Kaizad Hansotia, the maker and master marketer of the Gurkha label, claims that his Master’s Select cigars are modeled on the 1957 Bolivar. Evidently a box of preembargo Cuban cigars washed up on the shore at Beach Cigars and they thought they were so good that they would try to replicate the blend. Good idea, because around every corner lurks a cigar rep who will tell you how similar to Cubans his cigars are, and unless you’re intimately familiar with this rare and contraband product, there’s no disproving him. (Of course, a box of 1957 Bolivars would not be contraband in the U.S. But you get the point.)
Readers of this blog are likely aware of how tiresome I find marketing tools, and I could go on about it, but at the end of the day it’s the cigar that speaks for itself. Like any other kind of evaluation, it’s best to recognize the advertising for what it is and move on.
Gurkha’s Master’s Select line includes three zeppelin perfecto sizes: big, bigger, and biggest. (Zeppelin, I have come to learn, refers to a perfecto that has its largest ring gauge in the center of the cigar. Thanks Matt!) The Number One is the biggest size at 6 x 60. The Nicaraguan grown Habana 2000 wrapper is smooth but just slightly toothy. It’s an attractive and impressive looking cigar.
Made in the Dominican Republic (probably in the Navarette Torano factory) with a Dominican binder and filler from the DR and Honduras, this stout cigar is packed full of tasty tobacco. It draws well from both sides before clipping, but I had to assume that the band was on correctly and clipped about half an inch off what the band indicates is the head.
The first thing I noticed was how slowly this cigar burns. It took a good fifteen minutes just to burn through the tip, producing a nice solid white ash. The flavor is earthy with overtones of cedar, which is accompanied by a very heavy aroma of wood. Smoke this cigar in public and it will get you noticed not only for the unusual shape but for the intense room aroma as well.
It is very well constructed, despite a wavering burn line. I don’t smoke perfectos this large on a regular basis, so it was interesting to observe the flavor changes as the cigar grew in ring gauge and then fell. It started out fairly mellow and creamy, an earthy base with nutty notes. Slowly the nuts gave way to a woody flavor, and by the end of the cigar, a little after the mid-point, the flavor gets intensely peppery. The finish is mild and quick to start with and by smoke’s end is sinus tingling with lingering spice.
I’m not sure if this is typical of perfectos, but the smoke gets very intense after reaching the thickest part of the cigar. I enjoyed this particular cigar for maybe an inch beyond this point, where the sheer strength of the smoke began to mask all of the other subtleties and started to burn a little hot. I spent an hour and a half to reach this stage, so I figured I got my money’s worth.
The Master’s Select Perfecto No. 1 is a friendly, but serious cigar. This is a ten dollar cigar that sells for half that, or even less if you keep an eye on the auction sites.
So when you’ve finished your last box of 1957 Bolivar, don’t despair. Reach for a Master’s Select!