At the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Rocky Patel showed off Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes.

If the name sounds familiar, it is because it belongs to renowned Cuban roller Hamlet Paredes, who has been known for his custom rolls Cuban cigars. However, Paredes was also the in-store roller at two different factories in Cuba: Briones Montoto, the old Romeo y Julieta factory, and more recently the La Casa del Habano at the old Partagás factory. In addition, he has traveled to various countries around the world showing off his rolling skills and visiting shops while pushing the Habanos S.A. brand.

In January 2015, Robert Fox of the U.K. retailer J.J. Fox and a friend of Rocky Patel contacted him to tell him that Paredes was looking to move his family to the U.S., and asked Patel to help him get settled in the country.

“As soon as he was in Canada, he called me,” said Patel to halfwheel. “I got a home in Naples for he and his family to live in. He started working at BURN (by Rocky Patel, a cigar bar.) After a while we allowed him to settle down and then he was working in the humidor in BURN for three to four months.”

Paredes then started working on a cigar with his name on it, reportedly going through “about 100 blends” before choosing the final selection which incorporates a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, along with double binders from Brazil and Mexico and filler tobacco from Nicaragua. The cigars are being produced at Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A. (TAVICUSA) in Nicaragua, the factory that is co-owned by both Patel and Amilcar Perez Castro.

There were five different vitolas of the Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes when it launched in September, all of which are sold in boxes of 20 with the exception of the Salomon, which are packaged in boxes of 10.

  • Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Corona (5 1/2 x 42) — $8 (Boxes of 20, $160)
  • Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Salomon (7 1/2 x 58) — $9.80 (Boxes of 10, $98)
  • Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Robusto Grande (5 x 54) — $8.80 (Boxes of 20, $176)
  • Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Toro (6 x 52) — $8.80 (Boxes of 20, $176)
  • Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Robusto (5 x 50) — $8.60 (Boxes of 20, $172)

Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Robusto 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Brazil and Mexico
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $8.60 (Boxes of 20, $172)
  • Release Date: September 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes is covered in a dark espresso wrapper that is fairly smooth to the touch and features a touch of oil. The cigar has some nice give when squeezed and the cap is excellently applied. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sweet tobacco, molasses, barnyard, manure, dark chocolate and black pepper, while the cold draw brings flavors of leather, dark coca, anise, tobacco and slight indeterminate sweetness.

The Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes starts out with a bang, showing some very dominant peppery earthiness followed closely by barnyard, grass, espresso beans, dark chocolate and cedar. There is a slight maple sweetness note on the finish that comes and goes, along with quite a bit of black pepper on retrohale and a touch of spice on tongue. The burn is a little wavy, but not bad enough to have to touch up yet, while the draw is excellent, and smoke production is dense off of the foot. Strength-wise, the Tabaquero starts off fairly mild before ramping up to a point just below the medium mark by the time the first third ends.

Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Robusto 2

The profile of the Tabaquero remains quite earthy in the second third, although there is almost a noticeable increase in the maple sweetness on the finish as well. Other notes of dark cocoa, ground coffee, cedar and leather flit in and out, and the black pepper on the retrohale actually increases slightly as well. Construction-wise, the draw continues to impress, but I am forced to touch up the burn a couple of times to keep it from getting out of hand. There is still plenty of smoke pouring off of the foot, and the strength hits a solid medium by the end of the second third.

Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Robusto 3

The final third of the Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes stays the course, with the same black pepper and earth notes dominant, followed by some slight maple sweetness in the finish, interspersed with flavors of creamy cedar, leather, hay, coffee, dark chocolate and bitter espresso. The burn has evened nicely, and the draw remains excellent, while there is still copious amount of dense, white smoke. The overall strength reaches a point slightly above the medium mark halfway into the final third, but stalls out there and goes no further before I put the nub down with less than an inch left.

Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes Robusto 4

Final Notes

  • There is no nice way to say this, so I will just come out with it: the band is ugly. As in cheap Christmas decoration ugly. Of course, it probably stands out on the shelf quite well, if only because it is so gaudy.
  • In fact, I really wish they had kept to the simple gold-on-black scheme that is present in the marketing materials here, as I think that would have really fit the overall feeling a bit better.
  • One of the three samples I smoked had quite a bit more of that maple sweetness on the retrohale; in fact, it was almost overwhelming for the first third or so before calming down. Sadly, that turned out to be the exception and not the rule.
  • I have smoked more than a few Hamlet custom-rolled cigars over the years and have found them to be quite good overall, flavorful if a bit mild. These cigars taste nothing like them.
  • The construction was fairly good overall, albeit not very consistent: one sample had a great draw but a burn that had to be touched up a few times, while another sample had a wonderful burn line, but a draw that was far too loose for my tastes.
  • Having said the above, one thing all of the cigars had in common was that the ash is extremely flaky, falling off with little to no provocation.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 20 minutes.
  • Rocky Patel Premium Cigars advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • If you are looking to purchase any of the Tabaquero by Hamlet Paredes, site sponsors Lone Star State Cigar Co. (972.424.7272), Atlantic Cigar, Stogies World Class Cigars and JR Cigar have them in stock.
86 Overall Score

I have to say, I was excited to see what Paredes could do with something other than Cuban tobacco, but the final product fell a little short of my hopes. The profile is extremely linear, with a dominant earth and black pepper note that really tends to overwhelm the rest of the flavors at points during the smoke. The maple sweetness does add a bit of complexity when it shows up, but it is just never strong enough to effect the overall profile in any major way. Having said that, the construction was decent overall, and I still found it enjoyable for the most part. A good but not great effort from Paredes, but I am definitely looking forward to see what is going to do in the future.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.