Rocky Patel: “Luxury for me is the opportunity to slow down my life and enjoy the moment and I think that’s what
a cigar does to you.”
Former Hollywood attorney Rakesh “Rocky” Patel is a celebrated name in the world of premium cigars. Patel quit law in the nineties to pursue his dream of creating the best cigar in the world. Some say he succeeded. Renowned for their flamboyant packaging as well as their fine flavors, Patel’s signature cigars have attracted a noteworthy fan following among the rich and famous. Here, he talks to The Luxe Café about what makes a good cigar and the intricacies of choosing one.
The Luxe Café: How did Rocky Patel become the label that it is today?
It involved spending time at the nursery and the farm and, learning the minutest of details about curing, fermentation and construction. To master the tricks of the trade, I’ve spent years learning from the successes and failures of some of the best in the world. I have scoured factories, met consumers and retailers. I try to make the best and the most consistent product in the world.
How did the love affair with cigars and cigar-making begin even before you created the brand?
I enjoyed smoking cigars with celebrities on movie sets. I have always been a connoisseur of food and wine. And cigars had nuances which were very similar to great wines and food. I noticed that each cigar had a different characteristic and note. That’s how the love affair began.
“I noticed that each cigar had a different characteristic and note. That’s how the love affair began,” Patel says.
When I made public my desire to make cigars, everybody saidit was something that required generations of learning. I would never be able to make it because this was something that was learned through generations, that you ought to have Cuban or Spanish blood flowing in your veins in order to be successful.The barbs acted as catalysts and ignited my passion for cigar making.
How is smoking a cigar a luxury experience?
I don’t think it’s a luxury experience.What it does is,slowsdown your life and lets you enjoy the moment. After all, one lifespan is a short time to enjoy this wonderful planet. When you have some time for yourself, I suggest you smoke a Rocky Patel.Don’t waste your time and money on a bad cigar.
How would you differentiate cigarette smoking from cigar smoking?
Cigarette smoking is habit forming. You smoke a cigarette because of an urge for nicotine. A cigarette has a lot of chemicals, paper and additives that you inhale. It’s certainly not good for you. Cigar smoking, on the other hand, is a quality experience, just like great single malt, great wine, great food and many of the finer things in life. It’s done more in celebration than in any other fashion.
“The thickness plays a significant part, in that the bigger the ring gauge the more air goes through the cigar and the less full-bodied it probably will be. The narrower ring gauge gives a lot more taste of the wrapper and the binder and, is richer in flavor.”
What should one consider while picking up a cigar?
Make sure that the wrapper is nice and clean with oil and shine to it. Most importantly you have to pick a brand that is very, very consistent in its draw, burn, combustion and construction. It’s easy to make a few good cigars but to make hundreds and thousands of good consistent cigars is much harder. Therefore, I would recommend that you choose brands that consistently deliver the right quality and character instead of playing Russian roulette with many of the brands from Cuba.
What part does the thickness and strength (mild, strong, etc.) play in terms of defining the taste of a cigar?
The thickness plays a significant part, in that the bigger the ring gauge the more air goes through the cigar and the less full-bodied it probably will be. The narrower ring gauge gives a lot more taste of the wrapper and the binder and,is richer in flavor. But the most important part is obviously the blend, which is typically the type of tobacco seed, the region where it is grown and the part of the plant that is in the blend.These make up the strength and character of the cigar.
“Try different types of cigars until you find the brand that you savor; there are many great brands out there.”
For the first timers in India, what is your advice?
Do it in the company of a friend who has experience in smoking a cigar or go to a tobacconist or someone who can teach you how to cut and light a cigar. Try different types of cigars until you find the brand that you savor; there are many great brands out there. Don’t get stuck to a particular brand right off the bat because you need to try different brands. You wouldn’t go to the same restaurant every single time oralways drink the same wine. Try different cigars to find your favorite.