Photo by @Cigarili
Philip Ili Barake, Cigar Sommelier, pairs Mount Gay Extra Old Rum from Barbados and Perfecxion X Cigar from the Arturo Fuentes Opus X line from the Dominican Republic.
The Navy Tradition
Throughout countless years, rum has been tied to seafaring in general and to stories of pirates and corsairs in particular, all indelibly intermingled with rum. For this reason I decided to put together this cigar pairing, to celebrate the launch of Mount Gay in Chile. The Mount Gay distillery is the oldest continuously producing rum distillery in the world, operating since 1703. Barbados was a leading rum producer in the Caribbean during the 17th and 18th centuries; the island’s location and the dominating trade winds in the area, made it particularly hard to sail there. Sailors who did achieve the task, would prove it by taking back with them a barrel of Mount Gay rum, something easily done then, but considerably more difficult to do today due to international customs and taxes.
The launch of Mount Gay in Chile took place along the coastline of Algarrobo, at the Cofradía Náutica del Pacifico, as part of the Mount Gay Regata, a tradition with long standing that unites these two historical elements: rum and sailing.
For this significant occasion, I selected the Extra Old Rum with a strength of 43%, which is a skillful blend of rums of different ages, each one of which contributes towards the final blend with its uniqueness of character. The rum’s brilliant amber color gives us a hint as to the amount of time spent in the barrel, something that is quickly confirmed during the olfactory analysis, showcasing a very inviting, long- lasting dry-oak component which effortlessly combines with the rum to produce very enjoyable sweet caramel notes. This is an excellent rum to pair with a cigar.
To match the quality of the rum, I had to f ind an equally formidable cigar. I selected Perfecxion X from the Arturo Fuentes Opus X line from the Dominican Republic. This is a cigar with a 48 ring gauge and 6 ¼” in length. This “puro” is a masterful blend of tobacco leaves all from the Dominican Republic (most of the cigars made on the island are blends of tobaccos from many countries). It also has a special wrapper produced especially and exclusively for this product line. It features aromas of fresh and aged tobacco, intermingled with high quality cocoa notes, crowned by the classical and unmistakable Opus X band and encased in cedar liner to maintain its quality.
When it was time to light the cigar, I did so very pragmatically, with a catalytic lighter, being careful not to over bur n it as to avoid the formation of undesirable aromas. I have enjoyed all the cigar s in this line and Perfecxion X was not an exception.
During the first couple of minutes it showcased very subtle tobacco notes mixed with coffee beans and hints of caramel. Obviously these notes are magnified by the rum as you sip it, something that is quite enjoyable, especially the oak notes from the rum. The mouth finish at this point is medium and very harmonious for both the cigar and the rum.
As I approached the second third of the cigar, something very familiar started to happen, something I had experienced with the other cigars from the Opus X line: the cigar’s body started to become more pronounced and bold, I experienced a thoroughly developed tobacco (referring to the curing and fermentative processed undergone during its aging). This is a cleverly designed and crafted cigar and the ring gauge allows for an excellent draw.
While the tobacco mesmerized me, the rum also played its role without hesitation: the initial notes of dry oak with caramel transformed into sweeter aromas of dry fruits such as figs and raisins. These aromas are developed further by the cigar pairing, certainly they would not be as enjoyable if I tasted the rum alone.
I toast to all the sailing traditions and to all rum drinkers around the world. The history of rum and the oceans are, without a doubt, written on the same paper, with the same ink. A story that speaks of the discovery of the Americas, embellished by sparks of bravery and skill such as those from Admiral Nelson and the daily rum rations of the sailors. It is impossible to talk
about the history of rum and sailing and not mention Mount Gay, I am happy for its arrival in Chile.
I hope you can carry out this excellent pairing in the comfort of your own homes.
Philip Ili Barake