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FOHcus - Series: In Search of The Ultimate Cigar, Spirit and Wine Combinations. Episode #1.

Ken Gargett


If the purpose of matching a designated cigar with a specific drink is to enhance the enjoyment of one or preferably both then pairing an aged Sait Luis Ray Double Corona with Appleton's 21-Year-Old Rum is hardly a big risk. Frankly, I am in the camp where you could link the SLR with mud and the Appleton with strips of hessian and I'd be happy. Together, magic.


The SLR was from 2005 and it has settled into a subtle, mildly flavoured yet complex smoke. Gentle hints of fig and spice but it never takes long for that tell-tale note of sweet apricot – sometimes dried apricot, sometimes apricot kernel and other times, ripe apricot fruit and even on occasion, a delightful apricot marmalade – to emerge. Every now and again, this can be a more general stonefruit character but for me, there are few cigars which offer such a definitive stamp as to their heritage. This cigar left me with burnt fingers and if one wanted to give it a score, for me, 97.

The Appleton 21? It is at the absolute pinnacle (in truth, they also have a 50-Year-Old rum but they only made around 800 bottles of it, I believe) of rums produced by this old and venerable Jamaican producer – the only rum producer of any real size and note in the world which can genuinely talk terroir, as the entire supply of sugar cane it needs for the molasses to make their rums is grown on its own estate – all 4,600 hectares of it. Others will source their molasses from farms and growers, as well as their own plantations, or simply buy them on the open market. 

This is a wonderfully complex spirit with an array of flavours – caramel, orange peel, walnuts, leather, nutmeg, white chocolate and plenty of spices. Not that I have been able to find confirmation, but my feeling is that the majority of rums used for blending for the final product come from the end of a distillation in a pot still, before we get to the overly strong fusel oil notes that must be discarded. It has the richness found there. Also, be aware that this is a rum which would be an ideal rum for those who don’t like their spirits overly sweet (alternatively, it would not suit those who like their rums with a reasonable degree of sweetness).

As a match, to be honest, the rum can handle a more powerful cigar than the SLR DC, but that does not mean it needs one. The complexity of both cigar and rum seem to fit together like hand in glove – iron fist in velvet glove, if you like. The caramel notes of the rum and the stonefruit of the SLR work a treat. This is one of those, surprisingly rare, occasions when both cigar and rum shine solo but together, take each other to new heights.

- Ken Gargett. 

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