I’ve been pairing rums with cigars for some years now. My method is pretty random. I choose a cigar I want to smoke and a rum I want to drink. They are both always good, and sometimes I get lucky. The rum noticeably enhances some element of the cigar’s profile or more rarely the cigar does something for the rum. The reason the latter direction is more rare is simple. Let’s face it, smoking, especially cigars and pipes, dulls the palate. Smoke desensitizes our taste buds and the delicate nerve endings in the nose. The whole point of the drink (alcoholic or otherwise) is to wake up those taste buds and aroma sensors so they are ready for the next puff.
I’ve had dozens of rums over the years and many more different cigars so the number of combinations is very large. To my great surprise and delight this particular pairing was more interesting than usual.
Dos Maderas 5+5 is a triple aged rum. Blended from Barbados and Guyana rums, it spends 5 years in Oak casks in the warm Caribbean, 5 more years in Spain in sherry casks, and then 2 more years in older sherry casks (why don’t they call it 5+5+2?) according to this rum ratings site. The rum is dark and sweet but not overly sweet and sherry notescome through clearly in the taste.
The Roma Craft Neanderthal (the one pictured is the SGP vitola a short robusto (4.25×52) sporting a Mexican San Andreas maduro wrapper, Connecticut broadleaf binder, Nicaraguan fillers (according to this review from Stogie Guys) and also Dominican leaf and a Pennsylvania double ligero! It packs a wallop in both flavor and nicotine strength, a very delicious cigar.
So I poured the rum and lit the cigar enjoying the first quarter inch or more while the rum breathed a bit. I took a good sip of the rum (delicious) and then another puff of the cigar. That’s when the magic happened! The cigar is normally a flavorful mix of sweet leather, roasted nut, dark coffee, and a rich sweet woodiness. But the flavor after sipping the rum really popped! Not just some of the profile, but all of it! My tongue tingled in the smoke. That has never happened before. Not just one or two elements of the cigar’s profile became stronger, they all did. Sweetness, leather, nuttiness, coffee, and everything else was enhanced! I was amazed. No pairing I’ve tried so far between any rum and any cigar had this kind of dramatic effect! I thought maybe this first hit was a fluke, but as I continued to smoke the cigar and sip the rum it happened every time down to the last half inch of the cigar!
The rum is moderately expensive (by my standards) in the $40 range and the cigar is also expensive (around $9 at the box level) but if you have a chance to try this combination I highly recommend it. I have one other vitola of the Neanderthal (the petite corona from the Roma Craft Sampler) and I’ll see if the combination works the same with that one. There are other vitolas of the cigar as well. If anyone tries one of these Neanderthals paired with a glass of Dos Maderas 5+5, I’d appreciate hearing what you thought!