Ron El Rumbo Cuban White Rum Review, Recipes & Pairings

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. They were kind enough to sponsor Cigar Inspector with samples so we can write about pairings.

Ron El Rumbo Cuban White Rum

Ron “El Rumbo” is distilled in Cuba and the base is Cuban sugar cane from the sun-drenched sugar cane fields of Cuba. That’s where its character comes from. The alcohol is distilled in one of the Islands oldest distilleries, the molasses settles in for the first year of aging of the “Aguardiente” (Aqua Vitae). This is followed by two more years in American Oak barrels, after which “its course” is set. After this, the rum travels to the to Snowdonia Distillery in Wales where the liquid is placed into freshly emptied Cognac casks seeping with the richness of the previous spirit. From there the Cuban rum will then be transferred to these hulking great barrels whose spirited perfume fills the air! It rests and embraces the characteristics of the host for a period just long enough to adopt the elusive mystery of the cognac. When it emerges from these sleepy months it is bottled at 50% ABV. Ron El Rumbo won a silver award at the London Spirits Competition 2022.

Of course, to get to know a spirit you have to try it straight. And in my experience, to get the best out of a new liquid it to pour it into a Glencairn glass as the shape will give you the most concentrated aroma. On the nose this is a strong spirit with lots of alcohol and apple notes. It tastes fresh and minty with a hint of pepper. There is peppermint and liquorice in the aftertaste. But to be honest, this is not a rum I would pick if I want a sipping rum, but it is great for mixing. Way better than the mass-produced Bacardi for example. But if you drink it straight and you want to pair it with a cigar, I suggest you go for something medium bodied with floral notes.

The world’s best known white rum cocktail must be the mojito. It’s Cuba’s most iconic drink so it feels right to make this cocktail with the Cuban Welsh spirit. On the nose it is minty, there isn’t any trace of alcohol. The cocktail itself is fresh, minty with a nice acidity and sparkling. It’s summer in a glass. Normally cocktails with a lemon or lime base aren’t the best for a pairing with cigars, but since the citrus is not too strong in this cocktail, it works well with a cigar with woody tones. I was smoking the El Artista Puro Ambar Legacy, but it was the old blend before the 2020 reblending and artwork redesign. That pairing worked really well.

Mojito recipe:

2 tablespoons of sugar

10 mint leaves
1 lime cut into 3 wedges
1 ½ oz or 45 ml of Ron el Rumba
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.

One of my favourite cocktails is the daiquiri, I’m with Ernest Hemingway on that. But that is a lime forward cocktail which makes it very hard to pair with cigars. Therefore I opted for a daiquiri variation, the frozen strawberry daiquiri. Due to the shape of the glass, there isn’t much on the nose but the strawberries make this a sweet and fruity cocktail and they make the rum taste very smooth. A nice mild to medium or medium bodied cigar will pair well with this cocktail. I am thinking about a Cuban Juan Lopez #2, a Rocky Patel Grande Reserve or even a K by Karen Berger Connecticut cigar.

Frozen strawberry daiquiri recipe:

125 grams of frozen strawberries
30 grams of fresh strawberries (you can use all frozen strawberries but then your cocktail will be more like a slurpy)
15 ml or 1/2 oz simple syrup
60ml or 2 oz of Ron El Rumba
30 ml or 1 oz of lime juice

Place all the ingredients into a blender. Blitz until all the strawberries are done, then adjust the lime, sugar or rum to your liking. Pour in a coupe glass and enjoy. You can garnish this with a fresh strawberry or a lime wheel.

Alright, a bonus cocktail then, the classic Cuba Libre as that is also a rum cocktail invented in Cuba. This cocktail is as good as it is simple, the result is so much more than the sum of the components. You can still taste the rum, there is the tardiness of the lime and the nice mixture of cinnamon, vanilla and all the other flavours of the cola, with the nice carbonation. This cocktail is balances and none of the flavours are overpowering. Any medium bodied or even full-bodied cigar can go with this friendly and easy cocktail. From a smooth Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure to a strong and earthy E.P. Carrillo Pledge, this cocktail is a friend of all cigars.

Cuba Libre recipe:

15ml or ½ oz lime juice
60ml or 2 oz Ron El Rumba
120ml or 4 oz Cola
Ice

Pour the lime juice in a Collins glass and then fill it with ice. Add the rum and then the cola, stir gently and enjoy, You can garnish the cocktail with a lime wheel.

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