Flor de Caña, Nicaragua’s trademarked “Slow-Aged” rum, is getting a bit of a facelift in recognition of its growing popularity across many markets. The brand, now available in 40 countries, has added 20 percent sales each year over the last decade.
The new look is intended to show off the rum as “unique, modern and superpremium,” according to managing director Robert Collins. While labels are curving and sleeker, many of the touchstones of the traditional bottling remain: a display of its awards and the cameo showing a railroad tracks passing between palm tree towards distant mountains. However, the new labeling emphasizes the base product, with etched sugarcane in the glass. The San Cristobal volcano, around which the cane is sourced, is the graphic centerpiece.
The brand, which dates back to a distillery built in 1890, is made from molasses and distilled in column stills. Aging is a big factor for the rum, and even its clear rum has been aged four years (it is filtered to give it its appearance). Last year the company introduced its oldest regularly distributed rum, a 25-year-old that has been sold exclusively on the duty-free market, but is planned for expanded distribution in the United States.
The company also markets seven-, 12- and 18-year-old rums. We chose the latter as the focus for this week’s pairing with cigars.
FLOR DE CAÑA CENTENARIO 18 (80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol by volume; $49.99 a 750-milliliter bottle)
APPEARANCE: Rich orange/amber color; thick, quick legs.
NOSE: Very sweet and fruity aroma with orange peel and honey. As the nose wears on there are slight hints of roses.
PALATE: The pronounced maple syrup on this rum will have you craving pancakes. Give it a second and then the second wave comes, filling in the palate with rich orange hard candy, then honey, then spice.
FINISH: Finally, as the flavors round out at the end, an unexpected bonus of macadamia nuts appears on a very long finish that seems to then renew the flavors from the palate.
CyB Lonsdale Club
(6 1/2 inches by 44 ring gauge, $8.45, 89 points, Cigar Aficionado June 2014) This veiny lonsdale forms a very solid ash as it burns. The draw is firm but delivers a toasty, nutty smoke that becomes herbal with notes of juniper and sassafras. Paired with the rum, the cigar fairly blossoms from what was already a solid product. Out come leather notes. The toast blooms with hints of coffee. The nuts get deeper and more resonate. As for the Flor de Caña, its syrupy quality grows beyond sugary flavors to show off its nutty finish, but without the wait. Interesting things going on here.
Tres Reynas Torpedo
(6 inches by 54 ring gauge, $7.95, 90 Points, Cigar Aficionado October 2013). Mesquite and hickory notes buttress some hearty earthy and ground coffee flavors. The finish carries touches of black pepper. While the above cigar took most of the benefit in the former pairing, the tables turn here, with the Tres Reynas conferring new flavors that hadn't been evident of the Flor de Caña. A wider spectrum of fruits appear in the rum, with apples and pears suddenly more dominant than the orange notes. Caramel and toffee also edge in. The cigar gets some sweetness, but itself seems to be the greater benefactor. Fascinating to see how one rum can switch roles with different cigars.