Well, I thought I would delve into my Gurkha Five Card Stud Sampler from Pipes & Cigars with a sample of the big boy in the pack; the Gurkha Warlord.
Cigars International had this to say:
The Gurkha Warlord is a cigar that takes no prisoners, and isn’t shy about the matter, professing to be one of the greatest and most full-bodied Gurkha blends ever. A bold statement when you consider the impressive stable of cigars that exist under the Gurkha umbrella. Carefully handcrafted by K. Hansotia, the Warlord weighs in at a hefty 6.7”x60. This large vitola houses a choice selection of potent Nicaraguan fillers and is complemented by a flavorful Connecticut binder. Rounding out the savory blend is an oily and leathery Nicaraguan wrapper. This complex bouquet strikes a balanced accord between flavor and body, as meaty and rich flavors dance on the palate delivered by cool thick smoke. As the slow burn progress, notes of nuts, oak, and spice are accentuated by an espresso like finish. Easily one of the most full-bodied Gurkhas on the market, the Warlord is not only de-lish, but delivers an experience as promised.
That sure sounded like an adventure! Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to smoke this big boy by myself, I offered to share with my partner Jamie, and we prepared to enjoy the fine-looking stick over an evening D&D gaming session.
The Gurkha label is very attractive, lots of golds over a mostly white and red image; though I have to wonder why the Gurkha looks to me like Juan Valdez with a kukri. The “Warlord” label is a slick black and gold with an attractive font that suggests the high-seas adventures referenced by the treasure chest box they’re sold in (I didn’t receive that because mine was in a multiple cigar sampler.)
The construction was beautiful; the cigar displayed almost invisible seams and its Colorado wrapper had small and attractive veins. The wrapper note was of high-quality tobacco, bearing, as promised by Cigars International, that oak element. The cap was a perfectly aligned double-cap. The pack was hard-firm but not unyielding. My pre-light draw was promising; quality tobacco, oak, and that hint of nut and spice.
After due consideration, I decided that the large ring gauge would probably cause the Warlord to plug and tar if I tried to smoke it through a punch, so I made to cut it with my guillotine cutter.
Well, the Warlord is well-armoured! I could not get it to slice through; so those of you with single guillotine cutters, don’t try that at home! If you want to behead the Warlord, you need a quality double guillotine, with which I managed to clean up the mess that my single guillotine made in its initial attempt at decapitation!
Toasting the foot released an oaky-sweet room note with surprising floral elements, and the first draw really was amazing. Quality tobacco, oak, and florals. I imagine the Warlord probably qualifies as English Market Select, its blend was so sweet. I did not, however, notice spice or nut, though certainly it displayed an oily, buttery character that I have come to associate with darker cigars. Despite its length and girth, the Warlord drew easily and filled the mouth with the cool rich smoke promised in its description, and it had no trouble staying lit. It was strong but not nearly as overwhelmingly full-bodied as I had feared. It went well with my cream-and-sugared coffee. I enjoyed the first third thoroughly.
About fifteen minutes later is when the trouble began. The burn began to take on a slightly angular profile and the white ash fell right off, not one inch into this oversized toro; though I will own that there was a fan blowing in the room and it stayed lit! A third of the way in, the burn had transformed into a completely lopsided pie-slice angle that had to be corrected. It also lost all of its butter – which I’ve come to expect after the first third of a cigar – along with most of its complexity, though it did maintain that pleasantly sweet oak-and-floral element. I purged at this point due to size of the cigar and concern about its burn.
By the second third it was clear that the cigar was going down. The burn continued to lean at a Picasso-esque angle and had to be corrected a second time. However, it still caused the stick to burn so unevenly that it only took fifteen minutes to devour most of the cigar’s abdomen, severely reducing the value of the smoke. The wrapper began to unwind and peel off as well. It was apparent that this soldier was falling apart under pressure, and needed to be sent home with the wounded.
I purged again at the final third. The first few draws after that were reminiscent of the beginning, only with more of that promised peppery spice, but it quickly turned nasty and bitter. Instead of the promised “espresso finish,” I found that it finished more like bitter acorns; perhaps fitting for this very oaky cigar, but certainly not pleasurable! It fell completely apart after half an hour and was no longer fit to smoke, with a full two and a half inches of the cigar left in the ashtray in unwound pieces like a barber pole.
Well, hmmf. I was very disappointed. Perhaps I facilitated the decline with my lousy initial cut, but the construction of the cigar was substandard and it completely ruined the experience for me. The tobacco was good but not nearly as brilliant as it brags, and no amount of decoration in the labeling and gimmicks, such as a treasure chest box, makes up for its failed structural integrity, which reduced this enormous stick to a mere hour and fifteen minute smoke of dubious quality.
Consequently, I must determine that this Warlord does not pass muster, and I give it only:
And that, brave warriors of the leaf, is this lady’s perspective!