You see the word “vintage” in a cigar’s name – but what does that actually mean? Go beyond the marketing-speak and get our close-up look at the tobaccos used for premium cigars, what constitutes a true “vintage cigar” and our 10 top “vintage” picks.
2019 CA Report: 10 Best Cigars to Pair with Rum
When I’m hanging with my cigar loving buddies, the libations of choice are generally split up between Scotch, bourbon, rye, or craft beer, but no one ever seems to break out a good rum. Well, during the holidays, I was given a couple of bottles of incredibly tasty rums and I just never realized how amazingly well they pair with a good cigar. Many years back, it was known as the drink for sailors and men who braved the high seas, but several centuries later it has become a refined spirit enjoyed the world over.
Rum and cigars are an absolute natural as the flavor profiles create a perfect marriage on the palate and to the senses. While there are a number of types of this glorious elixir, only the darker aged rums pair best with a good smoke – white or clear rums are sweeter and are generally used for mixed drinks and cocktails. The rums that are meant for sipping with your sticks: Gold or Pale Rum, Dark Rum, Navy Rum, Spiced Rum, Premium Aged Rum, Vintage Rum, and Overproof Rum. (Rob’s Rum Guide online is a great source for detailed descriptions and the properties of these liquid treasures.)
So, what exactly is rum? It’s a distilled spirit made from either pressed sugar cane juice or fermented molasses, with its first known production dating back as far as 5,000 years. The darker rums (best suited for pairing with cigars) are barrel aged (longer aging increases its complexity), giving them sweet notes of molasses and tropical fruits. They are distilled at 80 proof, not less than 40% alcohol by volume. There are a good number of rum producing nations, but it all began in the Caribbean Basin. Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the US Virgin Islands, Martinique, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic are all known for their body and flavor, but there are outstanding rums also produced in Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and even in the U.S.
The rums that are meant for sipping with your sticks: Gold or Pale Rum, Dark Rum, Navy Rum, Spiced Rum, Premium Aged Rum, Vintage Rum, and Overproof Rum.
The following is a list of 10 outstanding cigars that I have paired up with equally flavorful rums. You’ll notice I have picked all full-flavored cigars that stand up wonderfully to dark, molasses based rums. Hope you enjoy the list and I’d love to hear some of your favorites in the comments below the article. And may I say that the Cuba Libre I had on my Jeep tour through the Dominican jungle, may just be the most refreshing drink I’ve ever had.
Camacho American Barrel Aged
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Full Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
This amazing tobacco specimen was my personal pick for cigar of the year when it launched. The dark and oily Pennsylvania-grown leaf on the outside and a 6 year, bourbon barrel-aged Corojo inside, give it the sweetness of dark cherries and espresso.
The Rum: Zacapa 23 – crafted in Guatemala, this light mahogany beauty is a mix of spirits ranging from 6-23 years. With notes of honeyed butterscotch, spiced oak, raisin and vanilla, it’s best sipped neat or with one large cube of ice.
Oliva Serie V Maduro
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Full Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
This Maduro is a very limited edition cigar made by Oliva and one well-worth seeking out. With its Nicaraguan Habano filler and San Andres wrapper, this V displays notes of very dark chocolate, nuts, and butter toffee.
The Rum: Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva – I’ve seen this Venezuelan referred to as “the rum for Scotch and Cognac drinkers.” Aged for 12 years in small oak casks, this exquisite spirit displays notes of bitter dark chocolate, charred sugar and cinnamon.
Balmoral Añejo XO Oscuro
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Full Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
It’s a refined and luxuriously creamy smoke with some nice sweetness. With fillers from the DR, Brazil, and Nicaragua, and with that stunning San Andres wrapper, you get a complexity that is just so inviting.
The Rum: Mombacho Ron 21 Years Port Wood – a luxury smoke should be paired with a luxury libation and this golden colored gem has a wonderful sweetness from being aged in bourbon barrels then finished off in barrels previously used for Port wine.
CAO Amazon Basin
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Full Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
It’s an exotic cigar made with tobacco from 5 different countries, including the rare Braganca leaf, grown in the Amazon rain forest. This one is earthy with notes of leather and wood and gets a whole lotta pop from that Ecuadorian Sumatra ligero wrapper.
The Rum: Flor de Cana Centenario 12 Years – This golden brown rum from Nicaragua is best when hand warmed in a brandy glass. It’s a true dessert drink that’s velvety smooth with notes of fruit and a wonderful nuttiness.
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Full Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
The name translates to “no compromise” and Steve Saka never does when it comes to full-flavored cigars. Oh, it’s full-bodied all right, a gorgeous looking specimen with notes of dark rich cocoa, espresso and a tangy zip from the Mexican outer leaf.
The Rum: Parce – This is a 12 year-aged rum hailing from Colombia that has delectable notes of wood and caramel that is derived from bourbon barrel aging. When you add a little ice, it opens up with subtle hints of sweetness and spice.
RoMa Craft Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion 1794
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Full Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
RoMa Craft Tobac is making full-flavored blends that have captured the hearts and palates of so many smokers. It’s not strong, mind you, just a whole lotta big taste. Notes of charred wood, sweet and peppery spices, and espresso makes this one hell of a serious premium.
The Rum: Mombacho Gran Reserva 15 Years – I’ll pair this Nic stick with a delicious Nicaraguan-made elixir. Considered a “high-class” rum with complex notes of licorice, cocoa, vanilla, and yes, tobacco. Yum.
HVC First Selection Broadleaf Limited Edition
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Full Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
If you haven’t heard of this cigar, well, it’s time you did because it is one of my top 5 in the past year. The core tobaccos are all Aganorsa-grown Nicaraguan leaf and the Broadleaf wrapper is dark and sweet.
The Rum: Coruba Dark Rum – This Jamaican treasure is dark in color but lighter on the palate. You’ll find tasty notes of dark bitter chocolate and baking spices.
Origin: United States Strength: Full Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Pete Johnson’s Miami is made in extremely limited quantities, and is off the charts delicious. Wood, leather and espresso tell your taste buds to smoke as many as you can – it’s that good.
The Rum: Plantation Original Dark – Aged in oak barrels, it’s distilled in Trinidad and then it’s shipped to France and mixed with 15-20 year old Jamaican rums. Interesting complex notes of brown sugar, pineapple and tropical fruit are just amazing.
Inferno by Oliva
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Full Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
The dark and oily Nicaraguan Habano wrapper makes you want to pull this immediately from the box and fire up. It’s incredibly smooth and complex with a flavor profile of black coffee, spice and a hint of cinnamon. You really should try this cigar.
The Rum: Gosling’s Black Seal – It’s a very well balanced Bermuda distilled spirit, complex and incredibly fragrant. Butterscotch, vanilla, and caramel give it a soft sweetness with a long finish that leaves you wanting more.
La Aurora Preferidos Double Barrel Aged
Origin: Dominican Republic Strength: Full Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
This is an old-time perfecto shaped cigar crafted in the Dominican Republic and housed in elegant bronze tubes. It’s earthy with notes of oak, and yeah, there’s a hint of rum, which made it into this article for a reason. The presentation is gorgeous and only 1.500 boxes are produced.
The Rum: Facundo Paraiso – A high end cigar will go quite nicely with an insanely high end rum. Walnut, dark fruit and a creamy oakiness lace the palate and is meant to be slowly sipped and seriously enjoyed. At $280 a bottle you’d better damned well drink it slow.