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Raising Cane

Rum Makers Are Elevating Sugar's Nectar to Higher Levels
Jack Bettridge
Posted: August 1, 2000

(continued from page 5)

SANTA TERESA 1796 RON ANTIGUO DE SOLERA (Venezuela)
Perhaps the most complex of the rums in the tasting, the medium-bodied Santa Teresa shows flavors of lime, licorice, spice, wood and leather, before finishing with a velvety honey. It consistently paired very well with all the cigars. Santa Teresa made the La Flor creamy and took on a delicacy and subtle sweetness of its own. It also brought out the leather finish on the Hoyo and did the same for the Ashton.

HAVANA CLUB ANEJO RESERVA (Cuba)
A distinct rose-and-honey aroma sets up the senses for the mixture of cloves, spice, Earl Grey tea and floral notes that come from this full-bodied Cuban rum. The cooked vanilla finish is a pleasant addition. Its sugary quality overpowered the La Flor, however, and the rum itself took on a Scotch-like taste. Both became more tart in the deal. Suitably, the match with the rum's Cuban cousin was sublime. The rum became more muscular and the cigar's earthiness came out. Havana Club also made an excellent pairing with the Ashton. Fruit, spice and floral notes came out on each, and the cigar generated more energy.

MOUNT GAY EXTRA OLD (Barbados)
Vanilla and citrus notes are at the forefront of this straightforward, medium-bodied rum. Over ice it becomes more sugary. An oily finish gives it a velvety texture. It paired better with the La Flor than any of the other rums, making the cigar woody and leathery and taking on a flavor of crème brûlée itself. Conversely, it paired worse than all the other rums with the Hoyo de Monterrey. They conflicted from the start, resulting in a muddled heat. But Mount Gay redeemed itself against the Ashton, with a very good showing, making the cigar seem sweeter and toastier, and displaying its own ginger qualities.

RHUM BARBANCOURT ESTATE RESERVE (Haiti)
From the start, velvety vanilla, coconut and honeysuckle are the primary expressions of this full-bodied rum, yet it finishes with a slight petroleum taste. That chemical note disappeared when paired with the La Flor, which took on some extra spiciness in the transaction. Again, the Barbancourt was a very good partner with the Hoyo, giving it more of its earthy barnyard characteristics and gaining floral notes. The marriage with the Ashton wasn't as fortunate. While the cigar was nuttier, the rum burned.

R.L. SEALE'S (Barbados)
A light tangy rum with a fiery hot nose, Seale's is perfect for lunchtime consumption or when sitting by the pool. It's candy apple and pear notes open up over ice. Surprisingly, the pairing with the milder La Flor Dominicana was only fair to good, the rum becoming more delicate, but the cigar becoming sour. The Hoyo was a very good partner, perking up the rum and taking on sweet cedar and spice notes. The Ashton was only a fair partner, although the rum helped bring out a nutty character in the cigar.

APPLETON ESTATE JAMAICA RUM V/X (Jamaica)
Another delicate rum, Appleton is full of honey, apple and pear notes, with a ginger finish that's a bit rough. It paired very well with the La Flor, giving the cigar a creamy almond flavor. The pairing wasn't as fortunate with the Hoyo, however. While the Cuban seemed to bring out cedar notes on the rum, it became gassy itself. The marriage was better with the Ashton, which brought out the depth of the Appleton's floral notes and became nut-like and well rounded in return.

CRUZAN SINGLE BARREL ESTATE RUM (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands)
To the nose, Cruzan seems like Cognac with a pronounced oakiness. On the tongue, it is nowhere near as full-bodied, manifesting orange, cinnamon, licorice and honey. A middling partnership with the La Flor, in which rum and cigar seemed not to relate at all, was followed by an excellent match-up with the Hoyo. The rum made the cigar cedary and leathery and the cigar returned the compliment by giving the rum fruit and honey notes. While the marriage with the Ashton was very good, the Cruzan got the better of the deal, gaining apple and caramel notes.

GOSLING'S BLACK SEAL (Bermuda)
Licorice and molasses are the up-front impressions from this dark rum, but beyond the initial cough-syrup assault are subtle flavors of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. It was a very good partner with the La Flor, giving it a leathery quality and taking on spice. It wasn't quite as good with the Cuban, which dried out a bit even as it gave the rum spice. There was a good synergy with the fruits of the Ashton, but some heat on the finish.

RON FLOR DE CANA CENTENARIO 21 EDICION LIMITADA (Nicaragua)
A complex medium-bodied rum, the Flor de Cana greets the palate with a big sugarcane taste and syrupy texture, then expresses notes of honey, vanilla, caramel and cream, before finishing with a taste of camphor. As good as this rum is, it did not fair well with the cigars tasted. It overpowered the milder-bodied La Flor. It didn't seem to be communicating with the Hoyo. The Ashton and Flor de Cana created a medicinal aftertaste.

RON DEL BARRILITO THREE STAR (Puerto Rico)
A rich core of maple syrup and caramel inform this medium-bodied rum. Its nose hints at candied fruit and toast, and it delivers on the tongue with a velvety full body. While the Barrilito generally overshadowed the La Flor, there was a moment of caramel on the cigar that made it a worthwhile tasting. It was a little better than fair with the Cuban, showing more of its pear qualities. This rum was probably best with the Ashton, giving the cigar a taste of apple and nuts, but losing something in the exchange.


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