To smoke, or not to smoke? That is the question of Hamlet Liberation, the third major release from Hamlet Paredes who said: “I wanted to create something different, something liberating.” Made with an Ecuador Habano wrapper over a Nicaraguan-Honduran core blend, did our Review Panel sing its praises? Click now for the answer…
Cigar Advisor Panel: Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas Cigar Review – Video
CA Review Panel: Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas Cigar Review (Video)
By the Cigar Advisor Staff
The Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas Cigars Back Story
Following in Rocky Patel’s fine tradition of creating full-flavored premium handmades with vintage wrappers, comes the Vintage 2006 San Andreas range, which boasts a dark, 11-year-aged San Andrés Negro wrapper. It’s also the first time a Vintage blend is being made at Rocky’s Tabacalera Villa Cuba S.A. factory in Nicaragua, rather than Honduras.
The core consists of a diverse Nicaraguan core with a fair amount of ligero, giving it a profile that’s a little more peppery, with much more depth and lots of complex flavors, while the binder is a Connecticut Broadleaf to complement the sweetness of the wrapper.
“The Vintage 2006 will be the perfect companion brand to the Vintage Series,” said Rocky. “It may be the youngest among the siblings, but it delivers with robust flavor and power.”
(Note: “Mexican San Andrés” is actually spelled with a “rés,” but for whatever reason, Rocky has spelled it with a “reas.” No matter, since we get it.)
Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas Toro
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6½” x 52
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Negro (aged 11 years)
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Presentation: Boxes of 20 cigars
Gary Korb’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Perfectly packed from end-to-end with some nice weight to it. The wrapper has a chocolate candy bar color throughout with a smooth appearance and slightly toothy feel. The rolling is nearly seamless, and the cigar is applied with a semi-flat, triple seam cap.
Draw (airflow): Very good.
Cold draw: Leather and hay.
First few puffs: Tart and sweet with a note of charred wood.
Base flavors: Leather, cedar, sweet spice, caramel white pepper.
Burn / Ash Quality: Excellent; a straight shooter of a burn with a thin carbon line. The ash is pretty firm with a mostly grey color.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.
- Smooth and creamy with mostly leather, wood and sweet spice. More sweet-tartness follows with a toastiness that reminded me of lemon drop cookies.
- By the midsection, I was pretty satisfied that the cigar was meeting my expectations. Little surprises begin showing up, too. More tartness; very citrusy, too, more like lemon merengue now, and I was really starting to like that component. A note of cocoa leaks-in, then jumps out of the way. I also found a certain stoutness in the smoke, like you’d get in an IPA craft beer but without the back-of-the-throat bite. A hint of coffee pops in momentarily, then caramel, while a subtle hint of white pepper remains on the long finish. The cigar seemed to settle-in at this point with each puff brimming with all these wonderful layers of flavor in perfect balance.
- More of the same, but with more body and depth in the final act. There’s so much flavor hitting the palate at once, you really need a quiet setting to concentrate on everything that’s coming at you.
In a word, “WOW.” I’ve enjoyed every RP Vintage edition since the 1990 & 1992 cigars debuted in 2003, and with the exception of the milder Vintage 1999 Connecticut, they seem to get more complex with each release. As you can see from my breakdown and observations above, this Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andreas hit all the right notes for me. This cigar has plenty of kick, mostly in the last third, and a lot of different flavors, so my suggestion is to take as much time as possible with this cigar or you might miss something really nice. Moreover, the strength builds stealthily, so if you’re a persistent puffer, you’ve been warned. All-in-all, the flavors are bright, plentiful, and continue to shine through the gusto of this exceptionally creamy smoke.
Fred Lunt’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Very solid and weighty cigar. The wrapper is gorgeous looking- dark, oily, and the veins are very fine. Has a nice shine.
Pre-light flavor: Dark cherries, oak, black pepper, rich leather, orange citrus, and slight hint of coffee.
Toasting & Light: Whoa, very creamy and toasty up front with a slight ting of pepper. A very light smoke to start- medium bodied at best but very flavorful. A cocoa sweetness works its way in as do dark cherries and oak. After a few more puffs, leather and black pepper and coffee pronounce themselves.
Base flavors: Dark cherries, chocolate, leather, oak, coffee, earth, black pepper.
Retrohale: Cola sweetness with rich leather, charred oak, black coffee, earth and black pepper.
Aroma: Very oaky and earthy.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn line is incredibly fine and thin. The ash is almost fluorescent and very tight, hardly even a flake.
Balance of flavors: While it’s a strong, full-bodied smoke, there’s a healthy balance of flavor and strength here.
Consistency: Between the base line and the cigar in the video review, I found the baseline to be slightly sweeter while the one in the review was more woody and peppery.
- About 1 inch things seem to settle on these main notes:
- 1/3: Very creamy and smooth, sweet notes of chocolate and cherries dominate with coffee, oak, and leather backing things up.
- 2/3: Cocoa is the main note – it’s a dry smoke. Pepper is coming out more and a slight tanginess. There’s also a nice, cool woodiness going on with oak, coffee, and earth.
- The intensity is starting to crank up, moving more into the medium-full range.
- After re-light there’s a pleasant spice, like ginger and red pepper as well as the cocoa, coffee, leather and oak flavors.
- A slight canoeing issue here.
- 3/3: A charred oak with a cola sweetness, black coffee, earth, and black pepper.
- Overall, I would definitely smoke this again. Very flavorful and rich and extremely complex.
Rocky knocked one out of the park big-time on this cigar; highly complex, smooth and sweet flavors, flawless construction, and a great strength-flavor balance. The cold draw started up with notes like toast, dark cherries, black pepper, and a cocoa sweetness. The initial flavors were very toasty and creamy- it’s a bit front loaded with pepper, but the pepper certainly doesn’t overshadow the dark cocoa and cherry-like sweetness as well as notes of oak, coffee, and leather.
By the 2/3, the cocoa took the main stage; pepper was in the background as a slight tart note. It’s certainly proving to be very rich as more notes of cocoa work themselves back in. Around here, I needed a re-light which enhanced the smoke as I picked up spicy notes of ginger and red pepper. A quick retrohale brought a charred oak to the forefront with underlying notes of sweetness and black pepper.
As the last third comes to take it home I’m floored by the natural sweet flavors present. Charred oak, a cola sweetness, black coffee, earth, rich leather, and black pepper are the main notes. One last retrohale brings a full-bodied flurry of cola sweetness, rich leather, earth, coffee, oak, and a strong rush of black pepper.
This is a treat yo’self kind of cigar, a $10 stick that’s worth every penny to me. As it’s so naturally sweet I would recommend pairing the Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 Toro with a dry libation such as an IPA, Champagne, or white wine.
* * *
John Pullo’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Oily and leathery-looking wrapper, but a gorgeous chocolate bar-brown. Slight tooth, not rustic but still a little rough – visible seams and veins.
Draw: Moderate resistance but still good.
Pre-light flavor: A scent of earth, sweet tobacco and chocolate; cold draw tastes are buttery leather, coffee and wood, with a tiny bit of pepper hitting the back of my throat.
Toasting & Light: Immediately I get buried with sensations of strong wood, leather and spice.
Base flavors: Naturally sweet tobacco, along with nice thick layers of earth, slight spice.
Retrohale: Leather, slight pepper and wood.
Aroma: It’s sweet – a bit floral, too.
Burn / Ash Quality: Stacked platinum (grey-beige) ash. Thick carbon line, but a beautiful burn.
Balance of flavors: Very layered smoke – the Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 is very complex.
Here are the essentials…this RP is heavy in the hand, burns with big puffs of creamy smoke – real thick and heavy – and has a very “serious” kind of feel. As you saw in the video, I can’t put it into words…mature. Connoisseur-ish, maybe. The flavors are big, thick and plush. This is no knockaround; this is a celebration cigar. Or after a big meal, at least.
The spice quickly eases back, and is replaced with a cool, earthy flavor. As the Vintage 2006 mellows, in comes a modest vanilla nuance along with honey and bread. Then, things shift at the halfway mark, with that sweet taste now straddling the line between citrus and dried fruit. After that comes a touch of espresso and some tartness. It reminds me of when espresso is served with a lemon peel – that whole set of flavors and aromas together. Very satisfying. These eventually give way to charred flavors of steak and wood and an underlying pepper.
What’s interesting is the multiple layers of flavor in these Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 cigars – once they transition away, they don’t get revisited. They’re gone – and replaced with something new, so you’ll probably get a couple of nice surprises while you smoke it.
Note too, that this is not just another Rocky spice bomb – actually, you might not sense the strength and body of this cigar until it’s too late. Starts medium…then on to medium full…then finishes out full-tilt. So much so, that I feel like it came out of nowhere, clubbed me and took my lunch money. Wow.
Someone said it’s a slow burn – indeed, it’s a 2 hour Toro. If you like big, rich and yes, decadent…do this one.
Tommy Zman’s Tasting Notes…
Pre-Light: Sweet and a bit charry.
First Few Puffs: Peppery.
Aroma: Charred wood.
Burn-Ash Quality: Solid, perfect, light gray.
Balance of Flavors: Very complex with excellent balance.
Here’s the deal in a nutshell – Señor Rocky done made a wickedly complex, full-bodied smoke with a whole lotta flavor going on. He starts with full-flavored Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. He cradles it in a Connecticut Broadleaf binder. And then he wraps the whole caboodle in a dark and luscious Mexican San Andrés wrapper that has aged for eleven long years. Now if that’s not enough to pique your taste buds’ interests, you need to go take a seat in the back of the room, now.
When you pick up this cigar, the first thing you’ll notice is how solid it is – just packed with premium tobacco. It’s heavy-duty and you could get a nice workout doing curls with this thing while you are smoking. And while it’s tightly packed, this cigar has an excellent draw and the aroma is that of a slightly sweet, charred wood.
Complex? Yeah, I mean there’s a lot happening in that stick, starting with a shot of front-loaded spicy pepper that gives way after an inch to a very pleasant earthiness. The Broadleaf binder brings a nice touch of natural sweetness that works amazingly well with the powerful notes of deep, dark espresso. If this sounds really good, it’s because it really is.
In my opinion this is a dynamite after-dinner smoke, especially a hearty dinner like steak or barbecue. It also pairs so well with whiskies like bourbon, rye or Scotch and would stand up well with a dry, dark red wine. This Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 is one hell of a new offering, and I commented in the video that it’s so different from his past blends that if it didn’t have a label, I don’t think I would have guessed it was from Mr. Patel. Seriously great job, Rock, I’ll be back for more.