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Gurkha Beast XO

Today the Nubbit Brothers work over a Gurkha Beast XO while chatting about Bitcoin, Bioshock Infinite, bike riding and being in an off-Broadway show.

Draw: Ah, Punch — a fine, windy, brisk day on Kansas for enjoying the outdoors, a beverage, and smoke…a Gurkha! Unfortunately, it is also a fine day for laundry. Alas, my smoking spot is afflicted with the homely aroma of dryer lint.

Punch: The wind has picked up, here, too; nearly blew my bag of corn chips onto the ground.

I am so bummed. Last week the Bitcoin value dropped due to panic sell-offs, and I came in just one day too late to take advantage of that. Maybe I’ll drown my remorse in this Beast!

D: Indeed. This Gurkha Beast XO is one of the last from a value pack on Groupon. It was when we started smoking these together that we first hatched the idea of doing a review Web site. So, this is also one of the oldest pairs of cigars which we both have in our humidors, having rested at least 200 days. I note that when I removed this one, it was springy – as opposed to brittle – like a good smoke should be.

P: Mmmmm. This baby smells dark and intense… of tobacco (obviously) and slight alfalfa. It has a dark brown matte finish with some prominent veins. (Man, I hope this one doesn’t knock me onto my can, because it looks strong.) It is generally firm, but has a few soft spots; we’ll see if those become significant in the smoking. The Gurkha Beast XO is 6.5 x 58 ring guage – a size that is generally called a super-toro.

D: According to Cigars International, this Costa Rican wrapper is aged a minimum of eight years. I’d say it’s as dark a wrapper as we’ve seen, and it almost glows as if it has been burnished; it’s very distinct compared to the binders and fillers seen at the foot. I agree with your construction and scent observations — if one can observe scent. Mine punched very well; the pre-toast draw is alfalfa‑y, with maybe cognac, and is relatively tight.

P: Surprising; after using my 1/4” punch the draw is loose for me, and the pre-toast flavor is essentially non-existent.

D: Toasting released no new flavors for me; however, its only in the 50s, if even that, with a cool breeze so I may not be able to really release the oils before it cools off. The toasting released some beautiful metal colors at the foot, though. The wrapper is a beauty.

P: Toasting mine lifted a big layer of the wrapper which immediately caught fire. This brought out a slight nuttiness in the draw. That wrapper lifting is going to be a problem.

D: Nuttiness, indeed. Mine lit up with no trouble whatsoever. The first thing I notice is the scent of the smoke — and it’s a frequent smoker all by itself — which smells of …sandalwood? Of some scent I associate with incense.

P: Wow. That is very nice. Complex. Milk chocolate, spice, maybe some walnut. And, yes, mine is a smokestack at idle, too.

D: Yes! Milk chocolate! Some…mild chipotle in the middle, and at the finish, I’m getting…swiss (chocolate, not cheese). There are a lot of flavors in this. Yes, very complex, but the presentation is very smooth, I think. Medium-to-mild body, says I. What say you?

P: Yes. Definitely no more than medium at this point. If the start is any indication of the rest this will be a honey. We should point out that the Gurkha Beast has a Nicaraguan binder around Honduran, Dominican, and Colombian long-filler. Or so we’ve been told.

D: Mmmm, I just let it idle for a few minutes, and my first re-draw brought toasted marshmallow. Sweet, but not overpowering — yes, very pleasant. Mmm, and now, some spicy sausage…wow. What would that be? Paprika? Sage? A little red pepper?? I notice too, as the oils come out at the foot, the wrapper darkens subtly — really nice.

P: At an inch it has simplified to leather and earthy undertones with the milk chocolate still hanging around. It has settled down to a nice smoke that doesn’t demand my attention.

D: Agreed. I’m starting to get a little cedar. I was just thinking I’d almost rather not review it any further and instead just enjoy it for enjoyment sake. I’ve even forgotten to open my beverage — today, it’s a Boulevard Amber Ale. I chose this thinking I didn’t want anything to compete with the Beast so much. Let’s see if it was a good choice… How was your trip last week?

P: Yep. I was just going to mention cedar, myself; and with it some spice is showing up.

As you know I flew out to New York last week to help a friend with some magic/illusion shows he was doing. As it turns out, the definition of an “off-Broadway” show is having an audience of 100 or more, which we had for all the shows. As a result, since the shows were in mid-town Manhattan, I’ve now been in an off-Broadway show.

D: Hoo-aa for you! On the Amber pairing, I’m thinking not. The Amber is a medium-bodied beer, and its almost-pumpkin main flavor dominates the complex subtleties of the Beast.

I’m noticing that the ash, while flaky, is holding on very well. It yellows quite a bit as the burn line leaves it behind. As for my burn line, it has stayed pretty even until the last few minutes. I’m going to give it a little touch-up.

P: Approaching the halfway mark, the complexity is coming back. The cedar has become dominant — but not overpowering, still faint chocolate, nuttiness and spice …mmm that’s good.

OK. Up till now I have been re-hydrating with water. It is time to break open a Kirkland German Style Lager: the last of the four varieties in this Kirlkand variety pack. I do like me some German Lager; it turns out to be a not bad pairing.

I think I’m quickly approaching the final BOSS level in Bioshock Infinite, as the intensity is ramping up – much like a fine cigar. I’ve had to go back and redo a day’s worth of play, due to some technical challenges. It wants to save to the cloud, but if something’s wrong, it brings up a dialog, which is a handy reminder that, “hey, I’m at a save-point”. However, one time I decided to stop without paying attention, and I lost that save. That’s okay, because I died and died and died the first time through that stage. The second time through, I could go directly to the effective strategy I learned from the previous trouncing.

Mmmm… starting into the last third the spice is beginning to dominate.

D: Yes, the flavor profile is morphing a bit; not new flavors necessarily, but different ones taking the stage. As I’m nearing the end of the second third, the cedar is fading and the milk chocolate is back, still with leather, but emphasis on sweet and baking spices, like cream of tartar, and anise.

This is a great way to unwind after my early-afternoon bike ride. I’ve noticed over the winter that our dog, Cami — a black labrador — has put on a little weight. I might have noticed the same about myself. So for the last few weekends, when the weather permits, I’ve taken her with me for a run beside my Trek 730 Multisport. The first ride out, about 4 miles round-trip, she was exhausted. Today however, she kept up with me the whole distance, actually eager to start again when I’d stop and water her. And I’ve been adding on between a half- and one mile each weekend!

P: Maybe next weekend you need to run and let Cami take the bike. As for the Beast, I’ve needed to give mine CPR a few times to keep it going …not that I’m implying YOU’d need CPR… In fact I’ve had to touch up a ragged burn several times, probably due to my licking down of the flaking wrapper.

D: Agreed, it doesn’t idle too well. I’m starting to get a hint of lip tingle, but the cigar remains sweet and very pleasant. This, around an inch and three-quarters from the end.

P: With an inch-and-a-half to go the draws are pretty hot, presumably due to the loose draw.

D: Now you’re just crazy-talkin! My draw remains on the tighter side of medium. And my temperature remains physically cool. But strength is picking up as I start into the last inch. More jalapeno and cedar again, but chocolate milk remains on the attack. This final flavor change, while not terrible, is not so much of what I enjoyed at the beginning. I think this might be a good time to let this Beast go out.

P: Mine just went out with an inch-and-a-quarter to go, in spite of working it hard to report the final flavor profile. After 95 minutes, game over. It finished up with a simple cedar and spice for me.

Burn it or spurn it?

Punch: Burn it! Rinse and repeat often. I liked this one a lot. Although, I’d be inclined to be done after two-thirds, since I found it lost its distinctiveness when it went to the dominant cedar and spice — which wasn’t bad, but no longer special. This Gurkha Beast XO is certainly justified in being priced at over $10 although I doubt I would ever pay the suggested retail price of $24 for any cigar. But, I would jump on getting this at a value price in the $8 range.

Draw: Burn it, baby! This was an overall pleasant smoke, with a smooth, complex flavor. The second-hand scent seemed pleasant to me, too. Although it is marketed as medium-to-strong bodied, I have had other Gurkhas with more body and stronger flavor. I will certainly smoke a Beast again, but I might fill the space in my box with other Gurkhas first.


Draw: January 14, 2014, I enjoyed another of these while working in the hangar in the evening, cleaning and sorting. This Gurkha Beast XO had been resting for about four months, part of a premium sample at a Gurkha event at Churchill’s at Topeka. Loved it every bit as much as the first time, despite the cooler ambient temperature. Chocolaty, spicy, full-flavored, but mild intensity and mild-to-medium body. Had trouble with peninsulas and canoeing, requiring several simple touch-ups. Also poor idling, which was more of an issue because I was moving frequently and had to lay the cigar down. Modestly tight draw, even after using my larger punch. Overall, very consistent in performance and flavor with the earlier review.

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