If you live in the British Isles like me and someone mentions Gurkhas, there are good chances you are not thinking about cigars: you might be thinking about the fierce Nepalese soldiers, but even more probably about Joanna Lumley and her fight for the Gurkha’s rights in the UK. Still, if you are interested in cigars the name should sound familiar, if only as the brand that made one of the most expensive cigars, if not THE most expensive cigar ever, going for a whooping 1150$ a pop.
That cigar was the original Black Dragon, released in 2006 as a very limited edition: just 5 hand-carved camel bone boxes of 100 cigars were produced. In 2007 Gurkha released a new more accessible version but after that things become a bit more confusing. The original cigar had the classic Gurkha warrior band as you can see here. The suddenly sometime in 2009 the band changed to show a dragon as you can see above. The band seem not to be the only thing that changed. In its pdf catalogue (caution, huge file) the make up is given as Cameroon wrapper, Dominican binder and Nicaraguan filler – but the online catalogue states the Wrapper is now Connecticut broadleaf with Cameroon binder and Dominican filler… so possibly the one I am smoking tonight should be called the Gurkha Black Dragon Robusto v3.0. Continue reading
A while back I smoked one of La Aurora cigars, the Maduro Robusto from the La Aurora “basic” line. Although I was a bit disappointed the cigar still had something that tickled my taste buds and I mentioned back then that I would be looking to try more of the cigars from this brand. As often happens, that sort of slipped my mind, until a few days ago Cigar Inspector posted his as always interesting review of the Series 1495 Robusto from La Aurora. Guess what: I had exactly the same cigar in my humidor, I had wanted to try it for a while and I had completely forgotten about it! So thanks to Cigar Inspector for acting as inspiration for this review.
The 1495 series certainly isn’t a new release: it was created in 2005 by Jose’ Blanco, the sales director of La Aurora and celebrates the year when the town of Santiago de los Caballeros was founded , in the heart of Dominican Republic’s foremost cigar region El Cibao, by Cristoforo Colombo (Cristopher Columbus for you non-Italian speakers out there). There is an interesting interview with Blanco on Cigar Aficionado which describes how this cigar came to be and the idea behind it. I am certainly intrigued to read that this has some Peruvian ligero in its filler, which is new to me. Continue reading
It is hard to imagine the world of cigars without Rocky Patel, and yet just 15 years ago Patel was transitioning from being an attorney in Hollywood to starting his cigar company, originally called Indian Tabac. In just a couple of years Indian Tabac had managed to make its mark on the US cigar market, especially with cigars like the Super Fuerte, arguably the original rich “super stong” cigars. In 2002 the name of the company changed, allegedly over licensing clashes with Indian Motorcycle Co., to Rocky Patel Cigars and over the past 8 years it has released a number of iconic smokes like the 1990 and 1992 Vintage, the Edge, Old Worlde Reserve and clearly the Decade I am reviewing today.
One thing that amazes me is the amount of flak Rocky Patel gets on the cigar web community; there clearly are a lot of people who like his cigars but his critics seem quite vociferous too, actually more vociferous than critics of other brands. Being pretty new to the world of non-Cuban cigars and the USA cigar market I don’t expect to fully understand the reasons for this, but it seems undeniable that Patel has been a major player in shaping what the cigar industry looks like today and deserves respect for that.
I was going through my Connecticut shade sticks looking for something to follow-up my first chapter of the “Connecticut Files” and I stumbled upon a stick I had completely forgotten about, the Espinosa y Ortega (EyO) No.21 Robusto, a cheap-ish bundle cigar made by the same guys who make the 601 black label I reviewed previously.
I received this as a free “hitch-hiker” with a 601 sampler I traded with a US BOTL (Mike, my man!). How would the lesser sibling fare against the more acclaimed cigar? Also I was curious to see if the Panamanian tobacco would bring some interesting notes to the mix.
This will be a short review, so no wasting time people, let’s rock! Continue reading