Friday, 23 January 2015

When I met the Rockstar of the World of Cigars

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For me who does not smoke any form of tobacco; relates cigars as a style statement of the rich, classy and sophisticated celebrities, big business tycoons and the likes. Talk cigars and my mind draws images from classic English movies where cigar in many conversations lead me to believe the notion 'Cuban for cigars' - Not true. Apparently, not a single Cuban cigar has been rated as the top 5 cigars (Year 2014) of the world.

In an industry (cigars) built on name, recognition and reputation; its really rare to find a man who has attained exceptional heights and built a business empire of $ 30 million which he started out with little if not no knowledge off. His passion for cigars has his business produce 16 million cigars each year, employs 3500 people and owns huge tobacco plantations in Nicaragua and Honduras. What makes it even rarer if not impossible is to find a man who was originally a lawyer and out of passion for cigars set an empire that has grown this massive. 

Rocky Patel, the man and the brand itself are gaining popularity and recognition world-over. Some of his cigars have been consistently rated really high at 90 + out of a 100 by authorities on cigars. End of December 2014 also saw the cigar 'Rocky Patel Royal Toro' bagging the 5th place in the world for the 'Best Cigar of the Year 2014' by Cigar Aficionado.

Travelling around the world for 300 days of a year, Rocky Patel is an advocate of his cigars and believes in giving his customers the experience of meeting the man behind their favorite cigars. Honoring his belief, Rocky Patel was here in Bangalore for an evening of Cigar and single-malt whiskey pairing which was hosted at the Leela Palace by Cigar Conexion - the exclusive importer  and distributor of finest hand made and machine made cigars in India.

Most of the evening was spent interacting with Rocky Patel who not only spoke about how he got started in the Cigar industry but also about the nuances of cigar, art of smoking a cigar and lots more. Ask Rocky Patel what makes his cigars the class apart they are from the rest and he is enthusiastic to share a very details that go into it's making, right from sowing the seeds, harvesting, treating, fermenting tobacco leaves, wrapping, binding all the way to packaging. All through this process, the ingredients and the activities go through rigorous quality control to make each cigar in a box taste exactly like it's supposed to consistently.

For this evening, what was also ensured is that each one of us had more than sufficient supplies of cigars - 'Rocky Patel Vintage 1990' and 'Rocky Patel Decade Cameroon'. Ranked twice among the top 25 cigars of the world, I tried the former which was very smooth right from the first puff and through the duration it lasted that evening. The evening was elegant and involved loads of learning, interactions, food, drinks and most important of all - 'Cigars'.

Over the course of the evening, it was quite interesting to learn how a cigar gets its characteristics. Being a wine-lover, here's how I could relate cigars and wine:
- Like a good wine, a good cigar to can take a long time from soil to a packaged state. In this case, the Rocky Patel cigars took about 5 years.
- Like wines gets its character from the oak barrels they are stored in; likewise a cigar too gets its character through the process of it's making - smoking, heating, fermenting of tobacco leaves.
- Like wines can be made from grape varietals, likewise Rocky Patel cigars are made from various blends of tobacco.
- Like geographic conditions impact the end result of the grapes and ultimately the wine, likewise good tobacco and cigars too are highly dependent on geographic conditions.

The list can go on and this evening has only made me more curious to learn more and also try different cigars. For now, I have a 'Rocky Patel Decade Cameroon' that I carried back home with me to try. 

If you are in India and would like to give cigars a try too or even buy cigars you love, do visit the website of 'Cigar Conexion' where you can purchase either singles or a box based on your need. 

Caution! Smoking tobacco is injurious to health. Smoke Responsibly.

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