I am thankful to Javier Reynoso from Barcelona, Spain, for writing me to inquire about Dictador Rum from Colombia and its possible cigar pairing. This pairing is a result of that e-mail, bringing together Ron Dictador XO Insolent and Zino Platinum Z-Class 546 P.
I am familiar with the different rums in their portfolio, I’ve tried most of them at different rum festivals, but the best thing about Dictador rums is their beautiful brand ambassadors, true gems!
So let’s focus on the technical details of this cigar and rum pairing. As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be using Dictador XO Insolent which, from a marketing perspective, is aged using the Solera method and is produced from fermented sugarcane juice. Well, both of these aspects are common across many rum brands. These are traits that are very hard to detect during a blind tasting, since there are no physical or chemical characteristics that separate Solera from non-Solera aged rums, or from sugarcane juice or molasses. Some of these claims are over-used in the industry, but in general terms they correspond to rums that are at the top of their portfolios. Unlike Sherry wines, which are closely regulated, rums that claim to be Solera-aged are completely un-regulated, so you never know.
Soleras aside, let’s focus on what the marketing literature says about the type of barrels employed during the aging. In recent years, rums aged in Port or Sherry casks have become very popular, to the point that they are now being referred to by some as “Iberian Peninsula” style rums. Rums aged or finished in these type of barrels are characterized by a sweetness that is associated with the type of barrel used and that is easily distinguishable on the palate.
Some people love and others hate the use, or abuse, of these fortified wine notes, but this sweetness is perfect for today’s leading rum markets.
In my opinion, this rum has a very strong note of fortified wines, but this does not mean we can’t use it in a pairing. I’ve learned over the years that everything can be paired, as you are about to see.
When contemplating this type of rum, so full of sweet notes, I could not stop thinking about a cigar that employs, from its binder to its filler, tobaccos that can offer a great contrast against such level of sweetness. For this reason I chose the Zino Platinum Z-Class 546 (Ring 46, 5 1/4” length). This cigar is a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan filler, bound with Peruvian leaf and a wrapper from the Dominican Republic. Wow, what a blend, it is what I would call a tobacco leaf cocktail! What I was looking for, when searching for a cigar, was a blend of tobaccos with a medium strength, with spicy notes and dried fruit, leaning towards bitter chocolate. I feel I’ve found all these attributes in this Zino cigar.
I started by pouring a snifter of Dictador Rum and, even though I had already tried it, I was captivated by its aging cellar notes, accompanied by strong traces of coffee (reminiscent of a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks). The alcohol character fell a bit short in the palate, with a relatively- low congener level, but the abundance of barrel aromas is more suggestive of a sherry brandy, an easy-to-market style today. Now for my favorite part, I light up my cigar. I must confess that I have a hard time calling a “figurado” of this size a “Pirámide”, instead I would call it a “Campana”. The draw was perfect from the very beginning and the intensity did not exceed the medium level, just as I predicted once I learned about its composition.
The contrast produced between the rum and the cigar should be very pleasing for most readers but I must add that a cigar made from 100% Nicaraguan tobacco, perhaps something like a Padrón Series 4000 could be even better. If you have access to Cuban cigars, perhaps a Ramón Allones, Specially Selected would be excellent too.
Thank you Javier for your e-mail asking about Dictador Rum and possible pairings. I hope I have helped you with this article. If any other readers have questions about other pairings, please do not hesitate to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer as quickly as possible.
Philip Ili Barake
My name is Philip Ili Barake, Sommelier by trade. As a result of working with selected restaurants and wine producers in Chile, I started developing a passion for distilled spirits and cigars. As part of my most recent job, I had the opportunity to visit many Central American countries, as well as, rum distilleries and tobacco growers.
But my passion for spirits and cigars did not end there; in 2010 I had the honor of representing Chile at the International Cigar Sommelier Competition, where I won first place, becoming the first South American to ever achieve that feat.
Now I face the challenge of impressing the readers of “Got Rum?” with what is perhaps the toughest task for a Sommelier: discussing pairings while being well aware that there are as many individual preferences as there are rums and cigars in the world.
I believe a pairing is an experience that should not be limited to only two products; it is something that can be incorporated into our lives. I hope to help our readers discover and appreciate the pleasure of trying new things (or experiencing known things in new ways).