At the IPCPR show in 2011, Rocky Patel showed off his most expensive cigar to date, the Rocky Patel Fifty. Produced to commemorate his fiftieth birthday, the Fiftys are rolled in Rocky’s new factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A., better known as TAVICUSA. The tobacco used in the Fifty release have been aged over eight years and the blend uses a double binder as well.
Says the Rocky Patel website:
Rocky worked for over four years perfecting the blend of this cigar, and we are launching it to celebrate his 50th birthday. The tobaccos in the Rocky Patel Fifty have been aged over eight years, and the cigars feature an Ecuadorian wrapper, each hand selected from the unique 7th priming of the tobacco plant. The cigars feature two distinct binders that both enhance, and engage, the flavors of the secret blend of Nicaraguan fillers.
The Rocky Patel Fifty comes in three different vitolas, all between 50 and 52 RG. They are (top to bottom):
- Robusto (5 1/2 x 50) — $19.00 (Boxes of 20, $380.00)
- Toro (6 1/2 x 52)— $21.00 (Boxes of 20, $420.00)
- Torpedo (6 1/8 x 52) — $22.00 (Boxes of 20, $440.00)
There were only 2,000 boxes of 20 in three different vitolas produced, and each box not only comes in its own draw string bag, but also has the name “Rocky Patel” spelled out on two different custom designed plates using over 500 orange Swarovski Crystals.
The boxes look like this:
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: Rocky Patel Fifty
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Oscuro
- Binder: Secret (Dual Binders)
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 1/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Torpedo
- MSRP: $22.00 (Boxes of 20, $440.00)
- Date Released: October 2011
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 20 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)*
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
*There are 2,000 boxes of 20 for each of three different vitolas, so 120,000 total cigars
The Fifty is an obviously well constructed cigar with a wonderful silky smooth wrapper that is a gorgeous dark brown color and has a copious amount of oil on it. There are a few obvious veins present, but they don’t detract from the overall look of the cigar. The Rocky Patel is box-pressed and is a little spongy when squeezed. From the Ecuadorian wrapper there’s aroma of faint raisins, cedar and dark chocolate.
The first third of the Rocky Patel starts out immediately with strong spice on the tongue and flavors of creamy leather, coffee and cedar. There is a wonderful raisin sweetness that is pervasive and really adds an extra umph to the profile. The spice dies down after about 15 puffs or so, but remains in the background—just not as strong as it was initially. Strength is a solid medium by the end of the first third and burn and draw are both fine.
Coming into the second third of the Fifty and unfortunately the wonderful raisin sweetness present in the first third recedes noticeably. The profile is still fairly creamy, and the flavors are still pretty much the same: wood, leather, coffee and some dark chocolate thrown in the mix. Strength is a strong medium, but rising. Smoke production picks up as well and construction continues to excel.
The final third of the Fifty features pretty much the same flavors although there is a bit more dark chocolate and a bit more spice on the lips that comes and goes. A tiny amount of black pepper has seeped into the profile and the creaminess from the second third starts to fade. The strength ends the cigar as a solid full, but unfortunately, it becomes a bit harsh and hot at end.
- I have to say, the orange color on the bands is one of the most butt ugly things I have seen. Interestingly, it seems to be the exact same color as the box color on the Tatuaje Little Monsters release. It works on the Tatuaje box, it does not work on the Rocky Patel band. In fact, it makes the cigar look a bit orange when you see the cigar and band together, which is just not a good color for a cigar.
- Rocky Patel’s new factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, TAVICUSA is where many new Rockys are made including the 15th and Xen.
- The wrapper is gorgeous, there is not doubt about that, and burns quite well.
- Interestingly, the Toro vitola of the Fifty looks significantly different from the other two sizes (see photo above). Not only is the wrapper darker, it is also smoother, both looking and feeling, and the box press on the Toro is noticeably sharper.
- The box these Fiftys come in is a thing of beauty, solid and extremely well built. They are a bit ostentatious looking, and I can’t help but wonder if Rocky is going after the Ghurka crowd by producing these the way he did. Having said that, I think it would make an excellent humidor for individual sticks, just throw in a Bovedá and you are done. In fact, I tested my theory, and the seal on mine is perfect.
- According to Charlie’s IPCPR coverage last year, this was the most buzzed about cigar of the show. He had this to say last year:
And the most buzzed about cigar on the trade show floor…? The Rocky Patel Fifty. It’s a bit shocking even to me given what else was released, but the combination of relative secrecy prior to the show, a high price tag and the Rocky factor seemed to combine into what was a barrage of people asking me random questions I had no answer to about Rocky’s newest creation.
- Being the cynical bastard that I am, I also can’t help but wonder how much the cost of box with all those pretty crystals adds to the bottom line of the cigar price.
- I actually sat down and counted each and every one of the crystals, but stopped counting after I reached 500, just to make sure there were that many as they said. They are REALLY hard to count without screwing up, for what it is worth.
- I smoked one of each of the sizes (Toro, Robusto and Torpedo) and honestly, they all seemed very consistent in terms of flavors, strength and profiles, which is not surprising considering that they are all pretty much the same ring gauge and are all very close to the same size.
- Some retailers allegedly sold the empty boxes for upwards of $50.00.
- I am not sure why the Torpedo is $1.00 more than the Toro, since the only two differences are 1/8 inch in length, and the obvious vitola difference. I suppose it might be more expensive to roll a Torpedo, but that might be pushing things a bit.
- Thanks to Wikipedia, you can read the history of Swarovski Crystals here.
- On a purely personal note, I remember visiting the Swarovski Crystal factory in Austria while living in Europe when I was around 10 years old. I was not as impressed as my mother was.
- Say what you will about his cigars, but Rocky Patel is universally thought of as one of the hardest working men in the business, and attends quite a few events every year. He is also one of the biggest proponents of the CRA and our right to enjoy cigars.
- I was quite surprised at the strength of the Fifty, which ended in the solid full range.
- Site sponsor Tobacco Grove sent these to halfwheel for review.
- The final smoking time was right at one hour and 35 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Rocky Patel Fiftys, site sponsors Tobacco Grove (763.494.6688) still has them in stock and Federal Cigar (877.424.4270) might have them.
The Bottom Line: It probably does not come as a shock to long time readers of the site, but I just don’t enjoy that many Rocky Patels on a regular basis. For the most part, I find them to be bland and uninspiring blends that are just not worth the time to smoke. Having said that, I have to give credit where it is due. The Rocky Patel Fifty is one of the best Rocky Patels I have smoked and is actually fairly enjoyable—both in flavor and profile. While not overly complex, it has good flavors, great construction and quite a bit of strength. The problem is one that is not usually mentioned in conjunction with Rocky Patel cigars: the price. Most people who smoke Rockys are probably not going to be clamoring to spend over $400 on a box of cigars, which is probably one of the reasons they are a (somewhat) limited release. As it is, I was surprised at how smokable it was, I would not turn one down if it was offered to me, and I am looking forward to smoking a few more for a redux review down the road.
Final Score: 84