing took care of the problem for the most part, but it is definitely something to be aware of.
  • The knife that comes with this package is massive, and looks like it belongs in a Rambo movie. It also was not very sharp out of the box, although that is probably for the best. I am thinking about using it to open boxes.
  • Kaizad Hansotia has been a proponent of the military for quite a while and it’s certainly part of Gurkha’s marketing.
  • The Pelican-style case the Sniper comes in is massive, and seems to hold humidity well, if the spongy cigars that came inside are any indication.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples of the Sniper averaged just under two hours.
  • Gurkha advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Gurkha Cigars.
84 Overall Score

Reading the review above, you might notice the liberal use of adjectives such as slight, mild and light used repeatedly throughout. The reason for this is simple: while the flavors in the Gurkha Sniper were enjoyable, they were also extremely light, leading to a profile that just not distinct enough to really make much more than a generally positive impression. Having said that, other than the somewhat fragile wrapper, the construction was quite nice for all three samples and there was plenty of smoke production throughout. In the end, the Sniper is a decent enough cigar that really could use a more distinct profile to put it in major contention with other cigars in the same price range.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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