Pairings can be an incredible way to enhance a cigar. Finding the perfect food or drink item to enjoy alongside your smoke can help to develop an amazing flavour experience – drawing out subtleties and finding complementary notes.
While cigars and Scotch are undoubtedly a fantastic, classic pairing, the focus on whisky amongst cigar-lovers often sees other alcohols a little overlooked.
Today, we look at an alcohol that deserves just as much love as whisky: Rum!
Why Pair With Rum?
It’s quite surprising that rum isn’t always the go-to pairing for cigars, especially when you consider the geographical origins.
Just as Cuba is known for its exquisite Cuban cigars, the island nation is also renowned for its rum, with the beverages they produce widely being considered amongst the best in the world.
The notion of “what grows together, goes together” can certainly be applied here!
When the Cuban cigar brands are designing a cigar, or the torcedor rolls it by hand, it is unlikely they have Scotch in mind, but rather the drink they know and enjoy in Cuba – rum!
Cuban rum is made from molasses. Molasses is a by-product of the sugar refining process. The molasses are mixed with water and yeast, left to ferment, and then distilled in a copper-lined still. The result is a rich rum, that has a distinct smokey flavour.
The first Cuban light rum was produced by Bacardi. Cuba now has 13 distilleries, with Havana Club being the most famous.
Cuban rum is aged for a minimum of three years. Many brands produce rum that has been aged for longer – five and seven year-aged are not uncommon, and some rum brands even offer a 25-year-old expression!
What Are the Pairing Rules?
When it comes to pairing, the main rule is to pair like with like.
Usually, this will be dependent on strength. A stronger flavoured or more alcoholic drink should go with a full-bodied cigar, while a lighter drink should be enjoyed with lighter smoke. This is so that one flavour does not overwhelm the other, causing more subtle notes to get lost.
Another key aspect of pairing is finding complementary flavour notes. For example, an alcohol with a good smokiness to it would pair well with a rich cigar, while a cigar with nutty, caramel notes might work wonderfully with a square of chocolate!
Typically, products from similar regions will also work well together, due to the similarities in strength that the growing conditions create. With the sugar used for rum grown in the same regions as tobacco in Cuba, and other rum-producing countries, this is another factor in why the pairing works so well.
As such, following these rules, a general idea for rum and cigars would be to pair:
- Dark rum with full-bodied, rich cigars with sweet and smokey hints.
- Spiced rum with medium-bodied cigars that offer spicy or woody notes.
- Light rum with mild cigars, with gentler or subtler flavours.
Rums to Try
Here at Havana House, we have a wide selection of rums available – not just from Cuba, but from a range of rum-producing countries around the world, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Nicaragua and Barbados. Below we’ve highlighted some to try!
Conde De Cuba 15 Year Old Extra Anejo Dark
Conde De Cuba is created in the province of Las Tunas in the south-east of Cuba. As the name suggests, the rum is aged for 15 years before being sold.
The rum comes in a half-moon shaped bottle, which is meant to represent the shape of Cuba. It looks impressive on an alcohol shelf anyway!
The rum itself offers a feast of flavours, opening with hints of caramel and developing into notes of roasted coffee, praline and dark chocolate.
Cigar Pairing Recommendation: H. Upmann Half Corona Cigar
It’s only right to pair a Cuban rum with a Cuban cigar, and H. Upmann is certainly one of the best options. H. Upmann cigars are known for offering hints of sweetness, without compromising on strength, making them perfect partners for rum.
The Half Corona Cigar is the perfect pair for this particular rum, as it presents hints of creamy coffee as you smoke. With coffee notes present in the Conde de Cuba rum, this pairing is very complimentary.
The creamy coffee flavour of the cigar will also work wonderfully with the caramel and dark chocolate notes that come through with each sip of rum.
Flor de Caña 18 Year Old Centenario Rum
A Nicaraguan rum, Flor de Caña is certainly one to try, having won Double Gold medals at the 2006 and 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Aged for 18 years, this rum is well-aged and flavourful, offering notes of cocoa, spice, toffee, nut, vanilla and allspice.
Cigar Pairing Recommendation: Ashton Aged Maduro Torpedo Cigar
A medium-bodied cigar that can hold it’s own when paired with this rum, the Ashton Aged Maduro is the perfect match for Flor de Caña, especially in terms of flavour.
The Ashton Aged Maduro has hints of sweetness, which goes very nicely with the natural sweetness of the rum. As you smoke, notes of cocoa, spice and maple emerge, which blend wonderfully with the sweet and spicy flavours of the rum.
Havana Club Máximo Rum Extra Añejo
Considered to be the finest rum ever made, this premium drink comes in a stunning handmade crystal decanter. At £1,350, you’ve certainly got to be serious about your rum!
Rum connoisseurs think it’s worth the price tag, though, due to the incredible flavour that each sip of this rum offers.
It is incredibly complex, starting with notes of oak, smoke, dried fruit and coconut. It develops into a woody flavour, with hints of vanilla, dark chocolate and more dried fruit. The Máximo Rum Extra Añejo finishes with a warming hint of spice.
Cigar Pairing Recommendation: Rocky Patel Grand Reserve Toro Cigar
This rum needs a cigar that can keep up the pace in terms of strength and flavour, and the Grand Reserve Toro is pretty close!
A medium-strength cigar, the Máximo Rum Extra Añejo won’t get overwhelmed by the rum, but equally won’t hide any of the complex flavours within the rum.
As you smoke this cigar, you’ll experience a delicious range of flavour, from dried fruit and chocolate to wood and leather. With a number of matching or complementary flavours present within both the rum and cigar, this pairing could work wonderfully together.
Do you have a favourite rum and cigar pairing? Leave us a comment below to let us know!