If you’re anything like me, you feel a little lost when it comes to Gurkha cigars. They fill page after page of cigar catalogs, both online and print. And yet, their own website seems to list a completely different set than you see in your local shop. In short, there’s just no telling how different lines of them there are out there. And as soon as you start counting, a few more hit the market. It seems that Gurkha cigars a little like guppies. Leave ‘em alone for any period of time, and before you know it, your humidor is overflowing with pretty, shiny cigars.
In an attempt clear up things a bit, a couple of the cigar bloggers on twitter were throwing around the idea of a “Gurkha week” of cigar reviews. The plan was do it this week, but as all half-baked plans go, it ran into a hitch or two. Jerry was under the weather with a case of torpedo-idis and Walt had prior cigar review commitments. So the week quickly shrunk to a day. And that day is today. I guess that makes this “Gurkha day” at least here on the Stogie Review.
So here’s the scoop on the Beast. Only a thousand boxes are made a year, and they come sporting a ’96 Costa Rican maduro wrapper. But before you do the math, you should know that these aren’t the puny 25-cigar boxes you’re used to. The Beast comes in beastly big boxes of 35 cigars. And now you know what I know. Let’s smoke this monster.
Size: 6 1/2 x 58 (Toro)
Wrapper: 1996 Costa Rican Maduro
Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras
Smoking Time: 2 hours
To my eyes the Gurkha Beast looks bigger than it really is. But once you get the cedar sheath and second “Beast” band off the cigar it seems to shrink a bit to fit it’s published dimensions. Don’t get me wrong though, the Beast is a gorilla finger of a cigar.
I didn’t notice any flaws visually in the first two of the cigars I smoked. Both were dark, lightly veined and fairly oily. But the third had an unusual skin condition, so to speak. The wrapper on this cigar was covered with lighter brown spots. But that’s not all. I also noticed that part of the wrapper was also covered with little goose bumps. Reportedly these little bumps portend great flavor. And even if they don’t, they make for a nice, no-slip surface.
All three cigars were nicely firm and well packed with tobacco. Taking a quick sniff of the wrapper, I found it to smell to have the pretty common compost aroma, with a bit of sweetness to it. After clipping the cap with my Xikar scissors, I noted a pruney flavor in the cold taste.
Overall, the burn was pretty impressive in two of the three cigars. In spite of the cigars monster moniker, it was pretty docile in this department. Long, solid, light colored ash was the name of the game. No funny business. Well, almost no funny business. That burn line did get a little unruly at times.
I must have angered the other cigar. I found that I really didn’t care for it when it was angry. It tried to become an even more incredible hulk, splitting through it’s Costa Rican wrapper with some loud cracks. Fortunately, even in it’s enraged expanding state, it was no match for fire. And though it wasn’t pretty while it burned, the smoking experience didn’t suffer too greatly.
One thing that did surprise me about the burn is how long it didn’t take. For it’s size, I had expected I was looking at a two and a half hour smoke. But like clockwork, I was out of finger room on the cigar at the two hour mark every time. And somehow, it didn’t seem rushed.
It I could describe the cigar’s flavor with only one word, it would really save a lot of time. Seriously though, this cigar is very smooth. From foot to head, it’s a gentle giant on the palate. The body is probably right around medium, but on the lighter side of medium.
The cigar opens up with a rich combination of cocoa, leather and coffee. The coffee flavor fades as the first third proceeds but the smooth cocoa and leather continues. I also got a little bit of nuttiness as well. Later on, the flavor took on a syrupy sweetness.
The second third took on an earthy element with occasional pockets of cinnamon, but remained cocoa-y, leathery, and syrupy sweet.
The cigar looses a bit of the smoothness by the final third, and the leather becomes a bit more prominent. But it definitely does not become harsh by any stretch of the imagination. I noticed a little of the aromatic nature of the cedar just before I put the Beast down.
The size isn’t the only thing beastly about this cigar. And while it might have had a docile burn and gentle touch on the palate, it’ll beat on your wallet like a sasquatch with a toothache. I just have a heck of a time being able to justify $20 for a single cigar. (Or $700 for a box!) Based on my experiences with the Beast, I can vouch for the quality (and quantity) of the tobacco, but I just don’t see me trading my Andrew Jacksons for them. (And I didn’t. I don’t mind telling you I got these one of the cigar auction websites.)
The verdict on this cigar is a tough one. On one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed this cigar. Good draw, good rich flavors, good burn. In fact, I think it’s the first Gurkha I’ve had in a long time that I actually looked forward to smoking again. But on the other hand it’s a Gurka Beast or, what, half a tank of gas? Both burn nicely, but the Beast won’t haul my butt from place to place. (Though the Beast’s smoke does smell a lot better than car exhaust.) So I guess the verdict is positive, but with serious reservations about the price tag.
Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: I’m really tempted to.
Recommend It: Yes, if money is no option, or you find ‘em discounted.
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.