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By: Lindsay Heller
If growing tobacco requires great knowledge and skill, then properly aging it is an art form. So many things can go wrong during the aging process for a traditional blend, but what about when a manufacturer chooses to prolong the process for 15 years? The end result can be a disappointment, flat in flavor and devoid of strength; in the case of the Gurkha Cellar Reserve 15 Year, however, maturity wrote a new chapter in this brand's history.
Perhaps the best reflection of Gurkha's renewed focus on the concept of a super-premium cigar, the Cellar Reserve 15 Year was the first of its kind within the company's portfolio. Like other lauded luxury puros, its recipe is comprised of all-Dominican tobaccos: Piloto Cubano and special Olor for the long-fillers, and a sleek Criollo 98 wrapper completing the package. Knowing they were working with prized raw materials, Gurkha's blending team took nearly a year to create—and perfect—this inaugural Cellar Reserve offering. Given the cellar reserve concept, and how it likened the age of these premium tobaccos to that of the world of fine spirits, the cigars are housed in wooden boxes which mimic barrels used for maturation.
Boasting a rich profile and a pleasing bouquet, Cellar Reserve 15 Year is a luxurious experience, emulating elegance from start to finish. '90' rated by Cigar Aficionado, expect creamy waves of oak, milk chocolate, dried fruits, and even a hint of vanilla, before a leathery finish. The burn is slow and deliberate, and with each puff, a new element to this layered blend is revealed with subtlety and grace. Available in five vitolas ranging from a Double Robusto ("Solara") to a Churchill ("Prisoner"), there's even a Short Perfecto ("Koi") for when time is limited; should you really wish to relax and savor the experience, a Gordo ("Kraken") is more than suitable for the occasion. Regardless of which size you select, each comes topped with a pigtail cap and an oversized label, serving to reaffirm the story behind Cellar Reserve.
While a proper pairing can be a deeply personal decision, we spoke to Gurkha's VP of Sales, Juan Lopez, and asked him what he thought best complemented this supremely-aged cigar. Lopez says he likes to light up a Cellar Reserve 15 Year after a steak dinner, digesting and unwinding with either a Single Malt Scotch or Bourbon of his choice. Armed with that information, I went looking for suggestions to pass on to all of you.
If Scotch is your preferred spirit, seek out a Single Malt that helps bring forth either some of the woodiness, dried fruit, and/or subtle vanilla nuances, such as Tomintoul 14-Year (Speyside), Deanston Virgin Oak (Highland), or Glen Moray 12-Year Elgin Heritage (Speyside). Although Bourbon can be wonderful, I actually found that this Gurkha responded better to Rye—especially if you're a fan of the more savory side of the smoking spectrum. When paired with Wild Turkey Rye 81, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, or Bulleit 95 Rye Small Batch, there is an added hint of baking spice present on the finish that will leave you feeling warm and cozy.
Gurkha's portfolio is a large one, and while there is truly more than one blend for everyone, look no further than the Cellar Reserve 15 Year if you demand the very best.
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