Farewell to a Great One
Normally the inspiration for my cigar and rum pairings come from history or from movie characters. I usually aspire to put together pairings where I can learn, along with our readers. For this issue it was very obvious to me where the inspiration was going to come from, this pairing is dedicated to a powerful figure in the rum industry, someone who has left us with a plethora of good memories and a legacy for many generations of future rum consumers, all this through his brand. I am referring to the unforgettable Silvano Samaroli.
I will not talk about his life and all that he achieved because, to be very honest, I only had the pleasure of knowing him during the last three years. I met Silvano at the judging table at the Show Rum, a rum festival in Italy. What impressed me more than his experience with his brand, was his love for cigars, rum and whisky. I still remember coming out of bars, after long and exhausting blind tasting sessions, seeing him standing outside the hotel, smoking a Habano. Every time I ran into him I tried to give him one of my Habanos, he liked high body, rich flavor cigars, so I tried to give him exactly that, from one cigar lover to another.
This pairing is made using one of Silvano’s rums, the Samaroli Demerara 1990, bottled in Scotland in 2015, paired with a Partagás Serie D N°6 (90mm x 50) from Cuba, from the same box where I took the last cigar I ever gave him.
I know this is not a very straight forward pairing, but I simply had to do it. What can I say about the Demerara 1990? It is a very limited edition, aged 20 years in a barrel, very aromatic, with raw sugarcane notes, raisins, prunes, tanned leather and subtle tobacco crate notes. This is a distilled spirit that envelopes our palate with its rounded and complex body, from the first sip until the last one. This rum was bottled at 45% ABV, selected from barrel number 18, only 340 bottles were produced and this pairing was done using bottle number 50.
Regarding the cigar, above and beyond the fact that it was the last I shared with Silvano, it is true to high-intensity, short-smoking sessions, ideally suited for a robust, full-bodied rum like the one in front of me. Demerara rums are, after all, notorious for their high congener content, much higher than the majority of the rums from the Caribbean.
It is time to light up the cigar. My palate was already “calibrated” due to the couple of sips of rum, coated with dried fruits and slight vanilla. The rum’s alcohol strength tends to make us perceive the tobacco notes as if they had a medium to high body and, in fact this is what happened. The small Partagás was not left behind, it was short, had an excellent draw and with its aggressive character it was perfect for this rum. I still remember the day after I gifted the cigar to Silvano, he asked me about it, telling me that he had really enjoyed the gift.
When smoking a Partagás, it is hard to have a pairing where the distillate is stronger than the tobacco, like when using a Scotch Whisky or a very old and complex Armagnac, but rums like this Samaroli are up to the task, like the aforementioned spirits, the rum’s after taste lingers pleasantly for what seems like an eternity.
Due to its length, the cigar behaves like one third of a larger format. The smoking pleasure is derived more from the rum and how it evolves, which in this case involves a lot of notes of dried fruits in the after taste, very reminiscent of the complexity, rather than the sweetness, of the great cellar wines.
It was a brief smoking session which brought me very pleasant memories. There is a saying in the cigar world that cigars should not be put out, that they should be allowed to die with dignity and so it is that I feel that both the cigar and rum paid fitting tribute to you, Silvano Samaroli. I know by now you are sitting down somewhere in heaven, snifter in hand, smoking a cigar.
Philip Ili Barake
-Article written by 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).