Every year, the entire cigar industry gathers for the IPCPR Trade Show and Convention. As a magazine, we’ve been present at the show for the last 10 years, handing out magazines as well as reviewing all of the new products being released. When I say “new products,” that usually means cigars upon cigars upon cigars — but this year the show had a little twist. A most welcome twist!
As we were setting up our booth the day before the show opened, we noticed the booth for a company called Dictador (dictador.com) setting up nearby. The branding for the company was unlike that of most cigar companies; it looked like a giant Hugo Boss or Calvin Klein advertisement. Well produced black and white images with high-fashion styling, male and female models smoking cigars and drinking spirits. Not sure what to make of this company, we paid them a visit toward the end of the first day of the show.
We had just run through the new product presentation at General Cigar, where we had a chance to smoke the new Hoyo La Amistad by AJ Fernandez (hoyocigars.com) and instantly fell in love with the smoke. It had the characteristic AJ Fernandez pepper and earth, a touch of sweetness, and a very smooth and creamy texture. We were halfway through the cigar when we arrived at the Dictador booth. Instead of talking about their line of cigars, the first thing they did was pour a taste of their Dictador 12-year-old rum. It was a spectacular and serendipitous pairing! We eventually moved on from the rum and were able to sample their line of cigars as well, but the seeds for this pairing had already been planted.
You’ve heard this one before, but your best chance for success in a pairing is to match the levels of intensity first, then deal with the complementary flavors second. That’s the beauty of this pairing, the Hoyo’s pepper zing is met toe to toe by the rum’s caramel and honey sweetness. The best way to pair these two is to fire up the cigar first. The intensity of the pepper, earth, and cedar in the cigar builds as it goes, starting smooth and medium-bodied, then quickly ramps up after the first half inch. As the pepper noticeably intensifies and lingers on in the finish, that’s when the rum can really make its mark. The caramel, honey, and alcohol in the rum cut through the cigar’s core of pepper and earth beautifully.