Rocky Patel Sun Grown Fuerte

Ordinarily I shy away from cigars that are exclusive to one retailer, whether they be online or brick and mortar. Not because I have anything against exclusive blends, I just try to focus on cigars that are easily available to the largest number of our readers. But every now and then you come across a cigar that’s just so intriguing, you can’t not review it. Cigars like Jerry’s perennial favorites, the Man O’ War Ruination and the CAO MX3, or when you come across a Stoge Review Forum favorite that’s been pumped full of the tobacco world’s steroids, ligero. And I think that’s what I found at Mike’s Cigars when I was idly browsing the internet one day: the Rocky Patel Sungrown Fuerte.

Because this appears to be an exclusive to one online merchant, there isn’t a lot of information available, aside from the price and the source of the various tobaccos that make up the cigar. (Which I’ve noticed is the same as the regular Sun Grown). According to the catalog that came with my order, the Sun Grown Fuerte is new, which also accounts for some of the mystery. What I can tell you is that it comes in four rotund vitolas, Robusto (5 x 54), Toro (6 x 52), Torpedo (6 1/4 x 52) and a jaw-breaking Gigante (6 x 58). Let’s not waste any more time and light this beast up.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 54
Wrapper: Ecuador
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $6.50 (effectively $5.39)

The Pre-Smoke
What sets the Sun Grown Fuerte apart from it’s milder brother aside from girth is the gold and red bands. The red clues you into its relation to the popular Sun Grown, while the gold lets you know immediately that this is a something special. The oily wrapper beneath the bands is a darker natural shade in color, and can be a little veiny, but not so much as to be visually unappealing. The only surface imperfection I found was a superficial hole in the wrapper near the head of the cigar, which would have been very easy to miss.

The cigars were consistently firm, to the point of being rock hard to the touch, with a little bit of lumpiness in a couple of the smokes. I don’t think it’d be possible to get another bit of tobacco leaf in these densely-packed sticks. The scent of the wrapper was a sweet compost, and I picked up some dried fruit sweetness, like prunes or raisins in the cold taste.

The Burn
It’s not uncommon for thicker, more potent tobacco to burn slower and to encounter more burn problems than lighter leaf. The Sun Grown Fuerte is no exception. It rarely had a straight burn line, and it seemed like I was relighting it at least once every third. But it remained manageable (I almost never touched it up), and the relights didn’t seem to have a significant impact on the flavor. It really didn’t seem like I was relighting it that often because it is such a slow burner. Even though the ash was solid, it’s not the most attractive looking cigar while you smoke it, but it’s nothing that would deter me from smoking more in the future.

The Flavor
The first third brings to mind the regular Sun Grown with that sweet tart orange and cedar flavor, but there are also nutty and earthy elements present. It isn’t long before I started to notice a meatiness and spicy warmth toward the back of my mouth and throat.

In the second third, the nut and earth flavors were mostly gone and the cedar became more prominent and a little drier and more aromatic. The orange tart flavor mellowed a bit, and as it did, the sweetness came to resemble butterscotch more and more. By the end of this third, there was a distinctly buttery quality to the smoke that I noticed mostly on my lips and in the front of my mouth.

The final third continued the evolution from sweet orange tart to less sweet butterscotch and cedar. But even the butterscotch seemed to wane a bit, appearing more as an occasional butter texture than a flavor. There were still the occasional hints of citrus, but they were pretty faint. There was also a continual, but pleasant warmth in the back of my mouth that did not subside between puffs.

The Price
Because the cigars are already discounted by the only seller I’ve been able to find, it’s safe to say this is essentially a five and a half dollar smoke. And that seems like a reasonable price for the acre of tobacco held in that binder. I like special editions even more when they’re budget friendly.

The Verdict
As part of my research for this review, I revisited the regular Sun Grown, anticipating questions about flavor similarities. They do taste very similar, but the Fuerte is noticeably fuller, and you can feel the difference in the back of your mouth and throat as you smoke it. There’s a lingering meaty spiciness that remains well after the finish dissipates that I believe will please people who prefer their cigars to leave a strong and lasting impression.

I’ve been a fan of the regular Sun Grown, so it came as no surprise to me that I really enjoyed the Sun Grown Fuerte. I was happy to find that the addition of power did not come with a significant loss of that great Sun Grown flavor. If you are a fan of the Sun Grown but wish it packed a bit more of a punch, you really need to try the Fuerte. Granted, it will be a little harder to keep it lit, but I don’t think you’ll mind. Just save some for the rest of us!

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

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