Lane: Welcome to Cigar Cafe Radio. We have Nish Patel on the show today (brother of Rocky Patel). Thanks for joining us today!
Harris: Nish thanks again for coming on the show today. What are you smoking today?
Nish: I’ll smoke 4-5 cigars today. My first one is Bold by Nish Patel. It is a double maduro wrapper and binder. Next I will smoke the Rocky Patel 20th Anniversary then a Rocky Patel Sun Grown maduro after that another Bold or possibly the new Hamlet cigar from Rocky Patel. Some days I only smoke one cigar and up to 32 cigars if we are blending.
Lane: Who does most of the blending for Rocky Patel Premium Cigars?
Nish: Rocky Patel himself does most of it then we tweak it as a group 4-5 of us in the office.
Nish Patel Cigar History
Lane: How did you get into the cigar business?
Nish: I worked for several other companies as VP of Sales and National Sales Manager based in Chicago. In 2004 Rocky Patel my brother was launching the Edge by Rocky Patel. He invited me to what was then the RTDA now known as the IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas to see what it was all about. He was just starting to really gain traction with the company. I loved it and a month later I joined the company. It has been a little over 10 years.
Sean: Was it difficult being an Indian American in the Cigar business? Was there resistance?
Nish: Rocky started with Indian Tabac as his first brand. It was tough. The Blends were inconsistent and people were reluctant to bring it in. Rocky learned the only way to do it right was to control the entire process. He approached Nestor Placencia in Honduras about taking over one of his factories and imposing strict quality control standards. Over time he gained the support of retailers.
Sean: When did you guys know you had made it?
Nish: When the bills were paid. But I don’t think we are where we want to be yet. Constant improvement.
Lane: I’ve never had a bad Vintage from Rocky Patel
Rocky Patel New Blends
Nish: We had alot of quality control issues early on with Vintage. At one point we rejected over 400,000 vintage cigars because of quality issues.
Harris: Lane and I are smoking the Rocky Patel Sun Grown Maduro. This is a very new release for you guys.
Nish: Yes it was just released to stores. It is made in our boutique factory in Nicaragua with Double Ligero tobacco. I love this cigar.
Lane: What new cigars do you want to talk about today from Rocky Patel?
Nish: The New blends from this year are all smoking very good. They are very different from our past blends. The Rocky Patel 20th Anniversary celebrates our 20th year in business. We are possibly working on a Rocky Patel 20th Lancero.
Hamlet is another very new blend for us released about a month ago. Tabaquero by Hamlet Verdes was the most famous Cuban cigar roller. He worked in the Partagas cigar factory in Cuba, was a master cigar roller and then went on to be the Cuban cigar ambassador around the world doing special events. He has a huge following.
Hamlet wanted to leave Cuba. Rocky Patel helped him get to the US and gave him a job. Hamlet had never worked with other tobaccos. When he came to the US he worked in the Cigar humidor at Burn by Rocky Patel in Naples, Florida. He loved the Nicaraguan tobacco. He started blending with Nicaraguan tobacco. He worked on 65 blends over 8 months. We all ended up agreeing on the first blend he ever made out of the 65. The Hamlet cigar has a San Andres wrapper and a double binder with Brazilian Mata Fina tobacco. It will age very well. He is the only person I have ever seen who can roll a cigar without a cigar press.
Lane: It is really cool you guys are doing something very different like this.
Sean: How did Hamlet Verdes feel about tobacco from other countries compared to Cuban tobacco?
Sean: Nish, What other brands of cigars do you like?
Nish: Norteno, Espinosa, Fuente Shark, Padron 85th, Pepin, Oliva V melanio, Illusione Epernay
Sean: I’m almost a year into my cigar adventure. I started with Java by Drew Estate which is owned by you guys right? How did Java by Drew Estate come about?
Nish: In 2003 Rocky Patel was hanging out with the guys from Drew Estate and came up with the idea. It started with an Indonesian wrapper. After I came on board we changed it to the current wrapper. We wanted Drew Estate on the box since they at the time were really well know for infused cigars (i.e. Acid, Tabak Especial, etc). We wanted the look and feel to be like the Vintage. Flip the box over and it tells the story about Rocky Patel starting it. The Java latte is great for new and old smokers. It smells great and is one of our top sellers every year.
Sean: I read the Rocky Patel story on your website. It is very cool and unique how the story is told. It scrolls.
Nish: It is awesome. We have two great young marketing guys who developed that. They are very innovative.
Lane: Sean you need to try the Rocky Patel Vintage Cameroon 2003. It is very complex.
Harris: Nish are you still a big tequila fan these days?
Nish: I love Don Julio Tequila. They have nice Anejos. I also like Scotch. I really got into tequila at the trade shows. You need to get nice ones though. The low end tequilas are 55% grain alcohol and are not good. Jose Cuervo La Familia is another good one.