Smoking The Edge Barrel-Aged Black from Rocky Patel for a second time left me feeling a bit flabbergasted, but also elated.
Opting to pair this particular premium cigar blend with a large glass of water, instead of a heavy pour of premium rum or bourbon was an equally rewarding decision. A rare pairing selection for me for sure, but one that ended up paying off quite nicely, as you shall soon see.
Unlike the normal barrel-aged version of The Edge, this darker spin-off foregoes the Nicaraguan and Honduran ligero leaf approach and selects Dominican and Pennsylvania tobacco crops for its filler combo. This is the portion of the cigar that apparently gets stuffed inside those bourbon and/or port casks for an undisclosed period of time prior to bunching.
Unlike the normal habano version of The Edge, which is now rolled down in Nicaragua, this version appears to have been produced in Honduras at Rocky's original headquarters. Additionally, it is not a product that we can find listed anywhere on the Rocky Patel website, and outside of a few blurbs here and there online, this "black" edition doesn't seem to have received an official review from a cigar-oriented publication.
Factored together, these gleanings likely mean a few things:
1. This blend (along with the regular barrel-aged version) were either limited runs or have since been discontinued. If that's the case, whatever is still out there is more than likely only available in limited quantities.
2. I wonder if the habano wrapper on this blend is the same Ecuadorian-grown leaf that cloaks the regular run of The Edge Habano rolled down in Nicaragua, or if it is indeed a Nicaraguan alternative like some say. Either way, without there being any details on Rocky's website the details surrounding this wrapper remain murky.
3. Pennsylvania tobacco tends to be stout stuff, regardless of whether it is Broadleaf, Red, or some other varietal. So best to prepare yourself for some intensity prior to sparking this one.
4. If no one else has reviewed this cigar, I guess this makes us the first publication to do so. This is kind of odd considering that this black edition has been around for about three years by this point.
5. Did I mention that this is a pretty damn strong cigar, but also an extremely delicious one to pair with a tall glass of water or an equally heavy pour of dark liquor?
Extremely tidy in its rolling, with a feel that is of the same grade, this cigar relies upon its oily, brownish-red habano wrapper to do most of the marketing. As a member of The Edge line, there is a singular black band toward the bottom that designates that this is a barrel-aged cigar, which upon removal you will discover the typical Edge authenticity jargon inside.
The barrel smells sweet and relies upon cedar and subdued mixed spices for its presentation. Leathery, yet surprisingly understated, the smell of the wrapper tells a very different tale than the foot.
Jumping at you like a linebacker on eight kinds of uppers, the foot sets the nostrils aflutter with dark dried fruit aromas, chewy oak tannins, and a sensational splash of rich tobacco leaf. That bourbon barrel aging certainly had some sort of influence on that filler combo, and with a cold pull confirming this consideration, it's time to set that foot afire.
Leathery and unapologetically spicy at first puff, coming to grips with your commitment to a full-strength cigar is the first step toward enjoying The Edge Barrel-Aged Black in all of its glory. As increasingly potent whiffs of cedar and a milky mascarpone, taste take your palate away from this intensity and toward a darker direction, the real show slowly unfolds.
Black currants and cassis, dried cherries, and a ton of tannins all take turns introducing themselves after the first fifteen minutes or so. The dark fruitiness side of the cigar is reserved yet undeniably present, with bits of semi-sweet cocoa powder and spicy peppercorn notes pushing the boundaries of your taste buds.
Light brown sugar sprinkles and a second splash of cedar serve up even more flavor, and I found the longer I held the smoke in my mouth, the rounder and richer it became. Retrohales carried forth even more depth, but with a stronger emphasis on the barrel and spice side of the blend, without feeling imbalanced.
Bodybuilding on a Schwarzenegger scale, the center of this toro takes you far deeper into the darkness, but without all of the fermented maduro funkiness and java tastes you have come to expect. Smoke that's chewy enough to be classified as having a whipped cream consistency, and earthy flavors that settle somewhere between bittersweet dark chocolate dipped acai berries and rainforest topsoil take up most of the tasting menu.
Those in search of a boozy barrel experience have but to allow the smoke to swirl around inside their mouth longer than normal, then gradually exhale, saving as much as they possibly dare for the retrohale. Oaky and steadily becoming more dry and nutty in nature, detecting these retrohales was the real reason why I opted to pair this cigar with a glass of water.
Earthier and spicier, the dryness of the final third gives way to that fermented funk found in the resinous end of stronger cigars. In the case of this blend, this made for an incomplete parting puffs portion of the review process. I would have liked to go further, but with the flavors shifting toward char and burnt sugar I knew that playing it conservatively was the best way to end this stick on a high note.
Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw
The physical feel of the smoke pulled forth from this cigar is one of its greatest attributes. Not just in how that creamy, full-bodied profile adorns your senses, but in how it wafts from the ash and foot after each pull and sticks to everything it touches, including my beanie in the video. This is a cigar that is intended for those who like to play with their smoke or want their smoke to play with them.
Now as for the physical burn of the cigar itself, outside of a slightly tight draw within the first third of the sample stick I smoked before filming my review, I had zero issue with this blend when it came to getting a sizable serving of that creamy smoke.
The ash did form some stray flakes here and there, but nothing overwhelmingly out of control, and the first cigar had zero need for touch-ups once it was lit. This was not the case for my review cigar in the video, which needed two touch-ups along the way, with the larger of the lot being right toward the middle of my 2+ hour smoke session. There was also a bit of heat to be felt within the barrel of the cigar at times, which did not affect flavor nearly as much as it did the temperature of the smoke that struck my tongue.
Having paired this cigar with both top-grade Guatemalan rum and glasses of water, I must admit that the water allows you to appreciate more of this blend's subtleties.
It's still a full cigar, and at the end of the second stick I was definitely feeling a nicotine buzz, but neither was it a complete palate-wrecker in the strength and flavor wheel either. Refined and rolling in rich smoke, there are a lot of different subtleties to this stick that set it apart from the rest of The Edge line and are best detected with a neutral beverage on hand.
Does it have as much flavor and intensity as some of the barrel-aged maduro cigars we sell? Not by a long shot. But that's the beauty of this blend. For it remains unrelentingly full, but also richly layered and likable.
Personally, I suggest getting a fiver and smoking each one with a different beverage until you find the perfect complement to this blend. You may be shocked to discover that you are like me and that a large cup of H20 really is the way to go...
Rocky Patel "The Edge Barrel-Aged Black"
Dominican Republic & Pennsylvania (USA)
6" x 52 "Toro"
|Big-Ass Cup of H20