Rocky Patel Cuban Blend

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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

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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 cigar.com,

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

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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.

Rocky Patel “The Edge” Maduro Toro

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The Edge cigars were introduced by Rocky Patel in 2004, soon after which their popularity took off like a rocket. Interestingly, there was no marketing campaign to announce Patel’s new brand, no advertising, not even a band on the cigar! By word of mouth alone this cigar quickly gained a solid reputation as a kickass smoke.

When I first saw these cigars in my local smoke shop they were on a lower shelf in a wooden bin. Because I couldn’t see the lid on the bin and they didn’t have bands, I had to ask what they were. “Rocky Patel,” said the manager, as if that were all the information necessary. Later I learned that they were Edges, distinguished by their lack of bands and presentation in rough crates of 100 sticks.

The Edge is made in Danli, Honduras, with the assistance of the Plasencia family. Patel has been coy about the makeup of the cigar, saying that he will not reveal the “secret leaf” he uses in the filler because it comes from an area rarely used for tobacco cultivation. What we do know is that the Edge maduro comes wrapped in a Nicaraguan maduro, a binder from Mexico, and filler from Nicaragua and Panama (as well as the other classified location.) The wrapper shines with oil.

I found this toro to be an extremely well constructed cigar, somewhat better than the RP Vintage lines. It burns evenly, draws perfectly, and earns an A in deportment. The ash is a mottled light gray and is fairly solid.

The Edge starts up with a rich burst of classic maduro flavors– a little sweetness, a little char– and quickly transitions to a smooth but full flavored smoke. I’ve found all the Edges I’ve smoked to be a little tannic. Even though this cigar is aged well enough to smoke now, the tannin indicates that these could benefit from some time in the box. In a year or two these could be even better than they are now. (Or it could be the Mexican binder. Mexican leaf always gives me bitter beer face.)

It gathers a little more strength as it burns to the end, but maintains the same character– smooth and rich with a charred wood foundation. At some point a slogan was attached to the Edge: “For professional smokers only.” I don’t think that job description can be found in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, but if it ever surfaces my resume is ready. In any case, the power of this cigar is in my opinion a little overstated. It’s a medium to heavy bodied cigar, but it’s not a brontosaurus. On the other hand, it’s not a stick to be fired up on an empty stomach either.

The Edge is a fine cigar, and the maduro in particular is a tasty and attractive after dinner selection. Try one with with a stout or espresso.

Indian Tabac Cuban Corojo Arrow

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Indian Tabac is Rocky Patel’s original brand made in Danli, Honduras by Nestor Plasencia. The Corojo line is somewhat newer, however, having been introduced in 2003. The Cigars International catalog calls this line “Cuban Corojo” while Cigarcyclopedia calls it the “Classic Corojo.”

(Ah, the confusion that rains down upon the unsuspecting 5-pack consumer. Witness his befuddlement…)

The “Arrow” designation is also a bit confusing, since Top25Cigar says it’s a slim panatela; this is obviously a robusto. The “Boxer” listed on the Indian Tabac website is also labeled a robusto at 4 1/2 inches long. This one measures 5 x 50. And to top it all off, the Indian Tabac website does not even mention this line. (The Classics listed there have Habana 2000 wrappers.)

The most reliable source of information at this time appears to be the Cigars International website, where there is pictured an actual BOX of these puppies. The size is clearly robusto, and the name on the box is ARROW.

(The witless 5-pack consumer emerges into the peerless sunlight, blinking and looking for his Xikar.)

To the best of my knowledge, the wrapper on this cigar is indeed corojo. It certainly tastes like it. There’s a sweet spice to corojo that is almost unmistakable, and this stick has it in spades. It’s similar to Cameroon, but lighter, a little more complex, a little more refined; yet it makes sense that after the embargo U.S. manufacturers would turn to Cameroon as an alternative.

The wrapper competes nicely with the Nicaraguan binder and the Honduran and Nicaraguan filler. It’s a medium bodied smoke that builds, but never reaches full blast. The construction is uniformly excellent, and the aftertaste minimal. The sweet caramel aroma really sells this one for me, and sells it at a fantastic everyday price of two dollars a stick.

(The bewildered five-pack consumer revels in his good luck and goes in search of yet more five-packs to confuse him…)

Fire Maduro Robusto

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Made by Nestor Plasencia for Rocky Patel’s Indian Tabac in Honduras, Fire is a bargain bundle smoke with “triple fermented” tobaccos. (Though it looks like they’re now available in boxes.) Both the wrapper and the filler are “triple fermented,” but the band is just silly. It looks like it should be the cover art for a Bollywood DVD.

5 x 52

Wrapper: Costa Rica

Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

Filler: Honduras and Nicaragua

The foot reveals a swirl of different colored tobaccos, and the wrapper is rough but slightly oily. Connecticut Broadleaf is an interesting choice as a binder since in most cases this would serve as the wrapper in a maduro.

But for me the star of the Fire Maduro is the Costa Rican wrapper. It burns unevenly, but with an aroma like this the burn is a minor fault. Toffee is the closest I can come to describing it. The Fire line is on the heavy side of medium bodied smokes, and there is a hint of harshness that comes and goes. With a name like “Fire” a nice bite should be expected. It’s a little one dimensional, but that one dimension is pretty good.

The ash is a mottled gray that held for two inches even while I chased the dogs around the back yard. The roll on all three samples I tried was solid and the draw was firm with plenty of smoke. I smoked about two thirds before the taste began to turn, which in my case made it a 30 minute cigar.

Bottom line: at 2 bucks a pop, you can’t go wrong. Though in the future I will probably opt for the petite corona — they offer a whole lot of flavor in a short smoke.

Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Toro

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Rocky Patel is one of the few survivors of the “Boom” years of the mid to late 90’s. With help from Nestor Plasencia his Indian Tabac brand gained a reputation as a solid “boutique” cigar, and it’s still a grand smoke. I had a Super Fuerte maduro the other day that really made my day.

Richard over at Blankmindblog reviewed an RP Vintage 1992 Robusto and it put me in mind of the 1990 version that I’ve enjoyed in the past. After rooting around in the humidor I found a couple that I couldn’t wait to fire up to see if my opinion or the cigar has changed over the past few months.

Both the 90 and the 92 Vintages are made in Danli, Honduras with tobacco that was meant for Astral cigars. In the mid nineties U.S. Cigar thought Astral would become the next Montecristo and stockpiled bales of wrapper leaf in its warehouses. A large quantity of this never made it to market, and sat quietly ignored, gracefully aging and awaiting its fate. Patel came across it and snapped it up after discovering its quality. There were two types of leaf in the stockpile: Ecuadoran Sumatra from 1992 and Honduran broadleaf from 1990.

The 1990 toro measures 6 1/2 by 52, is box pressed, and looks pretty rough. Broadleaf won’t win any beauty pageants, but it can be extremely tasty.

Richard noticed a construction issue with the 92, and I’ve noticed it as well. I’ve never encountered this with the 90 though. The 90 burns a little uneven, but it corrects itself, and the draw is quite good. 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. All in all a very refined medium-bodied cigar. A great mid-day smoke.