A very special cigar hit our docks the other day. It is called Gurkha Castle Hall. Once an old Cuban brand that rivaled the legendary cigars of yesterday, Castle Hall has been re-mastered in grand fashion by Kaizad Hansotia. The blend contains a nice helping of Cuban-seed, long-leaf tobaccos grown in Nicaragua and Honduras. These tobaccos are secured by a genuine Cameroon binder. The select wrappers are thick, shiny and sport a caramel-brown hue that’s quite unique. Although they looked great on arrival, they are still subject to the same treatment as everything else that makes its way into our humidor. Yes sir, Steve-o’s quality control test is now underway (a.k.a. smoke a whole bunch).
Gurkha Castle Hall Sumatra is a vibrant cigar that gives off a wonderful crisp aroma of well-aged tobaccos. I love the texture of the wrapper – coarse, thick and a little oily. The cap is applied perfectly and helps lead to a flawless cut. As I toast the foot I instantly pick up on a pleasantly mellow aroma that seems to have a little bit of zest to it. The cigar opens with a blast of creaminess, unloading clouds of thick grey smoke throughout the office. After each puff, a subtle hint of nuts remains, almost like peanuts - a sign of Cameroon. Other than the initial creaminess, the flavors seem relatively tame - smooth sailing, right up to the midway point, where the cigar seems to progress into a robust, fuller-bodied smoke. The Cuban-seed Honduran leaves start to shine through with that lovely ‘Habano twang’ hitting the back of my palate. Now, Brandon classifies this cigar as medium-bodied, but I beg to differ. I’ll agree that it is nice and mellow, but that’s just the first half. The second half has gotten me every time with a big, powerful finish, leaving me glassy-eyed and satisfied. More unexpected than overpowering, Castle Hall is a classic representation of well-balanced strength. Whereas many fuller-bodied cigars focus primarily on strength, Castle Hall was crafted to grow stronger as it burns, while keeping the flavor proportional to its power. Me likey.