If you are new to cigars or even a seasoned aficionado, chances are you have heard of Gurkha Cigars. Love them or hate them, fact is, they are a commanding force in the industry. Gurkha describes the original Gurkha cigar as being “created more than a century ago and […] reborn in 1992.” And if 2019 and 2020 are any indication, Gurkha seems to be going through another rebirth. This began with Jim Colucci being named president and COO of Gurkha Cigars in 2019, followed by two blends to be produced at the beloved Aganorsa Leaf (aka TABSA) factory in Estelí, Nicaragua later that year.

San Miguel, released in September 2020, is the third line that Gurkha is producing at Aganorsa Leaf, joining the Gurkha Nicaragua Series and the Gurkha Treinta, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of Gurkha being purchased by Kaizod Hansotia.

San Miguel Toro Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Shade-Grown Corojo ’99
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Aganorsa Leaf (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 6″ × 54 (Toro)
  • Price: $9.95 (MSRP)
  • Petite Corona: 4⅛” x 42 | $9.50 (box of 20 $190)
  • Robusto: 5″ x 52 | $9.75 (box of 20 $195)
  • Toro: 6″ x 54 | $9.95 (box of 20 ($199)

Like the Gurkha Nicaragua Series before it, San Miguel makes use of all-Nicaraguan tobaccos from the famed AGANORSA fields throughout the country. Notably, this includes a double binder and a shade-grown Corojo ’99 wrapper component.

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Appearance

Gurkha has never been one to shy away from bold packaging, and this cigar is no exception. This begins with a Cuban-style dress box, having a white base emblazoned with gold filigree and medallions, along with dark blue trim. The box top features the image of an angel, while the front and sides of the box have the name and crest.

Inspecting the individual cigars, we are met with a very attractive caramel brown wrapper with a nice oily sheen. The surface of the cigar is very smooth, with very small veins and neatly-done seams that are not readily visible all the way up to the very cleanly-applied pigtail cap. It is actually quite an elegant-looking cigar, considering the sub-10-dollar price point.

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Smoking Experience

The aroma coming from the foot has strong hints of cocoa powder and earth, with a slight amount of campfire in the background. The campfire aroma is also present in the body of the cigar, as well as hints of nutmeg. The pre-light draw, which is barely to the firm side of perfect, produces notes of cabinet spice and citrus, with a little bit of pepper on the finish.

Upon first light there is no question that this cigar is a Nicaraguan puro. Cue the black pepper. The first few puffs of this cigar give a solid pepper zing to the tongue, and literally make my eyes water on the first retrohale due to an especially vigorous black pepper burn. Fortunately, after a few more puffs, the pepper subsides and the core flavors of the cigar start to emerge.

The cabinet spices come out front, with nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon being predominant, as well as pepper and dry earth lingering in the background. The retrohale is still predominantly black pepper, but there is a vegetal note that is starting to emerge that leaves a bell pepper-type finish on the nose. The burn and draw have been solid, still slightly on the firm side of perfect, but enjoyable nonetheless. In terms of smoke output, the toro has been thick and heavy since the first few puffs. The ash is very firm and needs to be persuaded to drop.

Gurkha San Miguel Toro cigar smoking

Getting further in, a creaminess appears that helps bring all of the flavor notes together, leaving an overall sweetness on the tongue. That, combined with the peppery retrohale, makes for a very solid smoking experience. The cigar has almost a baked-goods sweetness up front, with a nice spiciness on the finish.

Trouble arises as the time comes to remove the band. In fact, two of the three samples I smoked for this review had glue under the band, causing a significant tear in the wrapper leaf. One was repairable with pectin, while the other damaged the cigar beyond repair. The third was fine.

That being said, things change in the final stages of the cigar. First and foremost is the sharp shift in the flavor profile. Gone are the sweet, creamy baker’s spice notes, and appearing are bitter notes of earth, leather, dry cedar, and black pepper. The strong pepper note present in the first few puffs is back with a vengeance. And then there’s the strength, with the nicotine being evident enough in the final two inches to give me a queasy feeling. All three samples started to have the wrapper split at this point as well, with the end of the smoking experience coming about an inch and a quarter from the cap.

Gurkha San Miguel Toro review vertical

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

Even though I am a huge fan of Aganorsa Leaf, I lean towards no on this one. If the cigar improved from the start with a flavorful finish, that would be a different story.

  • An interesting tidbit with this cigar is that it’s actually a re-release of a grandfathered brand that was originally produced in the Dominican Republic. I have not had the opportunity to smoke the original, but with the revised blend being manufactured in a new country, the current iteration of the San Miguel has to be strikingly different.

Profile
  • Flavor: Medium / Full
  • Strength: Medium / Full
  • Body: Medium / Full
Core Flavors
  • Black pepper
  • Cabinet spices
  • Dry earth
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Barrel-proof bourbon | Dr Pepper | Black coffee
  • Purchase Recommendation: Try a single and see if it’s for you

Gurkha San Miguel Toro cigar nub finished

Gurkha San Miguel Toro
Being that this was rolled at Aganorsa Leaf, and I am a big fan of AGANORSA tobacco, I was really looking forward to smoking this cigar and having an enjoyable experience. Upon first light (and just past halfway) it was well on its way to being an epic experience; then things changed. The glue issue on the band was a very small yet annoying detail. What I noticed most was the drastic change in flavor profile, almost like someone flipped a switch. This was compounded by the wrapper's splitting in the final two inches. If this was only on one sample it might not be such an issue for me, but it was on all three samples I smoked, occurring at almost the same distance from the cap.
Appearance90%
Burn/Construction84%
Draw87%
Flavor83%
Complexity83%
Price/Value85%
Pros
  • Great looking cigars
  • A familiar Aganorsa profile
  • Very solid flavors in the first half
Cons
  • Glue on the bands resulted in torn wrappers
  • Abrupt flavor change in the final part of the cigar
  • Wrapper split in the same spot on all three samples I smoked
85%Unfinished Business
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