This just catches me as odd, and makes Gurkha cigars seem more like a novelty than a cigar brand to me. But lately, I have heard quite a few people in the cigar community speak freely, openly, and honestly about how great some of the Gurkha lines are. Not to mention my local shop owner boasts about a certain Gurkha that blew his socks off. Naturally, I gave in and I am here today to review (my first) Gurkha, The Shaggy madura toro.
The Gurkha family is amongst the leaders if not the leading company when it comes to Dominican Republic cigar manufacturing. It has been said that the Gurkha family’s main goal is to produce the finest vintage cigars in the world. They take every step in each and every cigar that comes out of the factory very seriously and the shaggy is no exception.
The Good Stuff: The Gurkha shaggy isn’t the newest cigar to hit the streets. In fact, It has been out roughly 3 years already. The Shaggy is packed with a 6 year aged Dominican binder and filler wrapped with an 8 year aged Connecticut wrapper. The amount of work that goes into each one of these cigars alone is enough to grab my attention.
Size: Toro 6×50 – Wrapper: Connecticut Maduro Filler/Binder: Dominican Strength: Medium
Prelight: The Gurkha shaggy is a pretty interesting cigar. First of all, the obvious. The Gurkha Shaggy has long filler tobacco literally sticking out almost an inch passed the foot of the wrapper, hence where the shaggy got it’s name from. The wrapper on the shaggy is a deep brown, and varies greatly in color. The wrapper on the shaggy looks almost like the brown, orange mesh-up on a calico colored cat, not to mention it is a lot lighter than the maduros I am used to. This isn’t a bad thing though. Many manufacturers are using synthetic dye to actually darken the shade and consistency of their wrappers. The Gurkha shaggy boasts just the opposite. The wrapper was very firm to the touch, and extremely veiny. It will be interesting to see how the burn line plays out amongst the shaggy foot and veiny texture. There are no soft spots, but there are two glue spots on the wrapper. One is a dab of excess glue that expanded passed the secondary band and spilled out onto the wrapper. The second looks almost as though the person handling the cigar had gotten glue on one of their fingers and used my cigar to wipe it off (I’ll post a picture of this further into the review). The shaggy is capped off with a very rounded double-cap. The band on the shaggy is far surpassed exceptional. This was something that has always drew me to Gurkhas. Although I haven’t purchased any, the packaging and brilliant wrappers make any Gurkha cigar stand alone next to any other cigar on the shelf.
This cigar was cut using my Palio double-bladed guillotine cutter and had absolutely no problems, or cracking during the cutting process. The wrapper smelled softly of cinnamon and ginger with a strong tobacco presence where as the foot carried the same tobacco scent along with very leathery aromas. The cold draw was very natural tobacco tasting, with hints of ginger, and leather.
First Smoke: As expected with most shaggy-foot cigars, I had absolutely no problem getting the Gurkha shaggy lit under my single flame butane torch. The draw was wild and extremely loose at first, but I am expecting that to change once the burnline hits the wrapper. The first flavor right off the bat is spice. Spice, spice, spice. Luckily, after a few hard draws the pepper had winded down considerably leaving behind an amazing mixture of gingerbread, raw coffee, leather, and cedar. After burning into the wrapper the draw, as expected, tightened up quite a bit. The shaggy was still producing large amounts of thick smoke on the draw, while giving off little, to no stationary smoke. The smoke itself smelled pretty pleasant. That of earthy/woodsy aromas with a kick of spice. I was able to burn right through the glue spot in the following picture without any complications in the burn-line or changes in flavor:
The burnline was very thin with slight waves. That’s expected when lighting up a shaggy footed cigar. The ashed produced in the shaggy area was a dark grey and very flaky while the ash in the wrapped area was a brilliant greyish white and extremely well packed. I got about two inches of ash before it gave way.
Halfway There: Around the halfway mark the flavors began to smoothen out. The ginger and spice was still there, but had flatted with the leather taste. The pepper was no longer present, and the cedar was the most dominant flavor in the bunch. It also seems as thought I was pulling off a very slight citrus aftertaste, but that may have just been the beer I had paired the shaggy with. There was almost no signs of nicotine. This is one smooth and creamy cigar. The burn line had gotten just a little bit out of hand, but a quick touch up fixed that and it was back to normal. The shaggy is burning a lot quicker than most cigars I have had lately, but that may be due to the extremely well aged tobacco used to create it, and in no way dampened the overall smoking experience.
Finish: One of the only things that have irked me so far about the shaggy is the massive bands it, alongside most other Gurkhas carry. I guess it’s a double edged blade between the massive amount of detail and significance they carry, and the amount of glue used to hold them on. The bands were both too tight to slide off, and carried much more glue that I had hoped for. As stated before some of the glue actually leaked out onto the wrapper of the cigar itself. But honestly, if band problems are the worst of my problems then this cigar has some great potential. The finishing flavors were much like the second half, gingerbread, leather and cedar. The pepper did make a brief re-appearance shortly before getting to the nub. One surprise was the smooth finish. There was no build up of harshness when reaching the end of this smoke, and that is not something I’m used to. Another good note, is the fact that I had no further issues with the burnline at all.
Overview:The Gurkha Shaggy surprised me in many different ways. From the superb construction to the extremely pleasant taste. Needless to say my mind has been changed. I’m not full sold on Gurkha yet, but if my future experiences mimic even half of the enjoyment I have encountered while smoking this cigar, consider me a fan.
I would recommend this cigar to absolutely anyone. Enthusiasts will be able to appreciate the perfect construction and complex flavor profile. Novices will appreciate the smooth, creamy experience with the almost non-existent aftertaste. And non-smokers won’t be annoyed with you smoking one around them.
The value of this cigar is about average. I believe these were marked somewhere in the $7 – $8 range. Very affordable.
This Gurkha shaggy was paired with a New Belgium 1554 Brussel’s style black ale.