Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Bumbu XO Rum

Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.

Bumbu XO

Bumbu is an old brand, founded in 1893 in Barbados and they make rum based on the old recipes from the 1600s and 1700s. The name is Bahasa Indonesia and means ‘blend of spices’. Using an Indonesian word may sound strange for a Caribbean product, but several sources claim that rum actually originated in South East Asia and that the rum made from molasses and sugarcane is a direct relative of the South East Asian Arak.

Bumbu XO Rum, is an eighteen year old rum from Panama. Or it is a blend aged up to eighteen years. It is distilled in Panama, at the  Don Jose Distiller in column stills and then ages in ex-bourbon casks before a finish in Spanish White Oak Sherry casks. The black bottle with the big X makes a cigar smoker think of Opus X instantly. Let’s hope that the rum is as good as an Opus X by Arturo Fuente.


The nose has quite some ethanol for a rum with 40% abv. But behind the ethanol there are fruity notes, toffee, vanilla and spices. There is a spiciness to the flavour, under the sweetness. The sweetness is raisin-like with toffee, coffee and vanilla flavours. The short finish has spicy, woody and coffee. This is a decent sipping rum, nothing special but also not offensive. A cigar with some coffee notes would be a nice pairing as it will enhance the coffee in the rum. West Tampa Black is a cigar that comes to mind.


Now if you google for the Bumblebee cocktail you get a lot of different recipes. Layered cocktails with either Irish Cream or with coffee liqueur, there are mocktails with that name too, but that is not the one we are making. The Bumblebee that I am drinking comes from Charles H. Baker’s The South American Gentleman’s Companion but with a slight twist. Instead of using 45ml of Jamaican rum and 15 ml of another Jamaican rum, I’ll be using 60ml of Bumbu XO. The book stems from 1951 but reprints are available on Amazon.

The three drops of bitters that float on top are pretty dominant in the flavour, although there is citrus as well with the fruity notes from the rum. The cocktail is very balanced and the egg white provides a nice and creamy texture. The sweetness of the rum and the honey balances the tart of the lime out, while the bitters provide debt. The rum plays a part on the background with its fruit, toffee and coffee flavours. This is not an overcomplicated cocktail, and you don’t need an overcomplicated cigar with this. The Buffalo Ten from Artista Cigars for example, or a Steenbok (a small Dutch brand, made in Honduras). Juan Lopez for the Cuban smokers would be a nice choice.

And now for the Bumblebee recipe:

2oz or 60ml of Rum
¾ oz or 22½ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 oz or 30ml of honey syrup
1 egg white
3 drops of Angostura bitters
Garnish: orange peel

Put rum, lime juice, honey syrup and egg white in a shaker.  Shake vigorously. Then add ice and shake again until chilled. Strain into a coupe or a cocktail glass, garnish with an orange peel and 2 drops of Angostura bitters.

La Guildive

I must admit, I don’t know anything about the history of this cocktail and I could not find anything either other than it comes from the Smuggler’s Cove book and was created by a bartender named Martin Cate. But the recipe looks great, I mean, ginger beer, rum, cinnamon and Liquor 43. Sign me up baby.

The cinnamon is the strongest aroma, but I love the aroma of cinnamon so I don’t mind. The fruit of the rum, the vanilla from the Licor 43 and the spice of the ginger beer are also present in the nose. The ginger beer provides a spice that cuts through all the sweetness of the rum and other spirits. When I saw the recipe, I wondered of the syrup wasn’t missing but I have the answer, this cocktail is sweet enough. But not sour enough. That last part is a good thing when it comes to pairing with cigars though. Any medium bodied cigar will be fine with this cocktail, smoke what you like, but I would not waste one of my better cigars on this pairing.

And now for the La Guildive:

1 ounces or 30ml of Ginger beer
½ ounce or 15ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
½ ounce or 15ml of Licor 43
¼ ounce or 7½ml of peach liquor
2 ounces or 60ml of dark rum
pinch of cinnamon
Add the ginger beer in a chilled coupe glass. Shake the lime juice, liquor 43, peach liquor and rum in a shaker with ice. Strain on top of the ginger beer and sprinkle with some cinnamon. Don’t leave out the cinnamon as its more than just a garnish here.

Inspector X

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