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Cigar Review: Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Toro

It was a stogie-filled Labor Day weekend. I usually smoke a couple of cigars a week, but this weekend I smoked four, starting with a Nestor Reserve Torpedo Maduro (full-bodied, chocolatey, tasty but slightly bitter). Later on I had a CAO Italia Novella (leathery with coffee and cocoa, very good burn and taste), and the next day I finally got around to smoking the Punch Uppercut Robusto (simply awesome, black cherry notes, sweet, peppery, leathery).

My final cigar of Labor Day lazing was the Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Toro (6½ x 52). I was very much looking forward to smoking this limited stick, having already been a huge fan of almost anything Rocky puts out. It’s a beautiful cigar, packed in a tight trunk-press with no visible flaws and a nice gunmetal double-band.

It was a bit breezy on the golf course, so this cigar took a while to get going, but once it did I had no issues with the burn, save for the last third, when the cigar went out after I let it rest a bit too long. We had the entire course to ourselves, which was odd considering it was 3:00 p.m. on Labor Day. But we weren’t complaining, kicking back with cigars and cold cans of Guinness, mostly making par and taking our time with it — I couldn’t think of more perfect conditions to enjoy a cigar.

The first thing I noticed about the Rocky 15th was a spicy start, though not peppery enough to be called a “blast of spice”. It was a smooth spice, like peppercorn on the back of the palate. The spice faded back after a dozen puffs as the cigar became more leathery. There was a rich darkness to this cigar, not exactly black coffee and chocolate though there were fleeting notes of both. The main flavor was rich tobacco, and it really felt to me that this cigar is a tribute to the plant from which all cigars are made. This cigar wasn’t trying to do anything fancy or overly complex, just showcasing a strong tobacco flavor by tempering it into something eminently palatable.

If the Rocky 15th was made of inferior ingredients or poorly crafted, I might tend to say this stick is somewhat boring. But while the flavors didn’t morph and change all over the place, this stogie was still complex. It just felt like the complexity was limited to within a traditional tobacco taste. At different times the cigar would taste leathery, then earthy, then woody — all flavors that are not literal but rather based on ‘mouth feel’ and aroma. The ever-present spice kept a tingle on the tongue without ever interfering with my enjoyment of the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, and Nicaraguan binder/filler.

It’s another exquisite blend by the masters at Rocky Patel. It’s not my favorite Rocky of all time, but it is certainly unique in its meditation on the taste of tobacco. It felt like a ‘pure cigar’ in that sense — a no-frills homage to the classic cigar taste (before we got into infusions and flavor-forward blends), but with all the premium accoutrements of the modern cigar manufacturing operation.

They’re pricey, maybe a bit too pricey, but I can’t find anything else to complain about in this generally flawless product. Fans of Rocky Patel have to try this, since it’s so unlike anything else they’ve put out.