Having grown up on the legend of Nepal’s Gurkha soldiers and the menacing kukri knife associated with them, it was the Gurkha Cigars logo — of a moustached Gurkha soldier holding a kukri — that piqued my curiosity.
Established in 1989 by Kaizad Hansotia, Gurkha Cigars was launched as a luxury, high-end cigar brand with elaborately designed packaging, bands and accessories. According to an interview with Cigar Aficionado he did years ago, he came across the cigar at a small kiosk in Goa, India and not long afterwards bought the brand. In the beginning, Hansotia produced small quantities of cigars priced extremely high and sold through his duty-free business.
Since then, the range has been expanded to include regular production lines that cater to the full spectrum of cigar smokers. My first foray into the world of Gurkha was the Vintage Cellar Reserve 15 Year, specifically the Kraken vitola which has 6 length and 58 ring gauge, tapered on both ends. Made from aged Dominican Republic tobacco, in particular a Domincan Criollo ’98 wrapper, Dominican Olor binder and Dominican 15-year aged filler, the Vintage Cellar Reserve is listed as a medium to full-bodied cigar and smokes really well.
As I started to explore Gurkha Cigars more, circa 2014, I came across the Gurkha Godzilla sampler pack, which featured a selection of eight 6 by 60 Gurkha brands, namely the Beauty, Beast, Ninja, Assassin, Seduction and Vintage Shaggy Natural and Maduro. Priced very nicely, I went through about 10 boxes in the span of six months, at the end of which I had my fill of Gurkhas and hadn’t smoked any until early 2023.
In 2021, at the PCA Convention & Trade Show, Gurkha unveiled two blends of the Gurkha Revenant, the Corojo and Maduro, both box-pressed. I sampled the Maduro Robusto and, to be honest, my first impression was that it was average. Not a bad smoke but not great either. To start the year, I decided to give it another shot, with the Toro, which I must say I enjoyed much more.
Made by the Tabacalera El Artista SRL factory in Dominican Republic — the first cigar that they have produced for Gurkha — the Revenant Maduro consists of a San Andrés Maduro wrapper, a Cameroon binder and a blended filler with Dominican T-13 hybrid (Dominican Criollo 98 crossed with Piloto Cubano), Nicaraguan and Broadleaf tobaccos. This is the first I have heard of Cameroon tobacco, which tends to be milder and thinner, being used as a binder as opposed to as a wrapper.
The Maduro Toro has a very easy draw and started off a bit bitter with the first few pulls followed by strong pepper notes as I got into the first third, as well as a molasses or dried fruit sweetness at the back of the palate. The further I went into it, the stronger the spice and sweetness that came to the fore as well as hints of wood and leather, especially in the second and last thirds. It was a pleasant smoke
In the spirit of second chances, I gave the robusto another try too, and while I enjoyed it a lot more than the first try, I did not enjoy it as much as the Toro. I found the spiciness a tad overwhelming. It also has that lingering sweetness, with hints of leather but it wasn’t as nuanced overall as the toro.
It has been years since I wandered through Gurkha Cigars. The Revenant Toro is definitely bringing me back.