After a special dinner, enjoying a good cigar accompanied by the right drink is one of the great pleasures of a smoker. Some even go so far as to say that it is the only way for cigars to unfold their full aroma. And it is really that, some drinks serve to enhance the existing flavors of the tobacco mixture or to discover hidden characteristics such as buried treasures.
Although taste is something completely personal, the secret seems to lie in the combination of flavors and fragrances, keeping in mind the criterion that both the cigar and the drink must have enough aromatic intensity in themselves so that when they come together, the qualities of the other are kept intact. For this reason, many cigar connoisseurs recommend combining full-bodied tobaccos with strong drinks and light-bodied tobaccos with lighter drinks.
When it comes to the marriage between cigars and rums, considered by many to be a perfect match, the first thing to look for is the similarities between them, since both are carefully cultivated artisanal products that have undergone complex aging and blending processes. That means that smoother cigars, especially those with nutty or sweet undertones, pair better with younger rums, and that darker, older rums pair well with cigars of the same caliber.
In 2020, Cigar Aficionado magazine published an article showing a very interesting experience they made by combining two cigars of different body spectra with various fine rums. The smooth-bodied cigar was the H. Upmann Connecticut by Grupo de Maestros Toro, creamy and sweet, with a layer of ripe over its light wrapper. With a stronger body, the selected cigar was the Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado, with notes of toasted almonds, cocoa and coffee beans.
As expected, the results were quite mixed, but in general terms they seem to confirm the importance of harmonizing the intensity and sensory profiles of both products. Let's see some of them.
Appleton 21 Years (86 proof - $120): This Jamaican rum, with an orange note and intense flavors of licorice, cinnamon, banana, pear, and honey, outperformed the H. Upmann, but highlighted the coffee and leather notes of the Olive and won some subtlety.
Brugal 1888 (80 Proof - $50): This double-aged dry rum with a blend of nutmeg, cinnamon and nougat, balanced the H. Upmann and enlivened its smoke, but had little interaction with the plump Oliva.
Havana Club Añejo Clásico (80 proof - $22): Made in Puerto Rico, this rum receives a second aging in order to get a balanced blend of hot spices and maple. The spiciness was made heavier by the H. Upmann, and the rum became cloy. The Oliva made the Havana Club more flavorful and complex.
Santa Teresa (80 proof - $40): This Venezuelan rum, dominated by berry and fleshy fruit flavors with hints of cocoa and coconut, brought depth to the smoothest cigar, but clouded the smoke of the strongest.
Zafra 21 Years Old (80 proof - $37): This fruit-flavored, brown-sugar Panamanian rum discovered a hint of leather in the H. Upman as it dried down a bit. The pairing with Olive was excellent: the cigar displayed notes of maple and the rum became more flavorful.