As summer draws to a close so does my cigar-smoking season.
This year I've indulged in my regular smokes, Partagas Almirantes, to a reasonable degree, but I also bought a handful of the same maker's new release, Partagas Black in a toro size. Almirantes are thinner than a traditional toro but just about every other cigar I smoke is a toro and I like trying new things and making comparisons by sticking to that particular size. I was, however, not impressed by the Black. Almirantes are good because, though they aren't really strong, the Cameroon wrapper and the particular choice in fillers combine to make a really fragrant cigar while it is burning. The smoke AND the smell of the heated but yet-to-be-burned wrapper both. And the flavor has a lot of nuances to my palate. They're also not too pricey so I can afford to stay stocked without breaking the bank.
The Black was just dull. A really dark maduro wrapper (hence 'black') on this stick, so I wasn't expecting it to be as fragrant while burning or as nuanced as the Almirantes... but it is just so 'meh'. I was really hoping for more *pow* to it, especially since it is advertised as a full strength... which isn't really an indicator of flavor, but given the pedigree... yeah. I have a few more to finish, and they aren't bad in any way, but color me unimpressed.
Most of my experimentation this season has been in getting selections of Rocky Patel brand cigars in small amounts. The store I buy from, Famous Smokes in Pennsylvania, has a huge range of Rocky Patel products. Many many of them are exclusive to their shop, and I sampled some from the Famous exclusives and some from the mainstream Patel products that are available everywhere.
The exclusives are not bad... and they are fairly inexpensive all told... but there are two non-exclusive, regular Patel cigars that have become firm favorites. I'm kind of shocked at the difference actually.
The Rocky Patel Edge Lite is medium-bodied with a bright Connecticut-shade style wrapper. The Patel Brothers was a full-bodied bruiser with a maduro wrapper. So one light and one dark. Different 'hefts' of smoke for different occasions. And I gotta say these two were WELL above the other Patels I smoked including a couple of different sorts of the lauded Patel Vintage. Wow. I'm going to stick with getting little 5-paks of these for now because over the coming winter it just won't be available to light them up frequently. But I better start budgeting for a box each now at around 130-150 dollars a box from Famous.
So this whole post is kind of a roundabout way of saying if you buy from Famous (or anyone else), and you've been tempted into trying Patel cigars by the various catalog and website deals frequently run on the brand, don't blow 'em off over the bargain marks. Cast your net a little further and snag some of the non-exclusives. I can at least say for me, The Edge Lite and The Patel Brothers (not the Patel Bros. Next Generation, I haven't tried that yet) were great. And most Patels aren't outrageously spendy.