Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Robusto

Our first show, I remember people coming to us with like $10,000 in cash, in a suitcase…$20,000…’send us whatever you can’…it was like selling crack…

– Rocky Patel

We’ve never seen the cornucopia of cigar choices that we enjoy today, a stack of premium offerings approaching 3000 different blend options. Most of them come from the many boutique brands that arose after the dust of the cigar bust settled. The rest come from a handful of cigar makers who weathered the changing tides of the cigar boom and its ultimate, almost audible thud in the 1990’s. One of those bearing the scars of this tumultuous time is a California lawyer for whom cigars were initially a deserving lifestyle and at best, a hobby. Listen to Rocky Patel wax nostalgic about the promise of a novel venture devolving into a litany of broken deals, poor management and quality amid foreign civil unrest is a nightmare few have the will, or the stomach, to overcome.

Today, Rocky Patel, who insists on a self-inflicted and brutal travel schedule, is often called the busiest guy in the cigar business. His Vintage series cigars serve as the cornerstone of an uber successful brand that has grown into one of the most expansive portfolios ever known (according to his website, I counted over 50 different lines). His Vintage, Edge, Anniversary and Birthday lines are best sellers and many of his cigars are perennial shoe-ins for critical accolades and industry awards. To this day, his sub-$9 Sun Grown Maduro is one of the most enjoyable maduros I’ve ever smoked.

Since turning 50, one of Patel’s newer lines are cigars crafted to celebrate his birthday like the highly acclaimed Fifty (rated 93 by Cigar Aficionado) and now, the Fifty-Five. Unlike the limited-run Fifty, which only comes in a single toro viola, the small-batch Fifty-Five is available in 4 vitolas, all in a 55 ring gauge and crafted with a double perfecto-esque, shallow tapered head and foot.

The Fifty-Five is a handsome cigar with its distinctive, elegant shape complemented by a rich, coffee bean coloring and seamless roll. Aromas from both the Nicaraguan wrapper and the contoured foot are a mouthwatering lot of maple syrup, chocolate and vanilla. The cold draw is open and welcoming with, surprise, more chocolate teasing the palate.

The spate of flavors from the initial profile are a confectioner’s recipe as intonations of vanilla, county fair carmelcorn and a helping of nougat dance around a toasty core. The clean draw smacks of toasted oats with hints of a chocolatey essence and the Fifty-Five finishes with an equally delectable trio of cedar, nuts and coffee bean notes. A light spice and a scoop of cocoa on the retro add to the already absurdly flavorful opening. Our large robusto features more medium-bodied manners through two thirds of the smoke becoming fuller in the last. Transitions offer first nutty then more mesquite-based foundations along with a tweak of the spice knob, and while complexity does fall away, savory herbs and red pepper manage to play nicely with notes of oak, espresso and coffee in a smoky ending.

Clearly the opening profile is the star of this show, but Fifty-Five does manage to maintain a silky smooth texture for much of the smoke. Afterwards, the flavor palette does teeter on mediocrity, but manages to maintain an interesting, satisfying experience. Performance is near flawless when you combine a welcoming draw, near perfect combustion, marvelous smoke production and the cigar’s ability to hold a 1”, near-white ash. The pricing is just right and by keeping it under $10 gives the appearance of good value. I wouldn’t classify this as “crack”, but for the money, Fifty-Five could become a welcome addiction.- In Fumo Pax!

Recommendation: Boxworthy

Did you Know: In a 2017 review, halfwheel reported there was a mistake on the band indicating the binder leaf was from “Costa Rica” based on a company referral that stated they went with an Ecuadorian Habano binder in a rush to get the cigar released (99 Cigars has not been able to confirm this).

  • Profile: Medium-Full
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • Length / Ring: 5.5″ x 55
  • Purchased: Online
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan
  • Binder: Costa Rican
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Production: Tabacalera Villa Cubana S.A. [TAVICUSA]
  • Blade: Xikar xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price:$9.75 [Box $195]
  • Humidor Age: 6.5 mo.
  • Box: 20 [Titan in 10 ct boxes]
  • Other Vitolas: Corona [4″x55], Toro [6.5″x55], Titan [8″x55]

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 1:28
Draw
: Open
Construction: Attractive shape; some give, but uniform; lumpy; semi-veiny; handsome cigar; seamless; coffee bean hue; holds 1″ash.
Aromas:

  • WrapperMaple, milk chocolate
  • Foot – Chocolate, vanilla
  • Cold Draw – Lots of chocolate.

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Initial intonations of vanilla, carmelcorn and nougat; light spice on back of palate; toasty core; notes of cocoa; rich draw of toasted oats and chocolate; adds cedar notes late; very flavorful; crisp finish of nuts, coffee and cedar; foundation becomes nuttier with a woody persona; medium bodied and light on the palate.
  • Transition: Maintains a smooth texture; nutty disposition; intonations have a chocolate and woody bent; uptick in spice on palate; notes of red pepper at front end of retro; notes of savory herbs abound; finish has become smoky and woody.
  • Transition: Center has become more oak and mesquite-based; robust and smoky; hints of espresso and tart mint; full-bodied , spicy finish of black coffee and cedar; spice maintains; rich and satisfying till the end.

Complexity: Excellent
Balance: Excellent
Touch upsN/A
Combustion: Outstanding
Weaknesses: N/A
Recommendation: Boxworthy

Recommendation scale:

  1. Go-to
  2. Boxworthy
  3. 5 packer
  4. Yard ‘gar
  5. NR [No Recommendation]

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