April 2013 Tobacco & Rum: Boxing NightApril 2013 Tobacco & Rum Pairing by Philip Ili Barake.The Pairing: Mount Gay Extra Old Rum from Barbados, El Dorado Single Barrel EHP Rum from Guyana and the H. Upmann, better known as Upmann N°2, Cigar from Cuba.
For this pairing I wanted to see how two very distinct rums would pair up against a cigar of average intensity. This pairing unfolds as a boxing match, where two fighters with different qualities compete to see who is the last one standing.
In the blue corner we had Mount Gay Extra Old Rum from Barbados; this rum comes from the oldest rum distillery in the world, dating back to 1703. This rum uses both techniques of distillation (pot still and continuous column stills), both aged in oak barrels from Kentucky.
This rum has characteristic notes of toasted barrels, a little past their prime, in my opinion, during my initial analysis. It demonstrated some notes of Guaiacol that was very distinct on the palate with a medium body at the end.
And in the red corner, we had a super premium rum from Guyana from the Demerara Distillery. This rum is El Dorado Single Barrel EHP, these acronyms correspond to Edward Henry Porter, founder of the distillery (still using a wooden Coffey Still). This El Dorado offering is an honest rum: silky, very easy to sip neat, especially when compared to other rums that are harsh on the palate or that have aggressive toasted notes.
Lighting up the cigar was the equivalent of “ringing the bell” at the beginning of a fight. In this case I chose a pyramid H. Upmann from Cuba, better known as Upmann N°2, with a ring gauge of 52 and 156 mm in length which would give us a fight of at least an hour.
While I was enjoying the first few puffs of the cigars, as far as I was concerned, I got an excellent circulation with a unique taste very distinctive of this brand, it was truly an incredible pyramid.
As I began to observe how the cigar was mixing with the rum, I received a very shocking surprise: the heavy notes of toasted oak (present on the palate more than in the nose) began to disappear and I found myself with a very pleasing interplay of flavors and aromas, even though the burnt wood scent was present, it was quite enjoyable.
In the case of the El Dorado Single Barrel, its elegance and finesse did not give me a very good start with the cigar. It was somewhat plain, but not unpleasant; rather it did not demonstrate an overall note.
Then, two-thirds of the way into the cigar, the pairing was quite clear, the cigar had an excellent burn without having changed much of its aromas, while continuing to respect the brand’s lineage. The cigar, all the while, was being paired with the Mount Gay Extra Old, with its subtle notes of Guaiacol which were no longer bothersome and turned out to be a nice match with the cigar.
On the other hand, the El Dorado Single Barrel EHP continued to show its true elegance, unable to reach a high technical level for the pairing. This, by no means, meant that this was a bad rum, on the contrary, it was an excellent product that should be sipped neat and well respected when served with a single ice cube. Without a doubt, this rum was one that could be consumed slowly with no worries the rest of the evening.
To wrap things up, a pairing is not a rule, nor should it be written to be treated as such. Observe, see just how the “participants” are doing, two somewhat different rums competing against each other in a pairing that is not so far-fetched and you will see that opinions will vary.
I bid thee farewell and I hope you will have the opportunity to obtain these products so that you too can experience this amazing pairing.
Philip Ili Barake