These two gentlemen are definitely legends in their respective sports and now are becoming legends in cigars! Our partners at Rocky Patel cigars have teamed up with these two legends to create some very distinctive cigars. These are definitely not novelty cigars that are simply highlighting these great athlete’s names, but these are true premium cigars that are well worth their price and are both outstanding smokes.
Our cigar team first met Gary Sheffield back in 2012 when his cigar was initially introduced at the IPCPR event in Orlando. We thought about bringing in this cigar that year but with our track record on trying to build new brands back in those years not being overly successful we decided to pass. This was the HR500 series commemorating Gary’s great home run achievement. We finally made the leap at the 2014 IPCPR event and this cigar has proven to be a successful collaboration between a cigar master and a baseball legend. We’ve developed a great relationship with Gary Sheffield over the past few years and have been honored with his presence at several cigar events and he recently spoke at our annual Leadership Summit.
The HR 500 only comes in one size, a 6.5” by 52 toro. This is a hefty cigar that packs a bit of a wallop and comes in around the medium full range in both strength and body. A dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper surrounding some tasty filler from Honduras and Nicaragua and the resulting cigar is a joy to smoke. I found rich tobacco flavors that Honduras is noted for and the spicy pepper notes and rich coffee flavors that are indicative of most Nicaraguan tobacco. This is not a cigar to be smoking first thing in the morning but is superb for after dinner or with some evening cocktails.
Let’s not forget about Ray Lewis! The Ray Lewis 52, in honor of his football jersey number, was originally slated for a 2013 introduction but there were some delays and it is just now finally hitting the market. We had the privilege of meeting Ray at this year’s IPCPR and after having dinner with both Ray and Gary and of course, smoking several of his cigars after dinner we decided to bring in these fine smokes also. We found Ray to be quite the gentleman and just a great individual and were thrilled to have him also speak at our Leadership Summit. He is a very passionate and inspired speaker and we were very appreciative of his joining us.
The 52 also comes in only one size and it is also a 6.5” by 52 toro. With the same Ecuadorian Habano wrapper as the HR 500 it is very similar in exterior appearance. The 52 however has a double binder of Mexican and Brazilian tobaccos and a filler of both Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos. While still a fairly strong smoke, it was not quite as powerful as the Sheffield. Strength was more medium and body began to border on full. There was great richness from the Honduran leaf and a bit of toasted wood and cedar. A bit of pepper and spice kicked in also but overall it was very well balanced and burned well and had a great draw. Just another great cigar from Rocky Patel along with Ray Lewis.
The Sheffield HR 500 are already available in many ABC locations and the Ray Lewis 52 should be showing up in the next month or two. Both cigars are definitely worth picking up and I’m sure you will find them as enjoyable as I did.
Steve Mungeer, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Category Manager: Premium Cigars and Craft Beer
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