Posts Tagged With: Cigar Authority

Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild

Back in early 2014 I visited Nicaragua and on my way back I spend a week in Florida, a few days in Miami and a few days in Orlando. In Miami I visited Miami Cigar & Co to hang out with Barry Stein and after work we went to a cigar bar downtown. Barry introduced me to Juan Lopez from Gurkha Cigars, a brand that just came to the Dutch market. Since I was working in the industry Juan asked me what my expectations were for Gurkha on th Dutch market and I told him that the prices were insane, three times MSRP and I showed him the prices on a Dutch webshop (prices are fixed, set by the distributer). That was something that said distributer did with all of his brands, he marked it up crazy thinking the end consumer was stupid and would buy it anyway. I have to say, he learned from his mistakes and his prices are now up to par. But it shocked Juan, so he invited me to come over to the office the next day.


I called my employer what to do, I mean, I was there on vacation and I wasn’t about the steal a brand from a competitor, especially not a brand I’m not a big fan off, but we decided that I should hear them out and let them know that if they weren’t happy with their distributer we would be open for talks. The Gurkha offices don’t look anything special from outside, just a boring office building but once you enter, wow, especially their lounge with bar in colonial style blows your mind, and the hidden room with all the blends is a nice feature too. Juan hooked me up with a nice backpack, that I still use, a Gurkha knife that has fallen to pieces after I forgot to take it out of my pocket while doing laundry and a whole lot of cigars. I had smoked several Gurkha’s before and I was, and still am, reluctant to light them due to previous experiences. But heck, here we go, maybe it surprises me.


Now this cigar, 6×54, is made on the Dominican Republic by a factory called Tabacos Don Leoncio, a factory I had never heard of before. I don’t know what else they produce, so I have no idea. And that’s also the problem with Gurkha, they have so many different factories make their cigars that it’s hard to find DNA in their lines. The blend consists of Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobacco, an Ecuadorean Habano binder and a Cubra Habano wrapper from Brazil. The wrapper had a mild reddish shine to it but looks a bit bumpy. The construction is good and it has, what it looks like, a quadruple cap but that could just be an error from the roller. The ring is typically Gurkha with a drawing of a Gurkha, a black banner with white letters saying the name of the company and a lot of gold, detailed decorations and of course “by K. Hansotia”. The aroma is mild to medium strong and has a mild acidic barnyard smell to it. So far its all good, lets hope the cigar tastes as good as it looks and especially the ring.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is a little on the tight side. I taste a little floral raisin with a little bite. I lit the cigar with a soft flame. The first puff is cedar with some pepper but with a weird milky chocolate flavor. Soon it changes to rotting leaves with a little chocolate. The chocolate gets stronger after a third. Halfway I taste some honey, that cheap milky chocolate and some bitter spices and pepper. Near the two thirds mark I taste some cedar again.


The smoke is medium thick but I get a decent amount of it. The draw is good, not great but still good. The burn is a bit off. The ash is dark but firm. This is a medium bodied, medium flavored cigar. The smoke time is about an hour and 45 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No! This cigar confirmed my previous experiences with Gurkha.

Score: 79

79

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Categories: 79, Dominican cigars, Gurkha | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Guayacan Habano Corona

Years ago, on one of my yearly vacations to Florida, I was invited to visit Nestor Miranda & Jason Wood, whom I met at several Intertabac trade shows. I dropped by the office and met Barry Stein, a former cigar blogger turned cigar industry professional (like me) as the multimedia guy for Miami Cigar & Co. and we developed a friendship. Barry left the company and decided to re-release his own cigar brand he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co. named Kilo. I read about this on Barry’s Facebook I think March or April of 2015 so I send Barry a message asking him who’s making it. Barry’s reply was “since I haven’t announced it yet, I won’t tell but its made in Esteli” to which I reply “That’s why I’m asking, I’ll be there soon and hopefully I can mooch some as they won’t be available in The Netherlands”. So after promising I wouldn’t disclose the factory before Barry did it himself he said it was Noel Rojas, whom I never heard of by that time but Barry praised him for his blending skills. Barry got me in touch with Noel and after a few calls and text messages we made an appointment in Esteli during my stay there where Noel handed me a bundle of Kilo and Barry asked me to send pictures of the cigars with rings as he had seen the rings and smoked the cigar but never seen them together. Call me a geek, but I think it’s cool to see the finalized product before the brand owner sees it. By the way, by the time you’re reading this: Barry is now working for 2 guys smoke shop and the cigar authority and has sold the Kilo name.


So I meet up with Noel, he shows me his factory Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa, which is now his old factory as he built a new one with his business partner called Tabacalera New Order of the Ages aka NOA, we go to dinner at Restaurant Cohifer in downtown Esteli and we talk about the possibilities for Noel’s brands in The Netherlands and Belgium. Ofcourse I was only an employee so I couldn’t say yes or no there and then, I had to consult with my employer and Noel said he would send us a bunch of samplers. A few weeks later a huge box shows up from the USA and inside I found a few boxes of cigars made by Noel, some Guayacan, some Sabor de Esteli and some test blends just for fun. I had a few to my employer, hand a few to friends and kept a few for myself. Everybody agreed, good cigars, value for money so to cut a long story short: Noel’s brands are now distributed in The Netherlands but unfortunately I don’t work for that employer anymore so I can’t get them at a discounted price. The cigar I’m reviewing today is the Guayacan Habano corona, a 6×42 long cigar made from a Ecuadorean Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder (’98 Aganorsa Corojo) and Nicaraguan fillers. I promise, later this year I will also review the Guayacan Maduro, Sabor de Esteli, Kilo, Jas Sum Kral and previously I reviewed the Jas Sum Kral Maduro that are also made by Tabacalera Noa.


The cigar looks great, long and lean, with a wrapper that is colored like dark oak wood. The ring is colorful, printed on thick paper and not with a straight edge. The edge of the paper is printed in a bright and beautiful gold, which is one of the hardest things to print as I’ve been told by people from Vrijdag Printing in Eindhoven (NL), one of the premier cigar ring printers in the world, there is a black backdrop with a golden crown on top and a red banner with the brand name beneath the crown and a smaller red banner with ‘by Noel Rojas” at the bottom. In between there is a scenic picture of a tobacco barn and a tobacco field underneath a beaming sun. The construction feels great and you can see that Noel learned the trade in his home country of Cuba, which he fled on a raft in 2007, because of the beautiful triple cap. The cigar has a nice barnyard aroma, medium strong, without the ammonia. Since it’s a smaller ring cigar I decided to cut instead of punch and the pre light draw aka cold draw is great. I taste some cedar and plenty of spice and pepper. I light the cigar with my soft flame and taste a medium strong coffee with a little spice and some pepper in the aftertaste. After two puffs the pepper gets strong but there’s also a bit of sweetness.


After a centimeter I taste some milky chocolate with pepper and a little caramel, it’s mild creamy. Slowly but surely the pepper is replaced with some oak and green spices. Every few puffs I taste the chocolate again. Right before the two third mark I taste some nutmeg too. The chili peppers make a comeback too. The oak is still the base flavor and the flavors are all well balanced. After two thirds there is also a little mixed nuts flavor with a tiny bit of salt. There is a strong peppery flavor on my lips for a while. The nutty flavor is hardly noticeable anymore, oak is back as the base. At the end I taste a mild mint flavor in the aftertaste.


The draw is just simply great, just the right amount of resistance. The smoke is medium plus thick and with a decent amount. The ask is salt and pepper colored, it’s quite firm too. The burn is straight, no touch ups. This cigar is medium full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is close to two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, they are available in the Netherlands now and once I’m out I’ll get some more.

Score: 93

93

Categories: 93, Guayacan, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Kilo Toro

Yes I know, almost exactly 2 years ago I reviewed this cigar too, so lets call this a redux. I wanted to review this cigar with my 100 point scoring system before they were all gone so this was my last chance. Here’s the story, years ago I met Barry Stein when he worked for Miami Cigar & Co when I went to visit Nestor Miranda and Jason Wood at the office and we stayed in touch, actually, everytime I went to Miami Barry and I made time to smoke a stick or two so when I saw him post on Facebook that he was brining back his brand that he was working on before he joined Miami Cigar & Co I asked for more information.


All Barry said that the cigar was being made in Esteli, a town I would visit soon after the conversation and after a little push Barry told me who made the cigars but I had to promise not to tell before he publicly announced it. It was Noel Rojas, back in his old factory Aromas de Jalapa, nowadays Noel works from Tabacalera NOA and Barry was kind enough to get me Noel’s contact information. This all led to the introduction of the Rojas, Sabor de Esteli and Guayacan brands in The Netherlands 18 months later but that’s a side step. I visited Noel at the factory and he gave me a bundle of the Kilo Toro and Barry asked me for pictures because he had not seen the complete cigars with the rings.


Now I can’t tell you anything about the blend as I simply don’t know, but I can tell you all about the looks. The cigar looks cool, the wrapper is has a deep dark brown color with a light oily shine and no noticeable veins, the construction feels great and you can see Noel’s Cuban heritage with the triple cap. The cigar ring is one of the best i’ve seen, high glossy paper, pitch black with a thick golden outline that really pops, white chemistry drawings and KILO in golden letters. On the back you will find the United Cigars logo, think Route 66 with 3 white stars in blue and the classic American red & white stripes. The aroma is great, deep and it reminds me of the rolling tobacco my father used to smoke when I was a kid and before his health made him stop. There is absolutely no acidic aroma at all, no ammonia, nothing.


I decided to punch the cigar. The cold draw is fine, I taste a little raisin with a little spice and honey. I lit the cigar with a soft flame as usual. I taste coffee with some leather and jalapeño pepper. On my lips I taste a very mild honey. After a few puffs I taste pepper, a mixture of spices and some honey with a leathery aftertaste. After a centimeter I taste some cedar too.

After a third I taste some pepper, some cedar, some honey and a little cocoa. Halfway the cigar gets a little bitter on the tip of my tongue and I taste some spices, a little nutmeg, a little cinnamon, and also a little citrus. The flavors are quite dry, I need to drink a lot of water with this cigar. The cigar also gets a little peppery again. Near the end I also taste some freshness and the pepper is gone. There is also a mild nutty flavor


The draw is fantastic and the smoke is too, thick, plentiful and white. The ash is firm, dense and light colored. The burn is a bit crooked though but not too bad, so I don’t need to correct. The cigar is medium full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and 50 minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? That would be impossible as Barry has sold the rights to the name and the cigar has been discontinued.

Score: 94

94

Categories: 94, Kilo, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera Noa | Tags: , , , , , ,

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