Gurkha Black Dragon Grand Especial

This cigar up for review this week is one I’ve been looking forward to trying for well over a year. Ever since the Houston RTDA in 2007, where I literally bumped into the cigar. I was walking along the skybridge to the convention center from the hotel across the street the first full day of the show when my foot sent something across the floor. I looked down, and there a few feet in front of me was this giant cigar. As I picked up, I realized it was a Black Dragon, a cigar that I had read a bit about. I looked around to see who might have dropped it, but nobody was around. The cigar appeared to be undamaged in spite of its trip across the floor, so I took it as a good omen and in my pocket it went.

Of course I wasn’t foolish enough to think that the Black Dragon I found was one of the ridiculously expensive original editions. You know, the ones that came out in 2006 and retailed for $1,150.00. After selling a limited number of extremely expensive boxes, Gurkha released version of the cigar in 2007 that the average cigar smoker could afford. And this happened to be the cigar I accidentally played soccer with.

I had planned to review the cigar once I got back from the show, if I could pick up at least one more to give it a fair review. Well that didn’t happen. And I haven’t seen any since. I decided to spring for a few loose ones on one of the cigar auction websites so I could finally give it a review. Now it’s time too see if it was really worth all the hassle.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 8 1/2 x 52
Wrapper: Connecticut
Binder: Cameroon
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 2 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: MSRP ~$15.00

The Pre-Smoke
It probably goes without saying this is one big cigar. It might just be the largest cigar I’ve ever smoked. I noticed that its actually longer than my ashtray is wide, which struck me as a bit ridiculous. As I prepared to light it up, I found myself both hoping I’d enjoy it, and wishing I had stumbled on a less time intensive robusto.

As you would expect of any Gurkha cigar, it comes very well decorated. It has the standard over sized Gurkha band with a black color theme, a five and a half inch cedar sheath, with a black ribbon at the foot. Before I slid off the cedar to have a look at the wrapper, I decided to give it a little sniff. Like most cigar smokers, I have a great love for the scent of cedar. But what I smelled surprised me. I didn’t smell cedar as much as I smelled strong mint or even menthol. (Later on the cedar smelled more like cedar.)

Inspecting the wrapper on the cigars, I noticed that one had a large number of spots and the other had a large whole in the wrapper, and rip in leaf at about the halfway point. Both cigars had few veins and were pretty smooth. I did notice that one cigar was firmer construction-wise than the other. from the cold taste, I noted a bit of creamy, savory cocoa.

The Burn
The burn of both cigars was impressive. The ash was bright white, very solid and the burn line was almost perfect. That is until around the final third when one cigar developed a few burn glitches and developed some flakiness in the ash, and the other had the wrapper split. And once that wrapper split, it was pretty much a lost cause.

The noticeably firmer cigar had a noticeably firmer draw that I found to be almost too tight. It did loosen up as the cigar burned into the second and final third, and ultimately resulted in the swelling and splitting of the final third.

The Flavor
I found it interesting, when comparing my notes between smokes that the more tightly rolled cigar actually seemed to have a slightly fuller flavor. I suspect that the firmer draw resulted in more puffing, more heat and as a result, stronger flavors.

The first third was all about sweet creaminess. For good portion of this third, that was all I tasted: sweet creaminess. Along the way though, I did notice a bit of cocoa, the rare bit of coffee, and even some unusual flavors like butterscotch and banana. The firmer drawing cigar had a bit of nuttiness throughout that made the third a bit more interesting.

The second third was still creamy and sweet, but became more consistently chocolaty. Later on the creamy aspect of the flavor became more and more like coconut. The combination of creamy chocolate and coconut was a pretty enjoyable combination.

My notes on the final third are a little sparse because something happened with both cigars right around the final third. They both developed a dirty unpleasant flavor that quickly started to irritate my sinuses. One moment the cigars were all about chocolate and coconut and then just turn fowl. The looser drawing cigar took on a minty flavor briefly before this happened, much like the scent of the cedar sheath. With one cigar, I experimented with some purging to see if this was something that could be corrected. Purging did improve the flavor a bit, but the magic was gone.

The Price
There are few cigars, in my opinion that are worth fifteen bucks. Granted this cigar is nearly the size of a football field, but I just don’t think it qualifies.

The Verdict
If ever there was a cigar you should only smoke up to the band, this is that cigar. Had I stopped smoking at the band, it would have essentially been a mild, creamy, pleasant toro. (Yeah, it is that big.) But smoking into that final third absolutely ruined it for me. I soldiered on a little longer with the cigar I photographed for this review, but both cigars went to an early grave. (Which is why the smoking time for this monster is only two and a half hours.)

My advice to you, if you are interested in giving this cigar a shot is twofold. First, try the robusto first. It’s cheaper, and I suspect the more condensed flavor transitions might make for a more exciting smoke. Second, the moment you taste something strange in that final third, dump that stogie. It’s done, and there’s not much that can be done to make it smokeable.

Liked It: For a little while.
Buy It Again: No
Recommend It: If you like your cigars big, flashy and mild, you’ll probably enjoy this.

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.