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When I found out I was getting a Gurkha cigar to review, I thought one thing: I’d better eat something beforehand. A lot of Gurkha cigars have a reputation for testing your motor functions after you smoke them, particularly the Evil and the Assassin. But when I took a look at the Gurkha Vintage Shaggy Torpedo Natural, I suspected that I might not have been dealing with the juggernaut nicotine cannon that I anticipated. It had a pretty light wrapper and smelled surprisingly mellow. So when I got home from work, I ate a good-sized meal to be on the safe side, put on the New York Rangers game, and got ready to tackle this cigar.
The USA Connecticut wrapper was probably the nicest looking light wrapper I have ever seen—it was a nice golden color and had an attractive glossy sheen to it. Additionally the cigar was very well rolled, and I could barely find the seams of the wrapper. The foot of this cigar was shaggy, meaning the wrapper stopped about ¼ inch from the foot and the filler tobaccos stuck out. This allowed for easy lighting, and also created a cool, “straight from the factory” aesthetic. I snipped the cigar about a half inch down the tapered head and was ready to go. The pre-light draw was nutty and peppery but not enough to make me cough.
I’d always been told that the wrapper is responsible for most of the flavor of the cigar, so I decided to test this with the all-filler shaggy foot. I lit the cigar up with relative ease and took a few draws; I got a lot of sweetness that I can’t quite describe and a little bit of nuttiness as I did before. The burn was straight, though it was a little bit slanted, and the ash plumed outward at the shaggy foot.
Once I got to the wrapper, I got a lot more pepper and the sweetness turned into caramel. About an inch into the smoke, a little bit of orange crept in there, something I had yet to taste in a cigar. This along with butter, nuts, caramel sweetness, and pepper made me think of spiced gingerbread or spice cake, which in turn made me think of the holidays. This was the first smoke I’d ever had that legitimately brought on some nostalgia.
Around halfway through the burn turned razor-straight and I was still getting the spice cake taste. The combination of caramel and butter made me think of caramel apple shells, though the orange taste created a nice dissonance there. The flavor profile didn’t really change much until the last two inches or so, when the sweetness faded into the background just as the Rangers started getting clobbered. Very appropriately, at this point the cigar got a little bitter (just as I did) with a lot of nuts and pepper, much like the pre-light draw, but with a bit of leather in the mix. I put the cigar out once the smoke started getting too hot, around the ¾-inch mark.
I won’t say that this is the most complex cigar I’ve ever had; most of the cigar had the same four or five tasting notes. But these were damn good tasting notes, and I’d never had a cigar before that made me think of oranges, or gingerbread for that matter. It was cool to be able to pick out everything I tasted; the flavors in most of the cigars I’ve smoked haven’t been as lucid. The Gurkha Vintage Shaggy Torpedo Natural never really got out of the medium-bodied range until the last inch or so when the smoke was too hot. The Rangers lost what looked like a promising comeback, but this sweet, spicy, nostalgic stogie softened the blow a little.