Welcome to January 2021! Here’s to hoping this year proves to be a little calmer than the last!
Our new world cigar brand of the month feature is back, and we’re kicking off with Gurkha Cigars. If this feature is new to you here’s how it works, each month we kick off with a dive in to the brand, it’s history and what makes it unique. Each Thursday we then announce our new world cigar of the week from the brand, with a bit more detail about the blend and why we think it’s good enough to be the cigar of the week – always with a special offer. So stay tuned. Here we go.
Gurkha Cigars are like Marmite, mention the name in a group of cigars smokers in the UK and you will be met with every view from the worst cigars ever made through to the best cigars ever rolled. The problem is that most people haven’t even smoked a Gurkha Cigar before they form that opinion, that’s a testament to just how strong their brand is, and a bit like Marmite – being universally loved has never been top of their agenda. Indeed the brand has found itself in hot water on a number of occasions (deliberately of accidentally), most recently last year when Kaizad Hansotia, (a man of Indian decent) the brands founder and Chairman was forced to step down after comments posted on his social media in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement. Hansotia subsequently claimed his account was hacked. Here at New World of Cigars we are always be open and honest, which is why we couldn’t not mention this here, but we’re also not going to play judge and jury. With Hansotia gone though, it is impossible to ignore some of the cigars Gurkha produce and their cigars remain a big seller in the UK.
The first thing to say is that in the UK we get very, very few of the Gurkha Cigars that are available from the brand. Whist that is not uncommon in the UK (I will bore you another day with why we often get very few of any new world cigar brands complete line-ups), in the UK there are currently 6 Gurkha lines available in very limited vitolas but Gurkha actually manufacture over 105 different lines. The good news though is that the lines we get in the UK cigar market are from the exceptional value end of Gurkha Cigars portfolio.
The history of Gurkha Cigars (the name at least) can be traced back to circa the 1880’s and yes, it is linked to the famous Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin. During the British Rule of India, the Gurkhas fought the British Colonialists valiantly. Despite being defeated, the British were in awe of their sheer courage and bravery. British soldiers started rolling their cigars in the same manner as the locals and started referring to the cigars as “Gurkha”. The brand ‘Gurkha Cigar’ was born.
Fast forward to 1998 and a younger Kaizad Hansotia was on holiday in Goa. Hansotia was an affluent Indian, raised in Hong Kong and London who was in the luxury watch business. One evening he met an anonymous Portuguese man selling cigars under the brand name of Gurkha. Hansotia enjoyed the cigars and ended up buying his entire stock as well as the near dead cigar brand for about $150.
At this point Hansotia hadn’t brought the brand, or the cigars, with any intention of going into the cigar industry per say, rather he had bought them to be given away as a free gift when someone purchased one of his companies watches. The fortunate problem was that they loved them and customers came back asking for more of the cigars. Gurkha Cigars as we know it was born!
Hansotia with no knowledge of the cigar industry knew he needed help to bring the brand to market and approached a number of well known manufacturers to help him. It was another of the new world cigar heavyweights who agreed to help Hansotia and the first Gurkha Cigars were contract rolled by nonother that Charlie Torano! To this day Gurkha Cigars continue to use contract rolling for their production, indeed one of the factories they use, and have used for some time is Tabacalera Las Lavas – the factory owned by one of our exclusive boutique cigars manufacturers Casa Cuevas (who also used to do the contract rolling for the legendary Dunhill brand)!
Depending on your perspective Gurkha Cigars are legendary, infamous, or both. They currently hold the record for the most expensive non Cuban vintage cigars ever to be sold – His Majesty’s Reserve. Priced at $25,000 for a box of 20, an entire bottle of Louis XIII Cognac is used to infuse the cigars. Can any cigar be worth that price… who knows and I’m pretty sure my wallet will never stretch that far to find out. So if that’s above your price point, you could try and seek out one of the Gurkha Black Dragon cigars in a humidor made of intricately carved camel bone at $115,000 per box…
It is this frankly ostentatious and lavish end of the Gurkha Cigars offering that is often the inspiration for the uneducated opinions such as ‘Gurkha Cigars are a rip off’ (not that anyone you hear if from will ever have smoked one of them!).
Gurkha Cigars in the UK start from around £10 each for the excellent Gurkha Heritage Robusto Corto, the mid price point is around £15 which includes my current favourite Gurkha Cigar – theGurkha Cellar Reserve Solara 12 year and top out at about £17 for a Gurkha Cellar Reserve Double Robusto 18 year.
So there we are, Gurkha Cigars, like Marmite, love em or hate em – but try one before you make your own mind up. As the old saying goes, smoke the cigar, not the band!
We’ll be back on Thursday with the first new world cigar of the week from Gurkha!
Stay smoky, stay safe. Pete