If there is one thing I know about the island of Martinique, it is that Martinique is generally considered to be the home of rhum agricole, a distinctive style of rum marked by a generally herbal or grassy profile and that is made from freshly pressed sugar cane juice, as opposed to the fermented molasses that is used to make most other rums.

What I didn’t know—and which serendipitously came up during a bourbon and rye tasting I recently attended—was that it was born out of a need to compete with cheaper beet sugar, and was made in the style of Armagnac, another spirit I quite enjoy, which makes sense given that Martinique is part of the French West Indies.

if there was something else that I knew about Martinique, it was that it was the name of a cigar released in 2017 by Rocky Patel Premium Cigars as an exclusive to the Tobacconists’ Association of America for the organization’s Exclusive Series Program.

The cigar is a Honduran puro that is made at the El Paraiso factory in Danlí, Honduras, and offered in a 6 x 52 toro vitola. It came in 10-count boxes with an initial MSRP of $8 per cigar and was added as a regular production line.

The Rocky Patel Martinique is also notable for celebrating the TAA’s 50th anniversary, though it was a year early; the cigar was released in June 2017, while the organization’s golden anniversary didn’t occur until 2018.

Here’s what I said about the Rocky Patel Martinique TAA 50th Anniversary when I reviewed it in August 2017:

Despite being fairly commonly used, Honduran tobacco doesn’t seem to carry the same level of buzz or appreciation that is often found for tobacco from other countries such as Nicaragua, which is quite a shame because when it’s good—as it the case in the Rocky Patel Martinique TAA 50th Anniversary—is quite enjoyable. The tobacco used in this cigar shows impressive levels of depth and complexity, while also being blended to offer some notable progressions and transitions that keep the cigar far from monotone. While it’s not a perfect cigar thanks to consistent overheating in the final third and a few spots where it gets rather dry, it is quite enjoyable from start to finish. For as much as I dislike the size and would love to see something a bit smaller, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up a few more.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Rocky Patel Martinique TAA 50th Anniversary
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: El Paraiso
  • Wrapper: Honduras
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Honduras
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $8 (Box of 10, $80)
  • Release Date: June 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

I would not have guessed it has been more than five years since I smoked the Rocky Patel Martinique TAA 50th Anniversary, especially given how many times I have seen it in my redux humidor since first smoking the cigar. While this cigar commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Tobacconists’ Association of America, there is no date or year on the cigar which might have led me to smoke it before letting it rest for all this time. The cigar does not come in cellophane, but the wrapper still has a bit of oiliness, both visually and texturally. The wrapper’s redness is visually very attractive, and while it’s a completely different shade of the red on the bands, there is an overall visual cohesiveness between the wrapper and those bands. The cigar is rolled firmly with just the slightest amount of give, while it easily passes the eye test. The veins are small, the seams are flat, and the head is nicely constructed. The foot has just a small bit of damage, though I don’t anticipate it being a problem. Meanwhile, the aroma is still pretty vibrant, reminding me of opening a package of plain beef jerky, particularly one on the lighter end of the flavor spectrum with a bit of oil and fattiness. There’s a fragrance that’s not quite floral and not quite cedar, offering a subtle bit of sweetness to the mix. When I clip the cap, I’m surprised to find that there is a bit of a depression of tobacco in the head, something I definitely don’t recall seeing. The cold draw is a bit firm, while the flavor isn’t as rich or nuanced. It’s a bit dry and reminds me of a dried bunch of tobacco that I might find in a tobacco factory. I can make the case for a bit of graham cracker and just the slightest touch of pepper, but not much else stands out.

Once lit, the Rocky Patel Martinique TAA 50th Anniversary starts off more like it tasted on the cold draw than what I picked up from the foot. If you haven’t been inside a couple of cigar factories and formulated what I would describe as the generic smell of cigar tobacco, the description might be lacking, but for those that have, that’s what I get right out of the gate. There’s a bit of pepper on the tongue but more through the nose, with retrohales giving each puff a bit of character, and for me quickly becomes a necessity to get everything out of the cigar. I’m not crazy about seeing the burn line become uneven before the cigar hits the one-inch mark, but I’m pretty happy with where the overall profile is as the pepper is a bit lighter and I’m getting a new, slightly minty flavor. From there, the flavor heads towards earthiness, a component that is particularly smooth as it hits the taste buds, while the retrohales pick up a contrasting roughness from black pepper. It’s an interesting yin-yang relationship, though I find myself trying to figure out if there is creaminess present given the flavor, which reminds me of a cooled latte with just a touch of a light chocolate flourish. The pepper settles down a bit as the first half comes to a close, but can be ramped up with a couple of retrohales. Flavor is medium to medium-plus in the first half, largely dependent on how much pepper the cigar is offering on a particular puff. Body is a pretty smooth medium, while strength is mild. Outside of some burn line issues, both combustion and construction have been good, with a slightly firm draw and smoke production that is average if occasionally thin.

The second half starts off by introducing some peanuts and peanuts shells into the profile, specifically the kind of flavor you get from the bottom of a bag of peanuts. Black pepper in the retrohales remains strong and robust, and once again there is some contrast between how the smoke hits the taste buds and how it hits the nostrils. From there, the cigar reminds me of Chex Mix and similar snack mixes; it’s a dry, somewhat grainy profile that is enjoyable if not always rich or complex in flavor. While this flavor hangs around for a bit, it is quickly pushed out by more hearty earth and pepper flavors, as well as the latte flavor but now with a more robust coffee as its base. After being slightly firm for the first two thirds, the draw suddenly loosens up and is now quite smooth, which in turns generates more smoke with each puff. Despite the smoother draw, I run into a couple spots where the cigar needs a touch-up, and much like it did in the first third, the burn line gets a bit uneven. By this spot in the cigar, the burn issue is almost a moot point, both in terms of where it occurs and the fact that I have been smoking the cigar for just about two hours and 45 minutes and while the cigar has been very enjoyable, I’m satisfied enough to put it down. Flavor is medium to medium-full in the second half, body is a solid medium, and strength creeps up to medium or just a tick over that mark.

90 Overall Score

I'm always happy when I can put a cigar down, even a bit earlier than I might like to, and feel like it was a satisfying experience. I also like finding that a cigar has not only held up after several years in the humidor, but has seemingly improved as well. I can't say that I have vivid memories of the Martinique from when I first smoked it, but looking back on my notes, it appears that time has helped the earthiness continue to develop and now that aspect sits at a point where I don't know if I would be able to identify it as being from Honduran tobacco. The evolution of the earthiness and terroir was one of the highlights for me, particularly when it turns just a bit creamy and has me thinking of a latte but with a slightly peppery kick. I am surprised that the cigar would have the burn issues that it did, but given it was only one cigar and a lighter quickly remedied the issue, I'm not too upset. Overall, the Rocky Patel Martinique was a pleasant surprise from my redux humidor.

Original Score (August 2017)
86
Redux Score (October 2022)
90

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.