Cigar review time! Honestly, I love doing cigar reviews because it means I get to kick it here in the office, light up, and simply enjoy a smoke. It beats nervously puffing on a cigar while trying to meet deadlines at the threat of getting taken out back and beaten with a rubber hose (OSHA, help!). I’m just kidding of course, but today I’m featuring my Gurkha 125th Anniversary cigar review, I’m going with the XO size, and this baby is a behemoth of a cigar coming in at 6×60 and ranked number 9 on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 Cigar of the Year list. Of course there are other sizes available that are much more manageable such as a Robusto, Rothschild, and Torpedo, if you’re like me and tend to stray away from bigger cigar sizes.
I’ll give you a little background of the cigar to start things off. Gurkha 125th Anniversary cigars are made at the Pinar Del Rio factory in the Dominican Republic using tobaccos from Nicaragua, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. I was surprised to see Brazilian filler since their tobacco is used mainly for wrappers. The binder is Ecuadorian and the wrapper is a Brazilian Habano (See what I mean?).
The 125th anniversary label does not represent the company’s 125th year in business, considering Gurkha got its start in 1989 when Kaizad Hansotia bought a Portuguese cigar roller’s entire stock while in India. Don’t worry, I was scratching my head too. The name Gurkha had its first attachment to cigars in 1887 with colonial British troop’s fascination with Nepalese Gurkha fighters. They subsequently named the cigars that they rolled and smoked after these fighters, and thus the connection was made. It wasn’t until Gurkha was founded that the name reemerged in the cigar world. The 125th Anniversary simply recognizes the attachment cigars have to the name Gurkha. Enough with the history lesson, let’s move along to my Gurkha 125th Anniversary cigar review!
Gurkha 125th Anniversary Cigar Review
Like with all other Gurkhas, the cigar label is simply stunning and matches the light color of the wrapper. I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea of a Brazilian Habano wrapper though. Usually we get Arapiraca or Mata Fina coming out of Brazil, but I guess Gurkha wanted to shake things up a bit. I can’t find one protruding vein in the entire cigar, and it’s smooth as silk. The perfectly applied cap cut off with ease, marking its exceptional construction. I can’t say a bad thing about the appearance or construction of the cigar.
The cold draw matched the aroma of the unlit cigar, both consisting of some sort of sweetness and leather. I also noticed some black pepper on the cold draw, and the taste of cedar far outweighs the aroma of cedar. The cold draw was easy with some resistance.
Let’s bring some fire into the mix, shall we?
The cigar lit with relative ease, so I assume it won’t be strong, but we’ll see if I stumble to my car later at the end of this smoke. The draw is exactly what the cold draw indicated, easy with slight resistance. The burn started out stellar, got pretty wavy in the middle, and then corrected itself towards the final third. More on this in my final thoughts.
The aroma at first is a light sweetness, cedar, and in my opinion a lot of cocoa that hits right in the back of the nose.
As I continue through the smoke into the second third, the aroma is pretty much unchanged. There is still a strong cocoa aroma, but it is being challenged by a very sweet cedar.
The cocoa retreats heavily by the final third and I’m left with a sweetness and cedar as the main culprits.
The first third is pretty interesting, but in a good way. I’ve never had a cigar give me this much tobacco flavor as an aftertaste. It almost seems as if I’m still pulling a cold draw on the cigar. Of course some other flavors come to mind such as cedar and a distinct sweetness with small hints of cinnamon, a very light black pepper, and cocoa. If you’re a fan of trying to pick up a ton of flavors in your smoke, this is a winner for you. As I approach the middle-end of the first third, the distinct tobacco taste is starting to subside.
The start of the second third adds an increased element of leather and earth and the taste of pure tobacco is starting to fade even further. Cocoa remains, but it has become less of a flavor note and more of an aromatic note, only really remaining as an aftertaste. I’m bummed to report cinnamon has left the building. Maybe he stepped outside to have a smoke or something. The good news is that this cigar is getting pretty complex and is changing on me quite a bit. As I enter the final stages of the second third, I realize all hope is lost for dear old cinnamon, pepper, and cocoa, but a tobacco flavor remains and is now joined by a creamy/nutty taste that has surged to the forefront.
The beginning of the final third is pretty consistent of tobacco and creaminess. I rather enjoy the creamy/nutty flavors that are now present since they add a little heft to the smoke. I was afraid this cigar would be mild bodied and mild strength the entire way through, but it’s making a breakthrough. The problem I’m running into is with the heat of the burn, and confirms why I’m not a massive fan of big cigars. I made the mistake of over-smoking the cigar which is causing a bitterness from the rapid burn of tobacco. My own fault. I simply let it sit for a while and it subsided. I will point out that the strength crept up on me, becoming more medium-full in strength. The final flavor notes were tobacco and still maintained its creaminess.
Drink With Cigar
I couldn’t bring myself to drink anything with this one. If it’s rated so highly, you simply can’t have anything interfere with the flavor of the cigar. I have some water with me though that I’m taking sips off of since this is more of a dry smoke.
In the office listening to some jazz. Relaxing way to start off a week.
There was a lot of good to come out of this smoke such as the smoke time which was about an hour and a half, strength, balance, complexity, and most of all, the flavors. Flavor-wise, it was right up my alley and hit on everything I like in a cigar, especially when the creamy/nuttiness was introduced. I really dig complex smokes and it shows a massive amount of time went in to blending this cigar to hit on so many flavors and change pretty rapidly. To the blender, kudos. There was a lot of smoke that was generated on each puff, but virtually none when I rested it in my ash tray which I found to be a non-issue, but I know a lot of people like to see clouds being formed above them.
Having said that, there were a few issues. I’ll start with the burn which got jagged towards the middle. Make sure as you smoke such a big cigar, you’re rotating it with each puff. Big ring gauge cigars have a tendency to
burn unevenly. If you burn and turn, it distributes heat evenly and you can correct this issue as I did.
This particular sample was a bit flaky when it came to the ash, which was a little frustrating, but overall, does not really affect your smoke.
Finally, I made the error of over-smoking the cigar which caused it to burn hot. Remember, with big cigars, you really have to smoke slowly which will cause the hot ember to work its way through the cigar slower. The harshness I tasted was my own fault, so don’t fall into the same trap I did. Remember to take your time and take slow draws.
Overall, I would still rate Gurkha 125th Anniversary cigars as stellar. I was blown away with how complex it was and the revved up power towards the end. It was almost indistinguishable from the first third to the final third, which again, I think just shows the blenders at Gurkha really put time and care into this. I would certainly recommend this cigar to anyone looking for a cigar to relax with and really concentrate on identifying multiple flavor changes. I will highly recommend this cigar as it is the most complex cigar you can find for its price point. I hope you enjoyed my Gurkha 125th Anniversary cigar review, and if you’re looking for some more info just check out Gurkha’s official site!