Rocky Patel Vintage 90
Whether you go with the cheapest option I wrote about last week (a “humidor quality” cigar box and the just-add-water propylene glycol tube), or you invest big money ($100 and up) in one of the quality polished wood, Spanish cedar-lined humidors, be sure to get it “started” properly. Though it defies logic, the last thing you want to do with a brand-new humidor is fill it with your cigars. Instead, take the time to add moisture to the interior wood. Ignore this advice and you will humidify the humidor with your meticulously cared-for cigar collection. Yes, the dry cedar will literally suck the moisture from your cigars, leaving you with dried-out, crappy smokes.
To avoid this scenario, proactively humidify the humidor before stocking it with your cigars. The key is simply to introduce moisture for a few days. Interestingly, there seem to be a number of techniques for doing so, and while I cannot advocate one method over the other, there are some guidelines worth noting.
Use distilled water. Water that has not been distilled will eventually impact the taste of your stored cigars. If you use propylene glycol (PC) tubes, like the DryMistat brand, tap water will alter the chemical compound in the tube and it will lose its effectiveness. If you do not use PC, you must be more diligent in monitoring your hydration level. Keeping with our investment theme, I recommend spending the $1 or so a gallon for distilled water at the grocery store. It will last forever and pay dividends many times over for your investment.
Remember 70/70. Target the temperature and humidity to be 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent, respectively. Neither should be off by more than +/-5; within this range, you are fine.
Buy a hygrometer. Invest the money in one that can be calibrated, especially if you are not going to use a humidity stabilizer, like a PC-based mixture. A digital hygrometer will typically be more accurate but also more expensive.
Calibrate the hygrometer using the salt test. You will need table salt, a see-through container such as a zipper plastic baggie, and a small shallow open container, like a bottle cap.
- Place a teaspoon or so of salt in the shallow container and add a few drops of water to get it wet. Don’t add too much water -- just a good damp pile of salt is sufficient. Carefully place the container of salt in the baggie along with the hygrometer.
- Seal the baggie with some air trapped inside (not so tight that the plastic is against the hygrometer) and let it sit. Allow this to stabilize for at least six hours (don't rush it). After it has stabilized, check the hygrometer reading without opening up the baggie. It should be exactly 75 percent.
- If your hygrometer doesn't read 75 percent after calibration, then you have two choices. First, you can remember the deviation of your hygrometer. If it read 80 percent, then you are 5 percentage points off and have to subtract five from whatever it reads. The second option is to adjust the hygrometer if your model allows for this.
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After completing the above steps, you should be all set to go!
It’s time to go smokin’.
Rocky Patel Vintage 90
Size: Churchill (7 inches long, 48 ring gauge)
$7 to $8.50 range
These cigars are blended and brought to market by Rocky Patel. Rocky is a real person, not a fictitious persona created to align with and personify the brand. His story is unique and his cigars are some of the hottest on the market today (I plan to profile Rocky in my next article). Today I review the RP Vintage 90, while next week I plan to review the RP Vintage 92. Both are cornerstones within his growing “A-list” cigar portfolio. The cigars are identical from a filler/binder perspective, but the wrapper is the differentiator and it drives two unique smoking experiences.
- Wrapper: 12-year-old Honduran broadleaf
- Filler & binder: Dominican, Nicaraguan blend
The Vintage 90 Churchill is another long cigar. It has a Dominican Republic and Nicaraguan blended filler, draped in a tantalizing natural broadleaf wrapper from Honduras. It's marketed as a light to medium-bodied smoke and is described as really enjoyable, with complex smooth-rich flavor. For this review, I smoked it straight up with an ice water.
Look and feel
Pre-lit, these are classy expensive-looking cigars. Double banded in maroon and gold with a simple design, this is a good-looking cigar with an aged wrapper leaf, dark in color. It is a long, thinner cigar, box pressed in the old Cuban tradition, giving it a four-sided look. Construction appeared solid and the burn was admirable, as I have found most Rocky Patel’s cigars.
Aroma and Taste
The open was somewhat uneventful with some sweetness detected. I did note a pretty tight draw and the smoke volume was light; this remained the case for quite some time. In the middle third of the cigar, the flavor was more discernable as the smoke volume thankfully picked up. I detected a pure cocoa flavor, a bitter sweetness.
I especially noted the aroma of the smoke coming from the cigar, and it was as if I passed my nose over a recently poured Coca-Cola. This was good.
The cigar tended to be fairly mild throughout the smoke. However, in the last third the flavor was more interesting. Only a slight earthiness was detected, but some cinnamon hints were also coming through near the latter portion of this cigar.
In this case the length of the cigar, the initially tight draws, coupled with its mild flavor profile proved to be just OK for me. Most cigar smokers like to get a fair amount of smoke as they are puffing. If this is the case and you do have the choice, go for a larger ring gauge.
RATING: 8.8 (on a scale of 1 to
Still a good cigar, but I had higher expectations. The cigar typically gets higher ratings from some of the well-known cigar publications, though I have not seen the Churchill rated before.
"A good cigar is like a beautiful chick with a great body who also knows the American League box scores." - Max Klinger, M*A*S*H
DISCLAIMER: At the risk of sounding too much like a TV commercial, I do want to sincerely state: This feature is NOT intended to advocate the smoking of cigars any more or any less than you already do, nor do I intend to influence the non-smoker to begin smoking cigars. Make no mistake about it; CIGAR SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.