Rocky Patel Winter Collection 2012

2011 might have been one of the strongest years for Rocky Patel Premium Cigars.   On our Cigar of the Year list, Rocky Patel placed two cigars in the Top 15 as well as two honorable mentions.  They also released an outstanding Honduran puro, the Edicion Unica (which was not sampled until after the deadline for our 2011 countdown).  Therefore, the bar appears set high for 2012.   Late last year, Rocky Patel Premium Cigars’ announced a return of its Seasonal Collection with the Rocky Patel Winter Collection 2012. Overall, this cigar proved to be a very unique smoking experience.  If you are looking for a taste profile a little different, but still solid – this would be a cigar to certainly check out.

The Rocky Patel Seasonal Collection line was a series of limited run cigars that were
meant to coincide with each of the four seasons. The blend was almost meant to coincide with the spirit of the season. The cigars are a limited production – meaning once they are shipped to retailers (which was usually close to the season they were named from), there are no more releases.  After 2009 the series was discontinued.  The Winter Collection releases of 2008 and 2009 are considered two of the strongest releases of the Seasonal Collection series.  These cigars featured a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper (that would eventually be used on the Patel Brothers Cigar).  While the Rocky Patel Winter Collection 2008 and 2009 were similar blends, the Winter Collection 2012 makes a radical change in the blend.

Let’s break down the Rocky Patel Winter Collection in some more detail:

Blend Profile

A very interesting blend profile.   This is complete different than previous editions. The use of Costa Rican and Panamanian tobaccos is very interesting.  The wrapper is officially listed as “Habano”, but not official details from the country of origin have been released.

Wrapper: Habano
Binder: Costa Rica, San Andreas
Filler: Nicaragua, Panama

Vitolas Available

The Rocky Patel Winter Collection 2012 is available in three vitolas.  The cigars are sold in boxes of 20.  Each cigar is a box-press shape.  There were 2000 boxes made of each vitola.

Robusto: 5 1/2 x 52
Toro: 6 1/2  x 52
Torpedo: 6 1/8 x 52

Appearance

For this cigar experience, I opted to go with the Toro vitola. The Habano wrapper has a milk chocolate look.   There almost looks like there is a hint of colorado coloring in the wrapper as well.   The Winter Collection 2012 Toro appears mostly smooth but there are some veins that do look a little toothy.

The Winter Collection 2012 also features two bands.  The top band features the RP symbol in white font on a black circular background.  The symbol is also rounded by a circle of white circles.   Flanking the circular logo is “Rocky” and “Patel” to the left and right respectively.  The font of “Rocky Patel” is in white on a ribbon of purple.  The second band (located below the first band) is silver with “Winter Collection 2012” in purple.  There are two thin black stripes on top and bottom of the band.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my Rocky Patel Winter Collection 2012 Toro, I opted to go with a straight cut into the cap.  I commenced with the pre-light draw and picked up notes of bittersweet chocolate and leather.  These weren’t the deepest notes on a pre-light draw I have gotten.   While the dry draw didn’t have me doing handstands, the good news is I don’t count the pre-light draw in my assessment rating or numeric score.  I figured it was on to light my Winter Collection 2012 and see what it would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

One thing that was a highlight of the Rocky Patel Winter Collection 2012  is that this cigar had a lot of complexity from a flavor standpoint.  The very early notes of the cigar featured flavors of oak, coffee, chicory, bittersweet chocolate, and pepper.  These weren’t flavors that were meshed together, but flavors that can be identified individually.  Around five percent into the cigar experience, the pepper spice changes to more of a classic cedar spice.  The chicory and bittersweet chocolate provided a slight bitter twist to the flavor.  While I normally don’t like this type of flavor component, it ended up balancing out the other flavors nicely – as well as providing something unique.

Around ten percent into the cigar experience, some of the flavors smooth out.  The flavors that were more on the bittersweet side – namely the chicory and bittersweet chocolate dissipate.  At this point, the flavor pattern has coffee/chocolate notes in the forefront, and the cedar spice as secondary.  This pattern holds throughout much of the first half.

In the second half the cedar spice begins to kick up, and begins to morph into more of an exotic spice.  It definitely was one of the more unique spices I have had.  This spice eventually pushes into the forefront.  The coffee/chocolate notes were secondary, but actually had a greater presence on the afterdraw.

The final third of the Rocky Patel Winter Collection provided some interesting twists.  The coffee/chocolate notes morphed into more of a classic espresso and moved back to the forefront.  This holds until the cigar experience reaches the nub point. At the point it approaches the nub, the spice made one more kick to bring the Winter Collection 2012 a spicy finish.   The resulting nub was soft, but cool.

Burn and Draw

For the most part, the burn was solid with the Winter Collection 2012.  I did hit a point in the middle of the cigar where the ash got flaky and the burn required multiple touch-ups.  However, the start and the finish to this cigar had a very straight burn with a tighter ash.   The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal throughout the smoking experience.   As for the draw, it was excellent throughout – about as good as a draw can get.

Burn of the Rocky Patel Winter Collection 2012

Strength and Body

The Rocky Patel Winter Collection 2012 provides a nice dose of power.  From a nicotine standpoint, I would assess the strength of this cigar in the upper range of medium to full, but just short of full strength.  The flavor notes have some depth.  For the majority of the smoke, I assessed the depth of these notes to be medium to full-bodied.  As the cigar moves into the last third, the flavors move safely into the full-bodied range.

Final Thoughts

This was a very interesting smoking experience.  There is no doubt the inclusion of some less than traditional tobaccos in this blend contribute to this being a different smoke.  Some of the flavors, such as the bittersweet notes early and the exotic spices later on were very interesting . One knock on the Winter Collection 2012 I did have is that when I smoked the other seasonal blends by Rocky Patel such as the Autumn Collection 2009, I felt the flavor profile fit in well with the season.  This was not the case with the Winter Collection 2012.  In this case, you don’t lose points for this. Overall, while I liked this cigar and would certainly smoke it again, this flavor profile is not for everybody.  Particularly if you like “old school” smokes and don’t like to deviate, this is not for you.  I’d probably recommend this to a more seasoned cigar smoker looking to get a little more adventurous.

Summary

Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full (Full in last third)
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 91

Source: These cigars were purchased for me by a friend.  I do not have the store origin at this time.