At Cigar Snob Magazine, we’re in the business of tasting and scrutinizing, be it cigars, food, wine, or spirits. After a particularly good tasting, we’re always asking, “Did it change your life?” That’s our goofy way of asking, “Did it change your notion or understanding of what that product is and could be?” Think of something you tasted for the first time as an adult that made you change the way you looked at that product category. Maybe it was an artisanal salted caramel with the perfect combination of sea salt with rich, sweet caramel. Or perhaps your first real Chicago stuffed pizza; it’s obviously pizza, but it’s almost something else. In cigars it would be like smoking low quality, short-filler cigars all of your life and then smoking a super premium cigar for the first time. From that moment on, your understanding of what a cigar is has changed dramatically.
Back in our 10th Anniversary Issue in May 2016, we published a pairing featuring the Zafra Master Series Aged 30 Years from the 2015 limited edition bottling. To be specific, we had bottle 3008 of 6720. It was life changing, the rum of our dreams. It was sweet but not sugary, viscous but not syrupy, and balanced but never boring. So when Zafra’s owner, Gardner Blandon, asked if we’d give the 2016 bottling a taste we jumped at the chance.
He brought over bottle 0017 of 7920. After getting over the initial combination of shock and gratitude that we had bottle 17 of the bottling, we went to work finding the perfect match. We needed something that could stand up to this spirit without overpowering or masking the delicate notes of the long, boozy-sweet finish. We eventually settled on a box of My Father Le Bijou Box-Pressed torpedos that we’d been aging for three years. What ensued was a beautiful marriage of complementary products at the peak of quality.
Once lit, the cigar kicks open the doors with a bold assertion of earth, cocoa, and smooth pepper. We let the cigar settle into its groove and were able to pick up additional notes of coffee, cream, and leather. We drew in the smoke, retrohaled, then let the rest go. With the cigar’s flavors still lingering on the palate, we tasted the rum. The Zafra Master Series 30 is full-bodied and loaded with flavors of vanilla, oak, banana, and cinnamon complemented by notes of dried fruit and spice. The rum’s long, lingering finish begs for the next draw from the cigar and vice versa. Meanwhile the cigar’s earth and pepper goes toe to toe with the rum’s oaky vanilla, setting the stage for the complementary flavors to dance freely on your palate. A world-class pairing.