January 15, 2013
Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Torpedo
Size : 155 x 25 mm (6.25 x 52)
Wrapper : Honduran Broadleaf
Filler : DR, Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Price : ~$8-9 each
Rocky Patel introduced the Vintage 1990 blend in 2003 and I remember at the time reading a lot of good things about this cigar. This was one of the first praised releases from the company that had just the year prior changed its name to Rocky Patel Premium Cigars from Indian Tabac. Rocky Patel has gone on to make some very good cigars over the years and this one, being one of their first acclaimed releases, was one that I had to sample. As I will discuss below, my boxes were purchased back in 2006. Having finished my first box some time back, I am now down to the last few from my 2006 collection. My palate has changed over the years and perhaps this is why the review is as it is. At the time, I really enjoyed this cigar but as the years went by I lost interest. I decided to pull out one of the 5 remaining sticks from my purchase and give it a whirl some 6 years after purchasing them.
Appearance : [rating:4.5/5]
The sample smoked was out of my collection and was purchased in 2006 while vacationing in Florida. A double-banded cigar with a nicely applied wrapper with some minor flaws but no obscenely distracting defects. You can see what I mean in the photograph of the actual cigar smoked for this review. Pre-light, it had a pleasant nutty aroma with hints of cedar and chocolate. The cigar’s band is a deep burgundy with gold lettering. It looks classy but the torpedo shape is not quite consistent with a slight ‘lean’. Minimal veining with minimal visible seams.
Construction : [rating:4.25/5] (4.25)
I had no major construction issues to report. The cigar, as most Rocky Patel’s are known for, are quite meticulously crafted. The cut was smooth and the wrapper held in place but the burn did tend to waver at times and the cigar required a couple of minor touch-ups, but nothing really out of the ordinary or something that should frustrate the seasoned smoker. The draw was spectacular with tons of thick white clouds of smoke to make the experience that much more gratifying. The ash was firm and only occasionally did it flake.
Flavor : [rating:3.75/5] (3.75)
What impressed me about this cigar was the rich smoke output. Right off the bat the cigar had some earthiness to it with some hints of cocoa and coffee. The first few draws revealed some pungent earthy tones that gave way to some more mellow notes by the half inch mark. The predominant flavor was cocoa with some earthy and toasted nut flavors coming through on the back end of the palate. There were some white pepper notes present on the back of the palate but these subsided rather quickly.
In the second third I started to note some toasted cocoa with tones of semi-sweet chocolate. The earthiness of the cigar continued to dominate the flavor profile and the smoke output remained thick, with gorgeous clouds of thick white smoke. The burn was flawless as was the draw. The cigar was dry on the palate and the flavor was complex with hints of semi-sweet chocolate, toasted nuts and unsweetened coffee the most detectable flavors. I would advise that this cigar be smoked with a drink in hand because the cigar can be quite dry. The finish isn’t all that long but has just enough spice to compliment the flavors I was getting out of the cigar.
By the halfway point, the cigar opened up with the aforementioned flavors becoming stronger and some of the earthiness fading away. There really isn’t any ‘sweetness’ to this cigar. Rather, it is a tad more on the bitter/earthy side but that is not to say it was an unpleasant bitterness. Instead the flavors were more akin to the bitterness one gets from toasted nuts or unsweetened espresso. Personally I prefer somewhat sweeter flavor profiles but that is not to say that this cigar was in any way displeasing to the palate, but it was ‘dry’ and, again, it is recommended that you smoke this cigar with a beverage, probably a sweet one to balance some of the natural bitterness that this cigar leaves on the palate.
As I started the final third I continued to pick up hints of toasted nuts and unsweetened coffee but at this point some toasted caramel-like textures started making their way into the flavor profile. The smoke remained thick and slightly oily on my tongue and while there was some pepper left on the back of the palate this was relatively minor. The spice was enough to be noticeable but never got in the way of the smoke. In fact, many draws revealed no pepper notes at all.
The cigar is not very strong. The one smoked for this review was smoked before dinner accompanied by a double shot of ‘sweetened’ cappuccino that I found complimented the cigar very well.
The cigar will tend to get a little harsh if smoked too quickly and I laid the cigar to rest shortly after removing the band when I sensed the flavors were going to get harsh. I did not want to ruin an otherwise decent experience.
All in all, this cigar offers some toasted nuttiness, cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate flavors with a nice thick smoke output and very comfortable and satisfying draw. Some occasional caramel flavors did come into the picture with some white pepper spice that remained mild, coming in and out of the flavor profile throughout the smoke.
Notwithstanding the fact that the cigar wasn’t bad, it wasn’t spectacular either and always left me wanting a bit more. Some of the flavors were muted at times with only natural tobacco coming through on some puffs. There could have been more consistency in this regard. Also, the cigar was only mildly complex and the flavor profile really didn’t change an awful lot during the smoking experience with much of the flavors remaining the same. Only their intensity changed.
This cigar has done well with age as many of the flavors that I discussed have mellowed and come in to their own. When smoked young, this cigar can be a tad bitter but with a little time in the humidor they really come in to their own with the bitterness taking on the flavors mentioned in this review.
Value : [rating:4/5]
These cigars can be had for as little as $9.00 per cigar at most online retailers that I checked and I remember paying a little less when I purchased them years ago. A box of 20 can be had for $176.00. For the price, this cigar will offer a smoker with over an hour of a good cigar experience. Not “great” mind you, but for the price, anyone who enjoys this flavor profile should not be disappointed. I have had better cigars for the price however.
Overall Rating : [rating:4.125/5] (4.125)
Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 is not a bad cigar and if you can find them for a good price then you won’t go wrong by having a few in your humidor. The flavors are mostly of the nutty, unsweetened coffee and semi-sweet chocolate variety with an underlying earthiness. If that is your desired flavor profile then you will enjoy this cigar. Where the cigar falters in my opinion is in its lack of complexity. As I noted above, there were some subtle changes to the flavor profile during my smoking experience but not enough to keep me interested. That is, while the flavors tended to change in strength, they pretty much stayed the same during the entire cigar experience. There just wasn’t enough ‘wow’ factor to keep me wanting more. The smoke output won’t disappoint and construction issues are relatively minor but present nonetheless. A good torpedo but not a spectacular one. The cigar is not strong so it is good for novice smokers or for those that haven’t had much to eat beforehand. Overall, I rated this cigar 4.125 out of 5.
[sz]rocky patel 1990[/sz]
January 16, 2013
I see your point RICK but it was not intended to across like that (bargain). What I meant was that those looking for this cigar can find them for that price if they shop around. I understand your point of climbing cigar prices. It is not lost on me or other aficionados. Thanks for your feedback.
January 16, 2013
The 1990 is one of the few RP cigars that I enjoy. I thought this was a good review of the cigar. The only statement I have a problem with is “These cigars can be had for as little as $9.00 per cigar”. This makes it sound like a bargain and for $9.00 a stick it is no bargain. A lot of cigars are getting way overpriced and this is just one example.
January 15, 2013
Thanks for the review. I’ve found the Vintage 1992 more to my liking.
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