Thursday, August 24, 2006

Gurkha is a bouquet brand by K. Hansotia & Co. The lowdown on these cigars is that they are high-priced super-premiums but since most of their sales come through the internet, you can often buy them at 50% of MSRP.

Gurkha Master Select Toro
Wrapper: Havana 2000
Filler: Honduran, Dominican
Size: 6.0 x 50
Price: $8.40 (MSRP), $5.00 (online)

Wow! I was very impressed with this one. Strong distinctive flavor... smooth and slightly sweet... Rated '91'. Out of the 5-pack I bought on CigarBid, the most memorable ones were the first two. The first I smoked while driving back to Memphis from Prattville, AL. It was a very hot spring day, with the windows on the Geo Tracker rolled down (I miss that car; it was perfect for smoking cigars on the open road!). Another one I smoked on the beach in North Carolina, and for that reason, this cigar always reminds me think of white sand, a deep blue ocean on a windy day, and clam chowder soup (which is what I ate for dinner that night).

These cigars have a rich brown wrapper, not too veiny, and usually burn very slow, with a butter-cream finish on the tongue. There were no constrution problems.

Gurkha Expedition
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Filler: Dominican
Size: 6.0 x 50
Price: $5.58 (MSRP), $3.75 (online)

These cigars have a pale brown wrapper, with very few veins, and come wrapped in a cedar sleeve. Very mild. Curiously, they do not inherit the cedar-y/nutty/grassy tastes and aromas like other cedar-wrapped sticks. Instead, they are characterized mostly by a bitter--almost acrid--taste. I've tasted that same bitterness in another cigar, long ago, but I can't remember which one.

This cigar goes very well with a glass of sangiovese du romana, while reading Sherlock Holmes stories on a warm summer evening. Unfortunately, on another night, it did not go as well with pinot noir and Sophocles.

Gurkha Class Regent
Wrapper: Havana 2000
Filler: Dominican Piloto
Size: 4.7 x 52 (Robusto)
Price: $10.10 (MSRP), $6.50 (online)

Rated '90' at least twice by Cigar Aficiondo, this cigar is supposed to be as "prestigous" as the Arturo Fuente OpusX. But I'm guessing sales aren't keeping up with marketing hype, because I won a five-pack from CigarBid at roughly $2.00 each. They were paired with five Indian Taback Super Fuertes and, frankly, it was no contest. Whereas the Super Fuertes were strong and aromatic, the box-pressed Class Regent was a dud. No "black cherry" spiciness or "long, leathery" finish, as advertised Just a rather boring, undistinctive taste.

OK, to be fair, I've only smoked two so far. The second one, which had aged in my humidor for 3 months, was perhaps slightly better than the first -- a little more "toothiness" at the start (for lack of a better adjective). But the flavor quickly dissipated within the first half-inch, and the cigar was very bland after that. It had a good draw, but its biggest characteristic was still the lack of flavor. I also sold one to a friend (his humidor was bare and he needed 10 smokes for vacation... don't worry, I gave him very generous prices) But he didn't like it either.

Postscript May 2009: I've probably smoked another half dozen Class Regents since I wrote this review three years ago; these Class Regents keep cropping up in CigarBid samplers. I still think they're boring, but several friends who've received them as gifts from me tell me it's one of their favorite cigars. I don't understand it.

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