President of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars: Rocky Patel
The DBS, which stands for Double Broadleaf Selection, is an anomaly in the cigar market. It employs a San Andres wrapper and two broadleaf binders; these are also thick leaves. Typically when a blender is planning on using a thick wrapper tobacco, like San Andres, they will enlist the help of a thinner, faster-burning leaf for the binder to ensure good combustion. You guys not only didn’t choose a thin leaf for the binder, but you used double broadleaf binders! How were you and your team able to make that happen and what does it bring to this blend?
I have to give a lot of respect to Amilcar Peréz Castro, who is my partner at the factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. He does a fantastic, fantastic job of curing and fermenting the tobacco. He’s got so many family members that he’s brought over from Cuba; they’re running our farms now in Estelí and Condega.
Like you mentioned, it is a very thick leaf. We have a Nicaraguan broadleaf and a Pennsylvania broadleaf as binders in that blend, on top of which we have a San Andres wrapper, and it’s a higher priming wrapper. So you’ve got three thick leaves and there’s really no seco in it, there’s viso. So when you actually spend a lot of time fermenting the tobacco and curing the tobacco, you can see how well that cigar burns. You know, it’s gotten rid of all the nitrogen, the boron, the potassium, the magnesium, all that fertilizer, so it took a lot of time in the curing and fermentation. And that’s the beauty of that cigar,
it’s rich, it’s decadent but it’s also velvety and smooth because of the aging. And you get so much flavor from the broadleaf. I mean, one of the hardest tobacco leaves to get right now is broadleaf as you know, so to have that with the Mexican San Andres is amazing.
We’ve loved the DBS but there’s another cigar that we’ve been able to taste samples of that has really blown our minds. Can you tell us about Conviction, the new luxury project coming out of your company?
We’re really proud of this project. We wanted to showcase luxury-lifestyle, which is really what this beautiful industry is about. You know, it’s a cottage industry, the amount of art and passion that goes in all the way from the farm to the curing and into fermentation, and on to the craftsmanship of the cigars. We wanted to showcase it to the world.
We started our own farms in 2014, in Estelí and Condega. And I recently happened to go down there while we were doing inventory because we’re building a new factory. By the time we were done with inventory, I counted 18,697 bales of tobacco. Now, these are bales that have already gone through the fermentation process, they’re just aging. This doesn’t include all of the pilónes that we have in three different buildings. During that process, I came across some 2014 bales and I said to Amilcar, “How can we still have those?” “Well,” he said, “I’ve been saving this for some special projects.” So we literally took that tobacco and we had some of the old San Andres wrapper, which we love, and we tried to get it as close to the tercios process that they have in Cuba. We didn’t have the palms but basically, we took that technology and did it in a box with the fermentation. Then we took the best four rollers that we had, teams of two, and limited them to 250 cigars a day. We used the tobacco from Estelí and Condega, from these bales and made blends. This is like going back, I’ve been working on it for a year and a half. We made like 78 blends, came down to three, and couldn’t decide. It was the 5th box-pressed. 13th round, 15th round, and going back and forth, back and forth. Anyway, I ended up choosing the box-press. The cigar was just so rich and I was worried it might be a little too strong but after it’s been sitting, it’s really smooth. And it’s mellowed and it’s balanced. So we’re excited about the project and we wanted it to scream luxury, kind of like Louis Vuitton.