With a portfolio as extensive as Rocky Patel’s, names come from all sorts of sources of inspiration. But one thing that has become fairly consistent is Patel’s use of birthdays and anniversaries for the names of recent lines, including the recently released Rocky Patel Fifty-Five, which celebrates Patel’s 55th birthday last in 2016.

Rocky Patel Fifty-Five

For the new Fifty-Five line, Patel decided that the four sizes should share the same ring gauge, which is, appropriately, 55.

  • Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Corona (4 x 55) — $9.25 (Boxes of 20, $185)
  • Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Robusto (5 1/2 x 55) — $10.30 (Boxes of 20, $206)
  • Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Toro (6 1/2 x 55) — $11.40 (Boxes of 20, $228)
  • Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Titan (8 x 55) — $13.50 (Boxes of 10, $135)

The Titan comes in 10-count boxes, while the other three sizes come in 20-count boxes.

Rocky Patel FIfty-Five Robusto 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Villa Cubana S.A. (TAVICUSA)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 55
  • Vitola: Figurado
  • MSRP: $10.30 (Boxes of 20, $206)
  • Release Date: October 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Rocky Patel Fifty-Five comes in a perfecto-seque shape, though the blunt cut of the foot slightly detracts from the shape’s normal elegance in my opinion, and takes away from a visual symmetry that the cigar could have. However, it gets that symmetry once the head has been cut. The wrapper is a consistently even shade of slightly darker than medium brown with just an occasional spot of mottling; there are tiny veins and a bit of tooth that is visible not just by its bumps but because they seem a touch lighter than the rest of the wrapper. Each of the three samples are well-rolled; firm with clean seams and good caps. The foot has a pastry-like sweetness, though more the smell of a bakery than an individual item. There is a range from buttery croissants to frosted sticky buns, as well as a bit of banana and cedar. The cold draw is just a bit loose on the samples, with very subtle notes of wheat bread and its crust along with some apple pie sweetness.

There are touches of pepper out of the gate from the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five, though the core seems rooted more in slightly sour earth and damp bark. Once the burn line rounds the corner of the figurado foot, that sourness intensifies a few ticks and the cigar gets a bit shocking on the palate, but thankfully it retreats before long and the pepper becomes crisp and sharp while  flavor turns into a medium-bodied profile that holds onto some of the bark while adding some espresso. The pepper begins to decrease in intensity but manages to leave a lingering tingle on the lips, while retrohales blend white pepper with chalk for a bright tingle in the nostrils.

Rocky Patel FIfty-Five Robusto 2

I’m a bit caught off guard by how quickly the Fifty-Five is burning; the first clump of ash holds on until I begin to get nervous that it will hit the bottom of the band, and while said band covers a good chunk of the second third the burn line has no problem making its way through it rather expeditiously. Along the way the espresso turns into a generic drip coffee taste, pepper flirts with increasing in intensity but never really does, and a grilled steak note joins the aroma to offer rich meatiness. While I’m not overwhelmed by the profile or its complexity at the midpoint, I do have to give it a fair amount of credit for being quite palate-friendly as each puff seems smoother than the one before it, even with occasional steps into more robust territory. The pepper stays bright in the nose approaching the final third, though for some reason I don’t find myself retrohaling quite as often as the smoke isn’t as rich or succulent as I generally prefer, but it’s still enjoyable.

Rocky Patel FIfty-Five Robusto 3

While I was about to write off retrohales as being a good if not an essential part of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five, it evolves just enough to make me rethink that at the start of the final third, as it picks up subtle aromas of chocolate and espresso that round out the still bright pepper. That profile also comes onto the tongue as well and helps further the already enjoyable profile and gives it its first foray into complexity, at least as I would generally describe it. The profile takes an unfavorable detour in the final inches, getting a bit metallic in taste while stinging the tongue in sensation. A brief pause from puffing seems to rectify most of that, while smoke production has increased just a tick and the smoke has gotten a bit thicker and chewier, though the cigar almost refuses to put any out while at rest. The flavor intensity begins a slight mellowing as it approaches its conclusion, staying very palatable if not as complex as intense as it was just a bit earlier. The burn line gets just a bit uneven in the final inch after being near perfect to this point, while the rest of the cigar’s performance has been near flawless, with the strength staying right at a tick or two above medium from start to finish.

Rocky Patel FIfty-Five Robusto 4

Final Notes

  • Rocky Patel talks about the Fifty-Five in a video recorded at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
  • Personally, I’d find it much more appealing to smoke through a series of cigars with the same length but different ring gauges as opposed to a line having the same ring gauge but different lengths. For instance, the Quesada Keg Edition does this as the four sizes all measure six inches long with ring gauges from 44 to 60, although the vitolas were released over time as opposed to all at once.
  • The Fifty-Five has not yet been added to the company’s website; however it’s worth a quick look to see how extensive the list of lines is.
  • There are certainly some liberties taken with the names of the vitola, at least for those loyal to traditional definitions and Cuban names. The corona would seem to be better called a petit robusto, while the robusto could benefit from having the word extra added to it. The toro could be called a double robusto or even toro gordo, while the Titan—the only one with a name that isn’t a traditional vitola—could get the name Giant Robusto. But as we know, this isn’t the first line to be liberal with its naming of sizes.
  • There is an error on the bands of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five, as it indicates that the binder is a Costa Rican leaf. A representative of the company said that the bands were habano in haste in order to get them out and as such contain a mistake as the binder is actually Ecuadorian Habano.
  • The back of the Fifty-Five’s band features some graphics and text with an invite to the company’s website and social media channels. It’s not the best use of the space I’ve seen, but I certainly think it’s decent and better than leaving it blank.
  • Rocky Patel Premium Cigars has certainly relied on numbers in a number of its releases; in addition to the Fifty-Five, he has the Catch 22, Catch 22 Connecticut, the Fifty, Fifteenth Anniversary, and Twentieth Anniversary. That doesn’t even count the HR 500 made with Gary Sheffield or the Vintage 1990, Vintage 1992 and Vintage 1999 lines
  • I would never self-identify as a person that smokes cigars quickly, and I was quite surprised by how quickly this burned. I was taking the band off within about 25 minutes of lighting the cigar and eyeing the final puffs a little over an hour along. It would seem that this same size in another blend might last me upwards of two hours.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 25 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, JR Cigar, and STOGIES World Class Cigars carry the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five.
90 Overall Score

To say I'm impressed by the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five would be a good bit of an understatement; the cigar offers very palate-friendly flavors, a good bit of pepper, solid balance and moments of complexity where it reaches its highest marks. The draw and technical performance were outstanding—something I haven't been able to say about many cigars as of late, it seems—and each sample finished clean, leaving me looking forward to having another. While there are a few small sections that I'd like to see smooth out in terms of some sourness, the overall experience is a very good one.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.