- Price: $9.26
- Made By: General Cigar (previously UST factory)
- Factory Location: Danlí, Honduras
- Dimensions: 5 1/2″ by 50 ring gauge
- Shape: Robusto
- Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican Ligero
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Wrapper: Honduran Broadleaf
- Cold Draw: Cocoa, Tobacco, Cedar
- First Third: Mild Spice, Fresh Leather, Cocoa, Chocolate, Tobacco, Cedar
- Second Third: Fresh Leather, Mild Spice, Coffee, Chocolate, Cocoa, Cedar
- Final Third: Nuttiness, Wood, Fresh Leather, Cocoa, Tobacco
Today is special. Any day is when I get to enjoy a Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 cigar, but all the more so when I have the opportunity to review such a masterpiece. Surely there is more fanboying to come, but for now, let’s scope this stunner out.
The simplicity and timelessness of this cigar’s appearance are, by now, unmistakable among seasoned smokers. The dark brown sugar colored oiled-up Broadleaf wrapper catches the eyes first before drawing them to the cigar’s impeccable construction. The upper and lower maroon cigar bands create a seamless look with the Broadleaf, with just enough space between to reveal how well they match the wrapper’s color.
The upper band sports the unmistakable Rocky Patel circular logo as well as the brand’s name. The lower band reads “Vintage” in elegant cursive with “1990” below. All lettering, designs, and borders are gold, upping the luxury factor of this famed cigar big time.
Robusto shaped like the E.P. Carrillo Pledge cigar and measuring in at 5 1/2″ by 50 ring gauge, the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 rocks a handsome box-pressed format. The stick looks so nice; it’s a shame that my smokey magic act is about to make it disappear. Actually, it’s a shame that this beauty isn’t already burning. Let’s keep moving.
Taste & Draw
While some may say the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 has good flavor, I say it’s great. According to the Rocky Patel website, The 12 year aged Honduran Broadleaf wrapper “has softened in strength over the years, yet gained in complexity and character.” Add to that the lively Nicaraguan and Dominican Ligero, aged for a minimum of eight years, and you know you’re smoking a first-rate cigar.
The box-pressed format creates an effortless draw and delivers a cool smoke. Along the way, you’ll taste notes like cocoa, fresh leather, cedar, coffee, and more. While it fluctuates, not unlike the Partagas Lusitanias Cuban cigar, this stogie is medium bodied overall.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s kick things off with a nice cold draw.
Cocoa, Tobacco, Cedar
Headed into the cold draw like a Rocky Patel fiend, I’m picking up a lot of cocoa. I know I don’t need to, but I’m careful with the 12 year aged Honduran Broadleaf wrapper. That and the eight year aged filler tobaccos makes me want to handle this stick with care, which is crazy because I’m about to light the sucker on fire.
I take another cold draw, and a tobacco flavor joins the cocoa. A few more pulls and cedar enters the mix. I take a few more cold draws, and these three are the only discernible notes. I’m excited to see what we’ll unlock once fire enters the mix.
Mild Spice, Fresh Leather, Cocoa, Chocolate, Tobacco, Cedar
I spark up the Patel Vintage 1990 Robusto, and the smoke show begins with some mild spice. Nothing crazy but not mild enough not to mention. The next flavors to walk through the door are fresh leather and the cocoa from the cold draw. The fresh leather note takes me back to the Drew Estate Liga Privada No. 9 cigar, where it was seemingly omnipresent.
A few more minutes in, and we’re entering mild to medium in body country. So far, the cigar has excellent performance, and I have zero complaints. It doesn’t take a genius to see why the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 cigar was named to Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars of the Year in 2004 and 2006 with a noteworthy 92 rating.
Soon this masterful Maduro is treating me to a great chocolate note, and the tobacco and cedar flavors unlocked during the cold draw are close behind. With the smoke already complex and full of life, I couldn’t be more pleased or more excited about what’s to come.
Fresh Leather, Mild Spice, Coffee, Chocolate, Cocoa, Cedar
We cross into the second third, and the smoke output has significantly increased. The burn line is on point, and the box-pressed draw is a fine one. I’d say we’re entering more of a medium body cigar space here. The fresh leather note from the first third has gained a lot of strength. The mild spice still lingers, and a tasty coffee flavor is making good waves.
I’d say that chocolate note is still in play as a supporting character. I’m still tasting a good deal of cocoa and cedar too. The sign of a masterfully blended cigar, the complex Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 has remained well balanced thus far.
Rocky Patel knows his way around cigars, and we’re fortunate to experience his brand’s premium offerings. His story is unique to the industry, but we’ll cover that later. For now, let’s see how this champ of cigar closes things out.
Nuttiness, Wood, Fresh Leather, Cocoa, Tobacco
Into the final third, and the complexity is peaking. The cigar remains well balanced, which one should expect from such a top-shelf brand. It’s a great cigar that has progressed into a mild to medium arena for the final act.
So what am I tasting? Not mild spice—that note is long gone. But a new nuttiness has joined the gang, and the cedar has shifted to a more general wood. The wood and nuttiness seem to weave in and out of each other, which is quite a cool thing to experience.
The fresh leather and cocoa are still with us, and the tobacco from the first third is back. All of these remain kicking until the final puff.
Simply put, Rocky Patel cigars are magical, and this great smoke is no exception. The complexity is similar to that of the Fuente Fuente Opus X Lost City cigar, thorough and well balanced to the end and, most importantly, never becoming harsh. The cigar is indeed vintage with a Maduro wrapper that aged for 12 years and long-fillers that aged for eight.
It’s a medium bodied smoke that leans a little to the full side for a while but overall stays in the middle lane. While the 12 years of aging pulled some of the strength out of the wrapper leaf, it boosted its complexity. The cigar is box-pressed which is wildly popular among smokers today. Part of the reason for this is one cannot fully fit their lips around the box press the way we can with a round cigar. The result is a slower burning stick with cooler smoke and more defined flavors.
This award-winning cigar is highly enjoyable and a must-have in any serious humidor, especially among Maduro lovers. The top flavor notes you’ll experience are fresh leather, cocoa, cedar, coffee, mild spice, and cedar.
Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Cigar Pairing Notes
As per usual, for this pairing, I chose drinks with flavor notes that either amplify those in the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 cigar or work to balance the overall blend further. I also selected drinks that wouldn’t override the strength of the cigar. For good measure, as well as being one delicious non-alcoholic drink, I threw in a Barq’s. Who knows? It could make for a cosmic pairing.
- Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Lagunitas A Little Sumpin Sumpin IPA
- Riverboat Rye Whiskey
- O’Fallon Dad’s Oatmeal Cookie Stout
- Barq’s Root Beer
- Founders All Day IPA
Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 Cigar History
During his stint as an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, Rocky Patel caught the cigar bug and began spending a lot of time at L.A.’s Grand Havana Club. It wasn’t long before he took the next step and entered the cigar manufacturing game.
Rocky’s first cigar business, Indian Tabac Cigar Co., came to life and thrived during the cigar boom of the 1990s, whereas many of his peers went out of business. In the early 2000s, Rocky changed his company’s name to Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, and the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 cigar was part of the first brand he produced. Rocky is known for a lot of things, but two are worth noting here. First, we have his unrivaled attention to detail to thank for the consistency of his brands. Second, he has a knack for developing cigar lines that taste radically different from one another while still retaining what makes a Rocky Patel cigar a Rocky Patel cigar.
It’s safe to say that Rocky Patel is one of the most dedicated guys in the cigar world today. He remains involved in every step of the cigar-making process, and it doesn’t appear this will change any time soon. As I stated previously, we’re lucky to have him, and we look forward to the many great Patel cigars yet to come.