Rocky Patel "The 1865 Project" Review: Smoking Cigars for Charity

Who here remembers when Rocky Patel first landed on the scene? No, not the businessman and former lawyer. I'm talking about the cigar manufacturing powerhouse that would someday become a world leader in premium stogie production.

My first encounter with Rocky Patel cigars came in 2005 when I began my tenure at a smoke shop down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was The Edge Corojo Missile, and it totally kicked my ass. But even though the strength and spice from the cigar knocked me for a loop, I kept coming back to it, and quickly turned that blend into my go-to spicy smoke.

Nearly two decades later, that same excitement starts to bubble up from within every time I slide a stick out of the cellophane bearing Rocky's name. 

And while The Edge Corojo will always hold a sweet spot in my cholesterol-riddled heart, some of these newer blends rolling out of Rocky's Nicaraguan facilities are really freakin' fantastic.

May I present to you Exhibit A: "The 1865 Project by Rocky Patel" in all of its double binder beauty. A powerful blend built with purpose, and a promise to provide proceeds to The Juneteenth Foundation

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Rocky Patel The 1865 Project

Unlit Impressions

Rocky Patel The 1865 Project

First and foremost, this stick looks sensational. All of those snazzy gold/black/white colors on all three bands truly pop atop that cocoa powder-colored San Andrés Mexican wrapper.

The blend smells like a Christmas party too. All of the baking spices and potpourri punchbowl potency you can imagine, served alongside steaming cups of dark roast Nicaraguan coffee, and finished with milky chocolate bar bliss for balance.

Initial Smoke

Rocky Patel The 1865 Project

The first inch of this cigar took me off guard. All of those spices and Christmas cookie notes I just mentioned are nowhere to be detected. 

Instead, you are given a cup of cold brew coffee, a hefty snort of black pepper and soil, and then asked to sit and wait for the action to begin while you wait for the show to start. 

1st Half

Rocky Patel The 1865 Project

Fortunately, it doesn't take long for the fireworks to begin, and hot damn does this blend bring the thunder once it heats up and moves past the somewhat straightforward first third. 

From strong coffee and bitter cocoa, with pinches of pepper and Honduran earth shoved in between, emerges a mellower, far more mesmerizing melody in The 165 Project's sensational second stage.

Familiar dried fruits, like cherries and raisins, blend beautifully with tart apricots, fresh figs, and baking spices. Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla... oh yeah... gimme.

Throw in a splash of earthy sweetness and keep that leathery, peppery spice from the first 15 minutes and just let that full-strength tobacco magic move you.

2nd Half

Rocky Patel The 1865 Project


Just when you think things couldn't get any more delicious, a twist happens. 

Bitter cocoa bounces back, and with it comes the recognizable taste of Central American soil and its barista buddy: Cap'n Coffee.

This would normally be a bit of a letdown, as repetitive flavors tend to bore the palate. But with the addition of some sun-grown tobacco spice and a sweet cedar flavor that shows little sign of stopping, the second half of this cigar keeps things lively.

Parting Puffs 

Rocky Patel The 1865 Project

One last surprise comes forth in the final third, right near the start of parting puffs. The taste of toasted coconut comes forth and with it a trickle of vanilla.

As all of the previous tasting notes begin to form that common collage of creosote and convoluted cigar char we all know (and occasionally dislike), these fresh flavors help form a fun finish. 

Nothing like a little last-minute meteoric frolic to keep things fun.

Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw

Rocky Patel The 1865 Project

Upon light-up, I feared for the well-being of this cigar. A nasty, uneven burn line formed almost immediately, which caused me to immediately break out the torch for a touch-up.

The draw also struggled during the first third, and well into the second, with mediocre smoke production being produced. 

Luckily, these issues were short-lived, and both a clean burning, beautiful ash, with a fine draw soon followed. I find that double-binder cigars can be both a blessing and a hindrance when it comes to construction and combustion, so I am curious as to how much of this had to do with that portion of the cigar. 

Final Thoughts

Rocky Patel The 1865 Project

But screw the construction complaints, for even though I had the same tight draw issues within the same section of both sticks I smoked, everything else was borderline ideal. 

There's so much going on within The 1865 Project, and so much to analyze and appreciate, that it's hard to decide where to begin. Sure, the first third isn't the most exciting, but the other two sections more than makeup for it.

Furthermore, there is so much beauty within the balance that this cigar brings, that it is hard to believe that it is a full-bodied, medium-full strength smoke. At least, all the way up until parting puffs, when it suddenly decides to turn on you and kick your ass to the curb... 

Cigar Stats

Rocky Patel The 1865 Project


Rocky Patel "The 1865 Project"


San Andrés (Mexico)


Honduras & Nicaragua






5" x 50 "Robusto"



Pairing Drink

Boss Coffee Italiano



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