Cigar Reviews

Gurkha Symphony

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Trying something different over at Casas Fumando today. It’s a brand I rarely smoke and the only time I really smoke it is when I get it in a sampler or gifted. I’ll be up front and say I have a general bias against these cigars. The main reason is two fold, one being I haven’t had good luck with my previous Gurkha cigars and second being that EVERYTHING they make always seems to be super “Limited”. Well today’s cigar comes from a friend I play hockey with, Danny, and he asked me to try it out (Thanks Danny!). He didn’t ask me to review it but we haven’t had a Gurkha up on the site in awhile so I did it anyway.

The Gurkha I am smoking today is called the Symphony. I had no idea what the name was at first because it’s not labelled anywhere on the cigar. Aside from their normal massive band, there is only one smaller silver and black band with an illegible signature and the following phrase: “A Century of Tradition | Silver Edition”. The signature happens to be K. Hansotia’s whose name is also on the standard Gurkha band. I searched high and low for the name and finally stumbled upon Symphony. Originally the cigar only came with the silver band but the traditional Gurkha band was added afterwards

The cigar itself is a limited production run (Big surprise, right?) of 3000 boxes for each of the 3 sizes that were produced. The production began in 2004 and the available sizes were Robusto, Torpedo and Churchill. Today’s cigar is the Robusto vitola and the size itself is a little larger than most Robusto, making it close to being a Toro.

Tony managed to squeeze in a review of the Gurkha Shaggy Maduro a long ways back in 2009. I’m also going with a very unconventional pairing here and something I wouldn’t normally try but who cares right? 😀

Cigar: Gurkha Symphony
Drink: Rekorderlig Swedish Pear and Wild Berry Hard Cider
Vitola: Robusto (6 x 50)
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $4-6 (Original MSRP was about $15)
Burn Time: A little over 1.5 hours

Construction:
• This is fairly rough looking cigar, with lots of bumps and larger veins running the entire length of the cigar
• The wrapper around the cigar is a warm honey colour with some splashes of orange mixed in
• The top of the cigar is finished with a clean double cap
• The firmness of this cigar is fairly inconsistent, there are some soft spots and some hard spots
• The foot appears mostly well packed but has some areas spots that seem a little open
• The cap cut was a bit difficult since it was a soft spot on the cigar, so it squeezed together and made a bit of a mess but turned out ok in the end
• Draw is just about perfect at the start, nothing to complain about here
• As with a lot of Gurkha’s I’ve had, the large band was difficult to remove and once removed revealed a dark and damaged wrapper
• The bit of damage underneath the wrapper turned into a crack as the burnline approached

Burn:
• The toasting of this cigar was nice and easy, it glowed evenly in a short amount of time
• Through the first inch the burn is progressing nicely, a slight wave but nothing that looks to be worrisome
• As I work my way through the last half I’ve had no burn problems at all, I wouldn’t call it razor sharp but it is burning rather well considering some of the larger veins on the wrapper
• Despite all the larger veins along this cigar it burned rather well all the way down with me ever needing to give it a touch up
• Cigar burned a little hot near the nub so I had to set it down a bit early

Smoke & Ash:
• First reaction to the smoke it just right, each draw brings a good amount of smoke but it’s not overly thick or light
• There is a fair bit of resting smoke and a surprising amount continues to trickle through the cap after leaving it to rest
• The ash here is nicely formed but the color is not pretty, coming in with a brownish grey color
• First ash stayed nice and clean until tapping off into the ashtray a little past one inch
• The ash continued it’s clean and consistent shape holding on for at least an inch each time

Tasting Notes:
• The wrapper of this cigar gives off a very strong barnyard aroma. Close your eyes, take a whiff and you’ll feel like your visiting Old McDonald’s farm!
• Pre-light draw brought more barnyard type flavors mixed in with a helping of woodsy notes
• Initial draws are filled with mild woodsy flavors and a bit of a cinnamon flavor
• The retrohale is also fairly mild and mostly woodsy, with a dry and slightly creamy finish
• As I get to the halfway mark, there hasn’t been much change here, the primary flavor is still a cedar woodsiness and there are some minor hints of cinnamon like spice and a creamy finish
• The smooth creaminess continues and I’ve picked up a slight sweetness here and there
• The flavors are taking a light turn near the last third, they seem to be getting a bit more intense and body is building a bit. The lighter flavors like cinnamon and sweetness are pretty much gone now
• As I approach the nub, the flavors have changed to a bit of a burnt wood note
• The finish was fairly bland as most of the flavors had disappeared and the creaminess was gone a long time ago

Final Thoughts:
Surprising for me, this cigar started out fairly promising. It had the typical notes I would expect from a Connecticut cigar. It was smooth and enjoyable. As the cigar progressed it didn’t change up a whole lot which left me kind of disappointed. It’s not that it was bad, it was just one dimensional. It burned well with no need for touchups. I think this cigar had some great potential with the light cinnamon and sweet notes I was picking up but unfortunately they never shined too strongly. I don’t think this cigar is worthy of the “Limited” title since it doesn’t taste much different from most other regular budget connecticut cigars. When you factor in the price of only $4 at some online retailers it makes this a much more attractable package. When the cigar was first released the MSRP was near $15 and I would have given this a terrible review at that price point, but at $4 this would have made a reliable regular production cigar. It can be enjoyed by mostly anyone and makes for a relaxing morning cigar as well.

Pairings:
So after reading Tony’s success on his unconventional pairing awhile back in his review of the EP Carrillo New Wave Connecticut I decided to give it a try with one of my Connecticut reviews. So here it is! I went with something slightly different, a Swedish imported Hard Cider from Rekorderlig. The can promises a pear cider mixed with Wild Berries and clocks in at 7%alc./vol. So how did this weird pairing work out for me? Let’s just say it was like pairing this cigar with a watered down and carbonated cough syrup… Ya, that about sums it up! I’ve had some local Apple Cider that was very tasty but this one just didn’t taste that great. I’m going to chalk up the weird flavor in it to the preservatives and artificial coloring that the locally made Ciders from Ontario don’t have.
Besides that big failure, I can totally see how a fruity beverage can pair well with a Connecticut cigar, especially on a nice summer day. As long as you find a good one of course… As with most Connecticut cigars, this Gurkha Symphony would probably pair best with a coffee.

Daniel T. (a.k.a. Dalamscius) is an IT Professional from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He enjoys cigars, scuba diving, hockey, fishing, nature and anything that challenges his mind. If he’s not sitting on his big comfy couch or at work you can usually find him in a boat on top of the water or 100ft under the water enjoying a dive. He is engaged to a wonderful Fiance and looking forward to his wedding. Feel free to contact Daniel anytime via email (dalamscius[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/Dalamscius

8 Comments

  1. Albert

    May 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

    wow what a shame that you didn’t think a whole lot about this cigar. Maybe you should try the Gukha Evil, it seems to have more flavor to it (a bit stronger). Great review!

  2. Dan

    May 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I think you should give up on Gurkha..lol. Nice review though!

  3. Tadd

    May 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Don’t tell anyone but I smoked a a Gurkha… just a few weeks ago. Not sure which band/ limited run it was. It has the red background Gurkha warrior and all I know is I paid .33 cents for it from a Large interanational B&M that won’t ship to Canada…. It was a three pack for $1. It was straightforward cedar and that was about all it gave me. I would say it was great for yard work and mowing in the AM. But not something I would reach for. Nice review and I agree with most of Gurkha’s product. The Sherpa however is pretty good for a inexpensive smoke.

  4. Dalamscius

    May 17, 2011 at 6:07 am

    @Albert – There’s so many Connecticuts out on the market that are so good and offered at cheaper MSRP’s that there’s really no need to seek out some of the Limited’s like this. I have had the Evil, it wasn’t bad but still not impressed by any Gurkha offering yet 🙁

    @Dan – I still have hope that there is at least one stick I’ll like in their massive inventory of Limited production cigars… lol

    @Tadd – Oh No Tadd! Are you ok??? Did someone force you to smoke it? Tony made me smoke this one! lol. That’s dirt cheap,. can’t really pass up a price like that even just to give something new a try. I also wish they had better naming on their sticks, it’s all the same label just different colors for the most part. I haven’t had a Sherpa but I’ve seen the name tossed around, I’ll keep my eyes open.

  5. Tony Casas

    May 17, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Daniel, you seriously gotta try the shaggy. I’m in the same boat. Gurkha has never wowed me, even with all the chances I give them. But the shaggy is actually VERY good. Especially the maduro.

  6. Lou Bozzelli

    May 23, 2011 at 9:47 am

    the funny thing was, i was in the middle of a Gurkha Colorado when i came across this review of Daniel T’s. a buddy of mine swears by these. the one i was smoking was a bit harsh from the beginning and kept on getting harsher. it was soft and spongy to the touch, not what you’d expect from the rolls royce of cigars. is that what it is, all hype? i want to try the viper just because i love box-pressed cigars. we’ll see how that works out some day??
    hopefully Daniel is coming to my cigar-b-que, he still hasn’t reserved. i’m still hoping though.
    smoke’em if you got’em boys!!!

  7. jjo

    June 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I find it amusing that Gurkha uses a revisionist slant in classifying their sizes. A toro becomes a robusto, as if they’re giving you more cigar for your money. Maybe next is a 7 X 60 petite corona. They don’t seem to think much of the level of intelligence of their customers.

    Too bad about the nasty cider. So much for the allure of all things European made – local is almost always better.

  8. Dalamscius

    June 7, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    @Tony – Shagging… I mean Shaggy is on my To-Do list, I hear good things about those but never pulled the trigger.

    @Lou – See, the experience you described right there is what I usually get from most Gurkhas and it’s why I avoid them. But I guess when you produce so many different blends there’s bound to be a good one here and there… lol

    @jjo – LOL! I know exactly what you mean! This was damn big for a “Robusto”. I wouldn’t bet against you on the Petit Corona estimation! haha
    Definitely agree on the local comment. I’ll stick to my local ciders from now on if I decide to venture into that category.

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