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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cigar Aficionado Interviews Rocky Patel

Rocky Patel, 47, has quickly become one of the best-known faces in the world of premium cigars. The owner of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars Inc. spends most of his life on the road, either in the factories in Honduras and Nicaragua that make his cigars, in the tobacco fields of Central America or in the many cigar shops that sell his wares.

Recently, his 10th Anniversary smoke, the Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo, was rated a classic, scoring 95 out of 100 points in Cigar Insider and Cigar Aficionado tastings. In April, Patel sat down with senior editor David Savona to speak about the impact of that rating, the impressive growth of his company and his efforts to confront the challenges that face the American cigar industry in the form of prohibition and exorbitant taxes.

David Savona: So let's just talk about where you are and where you've come from. You're just coming off the success of the Decade. What's it like after more than 10 years in the business?
Rocky Patel: It's actually our 12th year now. It took us a while to find that perfect cigar to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, or decade, in the business. In order to commemorate our 10 years, we came up with the blend for the Decade. We probably went through about 120 different blends until I finally said we've got a cigar that's got a lot of flavor, it's got spice, richness, nuttiness, but balance. And we tried to do the same thing with more of a Nicaraguan puro in the ITC 10 Year.

Q: Wasn't the blend that became the ITC 10 originally going to be your Decade?
A: The original blend for the Decade was the ITC 10 Year. We liked that because it had a lot of character, it had a lot of body, it had a lot of spiciness. Then I came up with the blend we have now for the Decade, and decided that the Decade had that elegance and that balance, so we kind of flip-flopped. The original Decade was going to be the ITC, and the ITC was going to be the Decade.

Rest of the informative lengthy interview.