In 2021, Gurkha Cigars would release its second exclusive cigar to the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA). The cigar would be a perfecto-shaped line extension to the Gurkha Nicaragua Series. The Gurkha Nicaragua Series would make its debut in 2019. It would be one of the first projects that Gurkha worked on with Aganorsa Leaf’s TABSA factory. Today we take a closer look at the Gurkha Nicaragua TAA Exclusive, a cigar that was a part of the 2021 TAA Exclusive Series.
The TAA Exclusive Series consists of cigars made by leading manufacturers that are exclusively sold at TAA member retailers. The TAA is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80. The TAA describes itself as:
The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.
There are 15 cigars released for 2021 as a part of the TAA Exclusive Series:
- CLE Signature THT-EKE 03/17
- Crowned Heads- The Lost Angel TAA Exclusive 2021
- JC Newman Brick House Beginnings Natural
- JC Newman Brick House Beginnings Maduro
- Diesel Disciple TAA Exclusive 2021 (Scandinavian Tobacco Group)
- E.P. Carrillo TAA 2021
- Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive
- Illusione TAA Exclusive 2021
- Joya de Nicaragua Cuatro Cinco Edición Americana
- Kristoff 685 Woodlawn Box Press
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 50 Oro Tercera Edicion Natural
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 50 Oro Tercera Edicion Maduro
- La Palina White Label Toro
- Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas Bala
- Villiger TAA Exclusive 2021
The following is a complete list of the Gurkha TAA Exclusive releases.
- 2018: Gurkha Heritage Rosado Toro (TAA Exclusive)
- 2021: Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive
- 2022: Gurkha Colección Especial Figurado TAA Exclusive
Without further ado, let’s break down the Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
Not only is the Gurkha Nicaragua Series produced in Nicaragua, but it features 100% Nicaraguan tobacco.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacos de Valle Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
The TAA Exclusive is described as a “figurado” (actually a perfecto) that measures 6 7/8 x 52. The TAA Cigar is presented in ten-count boxes and the total production was 1,000 boxes. The remaining sizes of the Gurkha Nicaragua Series are an ongoing production where each size is presented in 20-count boxes.
TAA Exclusive: 6 7/8 x 52
Robusto: 5 x 52
Toro: 6 x 54
Magnum: 6 x 60
Belicoso: 6 1/8 x 52
The Nicaraguan wrapper of the Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive almost had a caramel color to it. There was a light sheen of oil on this wrapper. The wrapper had some visible veins and there were some visible wrapper seams. There was a sharp taper that totally converged near the head of the cigar. The footer had a more gentle taper with an open footer.
A straight cut was used to clip the tip of the Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive. About half of the tip was removed in order to still take advantage of the tapering of the cigar. From that point, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The dry draw delivered notes of natural tobacco, a sweetness reminiscent of a caramel candy apple, and notes of earth. To me, this was an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to toast the footer of the Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive opened with similar notes from the pre-light draw – namely notes of earth, natural tobacco, and caramel-candy apple sweetness. The natural tobacco and candy apple sweetness moved to the forefront with the earth and pepper settling in the background. As the cigar burned through the tapered portion, the sweetness transitioned to more of a raisin-like sweetness. The natural tobacco and raisin sweetness remained in the forefront for the duration of the first third. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of black pepper on the retro-hale.
The second third of the Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive saw the natural tobacco and raisin sweetness gradually diminish. By the midway point, the earth notes displaced the natural tobacco and raisin notes in the background. At the same time, a bread note emerged in the forefront. In the background, the black pepper increased on the tongue and on the retro-hale.
As the cigar moved into the final third, the bread and earth notes remained primary, but were now joined by some of the black pepper notes. Meanwhile, the raisin and natural tobacco notes rounded out the flavor profile. This is the way the Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive maintained a straight burn path and straight burn line, but in particular, once the cigar burned past the tapered section, it required frequent touch-ups. While the touch-ups did the trick, there was an excessive amount needed. The resulting ash had a near salt and pepper color scheme to it. This was an ash that was on the firmer side. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal. It took about 1 hour and 47 minutes on average to smoke this cigar.
The draw to the Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive was ideal. It had a touch of resistance throughout the cigar experience – which is something that I consider ideal. This was still a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive started with medium-strength and medium-bodied flavors. There was a gradual build-up in the intensity levels of the strength and body. By the last third, the body moved into medium to full territory, but the strength still remained medium. In terms of strength versus body, the body maintained a slight edge throughout the entire smoking experience.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
The Gurkha Nicaragua Series TAA Exclusive uses the same primary band as found on the Gurkha Nicaragua Series, but has a special secondary gold and copper-colored band indicating it is a TAA cigar. I liked the secondary band on this cigar a lot.
Gurkha has done two very good things with this release. First up, while Gurkha has been known for its excellent packaging, it has been looking to carve its place in delivering excellent premium cigars. The Gurkha Nicaraguan Series TAA Exclusive is one such cigar. I thought the Nicaraguan Series was a step in the right direction, but the TAA Exclusive takes it to the next level – delivering the best vitola in the line to date. That leads me to the second point, Gurkha has done exactly what a company should do with a TAA Exclusive release. They’ve taken one of the best lines and delivered the best offering in that line. The figurado size is special and intriguing.
On top of it all, the Gurkha Nicaraguan Series TAA Exclusive delivers excellent flavor and has a nice amount of complexity to it. We’ve long discussed on this website how the TAA cigars have underperformed. With this 2021 release, Gurkha showcases the way companies need to handle TAA releases. In the end, this cigar racked up a score of 90 points and that earns a hard-to-get Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence designation. It’s a cigar I’d recommend to any cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again and buy multiples to keep in my humidor.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Raisin, Caramel Apple, Earth, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Body: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Final Third)
Value: Buy Multiples
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop