What’s in a word?
The word zafra is one of those rare, ubiquitous words that shows up in vocabularies all over the globe, and while not always spelled exactly the same, it always has the same meaning: harvest. More specifically, it refers to the sugar cane harvest or harvest time. The word comes from Arabic, although there is debate over whether it comes from zafar meaning “harvest” or sa’ifah meaning “gathering time.” Either way, the word comes to the Western languages along with the spread of sugar cane itself, thanks to the Arab conquest and influence throughout the Mediterranean. Eventually, sugar cane and the word for harvesting it make the first trip from the Canary Islands to the New World via Columbus’ second voyage to Hispaniola (Dominican Republic & Haiti). Today, the word zafra not only means harvest or harvest time, but in slang it is also synonymous with financial windfall and good times — the Spanish version of “living high on the hog.”
What’s in the bottle?
When Gardner Blandon, co-founder of Zafra Rum, set out to create this world-class spirit, he enlisted the help of a renowned Cuban “maestro ronero” who could expertly employ timetested Cuban rum methods. This required only aging in American oak barrels and using singleaged rums as opposed to solera-aged rums. The result is that the 21-year age statement on the bottle means that the rum in the bottle is 21 years old, not a combination of ages averaged out to 21. To meet the American oak barrel requirement, Zafra selected Bourbon barrels so that the rum is aged in Bourbon casks from its first day of aging until the day it is bottled. The difference is noticeable from the moment you nose the rum. The “Bourbonesque” quality is unmistakable.
On the nose, Zafra 21 is loaded with notes of butterscotch, fruit, oak and spice. The oak and spice on the nose are like a combination of Bourbon and Oloroso Sherry and give this rum a unique and intriguing quality. In the mouth, the Sherry characteristic really kicks in, giving it a beautiful balance of dry, oaken Sherry flavors along with rich toffee, vanilla and a touch of banana.
Cigar Pairing: Oliva Serie V Melanio
Zafra has a profile that lends itself to being paired with just about any medium-bodied, flavorful cigar. Having said that, the way that the rum’s butterscotch, vanilla, and oak are so elegantly amplified by the Oliva Serie V Melanio is a thing of beauty.
Mixer: Fever-Tree Ginger Beer
A tasty summertime cocktail will make you look like the well-traveled, cultured, rock star of the pool party. The hack is to use a premium mixer to give your easy cocktail a pro taste. Try a simple cocktail by mixing Zafra with Fever-Tree Ginger Ale 1-to-1 on the rocks. To kick it up a notch, go with Fever-Tree Ginger Beer and Zafra, this time 2 oz of the rum to 1.5 oz of ginger beer on the rocks but squeeze the zest of an orange peel into the drink, rim the glass with the rind, then drop it into the drink. Boom.