Food Mood: 'The Marriage of Cigaro' - with Rocky Patel Cigars and Ballentine, The Leela, B'lore

I’m always on the look out to experience the finer things of life, especially when it comes to anything associated with food and drink. Hence, I was extremely excited to be invited to an evening of cigar and single malt appreciation at The Leela in Bengaluru. While I don’t smoke otherwise, I do make an exception when it comes to cigars. Let’s be honest, a good single malt paired with a good cigar has style and class written all over it.

The evening was hosted by Cigar Conexion in association with Ballentine’s. Titled ‘The Marriage of Cigaro’, the evening was to be about complementing cigars from the brand Rocky Patel with the fine single-malt - Ballentine. I’ll be quite honest here, while I’ve attended a couple of cigar-pairing sessions in the past, I don’t have enough experience to comment like an expert. 

I was very glad to meet and spend time with Rocky Patel who owns the brand and expand my knowledge of the world of cigars. Rocky runs a $30 million business that produces 16 million cigars a year. All of this is done at his farms in Honduras and Nicaragua. A lawyer by qualification, he worked for numerous Hollywood stars as an entertainment and product liability lawyer. This was how he was introduced to the world of cigars. One thing led to another, and now Rocky Patel cigars are among the top cigar brands in the world. In fact, one of the brands – The Rocky Patel Royale Toro, features at #5 by Cigar Aficionado for the year 2014.

Rocky spent a good part of the evening explaining in great detail, the amount of labour that goes into crafting a world-class cigar. He spoke about the soil, the temperature, the cut of the tobacco plant, the blends and all the important aspects that make one truly appreciate a cigar. He even busted certain myths of why Cuban cigars are no longer what they used to be and why brands from other Central American countries are taking precedence. The one thing that was very evident was the amount of focus that was going into production. A great product always markets itself and kudos to Rocky Patel for ensuring that.

Rocky Patel

The cigars for the evening were the Rocky Patel Decade Cameroon and the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990. I tried the latter and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Overall, the cigar left a very nice wooden taste, almost the kind that I would associate with a well-done wood fire pizza. It really complemented all the lovely hors d'oeuvres that were being served. This cigar has been placed among the top 25 cigars twice by Cigar Aficionado. Personally I would have preferred a slightly more smoky single malt over the sweeter-tasting Ballentine. 

The Rocky Patel Vintage 1990

Overall, this was one of the finest evenings I’ve had. Not only was I able to sample some excellent cigars, but was able to expand-upon my very-limited knowledge of cigars. Cigars could be a new habit that I could get used to. Once again, a big thanks to Cigar Conexion for allowing me to spend time with Rocky Patel sampling some of the finest cigars from the brand.