Photograph by Danna Bordali
Oliver and Cuba PairingPhilip Ili Barake brings us "Oliver and Cuba" in the Tobacco & Rum section of the October 2013 issue of "Got Rum?" magazine.
Oliver and Cuba
Dear rum and tobacco lovers, for this month’s pairing I want to present you something classic from a rum producer from the Dominican Republic. This company has managed to operate and maintain traditional Soleras with a few personalized differences, but with a very well-defined character that gives all its products a recognizable DNA. I am, of course, talking about Oliver & Oliver and, for this pairing I hand-picked two of their finest: Ron Punta Cana Tesoro and Opthimus 25 Year Old.
It is impossible for me to talk about these two rums without remembering all my travels throughout the Dominican Republic. I have so many pleasant memories permanently etched into my brain. I conducted this pairing at the mecca for smokers in Santiago, Chile: Casa del Habano at the W Hotel.
When I started looking through their selection of cigars, I came across one brand and presentation that captivated me to such a degree that I could not turn it down, it was the Diplomático Number 2, a fairly recent brand with only about 60 years in the market, very similar to Montecristo (in both character and shapes/sizes). Those who know and enjoy this brand of cigar know that there is much more beyond its paper ring and presentation: these cigars have an extremely good draw and a unique blend of tobacco leaves that make them unique. Fortunately for us connoisseurs, this brand is not well known among neophytes, so we get to enjoy them whenever a box is available in the market.
First lets discuss my rum selection:
• Opthimus 25 Year Old Rum: This rum has a rich and brilliant mahogany color, the aroma has hints of dry fruits and toasted hazelnuts, surrounded by very enjoyable caramel notes. The finish has mocha and freshly rolled tobacco elements, very well balanced and harmonized, all trademarks of the finest aged rums.
• Ron Punta Cana Tesoro: After the rum’s primary aging in Bourbon barrels, it is given a secondary aging (or finish) in Single Malt barrels. The color is very similar to that of Opthimus 25, but the nose is somewhat more spicy and has notes of wet oak. In the palate it has notes of caramel and toffee, the finish is slightly shorter than that of Opthimus.
Both of these rums pack surprises and wonderful revelations, choosing a winner is clearly a difficult choice.
Now it is time to light up the “Habano”. I am referring to the cigar this way, because it meets all the criteria from the Cuban Origin Denomination for qualifying brands. Perhaps some of you would have preferred that I paired this cigar with Ron Diplomático from Venezuela, but we’ll leave that discussion for another time.
The cigar ’s draw was truly magnificent; it seemed to have been aged for precisely the right amount of time, plus a couple of extra years in the box. The taste was fresh, very alive and it excelled paired with both rums from the very first sip.
Both rums’ caramel notes paired perfectly with the cigar, but with Opthimus 25, the coffee and cream notes come through while smoking the cigar, giving this rum a slight advantage over Punta Cana. This advantage was accentuated even more as I progressed into the second third of the cigar, leaving no doubt in my mind as to which rum I wanted to end the day with.
The most pleasant aspect of this pairing was the place where it took place, since the tranquility of Casa del Habano permeated the place and allowed me to focus on the task at hand. I am sure you will find this same tranquility at every Casa del Habano throughout the world.
Philip Ili Barake