The Gurkha Ghost is one of three new cigars that was launched by Gurkha Cigar Company at the 2012 IPCPR. Since Gary Hyams took over as President and CEO of Gurkha, I feel there has been three underyling themes from Gurkha: 1) Connect with the Brick and Mortars Shops; 2) Connect with the Consumers; and 3) Focus on Gurkha’s innovation when it comes to packaging. With the Gurkha Ghost, there is no question that the strategy continues to be executed well. I recently had an opportunity to sample the Gurkha Ghost and I found this to be a unique cigar experience, and one that should strengthen the Gurkha line.
Last year, Gurkha released three cigars under the core Gurkha line – the Cellar Reserve, the Seduction, and the Royal Challenge. All three of these cigars were released to brick and mortar shops only. These three lines also focused on Gurkha’s innovative packaging, and all three were well received by the general public. The Gurkha Ghost and the upcoming Gurkha 125th Anniversary cigar will both be brick and mortar exclusives and feature their own unique packaging.
The Ghost will have two characteristics from a packaging standpoint. First up there will be a tube packaging option (editor’s update: some will not be packaged in a tube). Secondly, the will feature a unique laser foil band that will create a holographic effect.
|Gurkha Ghost packaging (tubes)|
As for the cigar itself, it is made at Abe Flores’ PDR Cigars’ factory in the Dominican Republic. In our interview with Gurkha Marketing Manager Oliver Hyams from the 2012 IPCPR, he discusses the relationship and friendship that developed between the two companies.
Let’s break down the Gurkha Ghost and see what this cigar brings to the table. I will disclaim this write-up is based on a single pre-release sample provided at the IPCPR Trade Show. We will default to a pre-review to provide some thoughts and perspectives and re-visit the Gurkha Ghost once it is on the retailer shelves in regular production.
The tobaccos used in this blend are a combination of Brazilian, Dominican, and Nicaraguan leaves. I particularly was intrigued by the Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper used here.
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro
Binder: Dominican Criollo 98
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan
The Ghost will initially be available in four sizes. As mentioned above each cigar will be individually packaged in tube. There will be 20 tubes per box. It is worth noting that three of the four sizes will be six inches in length.
Shadow: 5 x 52
Angel: 6 x 52
Asura: 6 x 54
Exorcist: 6 x 60
For this cigar experience, I sampled the Gurkha Ghost in the toro-sized Asura vitola.
First up the cigar itself has a coffee bean colored maduro wrapper. It has some darker spots on it – and there also is a slight red tint to it. The sample I smoked had several veins on it. It was slightly toothy as well. On the other hand, the wrapper still had a silky look to it. In my opinion, the wrapper has a lot of charm to it.
We mentioned the band is a laser foil band that has a holographic effect. The band itself is silver and black. The Gurkha Warrior logo is front and center on the band. Under the warrior it says “ghost” in large silver letters. Just below that text it says “GURKHA” in small silver font. Just below that it says “EST 1887” also in a small silver font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the Gurkha Ghost Angel, I went with my usual straight cut into the cap. When I started the pre-light draw, I noticed a slightly loose pack on the head. I mentioned this because it did became a slight nuisance. I also recognize that cigars are a handmade product, so I’m inclined to believe this was an isolated incident.
The dry draw notes were quite nice. The flavors I detected were a mix of coffee, wood, and some pepper. At this point, it was ready to light the Gurkha Ghost and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
I mentioned at the start of this write-up that the Gurkha Ghost brought a unique cigar experience. While there are some nice things with the packaging, it is the flavor profile that also brings its share of uniqueness.
The Ghost starts out with a pepper blast. The pepper was more of a white pepper variety. The pepper soon subsided and was joined by notes of mocha. While the pepper decreased, it still had a slight edge over the mocha notes By about the five percent point, there also was an interesting sweetness in the background. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it helped balance the pepper spice that was up-front.
By the middle of the first third of the Gurkha Ghost, the pepper was still in control. The sweetness joined in with the mocha flavors and both combined to form an espresso syrup flavor. This espresso syrup was still a secondary note. It was also joined by some nut flavors in the background.
In the second half, the espresso syrup changes gets less sweet and becomes more of a classic coffee flavor. Meanwhile, the pepper is still in the forefront while the nut flavors were in the background with the coffee. In the last third, I was surprised as the pepper diminished some more. It was at this point where the nut flavors moved into the forefront. The coffee flavors also became more earthy. Together, the nut, earth, and pepper notes would form the flavor profile at the end. There was a slight bit of harshness at the end, but nothing major. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
One additional note, there were times the flavors became pungent on the Gurkha Ghost. This was especially true during the first two thirds of the cigar experience. It is worth noting my definition of pungent might be a little different than some. When I say pungent I mean how the flavors are sharp and have some bite to them. In the case of the Gurkha Ghost, this was not limited to just the pepper spice. Some folks might like this, but others might not.
Burn and Draw
From a burn standpoint, the Gurkha Ghost performs very well. The burn line remains relatively straight requiring little in the way of touch-ups. The resulting ash was a salt and pepper color. The ash seemed a little looser than I prefer and did have some flaking – but overall it wasn’t too much of a nuisance. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
There were no mechanical issues with the draw. The only issue I had is the soft pack at the head did seem to make the draw uncomfortable. It wasn’t that the draw was tight or loose, it is just when you have a soft pack – and in this case was a slight nuisance. Like I mentioned up front, cigars are a hand-made product, so this can happen. It is also worth noting that I did only review one cigar for this write-up, so this could be an isolated case.
Strength and Body
I found the Gurkha Ghost to have a little more kick than I originally thought. From a nicotine perspective, the Ghost does have a nice amount of pop. It wasn’t quite a full-strength cigar, but it definitely fell into the upper medium to full area of the strength spectrum. As for the flavors, they are what I would term sharp. The Ghost definitely provided a full-bodied smoking experience. Given the flavors were very sharp, they did give the body an edge over the strength when looking at both attributes.
I liked what the Gurkha Ghost brought to the table for this cigar experience. The flavor profile was unique, and looking back at things, there was more complexity to this flavor profile than I originally thought. I probably would have liked a little less pungency on the flavor profile, and as I smoke some of the post release cigars it will be curious to see if some age dulls this sharpness a bit. Overall, right now this may be a little too much cigar for the novice cigar enthusiast but I would encourage the experienced cigar enthusiast to give this a try. As for myself, I look forward to smoking this one again.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Source: The cigar for this assessment was provided by Gurkha Cigar Company. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.