I was just starting the book tour when I chose to indulge in the last of my Gurkha Five Card Stud Sampler from Pipes & Cigars; the Vintage Shaggy Gran Rothschild Toro. It was an attractive milk chocolate shade with a coppery label. The wrapper note was uncomplicated and enjoyable; just good quality tobacco. But I was concerned because I could see that the cigar was a little bit dried out. Part of the double-cap started coming off before I cut anything. Was “Vintage” part of the title of the cigar, or was it a reference to age?
The Vintage Shaggy Gran Rothschild acquired its name from its shaggy foot, and it is one of Puff.com’s top 25 cigars. It is rated as a medium-strength cigar, and it turned out that the “Vintage” moniker comes from the fact that all of the tobaccos are well-aged. It sports a five-year-old Dominican long-fillers and binder and an eight-year-old Dominican wrapper; very promising! Reviews suggested that I might enjoy the unusual taste of tobaccos without a wrapper. Of course, I was afraid that it was going to peel away and leave me no wrapper at all! And since I think I’ve established that this certainly seemed to be a fairly common trait in the Gurkhas I had previously smoked, I believe it was a legitimate concern.
Deciding that a 50 ring gauge was way too thick to punch, I clipped it above the tear instead. It seemed to clip without any difficulty. The ragged foot allowed me to look closely at the roll, which seemed to be an unusual spiral shape.
The pre-light draw suggested coffee and chocolate and the room note was more of the same; a creamy mocha, perhaps. The first few draws were buttery and flavourful, tinged with a touch of coffee and earthy elements, like autumn leaves or maybe even dirt or clay, with even a suggestion of that red earth Cubanesque flavour. However, the end did indeed begin to unravel, even after my cut. The first third was a nice, cool, rich smoke, and it ashed nicely with a beautiful, clean white ash. The light was irregular but I blame that on the wind from the open window (a necessity in the warm weather.) It maintained its buttery and coffee elements as well as gathering a hint of pepper at the beginning of the second third.
In the second third, twenty minutes in, the pepper became more pronounced and the clay element seemed rather strong. I liked it; it reminded me of the taste that lingers in your mouth when you do a clay facial mask, ladies.
Unfortunately, by this time a large fissure developed along the length of the wrapper near the label. I would have to wait to the final third to learn if it was going to kill the smoke.
The second third went quickly, only lasting about fifteen minutes; which is unfortunate because it was delicious. It took on a tone of an old port; very rich and very tasty. I then flushed it because it was beginning to develop bitterness.
The final third, which lasted for almost half an hour, seemed to go for broke! It took on all the best elements of the cigar all at once; port, clay, mocha, rich earth. And I’m also delighted to report that the crack in the wrapper did not kill the smoke; it held together up to the label, and even after the label was removed. And my structural fears proved unfounded; it held together and smoked nicely until I was required to stub it out. It was a good, clean, consistent smoke with subtle flavours with subtle interplay; definitely the best of the Gurkha sampler, so I’m glad I saved it for last! And it also turns out that the price point is excellent; a good value.
You can get the Vintage Shaggy for about $8 a cigar at Cigars International (but the toro is out of stock). Or you can get the five card stud sampler.
That’s a lady’s perspective!