Rocky Patel Luxury Collection Sampler

The folks at Holt’s Cigar Company were kind enough to send me this Rocky Patel Sampler, and even though it did not widen my smoke-filled horizons in any considerable fashion, I am happy to repay the favor with a few honest words on some classic cigars. Okay, they’re not all classics, but I’d say the RP Decade and the Vintage 1990 have achieved that status by virtue of their quality and longevity.  Augmenting these are a Holt’s house brand — the Ocean Club;  one that I think might also be a house brand — the Velvet Edition; and my current goto proletarian workhorse — Renaissance.

RP Luxury Sampler

The Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 was first reviewed for this blog in 2006, so I thought it would be interesting to compare notes from ten years ago. The toro in the Luxury Sampler is a pressed cigar, maduro in shade with a slightly oily sheen. Unless the recipe has changed, this is a broadleaf wrapper grown in Honduras. Construction qualities are excellent across the board.  My tasting notes from this time around are “Cedar, chocolate and dried cherry. Medium body.” Ten years ago I wrote:

It’s a medium bodied smoke that I find extremely smooth up to the finish when it gets a bit heavier and the taste turns slightly tarry. The predominating flavors are wood and cherry. The broadleaf is very aromatic and worth the price of admission alone.

RP Vintage 1990

And it’s still true. Rocky churns out new blends every year, but the Vintage 1990 is still one of my favorites.

The Ocean Club is a Holt’s exclusive. With a colorado claro Nicaraguan wrapper, Mexican binder, and filler from Nicaragua and the DR, the Ocean Club is remarkably distinctive for a house blend.  Like the Vintage 1990 the toro comes in a pressed format and exhibits excellent construction.

RP Ocean Club

The cigar is well named — the salty character of the smoke calls the sea to mind. The primary flavor is earthy and vegetal, accented by a floral aroma. In the mid-section there is a minty taste that made me think there might be a touch of Cameroon in the mix, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It is a refreshing and welcome addition to the mix of earth and salt.

RP Velvet

The Velvet Edition is presented in the round and features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper that is largely responsible for the creamy (velvety?) body of the cigar. It’s a mild to medium bodied cigar with a gentle demeanor. None of the filler tobaccos overwhelm the subtle wrapper aroma, which is a good thing. There is some light caramel and a hint of coffee that blends to create a latte sweetness. A nice morning smoke.

RP Decade

Decade is another classic that doesn’t require much of an introduction. The blend is undisclosed, but the star of the show is a dark chocolate colored Sumatra wrapper from Ecuador. This one is pressed and burns as beautifully as one could expect. The flavors are sweet and earthy, reminiscent of ye olde peat bog. The smoke is smooth with an acidic tang and offers up a rich aroma of coffee and cedar. I mostly agree with my 2009 review:

There are some cherry notes mingling with the char, and a bittersweet chocolate aftertaste…The center section features an acidic tang that I always associate with Nicaraguan tobacco… the chocolate and cocoa flavors remind me a lot of the Olde World Reserve… The aroma is sweet and woody. The last third continues along the same trajectory, rich and rife with bean flavors: chocolate, cocoa, and coffee.

I’m so happy I agree with myself, but I have to admit that I didn’t notice the cherry notes this time around.

The final entry in the Luxury Sampler is not a classic cigar exactly, but it might be the best deal around right now. The Renaissance, a reincarnation of the Edge Sumatra, has been a catalog centerfold for more than one company lately, and I, for one, am not complaining. It’s a stellar cigar for the asking price.

RP Rennaissance

I’ve been smoking the Renaissance for the past couple of years in the robusto and corona sizes, and the Toro performs equally well. My notes this time around include cinnamon and cedar on the nose, a crisp clean aftertaste, and a zingy bite on the tongue. Six years ago my thoughts on the robusto ran along similar lines:

…a piney aroma with fruity notes; the cherry that comes through reminds me a lot of the Decade. There is a touch of chocolate and a sweet spice — not pepper — that is easy on the palate.  The aftertaste is pleasant and mild… smooth and genteel with an excellent aroma and no bite.  The smoke is medium in body, with moderate nicotine.

I never thought I’d be tagging the Vintage 1990 or Decade as “bargain cigars,” but that’s what I’m doing, because the Rocky Patel Luxury Sampler is now only $29.95 at Holt’s. Three bucks a stick. That’s kind of nuts… but my kind of nuts. In addition to being a fantastic deal, this is the perfect sampler for a new smoker who wants an introduction to the Rocky Patel oeuvre. These are easy smoking cigars, at an even easier price.

Rocky Patel Decade Cameroon

RP Decade Cameroon

Friends and family who know I am a cigar smoker were very excited for me when the news of restored relations with Cuba was reported earlier this year. I wanted to be excited too, but instead I had to explain that this diplomatic thaw does not mean the gates to the promised land have been flung wide open. As of today, Cuban imports are still on the U.S. Treasury Department’s hit list.

But what surprised them even more was when I said that legal access to Habanos was not what I’m looking forward to most. What I’m really excited about is the possibility that top Nicaraguan cigar blenders may soon have access to Cuban wrapper leaf. I’ve smoked some fine Habanos, and I’ve smoked some really disappointing Habanos. What gets my heart pumping now is the thought of what a cigar blender like Jose “Don Pepin” Garcia or Arsenio Ramos might do with Nicaraguan fillers and a Cuban capa. A wrapper leaf can change everything.

As an example, Rocky Patel’s Decade utilizes a dark Sumatran leaf grown in Ecuador. The core of the original Decade is Nicaraguan, giving it a nice acidic bite, but the wrapper lends it a maduro-like temperament: it’s rich and sweet with chocolate and cocoa. What happens when that wrapper is switched out for something a little different?

That’s just what Rocky did with the Decade Cameroon. The core of the cigar is the same as the original Decade, and it is made in Plasencia’s El Paraiso factory in Honduras, just like the original. The core blend is still undisclosed (though it is reportedly Nicaraguan.) The difference is the wrapper, and the difference is substantial. The Decade Cameroon was released at least year’s IPCPR convention and is available in three sizes:

  • Robusto – 5 x 50
  • Toro – 6 1/2 x 52
  • Torpedo – 6 1/2 x 52

RP Decade Cameroon 3

Construction Notes

For the review I smoked the RP Decade Cameroon in the Robusto and the Toro sizes. Both were well made sticks, but the finishing touches on the Robusto were a little cleaner. The cap on the Robusto was simple but seamless, while the Toro’s was ragged and a little sloppy. The head of the Robusto was almost flat, while the Toro’s was slightly lopsided.

The wrapper is a dark colorado maduro with a few small sunspots. The draw in both sizes was firm but productive and the burn was even and consistent.

Overall Construction: Very Good.

Tasting Notes

The Toro and the Robusto did not vary too much in terms of flavor, though the Toro scored a little higher on the intensity chart. The base flavor is earthy with a little tartness and a touch of black pepper on the tongue. On the nose there is cedar with an overtone of clove.

The sweetness of the original Decade lurks beneath the surface and makes a showing in the second and third stages of the cigar: coffee and brown sugar come to the fore, and as the tartness fades in the last third there is chocolate and maybe even caramel. The big difference here is the minty clove-like spice that comes from the Cameroon wrapper. The Cameroon Decade is every bit as rich and smooth as the original, but it’s a more complex blend of flavors.


Rocky Patel’s Sun Grown Robusto has been my mainstay Rocky smoke for a long time, but in the past couple of years I’ve become disenchanted with it. I don’t know if it’s me, or if it’s the blend, but it just doesn’t taste as bright and smooth as it used to. The Decade Cameroon might be my favorite blend in the RP lineup now. It reminds me a little of the Partagas Benji Menendez Master Series — rich and smooth with that savory Cameroon tang. What a difference a wrapper can make.

At $9 to 10 USD per stick, the Decade Cameroon is not a cheap date, but this is no fast food cigar. It has considerable competition in that price range: the aforementioned Partagas and Fuente’s Don Carlos line perform similar tricks with Cameroon wrapper.  But on a good day I think the Decade Cameroon can keep pace with those big dogs.

RP Decade Cameroon 4

Final Score: 90

Rocky Patel Edicion Unica 2011

No one will ever accuse Rocky Patel of missing a special occasion for a limited edition cigar release. This one comes courtesy the Humo Jaguar International Tobacco Festival celebrated last year in Tegucigalpa and Danli, Honduras. The purpose of the Festival is to promote the Honduran cigar industry, which lags a bit behind that of Nicaragua. But if this cigar is any indication of the strides that Honduras is making, it may be catching up with its neighbor to the south quite soon.

The festival was named Humo Jaguar after the 12th ruler of Copan, who ruled from 628 to 695 A.D.  Humo Jaguar (Chan Imix K’awiil) was sort of like the Caesar Augustus of ancient Mayan culture — his reign was long and marked by stability and progress. The archaeological record he left behind includes monuments and stelae now preserved in the Copan Archaeological Park. Archaeologists assigned names to the rulers based on the hieroglyphs found on these stelae — hence names like Moon, Macaw, and Jaguar. Evidently smoke is depicted in the carvings as well; the Mayans were among the first cultures in the world to use tobacco, and presumably the King’s humidor was well stocked.

I’d like to think that Humo Jaguar would be quite pleased with the progress that the cigar industry has made in the last 1300 years, and that the Honduran puro that Rocky Patel created for the first festival in his name would have been a big hit with him. The dark wrapper that graces this toro is from the Jamastran valley, beneath which lies an unspecified Honduran binder. The filler is from Talanga and Jamastran. Only one size was created — a 6 x 52 toro. The initial release was limited to 500 boxes, but it seems likely that more were produced afterwards.

Construction Notes

The wrapper on the Edicion Unica is dark and somewhat dry — it reminds me a little of the San Andres wrapper that is showing up on so many high-end maduro cigars these days. The roll is firm, as is the draw. The head of the cigar is well formed. The cap seams are a bit ragged, but the cigar cuts cleanly and takes an easy light. Even though the draw is on the tight side, the smoke volume is more than adequate. The ash holds together and the burn is trouble free.

Overall excellent construction.

Tasting Notes

I am initially reminded of Rocky Patel’s Decade line, which for the last couple of years has gradually been supplanting the Olde World Reserves in my humidor. (I attribute the decline of the OWR — or what I perceive as such — to the prodigious number of blends in the RP portfolio. Maintaining consistency over that many lines for years on end has to be a considerable challenge.)

The first flavors to emerge from the Unica are dark chocolate or unsweetened cocoa, layered over the spicy sweetness of Spanish cedar. It’s a great combination that so far I haven’t been able to find at Ethel M. The aroma is strong but sweet.

After an inch or two the cigar showcases coffee and an acidity that I usually associate with Nicaraguan tobacco. The aroma is rich but slightly fruity, like an Ethiopian Sidamo style coffee. The smoke texture is smooth and full without being too powerful. At this point the woody underpinning gives way and becomes more leathery.

The last third picks up some black pepper on the tongue to add to the acidic zing, and the sweet maduro-style aroma lingers on the nose. The cigar remains balanced and smooth to the very end. It’s pretty rare for me to nub any cigar, but this one I didn’t want to put down.


The RP Edicion Unica is sold in boxes of 100, which makes it more suitable for retail distribution than for online sales, but even so the price is right — around $6.50 per stick. Rich flavors in a balanced and medium-bodied package don’t often come with such an economical price tag.

This is a limited run, so snap up a few if you have the chance. I recommend them highly for fans of Rocky’s other maduro offerings like the Decade or the OWR maduro. I just hope there a few left at the shop where I picked up this pair.

Final Score: 92

Rocky Patel Renaissance Robusto

It’s not Frankenstein. It’s not even the Frank. But it’s alive! Rocky Patel’s Renaissance cigar is born again, resurrected from the scuttled remains of the Edge Sumatra.

But it’s not that simple. It never is. Reanimation is not for amateurs. So a little more detail.

Rocky Patel’s Decade, Edge Sumatra and Renaissance cigars are all different blends but they bear a passing resemblance because they share the same, or nearly the same, wrapper leaf.  The wrapper used for all these cigars is, (or was, in the case of the Edge)  a very nice Sumatra leaf grown by the Oliva Tobacco Company in Ecuador. The only problem is that there is a finite amount of this splendid weed, which means that Rocky had to make some hard decisions  about how to allocate it.

The Decade, an Anniversary cigar with an excellent reputation, was assigned the best of the higher primings. This put the squeeze on the Edge Sumatra, which at the time was using the same leaf. Because there wasn’t enough wrapper to go around, the Edge Sumatra was discontinued. But it was still a nice (and popular) blend, so Rocky brought it back using a lower priming wrapper leaf from the same plant and called it Renaissance. It was understood that the Renaissance was the new Edge Sumatra, but it didn’t taste quite the same due to the lower priming wrapper. It just wasn’t “edgy” enough.

To satisfy the ravening crowd, Rocky brought back the original Edge wrapper with the same filler blend, but he kept the new brand name and released it as a limited edition. And that is how the Edge Sumatra became the Renaissance. Which is why it is a renaissance, quite literally.

Construction Notes

The most impressive aspect of this robusto is the oiliness of its dark colorado maduro wrapper. It feels a bit narrow for a robusto, but the roll is solid and the draw is spot on. The head is formed well, but the cap is not picture perfect. I solved that by shearing it off.  The stick burns evenly and builds a solid ash.

The Drop Test

After smoking this cigar for about ten minutes I managed to fumble it. While reaching for the ashtray I somehow lost finger traction and watched in horror as the cigar slipped away and smacked on the concrete of my garage floor. I was sure my poor robusto was going to be battered and bruised beyond all hope of recovery. I brushed off the ash and dirt and to my huge surprise I found it totally intact. Not a crack. Not even a chip.

The drop test is not an officially sanctioned element of the KOTF reviewing methodology, but in this case the Renaissance robusto passed with flying colors.

Overall excellent construction, with bonus points.

Tasting Notes

I almost want to call this cigar “Decade Lite.” The wrapper provides a piney aroma with fruity notes; the cherry that comes through reminds me a lot of the Decade. There is a touch of chocolate and a sweet spice — not pepper — that is easy on the palate. It’s not as rich as the Decade, but it seems similar. The aftertaste is pleasant and mild.

At the half-way point the smoke is still smooth and genteel with an excellent aroma and no bite.  The smoke is medium in body, with moderate nicotine.

In the last section I noticed a more herbal base flavor. It combines nicely with the aroma, which is still bright and piney. The combined effect is rich and complex without being overbearing.


As a descendent of the Edge (if not an actual Edge in disguise) I was expecting a heavier cigar with bolder flavors, but it turns out this cigar is a middleweight, an elegant and accomplished middleweight. I guess the other Edge blends aren’t as heavy as they profess to be either. Either way, I think the Renaissance could take ’em on points.

The robustos in this line retail in the 7 to 8 USD range, which is a fair price given the quality. It’s a little less than the Decade, and about the same as the Olde World Reserve, both of which I think are slightly superior cigars, but I like the fact that the Renaissance has been flying under the radar. The Renaissance is a fine cigar in any case. And it passed the Drop Test.

Final Score: 90

Rocky Patel Decade Robusto


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


Construction Notes

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.

Tasting Notes

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



ITC 10th Anniversary Salomon


Rocky Patel is known as the hardest working man in the cigar business — he’s constantly on the road, hobnobbing with cigar execs and enthusiasts alike — and he still manages to find the time to create numerous new blends. The Indian Tabac label was his first (the Rocky Patel label wasn’t launched until 2002) and it is this, his entry into the world of cigar making, that he is celebrating with the ITC 10th Anniversary. Granted, I’m a little late to the party. Indian Tabac debuted in 1996, placing the 10th Anniversary in 2006. But since the cigar itself was late (it wasn’t released until 2007) and the Salomon is a recent addition, I’m going to make my late entrance without apology.

Rocky actually developed two “anniversary” cigars: this one, and the Rocky Patel Decade. Like the Indian Tabac label, the ITC Anni blend was developed first, though at the time it was supposed to be for the Decade. The blend for the ITC, in Rocky’s opinion, turned out to be more elegant and refined, so he switched labels. The original ITC blend became the Decade, and the later blend became the ITC. So what we have here is the original Decade, which is now the ITC 10th Anni. Got it?

The Salomon vitola is a large and unusual figurado that flares at the foot and tapers in the other direction to a torpedo head. The format is similar to Fuente’s Work of Art or Short Story, but much bigger — this one measures 7 1/8 inches in length and has a 58 ring gauge at its thickest point. Usually only a couple of rollers in each factory know how to roll a cigar with proportions as strange as these; in Cuba they are frequently rolled without molds, making the process even more challenging. Like most vitolas this one has a Cuban genealogy, though Salomones have recently become more popular in the Non-Cuban world.

The ITC 10th Anniversary is made in a small Esteli (Nicaragua) factory that Rocky describes as once being “an upstart factory that was making inexpensive bundle cigars.” That factory has obviously come a long way, in terms of skill as well as tobacco quality. In addition to the ITC 10th they also produce the Rocky Patel Summer Collection and other “very special limited projects.”

The Salomon is not easy to find, but the other sizes are readily available:

  • Lonsdale: 6.5 x 44
  • Robusto: 5 x 50
  • Toro: 6.5 x 52
  • Torpedo: 6.5 x 52

I was surprised to learn this is a Nicaraguan puro, because it doesn’t smoke like one. The wrapper is Nicaraguan corojo, and the filler and binder is a blend of tobaccos from Nicaragua’s premier growing regions: Esteli, Condega and the Jalapa Valley.


Construction Notes

This is an impressive looking cigar. It takes a large leaf to wrap a cigar of this size, and this one is a smooth and even claro. The foot is nicely finished, though I noticed one small flaw, and the head is tightly wound. The cigar feels light in the hand, but the roll is solid with no soft spots. After clipping about half an inch from the point at the head I found the draw had just the right amount of resistance.

The burn was neither too slow nor too fast, and despite some inconsequential flaking the ash proved to be solid enough. The volume of smoke produced was nicely balanced with the body of the cigar.ITC10thAsh

Tasting Notes

The perfecto “nipple” at the foot of the 10th Anniversary Salamon fires up nicely on a single match and for the first few puffs produces a creamy sweet aroma. The steadily growing cinder quickly reaches the main shank of the stick and the flavor shifts to a light wood with mild tannins and a touch of black pepper.  The texture is very creamy and there are subtle spices of balsa or sandalwood on the nose. The finish is fleeting and there is a slightly dry aftertaste.

The middle section continues the woody theme, but is a little heavier than previously — think oak instead of balsa. The aroma continues to please, bringing an accent of honey and fresh cedar saw dust. The nicotine content here is very moderate; this could be a morning cigar for many (if you have an hour and half to spare after breakfast.)

The last third grows a little more somber. Wood gives way to roasted nuts for a few minutes, and then around the secondary band the flavors pick up some char and become earthier. The finish lengthens and the aftertaste gets dirty. Maybe I was smoking this one a little too fast, but it seemed to go downhill pretty quickly. (It’s easy to see why when you consider that the business end of this stick has been filtering smoke for almost an hour and a half. Some cigars are able to this better than others.)


The biggest surprise about this cigar is how smooth and mellow it is. From other reviews I was prepared for a harsher, more “Nicaraguan” experience. Not so with the Salomon — in fact it’s hard to believe that the wrapper here is really Nicaraguan corojo. I would guess Ecuadorian instead, but multiple reference sources point to Nicaragua.

The ITC 10th Anniversary Salomon scores high for construction and smoothness, though it does lack a certain complexity. That said, there was still enough mild woody spice here to keep me interested over the 90 minute haul.

I haven’t found a source for the Salomon online, but my B&M had these on the shelf for around 8 dollars each. Not a bad price for a cigar of this stature.

Final Score: 90


Other Reviews of Note:

Jeff reviews the Robusto for Cigar Jack.

Barry gives the Toro an 86 for A Cigar Smoker’s Journal.

George from the Stogie Guys awards the Robusto 3 out of 5 stars.

Walt suspends judgement on the Robusto for the Stogie Review.

Lisa checks out the Toro for Her Humidor.


Olde World Reserve Torpedo (Maduro) by Rocky Patel

Olde World Reserve Box and Torpedo

Cigar Stats
Brand Owner: Rakesh Patel
Tabacalera: El Paraiso – Danli, Honduras
Model/Vitola: Olde World Reserve Torpedo (Maduro)
Size: 5.0 x 54 (figurado — box-pressed)
Wrapper: Costa Rica (Maduro) — Nicaragua (Corojo)
Binder & Filler: Nicaragua (rumored a little India too)
Cigar Aficionado Rating: 88 —2007 (I think this is way to low)

Other vitola sizes available

  • Robusto 5.5 x 54
  • Toro 6.5 x 52

All sizes are offered in cedar chests of 50 with a choice of Corojo or Maduro wrapper

Rocky’s Picture Collage 

Some background on Rocky ….. 

Rocky Patel is a shining example of what passion and hard work can achieve. He uses what he calls the shoe-leather express, his arduous but successful way of getting out the word on his cigars. He started in LA but now home and headquarters for the energetic 45-year-old is in Naples, FL but you rarely find him there. His road shows began in 1998, and they never seem to end: in both 2001 and 2002 he logged more than 300 days on the road. His travel schedule never seems to get any lighter.

Rocky is a natural born salesman. He sold china and cutlery door-to-door in high school, participated in Junior Achievement, sold grapefruit by the case and raised money in college for muscular dystrophy research. He moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, as a teenager, where he developed a lifelong love of the Packers to rival that of local born Cheeseheads. (In one proud moment he presented members of the team with his cigars.)

Patel, an entertainment and product liability lawyer turned cigar salesman, had a cigar-smoking girlfriend who “made him” join the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills. He went to his first cigar trade show in 1996 and was mobbed for business. This was the beginning of his strong relationship with the cigar industry as a major player.

Olde World Reserve Box

Rocky says, “The problem with practicing law was it was like taking a final exam all day long. You’re always stressed. In this business I’m always thinking about cigars and how to make them better — but I’m excited about it. I’m a perfectionist and I live to win, not just play. The cigar business is the same thing: acquiring the best leaf, creating the best packaging — it’s constantly on my mind.”

Per a quote on his website, the Hollywood lawyer turned cigar maker loves the quality of Padron, the construction of Davidoff, and the consistency of Fuentes. Patel wants to incorporate all of these admirable qualities into his cigars and make them affordable. His are definitely great cigars, so it would seem he is succeeding.

Patel’s original Indian Tabac brand has nothing to do with his heritage (he was born in India, and his real first name is Rakesh) but everything to do with the on-again-off-again Indian Motorcycle brand. Patel, who owns the Indian Tabac Cigar Co. with a silent partner, has to pay Indian Motorcycle a licensing fee on the brand. In 2003 he put aside the Indian Tabac brand name he worked so hard to build to create another — Rocky Patel Vintage Series. It was risky, but a huge success.

Company logos

Since both still exist, a point of clarification on the relative importance of the Indian Tabac and Rocky Patel brands to each other. As of the end of 2006, Indian Tabac sales were steady but made up only about a third of their revenue. The Rocky Patel branded lines made up the rest. When Rocky introduced the Vintage 1990 and 1992 Rocky Patel lines at the 2003 RTDA, it was a calculated risk. He wanted to change the direction of the products and marketing but felt it would be too difficult to do with the Indian Tabac brand. His intuition proved correct as the Vintage brands were a run away success. The Vintage 1990 and 1992 cigars are still the company’s flagship lines today. The Rocky Patel lines with their extensions now represent 70+% of company revenues.

Patel’s cigars are currently manufactured in Nestor Plasencia’s El Paraiso factory in Danli, Honduras. Rocky works with Plasencia to develop and refine the blends they want to offer. In fact, Rocky spends 60-70% of his time in Honduras working with the factory. The rest of his time is split up between marketing and running the operations.

Olde World Reserve Maduro Band

The Old World Reserve (“Master Blend 7XX” as it is designated on the box) was introduced at the 2005 RTDA in New Orleans, LA. That initial iteration, Rocky’s first attempt at the OWR, never made it out of New Orleans, and was ‘re-introduced’ at RTDA 2006 in Las Vegas, NV. This uniquely delicious and buttery smooth blend of tobaccos is actually quite mellow yet very deep in flavors. Olde World Reserve is Rocky Patel’s most expensive creation so you would certainly hope it has “the right stuff” and IMHO it definitely does. It is masterfully blended using top-quality tobaccos, extensive fermentation and aging processes, and the highest of quality control standards. Doesn’t matter if you are part of the Rocky Fan Club or not, you should give this cigar a try.

Exhibition Floor - RTDA 2005
Exhibition Floor — RTDA 2005

I have read folks who compare the OWR to the Padron Anniversary blends (1926 and 1964) but I think they are potatoes and grapefruits, with dissimilar profiles and therefore, not really a “better or not” situation. Both brands are top notch!

Some of the hype and buzz claim the OWR to be Rocky’s Vintage and Edge lines on steroids. Although you can pick out some similar characteristics with the other RP lines, I think the flavor depth of the OWR sets it apart.

Please note, the three sizes of the OWR are very different, each offering a unique smoking experience. That is another interesting thing about this line of cigars. The combo of size and wrap makes for a different experience, and variety is the spice of life, right? This review is based on the Torpedo size wrapped in a Maduro leaf.

Bottom line up front …..

I am a big fan of full flavored cigars which is why I like many vitolas Rocky has to offer (Vintage, Sun Grown, Edge jump to mind). Seems crazy to say, but the Olde World Reserve is a cut above. All of Rocky’s magic is realized in this cigar. Overall, an exceptional example of blending that is extremely well-balanced and surprisingly smooth. Don’t let the hype descriptions of power and strength scare you off! Even if you are a mild to medium cigar buff, try this cigar. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised. The Olde World Reserve is an eventful smoke that fully satisfies the palate of even the most discriminating aficionados. A very rich smoking experience!

Olde World Reserve Torpedo Maduro


Although it is a bit of a stump for a torpedo, these sticks are gorgeous to look at. The band is sophisticated and the foot is sleeved in a gold speckled brown tissue paper with the “RP circle-o-dots” logo in gold at the center. The sleeve is easily removed revealing the dark mottled wrap, smooth and oily. In the sunlight, a rosado hue in the background color is evident.  The cap is a little ruddy looking but well constructed nonetheless. Tightly packed, the stick is firm to the touch but fairly light in the hand. The wrap has very subtle sweet tobacco scent and the foot, soft earthy wood. Clip was very clean, no stragglers. Draw was perfect and tasted of strong southern sweet tea. As I toasted the foot the exquisite aroma wafted around my head and I began to salivate. It did take some effort with the torch to get this one lit but once there, no more external fire required.

Olde World Reserve Cap Closeup

The Smoking Experience

Right out of the gate, the flavor is spectacular with earthy wood and leather rolling over the palate and a tinge of sweetness on the nose. After a few pulls, a nice thick volume of cool smoke and in between puffs, beautiful curls of blue smoke from the foot. As the blend warms it settles to a creamy smooth base of toasted nuts, leather and wood with notes of sweet fruit on the nose (kind of raisiny). During the last third, an enjoyable espresso and bitter chocolate flavor develops and becomes more definitive toward the nub. Initially, the finish is nutty and rather short but evolves to a longer intense toasty espresso in the second half with a bit of pepper on the tongue. This cigar has an awesome aroma similar to “The Edge” but not quite as sharp and consistently sweet to the nub. Draw remained perfect from light to nub and the burn was clean.

Olde World Reserve Ash Trail

The ash was medium gray and held on well. Curiously, the stack of quarters effect common to most cigar ashes was present but began to swirl. Unusual looking to say the least. I only ashed this cigar once at the band. The nub carried the rest to the ash tray.

Olde World Reserve Ash Detail

In terms of strength, the first half rests squarely in the medium column and then it begins to intensify. The last inch and a half are definitely full strength. I would say it carries a mild nicotine kick but definitely not overpowering in any way. I suggest you do have something on your stomach for maximum enjoyment.

Short in physical stature but long on smoking time, this gar took me an hour fifteen minutes to smoke. And time well spent I might add!

OWR 2006 and OWR 2007 Comparison
2006 OWR (top) and 2007 OWR (bottom)

I have always been curious about where these cigar makers get the volumes of tobacco required to make consistent stogies year after year. Like the Vintage 1990 … where is all that 1990 tobacco stored. It’s certainly gotta be bigger than a warehouse (or 100 warehouses for that matter), the number of those cigars that have hit the street since 2003. Just as an experiment, I retrieved a 2006 OWR Maduro that has been resting in my humi since September 2006 and one I purchased for this review. As you can see above there is a definite color variation in the wrap but I’ll be doggone, I smoked ’em both and couldn’t taste a bit of difference. Rocky is good … I mean real good at what he does.

My take …..

I’ve tried a healthy share of both corojo and maduro wrapped OWR and come to the conclusion that, while both are good, I enjoy the maduro most. IMO it’s richer in flavor and offers a very nice sweetness from the wrapper leaf. The maduro is also very (very) smooth in character with an earthy backbone that’s deep and rich. Overall, this is a great cigar, one worthy of the highest of ratings from those who know cigars best.

MSRP on the Maduro Torpedo is $525.00/50 or $10.50 per stick. Best online price at the moment is Cigar Place at $39.95/5 or $7.99 per stick. My local B&M charges a whopping $11.12 per stick which is outrageous (and I told him so). Expensive, but if you want the finer things in life you have to pay the price. Definitely a exquisite cigar. If I were you I would try at least one and then decide if wallet dipping is in order. For me $8 is an easy decision!

Initially released as a limited edition cigar, the Olde World Reserve was only available in traditional brick and mortar tobacco shops. That is no longer the case as they can be found online just about everywhere. I began compiling a list of online vendors but it became so lengthy, I gave up. Just Google it! It pays to shop around on this one. They are a challenge to find in stock but the hunt is well worth it!

Olde World Reserve Corojo Band 

Smoke Til You're Green

Like it … Yes
Buy it again … Yes
Recommend it … Absolutely

What others are saying about
Olde World Reserve by Rocky Patel …..

15 July 2006
Jerry – Stogie Review
Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve – Corojo (Toro)

17 July 2006
The Stogie Guys
Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Corojo Toro

19 August 2006
cNote – Cigar Utopia
RP Olde World Reserve Maduro Review

September 2006
Smoke Magazine Taste Test – Volume XI, Issue 4
Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Toro Maduro
9.25 out of 10 Average Rating

December 2006
Smoke Magazine Taste Test – Volume XII, Issue 1
Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Torpedo Maduro
9.15 out of 10 Average Rating

28 January 2007
lanshark – Cigarzilla
Rocky Patel – Olde World Reserve

March 2007
Smoke Magazine Taste Test – Volume XII, Issue 1
Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Robusto Corojo
9.15 out of 10 Average Rating

11 June 2007
CigarMonkey – Cigar Beat
Olde World Series by Rocky Patel

18 June 2007
mongkut – Epinions
Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Maduro Toro – A Good Cigar, But Not My Favorite

August 2007
Cigar of the Week – Cigar Aficionado
Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Maduro Torpedo

24 September 2007
Gary Korb – Cigar Advisor
My Weekend Cigar: Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Toro

Cigar Aficionado Forum Discussion – Olde World Reserve by Rocky Patel

Top 25 Cigar – As of 2 October 2007
Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve Cigars Torpedo Maduro
10 reviews
8.04 out of 10


1 May 2005
David Savona – Cigar Aficionado
Rocky II
Rocky Patel built his Indian Tabac cigar with endless trips to American tobacconists and Honduran cigar factories. Now he launches a self-named brand.

March 2006
Thor Nielsen – Magazine
Interview: Rocky Patel – Indian Tabac

September 2006 – Smoke Magazine Online
Rackish “Rocky” Patel of Rocky Patel Cigars
The Long Road

11 January 2007
James Suckling – Cigar Aficionado
Havana Corner: Factories, Pigs and Politicians

2 April 2007
Gregory Mottola – Cigar Aficionado
New Sun Grown Sixty From Rocky Patel

August 2007
Video –
Rocky Patel at RTDA 2007 talking about his new releases

Official Rocky Patel Website

… lucky7

“It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep,
and never to refrain when awake.” (Mark Twain)

Rocky Patel Cuban Blend


It seems that Rocky can’t make a bad cigar. With a lot of talent and hard work he has given us some great smokes already, but Rocky is not satisfied with mere success. Rest on his laurels he will not. He must create even more blends to satisfy his army of hungry Patelians. So far there is a new American Market Selection, a Rosado, the RP Connecticut, the Edge Lite, and probably a bunch more out just in the last year or so. This one, the Cuban Blend, and the Honduran Blend are available exclusively from Famous Smoke Shop.

Famous advertises this one thusly:

Available ONLY at Famous Smoke Shop, these cigars present a bold, heady and well-balanced blend of long-aged Honduran Ligero longfiller tobaccos deftly rolled into scrumptious Corojo or Maduro wrappers. The smoke is ultra-smooth, complex, and brimming with dark, spicy flavors. It’s almost like getting a fine Cuban cigar without the Cuban price! Try a box and taste for yourself.

OK. I’m sold. Not on a box though. I like to test the waters with a five pack before setting sail for Box Land.

There are two versions of the Cuban Blend, corojo and maduro. This is the corojo version, with a shiny golden brown wrapper that is truly enticing. The head is finished without a flaw. It’s almost a shame to cut this one, but sacrifices must be made for the betterment of mankind and our burning desires. The roll is solid, almost hard to the touch, but after a clip of the Palio I found the draw just fine.

This Cuban Blend toro starts up with a touch of spice and soon mellows into a smooth Honduran leather. There’s a whiff of sweetness here as well, but just barely. The aroma is not as pronounced as I would expect from corojo, but it serves as a nice complement to the leathery core.

This is a fairly straightforward cigar without a whole lot of development or complexity. It levels off at a solid medium body, veering at the end toward full. At the midpoint the caramel-like sweetness of the corojo is kicked up a notch, and the flavor becomes a little bolder, but calling this “Cuban” is a stretch. It’s a smooth and tasty high-quality smoke from Rocky Patel, and that’s advertising enough right there.

Famous is hawking these for around 90 dollars for a box of 20, or $16 for a fiver. Not a bad price for this cigar.

Rocky Patel Sun Grown Petite Corona

In early June I did some shopping around for a short smoke that would satisfy my craving for a full bodied cigar, and yet could be consumed in less than 30 minutes. This in an effort to minimize the amount of time I would spend baking on the deck in the summer heat.

I found exactly what I was looking for in the Rocky Patel Sun Grown Petite. There’s nothing so intoxicating as cracking open a full box of cigars and inhaling the scent of aged tobacco, so it’s lucky for me that I had the presence of mind to take a picture before I dug in.

Rocky Patel’s Sun Grown line has been in and out of production since 2004. Apparently something went awry with the blend at one point in time and Rocky put a halt on production. Rocky’s reputation in this regard is pretty much impeccable — you’re getting the high quality cigar you expect, or you get nothing at all. The glitch in the blend was corrected in due course and today we have Sun Growns aplenty.

The highlight of this cigar is the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, sun grown (of course) and aged for 5 years. In discussing his favorite growing regions, Rocky said in an interview with,

I love the Sumatra from Ecuador. I think that wrapper has tons of flavor, strength, and it has that sweetness and it burns very very well compared to the wrappers used in Nicaragua or Honduras which are very thick, if you want the strength…

The wrapper on this cigar is so dark that it could almost be confused for maduro. It’s oily and deep in color, enriched with a reddish tone that makes it a real looker. Complementing the wrapper are a Nicaraguan binder, and filler from three countries: Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. That’s a lot of leaf in one little corona, but it results in a sophisticated and well balanced blend.

There’s a lot of power packed into this little cigar. It starts up with a burst of pepper that burns off after a minute or two. Then a band of coffee and chocolate flavors comes marching in and trades choruses… is that coffee, no, it’s more like cocoa, no it’s coffee… and the sweetness of the wrapper suggests once again that it is maduro. But it’s much more aggressive than maduro, sweet but headier and more potent.

The burn and construction of all the cigars in this box was consistently good, though I am still testing. Maybe one of the last five sticks will disappoint, but somehow I doubt it.

The finish is long on these Sun Grown petites, and the aftertaste is a lasting reminder that you have just enjoyed a robust, though diminutive, cigar. It’s been a while since I smoked one of the larger sizes in this line, but I believe these little guys can stand up to the big boys. Try em. You’ll like em.


Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 Juniors


Well, Las Vegas wasn’t hot enough for me, so I’m spending a week in Phoenix. I brought a few cigars along with me, but since I’m not smart enough to go someplace with a more temperate climate I’m still smoking the small gars.

The Rocky Patel Juniors are nice looking small cigars, and they taste very similar to the larger 1992 Vintage smokes. I have developed a preference for the 1990 Vintage because I’ve had some back luck with construction on the 92s. But the Juniors have been perfect so far: they light up easily on a single match, burn straight, and have a firm but easy draw.

Cigarcyclopedia classifies this one as a “short panatela.” At 4 x 38 it’s too big to be a cigarillo, but not fat enough to be a petite corona.

The Ecuadorian wrapper on these is a nice looking rich colorado maduro and has all the great flavor of the larger sized Vintage 92s. There’s a woody flavor throughout most of the stick with a little bit of cinnamon spice upon first light. Along the way there are sweet notes of chocolate and some darker coffee flavors that float above the wood. The flavor is not as pronounced as it is on the larger sizes, for obvious reasons, but it’s a faithful replication on a much smaller scale.

I’ve smoked three of these so far and have found that they last about twenty minutes to the first band. Take that off and you can get another good five minutes out of the stick before it starts to burn a little too hot and sharp for comfort.

I purchased a tin of these for about 9 USD, a pretty good deal considering the price of the regular sizes in this line. The reasonable price and full flavor of these little guys gives them a thumbs up from me. One of the better short smokes I’ve had this summer.