It’s made at Rocky’s factory. 

No, you mean Plasencia’s factory.

For many years, the more knowledgeable cigar smokers would enjoy correcting people about that fact. Yes, the factory that has a Rocky Patel sign on the outside and the factory where the Rocky Patel cigar factory tour takes place is in fact owned by the Plasencia family.

But that’s not to say Patel doesn’t have a factory of his own. In 2009, Patel joined forces with Amilcar Pérez-Castro to open Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A., a smaller factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. It’s often referred to as the company’s “boutique” factory in Estelí, though it’s not that small. While the company’s most popular lines are produced by the Plasencias, Scandinavian Tobacco Group and Drew Estate, most of the new lines introduced by the company seem to come from TAVICUSA.

To celebrate a decade of operation, the company introduced a new three-size line called TAVICUSA. It uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Condega, Estelí and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua.

  • Rocky Patel TAVICUSA Robusto (5 1/2 x 50) — $10.30 (Boxes of 20, $206)
  • Rocky Patel TAVICUSA Sixty (6 x 60) — $11.30 (Boxes of 20, $226)
  • Rocky Patel TAVICUSA Toro (6 1/2 x 52) — $10.60 (Boxes of 20, $212)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Rocky Patel TAVICUSA Toro
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Condega, Estelí & Jalapa)
  • Length: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $10.60 (Boxes of 20, $212)
  • Release Date: Aug. 22, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

While the packaging and name wouldn’t give you any indication that this is going to be a strong cigar, once I remove the toro from its cellophane it’s apparent this is going to pack a punch. The wrapper has some sweet chocolate, nuttiness and some barnyard. The foot smells like some of the stronger Nicaraguan cigars from the Raíces Cubanas factory circa the early 2010s. There’s sweet chocolate, barnyard, redwoods, some cinnamon and a touch of pepper, full. The cold draw is somewhat unpleasant with red pepper and cocoa on top of barnyard and some flat cola.

Despite my initial thoughts, the TAVICUSA doesn’t start with a massive bang. There’s some sweetness thanks to orange and barbecue over earthiness and herbal flavors at the medium-full. From there, the TAVICUSA starts to add layers of complexity. It’s a dynamic contrast between sweetness—cranberry, orange peel and super sweet vanilla—and toastiness. Through the nose, I pick up a flavor I can only describe as the infamous charred chicken, minerals and more toastiness. The finish is creaminess and minerals over black pepper and some lemon. While it might seem like there’s a lot going on, the flavors come and go and then come back, so it’s not as if there are 15 flavors at once. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Construction is flawless.

In just about every way, the second third is an evolution of the first third. The TAVICUSA’s dominant toastiness gets crisper and begins to show more developed sensations like burnt coffee and burnt hash browns. Mineral water adds itself, beginning to drown out the fruitiness, particularly after the halfway mark. Through the nose, there are some weird floral flavors that vary between elderflower and chartreuse. While the sweetness is definitely reduced, strawberries are still present in the retrohale, though the nose remains largely toastiness. Flavor is a bit lighter, though still full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus.

At some point in the final third, the toastiness lets up significantly and a brown butter flavor takes the top spot. As is the case with brown butter, at times it tastes nuttier than anything else, but for those who spend time around a stove, the flavor is distinct. There are reminders of a berry sweetness, but they are inconsistent and seem to get lost behind the nuttiness. The pepper shifts to a less prevalent but now sharp white pepper, no longer masked by the black pepper. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-plus, though I’m feeling a bit more of the effects of the nicotine thanks to the prolonged smoking time.

Final Notes

  • I wish that the packaging was a bit more reminiscent of a cigar factory. It seems like the TAVICUSA could be any other cigar, if not another extension of the Hamlet brand.
  • One sample had some herbal cold draw flavors that reminded me a bit of marijuana. I want to be clear, I don’t think there was marijuana, but the flavor was somewhat reminiscent.
  • Construction was as good as any cigar with no touch-ups and massive smoke production start to finish. There were times in which one point of the burn line seemed to be getting a bit unbalanced, but a half dozen puffs later and the cigar seemed to correct it on its own.
  • There was a very defined spice on my lips.
  • Patrick Lagreid visited the TAVICUSA factory earlier this year.
  • There seems to be some revisionist history being done on when the TAVICUSA factory opened. Almost everything written prior to the announcement of this cigar—including the company’s own website—says that it opened in 2009. The marketing and sales material for the TAVICUSA cigar says 2008.
  • Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, Inc. advertises on halfwheel.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time ranged from two hours and 20 minutes to nearly three hours.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co.,, Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar and Serious Cigars carry the Rocky Patel TAVICUSA Toro.
92 Overall Score

Put a different band on it or simply take the band off—and this cigar would inspire more praise amongst people who consider themselves some level of serious cigar smokers than it will inevitably get wearing what it currently does. The TAVICUSA Toros I smoked were nothing short of excellent. If you don’t like cigars with a toasty profile, this won’t be for you; but if you do, get ready. The toastiness serves as the main flavor, but both within and underneath it is a myriad of complex and developed flavors. Few, if any, companies draw the criticism that Rocky Patel does, but as someone who continues to try just about anything the company puts out in a given year, I can tell you that there are hits and this is the latest of the bunch.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.