At the IPCPR trade show in July, Gurkha unveiled a trio of new cigars that will be sold exclusively in brick-and-mortar retail stores – the Seduction, the Cellar Reserve and the cigar being reviewed here, the Royal Challenge.
Billed as a smooth, complex, medium-bodied cigar, the Royal Challenge uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper, Honduran binder, and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
The cigar is available in five sizes:
- 5” x 50 robusto
- 6” x 50 toro
- 6.5” x 53 torpedo
- 7” x 52 Churchill
- 6” x 60, named the ‘XO’
The cigars come with a single stick price in the $6-$8 range, though with taxes that can vary a bit. Each vitola comes in boxes of 20.
For this review, a toro vitola was smoked, and while it came in at 6” long, it seemed a bit girthier than the reported 50 ring gauge. When measured, it seemed to be closer to a 54 ring gauge.
The double banded cigar is marked by a gold leaf that adds to the shine and enhances a somewhat dull looking wrapper. The wrapper is incredibly smooth, though a bit discolored at points.
The pre-light aroma is loaded with notes of hay, vanilla, a bit of milk chocolate and just a touch of spice in the nose. While it doesn’t jump off the cigar, the pre-light aroma is an incredible introduction to the cigar. The cold draw is firm and sadly doesn’t show a lot of flavor to follow-up on the pre-light aroma.
Once lit, the cigar is very mild out of the gate, and lacked the air flow and smoke volume that is generally preferred from cigars. In the first third of the cigar, there are some faint notes of toast in the aroma, though not much on the palate. As the cigar burns, there is a good amount of pepper in the nose, though not much else that really stood out.
Moving into the middle of the cigar, it’s surprisingly mild and lacking nuance. There’s a bit of vanilla, but not much in the way of flavor to dive in and dissect. The only place the cigar seems to show any oomph is in the nose during a retrohale or if you allow the smoke to waft up into your nasal passages.
Starts to wake up on the palate in the last puffs of the final third, with some pretzel dough, earth, and a bit of spice before turning too hot and burning too far down to be held and enjoyed comfortably. It was a bit too little, too late, and left a longing for those flavors to have shown up earlier instead of when the mind was focused on putting the cigar out.
Gurkha seemed to err a bit too mild in this cigar, though in fairness, there’s plenty of room for mild cigars in the world. This just lacked the subtleness that can be found in other Connecticuts that have shown that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor and nuance for mildness.
Read reviews of more cigars by clicking here, including cigars from the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show.
Stay up to date on what’s happening with cigars by following Patrick on Twitter – @PHXCigarGuy – or by subscribing to the column via e-mail or adding it to your RSS reader.