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While National Cigar Day was Feb. 27, the celebration of a good cigar can happen every day. Enjoying a cigar is a great way to slow down and it’s the same with a good drink. But what about pairing a drink with a cigar?
To find this out, we spoke with Eduardo Bacardi, Director of Sales and Marketing of Ron del Barrilito, to learn more.
Hops & Spirits: For those unfamiliar, what exactly is a cigar?
Eduardo Bacardi: It is a rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco leaves made to be smoked. Cigars are produced in a variety of sizes and shapes. The cigar components include: the filler, the binder leaf which is often, the highest quality leaf used.
HS: Often, a cigar and a drink go together. What is the draw for that?
EB: It is a ritual of smoking a cigar and pairing it with a good quality aged rum or spirit, like Ron del Barrilito 4 stars. The pairing indulges the palates of aficionados, producing joy, the pleasure of tasting both flavors, and helping unwind and release stress. It is also a social moment to share quality time with friends.
HS: For those who might not enjoy rum, what should they look for?
EB: Rum over the years has gained the reputation for being a mixer, given that the vast majority of rum that is consumed worldwide is a white, minimally aged product intended to be mixed with other ingredients. Understanding the difference in flavor profile, character, and processes that differentiate white rums from aged premium rums is critical for consumers to realize that these products belong in completely different consumption occasions.
Our premium aged rum, Ron del Barrilito 3 Stars, garners an entirely unique flavor profile given its aging for up to 10 years in ex-oloroso sherry barrels imported from Spain. Given that Pedro Fernandez, the brand’s founder, was so heavily influenced by European spirits such as cognac during his creation of Ron del Barrilito, it is no surprise that this rum bears a profile that resembles spirits outside of the normal connotation of “rum”. Many consumers first experiencing Ron del Barrilito will mistake it for a cognac, brandy, or even a scotch based on its unique profile and taste.
HS: How does Ron del Barrilito differ from other rums on the market?
EB: Ron del Barrilito is a super-premium offering that stands apart from all other rums on the market. The processes put in place for preparing the rum date back the 1800s, when Pedro Fernandez returned from Paris after studying chemical engineering at a prestigious university. He returned to his family estate, the Hacienda Santa Ana in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where he started to craft different versions of rums using techniques that he learned in Europe.
By 1880, he eventually would finalize years of rum tinkering and create Ron del Barrilito 3 Stars, making it the oldest rum brand still existing in Puerto Rico. Since then, it has been made in the same place, and in the same way, by the same Fernandez family. Everything is hand crafted in small batches utilizing an all-natural maceration process. The rums are then aged 100% of the time in white oak barrels that previously aged Oloroso sherry in Spain. The water that is used throughout the entire process is natural rain water, which is harvested on the Hacienda Santa Ana.
Different from many rums, Ron del Barrilito adds nothing prior or post-aging when it comes to sugars, caramel coloring, or artificial ingredients. The bottles continue to be hand labeled and packed by the team here, and all at a unique 86 proof, or 43% ABV. Overall, Ron del Barrilito breaks out of the typical profile of aged rums, as it incorporates techniques that span across different spirits categories and has been produced in the exact same way for nearly 150 years.
HS: What’s the proper way to pair a rum and a cigar?
EB: Looking for a cigar that does not overpower the rum. Aficionados look to enjoy the flavor of both the cigar and the rum in a perfect pair. Balance is the key to pairing cigars with rum. One should not outdo the other. Instead, they should enhance each other. For that, we match with the body to compliment pairing notes. So if you are smoking a full-bodied cigar, you should also look for a drink that is also full-bodied to go with.
HS: For those who don’t love rum (or spirit straight), what’s a good mixed drink for a cigar paring?
EB: The Rum Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that serves as a great crossroads between consumers with a palate for sipping and mixology. In the case of this cocktail, the whiskey is replaced with a premium aged rum, in this case, Ron del Barrilito 3 Stars, which shines when paired with the bitters and sugar in the cocktail. As a rum with a strong woody backbone, notes of sherry, and a natural fruity sweetness, it serves as the perfect product for this spirit-forward cocktail that allows for a sessionable, enjoyable experience.
Find out more about Ron del Barrilito at https://rondelbarrilito.com/