Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Plantation 3 Stars

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 has 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.

Plantation 3 Stars

Plantation Rum was first introduced in 2003 by the French distiller Maison Ferrand with the desire to bring rum to the same quality standards of the best Cognacs. Since then Maison Ferrand has been selecting, aging and blending rum from the best Caribbean distilleries for its award-winning Plantation Rum expressions. Barbados is the historical birthplace of rum making and Barbadian rum has been the backbone of Plantation vintage editions as well as its special blends.

Plantation 3 Stars is a tribute to the historic rums produced in the Caribbean, with a suave blend of the region’s three primary terroirs: Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad. While Barbados delivers richness and a balanced palate, Trinidad adds finesse and Jamaica provides an emphatic structure. The ABV is 41%.

Neat:

In a Glencairn glass this spirit has plenty of ethanol but with hints of coconut and guava. There is a bit of honey and spice as well, with a little coffee bean. The flavour is nice, bittersweet with dark chocolate, almond, sweetness and herbal flavours all with a creamy mouthfeel. Vanilla as well. This is a white rum that is actually pleasant to sip, much to my surprise. Of course there is a bit of a bite but as far as white rums go, this is the smoothest I ever had. Pair this with a creamy Connecticut Shade and you’ll have a nice combination. Try a Brick House Double Connecticut or a Nub Connecticut. Since there are no Connecticut Shade Cuban cigars, pick up a milder Cuban of you want to smoke a Cuban cigar with this rum.

Mojito

The classic white rum cocktail that even the people that don’t drink know, if only it was by name. There are many ways to make it, the way I do it is not the easiest, but I like it better than a version with lime juice and simple syrup. Somehow this feels more artisan.

The nose is mostly mint. But that’s no surprise as mint is a strong aroma and I garnished this cocktail with a mint sprig as well. The cocktail feels a bit dry, but the citrus versus sugar balance is spot on. The dryness comes from the carbonation of the club soda. The bitter sweet characteristics of the rum shine through and this is an awesome rum for a Mojito. Summer in a glass, fresh, refreshing but also dangerous as you don’t really taste the alcohol. This is a friendly cocktail and any mild-medium, medium, and medium plus cigar would do. From a Connecticut Shade cigar to a Corojo, Cameroon or Habano wrapper. I personally would not pair this with a Maduro wrapper as the maduro might be too sweet for this combination.

And now for the Mojito recipe:
2 tablespoons of sugar
10 mint leaves
1 lime cut into 3 wedges
1 ½ oz or 45 ml of white rum
Club Soda
Ice
Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler and crush to release mint oils and lime juice. Add remaining lime wedges and 2 tablespoons sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour in rum and fill the glass with club soda. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired.

Tea Amour

I know I used this cocktail before, when I paired Captain Morgan White Rum with a cigar. But I love this cocktail and wanted to see if a better quality rum would exponentially improve the cocktail.

The nose is sweet, peach of course, with lemon. The egg white creates a white frothy layer. The balance between sweet and sour is perfect, with a hint of tea from the syrup and coconut from the rum, as well as the complex bitterness of dark chocolate. The creamy mouthfeel is the finishing touch. Pair this with a nice cigar with a chocolate profile, such as the Alec Bradley Magic Toast of the CAO Session, or a coffee profile such as the Dominican Cohiba Riviera, Rocky Patel LB1 or a Montecristo Petit Edmundo for the lovers of Cuban cigars.

And now for the tea amour recipe:
1½ ounce or 45ml of White Rum
½ ounce or 15ml of Peach Puree
½ ounce or 15ml of Black Tea Syrup *
1 ounce of 30ml of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 egg white
Put all ingredients in a shaker and dry shake. Then shake again with some ice till well-chilled. Serve in a martini glass, garnish with some tea

*black tea syrup. Boil 100 grams of water with 100 grams of white sugar and 20 grams of black tea. Strain when the sugar is completely dissolved and store in the fridge up to several months just like regular simple syrup.

Banana Hammock

The Banana Hammock is a playful riff on the Banana Daiquiri by Dan Greenbaum at Attaboy, a cocktail bar in New York City. Some recipes ask for spiced rum, others for white rum. Some ask for banana syrup, others for banana liqueur. But this recipe I took from the Plantation website and I follow this recipe by the letter.

The aroma is already complex. Nutmeg, mint, citrus, almond and the coconut from the rum. The lime is quite strong, but not too strong to make this hard to pair with a cigar. The banana is there on the background, together with the rum notes. I’m not sure what the orgeat does more than just bring sweetness as the almond flavour is not noticeable at all. The float over overproof rum gives the cocktail extra body. The cigar to pair with this needs body too, so from Cuba I would go for a Partagas or Bolivar. For a new world cigar, the My Father Le Bijou is a great option as well as a Padron 1926.

and now for the Banana Hammock recipe:
1½ ounce or 45ml of Plantation 3 stars
1 ounce or 30ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
½ ounce or 15ml of Banana Liqueur
½ ounce or 15ml of Orgeat
¼ ounce or 7½ml of overproof rum to float
Garnish: Mint sprig, nutmeg, lime wedge.
Pour all the ingredients except for the overproof rum in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Float the overproof rum on top, garnish with mint, freshly grated nutmeg and a lime wedge.

Inspector X

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