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Cigar Review: Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild

17 Apr 2019

While cigar companies are well-known for never missing an opportunity to commemorate an anniversary with a special cigar, not many companies can claim a milestone as old as 125 years. Gurkha, despite only being introduced in the U.S. in the mid-1990s, has a better claim than most.

The company’s 2012 125th Anniversary series was meant to celebrate the first association of Gurkha’s name with cigars, as opposed to the anniversary of the cigar company itself. It is made at the Tabacos Don Leoncio/PDR Factory in Tamboril (many of Gurkha’s recent offerings are made at this Dominican factory).

The cigar employs a dark, reddish-brown Brazilian Habano wrapper with some black discolorations but a consistent sheen. Beneath, it has an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos.

I smoked four of the Rothchild size (6 x 54) for this review. This vitola retails for around $10 but, since it has been on the market for a few years now, you’ll be able to find it for significantly less online if you shop around.

The large toro features a complex mix of flavors: medium-roast coffee, toast, pine nuts, slight citrus, and clove. And while there are myriad flavors, the complexity is in the Rothchild’s depth, not its changes from start to finish (which are minimal).

It is medium-bodied with a long, leathery finish. Construction is excellent with an even burn and sturdy ash. (Though I did discard one additional sample that had cigar beetle holes beneath the band; fortunately, thanks to improved quality control industry-wide, this is a rarity these days.)

In certain circles, I think it’s safe to say Gurkha has amassed a reputation as a brand with more marketing skills than cigar-making chops. That said, the Gurkha 125th Anniversary rightfully is seen by many as a turning point. (It was also introduced shortly after the company brought in cigar veteran Gary Hyams to assist in establishing Gurkha in the premium cigar market, a space to which Gurkha has always aspired.)

Complex, well-constructed, and (now) priced around $6-8, this cigar offers good value. That earns the Gurkha 125th Anniversary Rothchild a rating of four out of five stogies.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Flor Dominicana Coronado Toro

13 Apr 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

I remember first smoking, and being very impressed by, La Flor Dominicana’s Coronado shortly after it debuted in 2006. Years later the cigar disappeared, only to be relaunched in 2015 with new bands and packaging. But Coronado’s basics, including Dominican binder and filler tobaccos around a Nicaraguan sun-grown wrapper, remain the same. The Toro starts out with an intense burst of leather and peppery spice, though it later settles into a medium-to full-bodied profile with bread, oak, and leathery spice.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Wild Turkey 101 Straight Kentucky Rye

10 Apr 2019

A few years ago, I wrote about Wild Turkey’s 81 and Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye. At the time, I noted that “Wild Turkey also sells a 101-proof rye, but it’s limited in quantity, available only in certain states, and reportedly only comes in one-liter bottles.” Today we look at that offering.

The good news is, anecdotally at least, 101 Rye seems to be getting easier to find than it was only a few years ago when Wild Turkey announced it was limiting 101 Rye to certain states and only one-liter bottles. One of the changes in the shift to only one-liter bottles was an increased price, with bottles selling for around $40 each.

Wild Turkey uses a mashbill that just barely qualifies as rye (which needs to use a majority of rye) with 51% rye, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley. While this is a classic rye recipe, it is at odds with the high rye trend that has become increasingly popular, especially with the 95% rye recipe made by MGP Ingredients used by Bulleit, George Dickel, Angel’s Envy, Templeton, High West, Whistle Pig, and others.

Wild Turkey 101 is a deep copper color that features a nose of fudge, oak, vanilla, and red hot candies. The palate has honeysuckle, roast corn, light oak l, and clove spices. The finish is where you notice the high 101-proof, with a hint of bubble gum sweetness, menthol, cinnamon, and more oak tannins.

Wild Turkey 101’s one-liter bottle is designed to appeal to bartenders looking for rye for use in cocktails, and the rye surely is great in rye cocktails like the Manhattan, Sazerac, or Old Fashioned. However, don’t underestimate this rye neat (or, if you’re sensitive to high-proof whiskey, with a splash of water) as it is a lively, classic, complex rye, similar in many ways to Sazerac Rye, which costs about the same.

Pair it with a spicy cigar of any origin, with suggested pairings including El Güegüense, Illusione Original Documents, La Flor Dominicana Air Bender, or CAO Consigliere.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Caldwell Eastern Standard Euro Express

7 Apr 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

One of the cigars that put Caldwell on the map, the original Eastern Standard blend features a Connecticut Ecuadorian wrapper that is a hybrid of Connecticut Shade and Brazilian Mata Fina. Underneath are filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic paired with a Domincan binder. The result is a medium-bodied blend with notes of earth, sweetened coffee, subtle spice, and light oak. The corona-sized Euro Express is an enjoyable smoke with integrated, complex flavors and excellent construction.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XXIX)

3 Apr 2019

Baseball, a return to smoking in sports stadiums, and Fuente Nicaragua… they’re all in this edition of Random Thoughts from the Humidor.

Baseball: The Perfect Pace for Cigars

We’ve written before about the pairing of cigars and baseball. While there are plenty of reasons why the combination works, it comes down to pace. The leisurely pace of hardball is also the pace of cigars. The 20 to 30 seconds between pitches is the minimum amount of time you want to put your cigar down between draws; the minute or two between half-innings or a pitching change is the opportune moment to refresh your drink, use the facilities, or light a new cigar. Sadly, if you want to watch baseball while smoking a cigar, these days your options are pretty much whittled down to your home or a cigar lounge.

A Million Dollar Idea for Billionaire Sports Team Owners

A long, long time ago (in 2006), StogieGuys.com proposed a cigar night at the decrepit RFK stadium. Why let most of the upper deck go completely empty, when you could host cigar smokers there, at least for a game? We were rebuffed and (I’m just saying) the Nationals have yet to win a playoff series since. To this day, when I see scores of empty seats in a stadium I can’t help but wonder, “Why not host a cigar night?” For example, watching my Mets play the Miami Marlins, I noticed the entire upper deck was not just empty but closed. So why not announce that anytime the roof is open at the park a section of the upper deck will be open for cigar smokers? If any town can pull this off, Miami, with its rich cigar culture, can.

Fuente Nicaragua… Coming Soon

Fuente’s new Nicaraguan factory should be coming online soon. The new factory, called “La Bella y La Bestia,” raises many questions. Most (but not all) Fuente cigars are still under the central Fuente name. Will the new Nicaraguan-made cigars carry the same branding? Or will the Fuentes decide to launch a new brand to distinguish their Nicaraguan offerings from those made at their Dominican factories? Only time will tell, but the prospect of many new, Nicaraguan-influenced cigars should be of great interest to all. (For more on the new factory, cigar smokers will find this interview with Carlito Fuente interesting.)

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Dunhill Heritage Robusto

31 Mar 2019

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Few names in cigars can boast the history of Dunhill, though the brand is now being discontinued. One of the last new Dunhill blends before the announcement was the Heritage. The full-flavored cigar was produced in Honduras and made with an Ecuadorian wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from Honduras and Nicaragua. The well-constructed, box-pressed cigar is a a spicy, rustic smoke with cedar, clove, anise, and dry dirt.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Ardbeg Drum Committee Release (2019)

20 Mar 2019

As whisky grows in popularity, limited edition whisky releases grow even faster. You’d be hard-pressed to go a week or two without multiple new bourbons, ryes, or single malts being announced.

Increasingly, I don’t bother trying to track down these limited releases. The price and/or rarity makes it not worth it, with only a few exceptions: either because they are reliably good for the money, or because something about the offering is particularly interesting.

The latter is the case for Ardbeg Drum Committee Release. Each year, Ardbeg puts out two variations of their annual releases that is a unique twist on Ardbeg’s peat-forward style. (The Committee Release is a higher ABV offering that is more limited, while a standard issue release is priced slightly lower and bottled at a more traditional ABV, usually around 90%.)

Given my appreciation for Ardbeg’s Uigeadail (a high-proof release that shows off the results of Ardbeg’s peat in sherry casks), I was particularly interested in Drum, which for the first time put Ardbeg Single Malt into American rum casks (reportedly rum casks from the Guyana distillery where El Dorado is made).

This year’s Ardbeg Committee Release ($120) weighs in at 52% ABV. Exact aging details aren’t disclosed except that the whisky is aged in ex-bourbon casks for a period before secondary aging in rum casks. The resulting sprit is pale in color and slightly murky in appearance.

The nose is a hint of what’s to come with light smoke, brown banana peel, and red hot candies. The palate is a classic Ardbeg peaty profile (gritty smoke and petrol) with added lavender, anise, pear, and hints of pineapple. The finish is long and complex with pine smoke, cinnamon, lemon, and leather.

It’s a complex offering that shows off a subtle complexity from the rum barrel finish. Frankly, while I enjoyed it, I was hoping the rum element would be a little more prominent, but that is more because of my affinity towards single malts that combine peat and sweet (more traditionally from sherry casks).

For fans of the entire Ardbeg line, this (or the forthcoming $100 non-Committee Drum release) is an offering worth seeking out. For those just dabbling in Ardbeg’s offerings, I’d recommend trying Uigeadail and Corryvreckan, which are both more complex and more affordable ($70-80).

Like most peaty single malts, a mild cigar will get lost next to Drum, so stick with something more flavorful. I particularly enjoyed the My Father and Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary paired with the Ardbeg Drum Committee Release.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys