Reading Time: 2 minutes The 2023 Weller By Cohiba cigar blend marks the third collaboration between Buffalo Trace and Cohiba Cigars. A Connecticut Broadleaf binder aged in Weller Bourbon barrels is just one of the unique traits this cigar embodies. Get the full story here…
#nowsmoking: Rocky Patel Hamlet 2020 Toro
#nowsmoking: Rocky Patel Hamlet 2020 Toro Cigar Review
Rocky Patel Hamlet 2020 Cigar Review – Toro
Factory: Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A. (TAVICUSA) – Estelí, Nicaragua
Size: 6½” x 52
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Honduran Broadleaf
Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
The Back Story
It seems longer, but five years have passed since Cuban exile, Hamlet Paredes, began working with Rocky Patel. Born in 1975, Hamlet Jaime Paredes has been rolling and blending premium cigars for over 25 years. As a novice, he finished his training at the Havana Partagas cigar factory in six months instead of the usual nine. And when Rocky Patel says Hamlet can roll a perfect cigar without a mold, he’s not kidding. When Hamlet was assigned to his first rolling table, he was seated between two older, veteran rollers. Hamlet was fascinated by how they rolled the cigars they smoke for work without using molds. He asked them to teach him the technique, and they obliged.
Having worked with some of the world’s best Cuban cigar rollers at Partagas, Hamlet eventually proved to be an extraordinary talent in his own right. In 2001, he won a rolling competition between the top ten cigar rollers in Havana, in which he defeated the legendary Jose “Cueto” Castelar Cairo. In 2011 Paredes also worked with Cueto on the 81.8 meter cigar (that’s 268 ft. folks), rolled for a then-Guinness World Record.
The Rocky Patel Hamlet 2020 selection marks the fourth blend from the master roller and blender. His three prior releases, Tabaquero, 25th Year, and Liberation have all received 90+ tasting scores, and the 2020 could prove to be another top-rated cigar line in the Hamlet Paredes canon. The cigars are handcrafted in three sizes: Robusto (5½ x 50), Toro (6½ x 52), Gordo (6 x 60), and presented in boxes of 20 cigars and 5-packs.
How well is the cigar made?
Top drawer. The Habano wrapper is even in color from head to toe, while the body has a solid feel along the cigar’s length. A sniff of the wrapper reveals a smack of sweet, barnyard ripeness and the foot suggests an herbal-nutty aroma. Finished with triple cap, the draw offered a good amount of pull with a little firmness after clipping. The cold draw tasted salty and leathery with an herbal-like note that was hard to define, but I liked it; kind of nutty, too.
The initial notes out of the chute were salty, leathery, and herbal, which continued to build gradually as oak and sweet spice began to creep in. The burn at this point was also off to a good start; very even, producing rock-hard ashes, and helped along by a draw that kept the creamy smoke flowing at a steady rate. The body was clearly in the medium zone, as was the strength, as advertised. Overall, the flavors were well balanced, as a pleasant floral note arrived, giving this section an added dimension.
This section was consistent with the first act dominated mostly by that wide swath of leather. The smoke remained smooth on the palate, and the body and strength held firm in the medium range. The light saltiness, the oakiness, the herbal and sweet spice layers began digging in a little deeper, while the floral note also hung-on. At this point, I began to realize that the Hamlet 2020 Toro could become a regular go-to for me.
What can I pair with this cigar besides coffee?
A good bourbon should do this cigar nicely, but I went with Zafra Master Reserve Rum, aged 21 years. Aged in bourbon casks, the rum is ultra-smooth with just enough sweetness to complement the sweet spice flavors in the cigar.
(Find more cigar and drink pairing combinations here.)
The draw, which was quite good during the first two thirds opened-up further releasing even more creamy smoke. This helped defined the base flavors even further, making the Rocky Patel Hamlet 2020 Toro more complex than I suspected to this point. The strength remained in the medium zone, while the body increased a slight degree and the floral note faded. The final inches also revealed an earthier side, but the leather and oak layers held up.
Final Thoughts. . .
The Hamlet 2020 Toro is a very flavorful, medium-bodied cigar, and as a fan of Honduran tobacco, I was pleased to see it used in the binder and filler. The good news is, you’ll get a lot out of this cigar regardless of how long you’ve been smoking. The smoke serves up a creamy, well-balanced mix of leather, wood, and I’ll go as far as to say, “salted caramel.” The floral element offers a nice twist, too. All in all, it’s a very refined smoke you can light-up any time of day. Plus, for the amount of flavor and length of time this Toro smokes, it’s well worth its list price. And although some may not be able to tell the difference, I think there’s an interesting contrast between Rocky’s and Hamlet’s blends, so I’d be curious to know if anyone else agrees with me.
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