Following up with the ever-so-tasty and affordable Gurkha Ninja, we have the other Gurkha 2010 debut offering, the Viper. This stogie is the fuller-bodied of the two, sporting similarly simple packaging and presentation as the Ninja. They’re both budget-conscious at about $5 a stick, allowing you to taste the opulence of Gurkha at a fraction of the usual price.

The first few puffs of the box-pressed Viper don’t come on too strong, with a medium body and just a touch of spice. There’s an overall caramel sweetness on the opening with an almost graham-crackery note. The foundation tastes of rich leather and a bit of wood. The blend is really spot-on, and the pure tobacco flavors are full and smooth across the palate.

The Viper sheds its mellower skin at the one-third mark, as a pleasant mustiness begins to emerge. It’s kind of reminds me of the man-cave at home — it has that slightly musty unfinished basement smell, but it’s nice and inviting, almost nostalgic. Some might call it ‘funk’. We have a guy here who likes to refer to it as ‘gym sock’. I’ve tasted it in other cigars with an aroma like my grandfather’s garage, but the Viper remains slick and smooth. It’s just got a hint of funk, almost a slight chalkiness that’s very pleasant.

Toward the middle the stick picks up strength and gets way closer to full-bodied, but not quite all the way there. Every once and a while I get an interesting flavor note — some black cherry here, some earth there — but this is a predominantly sweet and leathery stick.

I was surprised when the cigar waned back toward medium-bodied territory until I saw I had accumulated an almost three inches of ash. A quick tap dropped the ash to the ground and all of the sudden the stick was pushing up against full-bodiedness again. I found the cigar at this stage to lose a little bit of its leather character in favor of a cedary wood taste. Toward the nub, the Viper got just a bit harsh but the finish was still clean, the body still sweet — it just took on a bit of a bite.

Just like the Ninja, I loved the flavor and complexity of the Viper at this price point. The draw was easy, maybe just a little on the tighter side due to the box press. The burn was straight and true, and the flavors were consistently delicious and often complex. All in all it’s a pretty impressive showing for Gurkha’s move into economical stogies. We ship ’em free if you’re curious.

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