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said Hansotia, who at the time was in his family’s horology business and knew little about cigars. “When I expressed to the owner how much I enjoyed smoking the cigar, he explained that his brand was virtually dead. He agreed to sell me his entire lot, about 600 boxes, and the rights to the company for – are you ready for this? – $149.” At the time, the little-bit-tipsy Hansotia had no idea what a treasure-trove he had just landed. He gave the cigars as gifts to his duty-free watch vendors, clients, friends and family. “Then one day, an affluent client called me and asked if he could get some more of those Gurkha cigars – he didn’t care about price. Whatever it took, he wanted more.” Hansotia realized he was on to something special. “I got in touch with a friend who was a tobacco grower and I started researching cigars and tobacco and visiting factories,” he told South Florida Opulence. “I quickly noticed that there was no such thing as a super premium upscale cigar on the market. An $8 Davidoff was about as pricey as they got. I found that cigar companies might have different labels, but they all pretty much tasted the same – and they all came packaged in cheap paper or cardboard boxes. The market needed a finer alternative – it needed an investment quality, collectible cigar brand.” And so began the rebirth of Gurkha Cigars.

He achieved his dream by packaging the cigars in beautifully designed handcrafted cases made of fine materials – such as mahogany and teak woods – which some consider as collectible as the fine tobacco inside. The savvy cigar maker also added another intrinsically valuable component he gleaned from history books. “Back in the old days when warriors traveled on long ship voyages, they brought their tobacco leaves on board with them,” Hansotia explained. “They couldn’t store water in barrels (it would become musty tasting), so they drank alcohol. When their rum and sherry barrels became empty, they stored their tobacco in them because the moist wood kept the leaves hydrated. So essentially, 99 percent of cigars back then were made of alcohol-

The Rise of Small-Batch Collectible Cigars Since then, Hansotia has grown his small-batch, rare tobacco Gurkha Cigar Company into a conglomerate that produces the world’s finest and most expensive cigars in the industry.

His Majesty’s Reserve (HMR) Gurkha cigars are infused with Louis XIII Cognac and sell for up to $1,200 per cigar.

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South Florida OPULENCE

Summer 2015

infused tobacco. I decided to follow these historic roots by infusing tobacco in a very limited edition Gurkha line called HMR (His Majesty’s Reserve), with the world’s finest cognac – Louis XIII.” Each box of 20 HMR cigars is infused with a full $2,400 bottle of Louis XIII Cognac. Each cigar is hand rolled with a 15-yearaged Connecticut maduro wrapper and a 12-year-aged Dominican Republic binder and filler. Only 100 boxes per year were produced, for three years. Production of the HMR has since ceased, making collectibility skyrocket. Each HMR cigar is wax-sealed in a glass tube and sells for up to $1,200 per stick ($25,000 per box). In 2012, a single box sold for as much as $85,000. That’s quite an accomplishment considering that a mere 15 years ago, the most expensive Davidoff cigar was just pocket change. Another Gurkha success story is the Black Dragon. Cloaked in a dark and hearty 5-year-aged Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper, the Black Dragon reigns from Honduras and is a combination of a longleaf tobacco from the Dominican Republic bound with a binder from Cameroon. When released in its stunning humidor-quality box, it brought at launch as much as $125,000. In 2012, that same box sold for $685,000. Connoisseurs who prefer a rum-infused leaf may opt for the Gurkha Private Select. The medium-bodied Nicaraguan-leaf cigar burns with notes of nuts, toffee and cocoa, and is further enhanced by the infusion of Ron Abuelo Rum.

Profile for Adriana Naylor

South Florida Opulence Summer 2015  

High luxury lifestyle living magazine

South Florida Opulence Summer 2015  

High luxury lifestyle living magazine