Several years ago we added a new cigar to our offerings from Gurkha – Gurkha Xtreme. I can recall lighting one up at the 2014 IPCPR and this cigar lived up to its name. While not over the top in terms of strength and flavor, it was definitely not a smoke you would have with your morning coffee! While Gurkha won’t disclose the blend in this cigar, you know that you have a Nicaraguan puro in your hands and there is some significant pepper spice along with dark chocolate and rich coffee notes. There are some leather notes and some earthy flavors also but the bottom line is that this cigar is powerful and has a definite kick.
I just recently returned from a visit to Nicaragua with our friends from Gurkha and had the opportunity to smoke several of these cigars once again. They said I would be surprised about the changes in this cigar and I was definitely shocked. I hear many times about how the flavor of a cigar can change over time but have very rarely experienced that change. Having the patience to set a cigar aside for several years is not easy since in most cases cigars are ready to smoke once you buy them and aging can sometimes mute the flavors a bit.
The Xtremes now have a couple years of age on them and the change was just amazing. This cigar would never win a beauty contest. It has a very toothy wrapper with some large veins in it and a very dark brown hue. The cap can be a little rough around the edges at times but this cigar was designed for maximum flavor and not looks. I clipped the end of the cigar and fired it up and noticed it still had that tight draw from the first time I tried them. There was some initial pepper spiciness and I was expecting the massive pepper bomb from years ago.
But the spiciness mellowed out rapidly and was replaced by a very smooth and flavorful smoke. The notes of coffee and dark chocolate that were just background hints before were now coming through beautifully. The rich earthy flavors that were only hints before were now coming through cleanly. What I now experienced was a silky smooth smoke with complexity and layers of wonderful flavors. The two additional years of aging had made this cigar grow up from an immature and rough kid on the block to a mature and refined gentleman. Yes the strength was still there but the marrying and maturing of the tobaccos had reached a point where the cigar was intended to be all along.
Cigars can definitely age, sometimes for the worse when flavors wash out and become muted, sometimes for the better where the flavors marry together in ways you might not expect. The Xtreme definitely became a cigar of sophistication after these few years and definitely worth a try.
Steve Mungeer, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Category Manager: Premium Cigars and Craft Beer
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