Philip Ili Barake PhotoMay 2013 Tobacco & Rum Pairing by Philip Ili Barake. The pairing: Hacienda Saruro Rum from Venezuela and a Vintage 2003 Vitola Coronas Cigar by Sancho Panza from Cuba.
The Sweetest Thing
The inspiration for this pairing came from all the mothers around the world who’ve given life to and who’ve nurtured all of us.
From the beginning it was clear to me that this pairing needed to involve something with a sweet personality and that the cigar could not be aggressive so that it would make for a perfect companion for one very pleasant evening.
For this occasion I selected an aged rum liqueur from Hacienda Saruro in Venezuela. The rum was distilled using a pot still and it was aged up to 6 years.
Due to its high level of sweetness (between 70 and 100 grams of sugar per liter), this rum is categorized as a liqueur. But more than the sweetness, it is the complex notes of caramel, vanilla and subtle hints of fruit that make it stand out along with its alcohol content of 35% ABV (70 Proof ).
The question I had was what to pair this rum against. Almost immediately I knew I really wanted to crown the pairing with a chocolate soufflé, ideally one made with a Venezuelan chocolate that would match the rum’s country of origin. But what about the cigar? For this special pairing I chose a Vintage 2003 Vitola Coronas by Sancho Panza from Cuba, with a 42 ring gauge and a length of 142 mm, this is a local brand by Habanos SA., the oldest cigar in my collection at the time of the pairing. I’ve owned the box of cigars since 2003 and I kept it in perfect condition, so this is why I call this a “Vintage Cigar ”. Aging makes the cigar much smoother and mellow by reducing the ammonia and nicotine notes. The weight also becomes lighter when compared to “fresh” cigars from the store, due to loss of moisture and of the aforementioned elements.
As I prepared my palate for the pairing, I first tasted the rum liqueur. It was very well balanced, showcasing hints of honey and almonds, similar to what I would have found in a serving of Frangelico, with subtle notes of pistachios at the end, blended amongst dried fruits that linger in the palate.
Then the time came to light up my cigar. It started with smooth nicotine notes, followed by a touch of spice that slowly began to dissipate as I burned through the first third of the cigar. It became very clear that both products, thanks to their respective smoothness, were made to be enjoyed together. No other pairing could come close to celebrate Mother’s day more elegantly.
As you recreate this pairing, if you follow my recommendation and cap the experience with a chocolate soufflé, fresh out of the oven, then this pairing will be one you will never forget. The Hacienda Saruro Rum Liqueur has a finish with notes of burnt caramel and a very pleasant bitterness that combine incredibly well with the freshly baked soufflé.
Believe me, this pairing was one of the best ways to complete a meal geared towards Mother’s Day. I hope you enjoy it and remember it throughout the entire year, just like you should remember and celebrate Mother’s Day all year long.
Philip Ili Barake