Rocky Patel 1961 (Pre-Release)

It’s hard to tell which Rocky Patel does more of, producing new cigars, or traveling to promote them. It seems like it’s only been a few weeks since he was in town to showcase his Spring Collection, and here he comes again with the Summer Collection. A running joke that Rocky acknowledges hearing a lot is that he’ll be back again in a few weeks to push the “Mid-Summer Blend”. (There isn’t going to be one, in case you thought there was any truth to that. I asked and I deserved the look he gave me for doing so.)

The latest seasonal release wasn’t the only thing being passed out at the event. While the customers were buying the new Summer Blend and collecting their freebie deals, Rocky was slipping unbanded cigars in the shirt pockets of the owners and a few select customers. I immediately knew what the clandestine activity meant, Rocky had another cigar he was about to release and he was giving the shop owners the heads up. Maybe there really was a Mid-Summer Blend after all. So I asked what the mystery stick was.

I was told it was indeed a new release, named “1961” which would be unveiled at this years IPCPR trade show. The significance of the name would appear to be that 1961 was the year Rocky Patel was born. But aside from the name, Rocky was tight-lipped about the cigar, presumably to keep me from letting the cat completely out of the bag before the show. He probably didn’t expect Big Mike, one of the owners of the Buckhead Cigar Club to grab one for me to try. So I can’t tell you all that much about the cigar, it’s price, or it’s composition, but I can offer you a peek at the proverbial cat in the bag.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/2 x 52
Wrapper: Unknown
Binder: Unknown
Filler: Unknown
Smoking Time: 2 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: Unknown

The Pre-Smoke
As I mentioned before, the pre-release 1961 did not have a band, or even cellophane, so I can’t comment on the overall aesthetics of the cigar. But for the purposes of this review, that isn’t a really a bad thing. It means I get to see the entire wrapper before lighting up.

The wrapper of the 1961 was a dark reddish brown with a very fine tooth, and no shortage of glistening oils. The veins were few and pretty fine, and there were no imperfections to be found. There was no shortage of tobacco in the cigar either, as it was about as hard as a rock to the touch.

The wrapper had a light compost scent to it, and the prelight draw was a little tight but produced a sweet earthy flavor.

The Burn
Like any cigar you get directly from a cigar rep or at a trade show, you have to make certain allowances for trouble in the burn department. Often the poor sticks knock around in a box in the trunk of a car, unhumidified and over heated for weeks.

I can’t say what conditions this cigar was stored in, but no allowances were required. Aside from the occasional jagged bit of unburned wrapper requiring a little added fire to correct, this cigar burned like a champ. I held a long, white ash, and burned evenly. My single criticism here was that that the draw was a little on the tight side for my preferences.

The Flavor
My initial puffs of the 1961 were earthy and had a good deal of sweetness to them. It became clear to me pretty quickly that this was going to be a full-bodied cigar when I started picking up some pepper early on. In addition to the earth, sweetness and pepper I also noted wood, coffee, chocolate and even some nut flavors. In many interesting and enjoyable combinations.

The second third was pretty similar to the first in terms of the collection of flavors. However, I did notice some interesting variations on the sweetness here that I didn’t pick up previously. There was an almost creamy, sweet almond flavor at times and a more distinct cherry sweetness at others. The coffee flavors also seemed to become more prominent and the wood disappeared. As with the previous third, each puff provided an new, rich combination of flavors that evolved nicely in the finish.

The final third was less about the sweetness, though it was ushered in with a pleasant sweet raisin flavor. Rich dark chocolates, coffee, pepper and even a little caramel brought this cigar to its conclusion.

The Price
I don’t have any details on pricing yet. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably in line with the pricing for the Vintages or the Decade.

The Verdict
The only problem with reviewing single pre-release cigars like this is that the stick has only one chance to impress you. If you get a bum stick, you have no choice to but to write up a bum review. I’m happy to report that I was impressed, and did enjoy the 1961. It didn’t mess around, it produced great rich flavors from beginning to end. I plan revisit it as soon as I have the opportunity.

I have a feeling the 1961 is going to do well once retailers try it for themselves at the IPCPR trade show. I’m not the only one giving it the thumbs up either. The people who lit one up at last week’s event also had high praise for the 1961. It’s a definite must try for anyone who enjoys a good full-bodied cigar. So keep an eye on the shelves at your local shop, the 1961 is coming your way soon.

And if you’re on twitter, be sure to follow @brianhewitt, @jcruz and @walt or the IPCPR twitter page for more details on this and other new cigars in the coming weeks.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.