Los Angeles, January 7, 2011 – Gurkha made its reputation on offering excellent cigars in astonishing packaging at prices that appealed to the "upper crust." Triad is just such an offering.
With retail pricing of $50.65 for the Triad Natural or $100.65 for the Triad Platinum, this is not a cigar for everyone. But for those who try it, it is a journey into the unknown . . . at that price, what can it be?
Triad - Platinum: [Honduras: available in 1 size] Ever smoke a $100 cigar? That's what is in store for those who pick out a Triad Platinum, an extra-dark cigar that features a 10-year-old Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper, an eight-year-old Cameroon binder and eight-year-old Dominican filler leaves. Is it worth it? The cigar itself is coddled in a cedar sheet with a black nylon ribbon at the bottom to protect the foot. It sends up a spicy, rich aroma upon lighting and while it has a full-bodied presence in the mouth, its flavor is smooth from the start. The Triad Platinum is made in only one size, a double corona of 7 1/4 inches by 52 ring, and its dimensions demand that the smoker take the time to appreciate it. The opening inch treats you to a burst of tangy, fruit-like flavor, with a very light touch of spice on the tongue on the finish. It's rich, but subtle and rather understated in its own way. The flavors don't scream, but are lush and mellow with excellent balance and lightness. Although a maduro-wrapped double corona, the Platinum is measured and subtle. Because of this, it is likely better to smoke it indoors and at leisure so that the finesse of this blend is fully captured; you'll miss that if the Platinum is smoked outdoors. The blend becomes more complex in the second half, as the spiced notes come to the fore, with a dash of pepper added in the third quarter. But the taste is never harsh or aggressive and the balance and class are maintained throughout. The draw is excellent and the burn is even throughout. A sweet note, balanced with spice and a little less pepper, is on hand for the final quarter of this cigar, offering a nicely-balanced end to a cigar that any smokers will have high expectations of, thanks to its price. The Platinum is, as one expects from Gurkha, brilliantly presented in hand-carved chests of 20; even when the cigars are gone, the memory will linger every time you see the box on your nightstand or dresser! The Platinum is priced at $106.50 apiece, with boxes of 20 retailing for $2,013.00, not including local tobacco or sales taxes!Overall grade: : Excellent.
It is important to note that the Triad Platinum and Triad Natural may share the same brand name, but are different blends. Are they worth their lofty prices? That's an individual decision, but there is no doubt that these are cigars of very, very high quality, workmanship and taste. ~ Rich Perelman
Los Angeles, January 6, 2011 – Along with the recently-reviewed Ninja and Viper lines, the Gurkha Archive has become one of the best sellers in the giant Gurkha brand. We wanted to find out why:
Gurkha Archive: [Honduras: available in 3 sizes] With so many Gurkha blends, the Archive is happily easy to spot, thanks to its secondary band and strongly box-pressed shape. It features a medium-brown Connecticut wrapper, with a Cameroon binder and Nicaraguan filler leaves, offering a medium body with a sweet and spicy aroma. The taste mirrors the aroma, with a well-defined sweetness and a lightly-spiced finish that felt most on the tongue. It's a lively cigar, but never heavy; the perky, balanced taste is a welcome companion to accompany other activities, like poker or golf. The construction is firm and the Archive has a nice, even burn. There's more spice in the second half, but never overpowering and with just a touch of sweetness remaining in the background. It remains fairly consistent and maintains a rich taste into the final quarter. This is a very nice blend, and its quality, combined with reasonable retail pricing of $8.75 to $9.15 - plus local taxes - is one of its attractions. All three sizes are available in boxes of 20 or - if you'd like to save some money by buying in bulk - in chests of 120! Overall grade: : Excellent.
The appeal of the Archive is its lively flavor and more accessible pricing than some of the other Gurkhas, but it is pricier than the Ninja or Viper. But these three blends offer virtually anyone an opportunity to get their hands on a Gurkha at a reasonable price. ~ Rich Perelman
Los Angeles, January 6, 2011 – No one can say that Kaizad Hansotia, owner of the Gurkha brand, is anything other than enthusiastic.
"The sun is shining, brother. I think this is going to be a fantastic year, and I see a lot of changes coming," he said in an interview this morning. The biggest shift he is seeing is the movement in cigar shops in favor of the so-called boutique brands.
"The national manufacturers used to have 70-80% of the shelf space in most smokeshops because the boutique companies didn't have the distribution that the major corporations had," he noted. "But now the boutique companies have really taken over - look at us, at Padron, at Tatuaje - all of the smaller companies are doing really well.
"These larger manufacturers are losing shelf space to the boutiques; in some stores, you see only 30% of the space is given to the national brands and 70% to the boutiques. I see that trend continuing."
In addition, Hansotia noted that "manufacturers who are narrow-minded and have only one flavor profile out there are going to have a hard time. You need to have a range of flavor profiles that go all across the board" to be successful.
His own experiment with more-affordable Gurkhas has been a hit. "The Ninja and the Viper lines have really taken off. Those blends - along with the Archive, too - with their price point and the fact that they are Gurkhas, have even surpassed the Vintage Shaggy line, which was our biggest seller before, and still sells very well."
Naturally, Hansotia has plans for his high-end clientele as well. "We are coming out with our super-cigar, the Raja, later this year. It will be in a special-edition box made of solid silver, and is only meant for the major collectors of cigars, of the high-end Gurkhas we have produced. The details will be released about one month prior to the IPCPR trade show [in July], but I can tell you we plan to make them in the Dominican and a box of 50 will cost about $250,000."
The Gurkha line will also be expanded with one or two new lines that focus on the nostalgic, traditional packaging of cigars from the 20th Century. "These will be new brands," noted Hansotia, "but in old-style boxes that will really be appealing."
Hansotia's background, of course, is in watches and jewelry, where manufacturers are expected to introduce a new collection at least once per year, so it's no surprise that he is well grounded in fashion-style marketing. At least for him, it has turned out to be a key in keeping their profile - and sales - high. ~ Rich Perelman
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