In 2020 Rocky Patel Premium Cigars would release its fourth cigar exclusive to Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) retailers with the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo. TAA Cigars fall into several categories – exclusive blends, exclusive sizes, and early releases. In the case of the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo it would be an exclusive blend – and it would mark the third time Rocky Patel released an exclusive blend to the series. The Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo was originally introduced as part of the 2020 TAA Exclusive Series. Earlier this year, it was announced The TAA Exclusivo would become an ongoing release for TAA members.
TAA Exclusive Series consists of cigars made by leading manufacturers that are exclusively sold at TAA member retailers. The TAA is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80. The TAA has defined itself as:
The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.
There are 12 cigars released for 2020 as a part of the TAA Exclusive Series:
- AJ Fernandez Belles Artes Maduro Figurado
- Brick House Ciento For Ciento 6 1/4 x 54 (Return from 2019)
- CAO Expedición
- CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18
- Encore 656 by E.P. Carrillo
- Kristoff San Andrés Box-Pressed Toro TAA 2020
- La Aurora TAA Exclusivo
- My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive
- Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo 2020
- Tatuaje TAA 2020
- Timeless TAA 2020 (Nat Sherman)
- Villiger TAA Exclusive 2020
There were four additional TAA Cigars that were announced but never released in 2020. While it was never explicitly stated, the reasons were most likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crowned Heads release was effectively postponed indefinitely while the La Flor Dominicana and La Palina releases will be a part of the 2021 TAA Exclusive Series.
- Crowned Heads Lost Angel 2020
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 52nd Oro Tecera Edición 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Natural
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 52nd Oro Tecera Edición 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Maduro
- La Palina White Label 6 x 50
The following have been Rocky Patel Premium Cigars’ TAA Exclusive Cigar Offerings:
- Rocky Patel TAA Signature Series (2009 limited edition)
- Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Robusto Grande (Former Ongoing TAA release)
- Rocky Patel Martinique (2018 and on-going release through 2020)
- Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo (2020 release and ongoing TAA release)
- Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 Bala
The Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo being assessed today is one from the original 2020 release. Without further ado, let’s break down the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo consists of a Mexican San Andres wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. The cigars are produced at Rocky Patel’s TAVICUSA factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A. (TAVICUSA)
The Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo is offered in one size – a 6 x 52 Toro. The cigars are packaged in 20-count boxes. A total of 1,000 boxes was announced in 2020 when the cigar was first released.
The Mexican San Andres wrapper of the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo had a chocolate-brown color to it. The surface of the wrapper was toothy with a light coat of oil and some subtle mottling present. There were some visible veins and any visible wrapper seams were minimal.
There are two bands on the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo. Both bands have a gold, red, and white color scheme. The center of the band has a red circular field surrounded by a gold ring. On the red field is the TAA Indian head logo in white font with the text “TOBACCONISTS’ ASSOCIATION of AMERICA LTD – also in white font. The left and right sides of the bands have a red and white design with gold trim around the edges. Just to the left and right of the center logo of the band is a red “RP” (Rocky Patel) circulus logo on a white field.
The secondary band has a thick red stripe on the center of the band surrounded by a thick gold stripe above and below it On the center of the band is the text “EXCLUSIVO” in large font. The upper and lower edges of the band have a white stripe.
Prior to lighting up the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo a straight cut was used to remove the cap of the cigar. After the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered notes of cedar, citrus, leather, and a slight amount of red pepper. Overall this pre-light draw did not have me doing handstands. Since the pre-light draw is not factored into the score or value rating, there was no loss of points here. At this point, it was time to light up the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo kicked off with a blast of red and green pepper. Once the pepper settled down notes of citrus, earth coffee, and chocolate emerged. There was no fusion (aka what I term mocha) between the coffee and chocolate. The coffee and citrus notes moved into the forefront early on. Meanwhile, the pepper notes were a close secondary note with the earth and chocolate more distant. There was an additional layer of red pepper and chocolate on the retro-hale.
The second third of the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo saw the coffee notes remain primary. The citrus notes diminished. There was a slight increase of the pepper notes which took on more of a black pepper varietal. Meanwhile the citrus, chocolate, and earth notes remained in the background.
Later in the second third, the pepper notes joined the coffee in the forefront. The citrus, chocolate, and earth notes rounded out the flavor profile. This continued into the final third and to the end of the cigar experience. By the close of the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo, there was a soft, cool nub that remained.
The Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo maintained a straight burn path. There was a slight amount of jaggedness on the burn line but this didn’t warrant any significant additional touch-ups. The resulting ash was a silvery gray. This wasn’t an overly firm ash, but it wasn’t loose or flakey either. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo was open, but not loose. I normally prefer a little more resistance on the draw, but in the end, this didn’t have any other adverse effects on the cigar experience.
Strength and Body
The Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo seemed to be one of the bolder TAA cigars in recent memory. This is a cigar that came in medium to full strength from start to finish. For the most part there was not much variance in the level of strength. As for the body, this is a cigar that started out medium to full but progressed to full-bodied by the second half. In terms of strength versus body, the body maintained the edge.
I found the Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo to be an interesting case study. When I examined individual flavor notes on this cigar, it checks a lot of the boxes of things I like. However when it comes to how nice those notes play with each other – and the balance of the flavors, this is where The TAA Exclusivo falls short. The cigar scores a respectable 88 points but as I’ve said many times, the bar should be higher when it comes to TAA Cigars. Given this is a bolder cigar, I would categorize this as a cigar geared to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. At $12.50, it’s not an inexpensive cigar so my recommendation is to try a sample and see if this is in your wheelhouse before purchasing.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Citrus, Chocolate, Earth, Mixed Pepper
Draw: Very Good
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
News: Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo 2020 Arrives at Retailers
Brand Reference: Rocky Patel
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop