For a cigar maker as prolific as Rocky Patel, one anniversary celebration is simply not sufficient. Last week I looked the ITC Anniversary; this week I’m checking out the Decade, Rocky’s other Anniversary cigar. (And if that isn’t enough for you, Rocky just announced that he’s working on a blend for his fifteenth anniversary coming up in a year or two.)
Inside each box of Rocky Patel Decade cigars is printed a phrase that sums up the RP story: “Against All Odds.” Of the hundreds of companies that started up during the cigar boom of the mid ’90’s, Rocky Patel’s is one of the few survivors. Hard work and a knack for creating tasty blends has paid off.
And it hasn’t hurt that he has friends like Nestor Plasencia. The Decade is made in Plasencia’s El Paraiso factory in Danli, Honduras, where they also make one of my other favorite cigars, the RP Sungrown.
As I explained (or tried to explain) in the ITC Anniversary post, the Decade blend is actually the blend originally created for the ITC. Rocky thought that blend was a little better than the one created for the Decade, so he switched labels.
The Decade has a dark Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and an undisclosed binder-filler blend (labeled “secret” on the Rocky Patel website) but in other places it is said to be Nicaraguan. Based on the flavor, I’d say Nicaraguan is a safe bet.
Four sizes are in production:
- Robusto 5 x 50
- Lonsdale 6 1/2 x 44
- Toro 6 1/2 x 52
- Torpedo 6 1/2 x 52
- Emperor 6 x 60
The Decade robusto has a smooth dark wrapper that is best described as maduro in color. The cigar is square pressed and is packed well. The cap is nothing special to look at, but it’s applied well and takes a guillotine slicing without complaint. Remove the bands and you have what might look like a Padron 1926.
The draw on both samples I smoked was spot on perfect. It burned steadily but not too quickly, creating a medium-gray ash that had the temerity to drop off just as I was about to snap a picture. Overall very good construction.
The Decade robusto starts up with a maduro-like char and a prominent bite. There are some cherry notes mingling with the char, and a bittersweet chocolate aftertaste. At this point it is reminiscent of some other Placencia-made cigars — the Mayorga “High Octane” and even the cheapo Nestor Reserve Maduro, but the Decade by comparison becomes much bolder and grows much more complex.
The center section features an acidic tang that I always associate with Nicaraguan tobacco. At this point I’m starting to feel the potency of this cigar and have to slow down a little, but the chocolate and cocoa flavors remind me a lot of the Olde World Reserve. As the stick burns down, the body grows heavier but smoother at the same time. The aroma is sweet and woody.
The last third continues along the same trajectory, rich and rife with bean flavors: chocolate, cocoa, and coffee. The bands are easily removed to give this robusto a thorough nubbing, though the nub itself does get a bit mushy by the end. The cigar ends with a last gasp of earthy char and some of the bite with which it started.
I don’t know if I can say that this is a better cigar than the ITC 10th Anniversary — they’re so constitutionally different. The ITC is milder, but a little more sophisticated, at least in the Salomon size that I’ve tried. The Decade is a more robust, full-figured cigar, more easily compared to the Olde World Reserve than the ITC 10th (though I think the OWR Maduro would take the edge in a pitched battle.) The Decade robusto is an excellent smoke in any case.
Priced at around 9 USD per stick, the Decade is not going to bankrupt anyone, but it won’t be an everyday smoke for most of us. I think in this price range I’d opt for an Olde World Reserve instead.
Final Score: 89