Wine and cheese, whisky and steak; a drink needs a good companion like water for chocolate. And the folks at Stolen Rum — a New Zealand-based rum crafter collaborating with an undisclosed distillery in Angostura, Trinidad — know that good rum gets chummy with a good cigar. But this is just the jumping-off point for their new spiced rum, Coffee & Cigarettes.
The idea seems a little much at first. Coffee and rum is one thing, and that one thing is Kahlua. But most wouldn’t want to chase sweet Appleton with harsh, bitter nicotine. Sure enough, Coffee & Cigarettes ain’t for everyone. As one colleague remarked: “It tastes like rainwater from an ashtray that was left outside.” Ouch.
As one colleague remarked: “It tastes like rainwater from an ashtray that was left outside.” Ouch.
As GP’s resident rum-drinker, I was a little less harsh. (Or a little more biased; that’s up for debate.) Admittedly I was hoping for the spirit to be as sweet as the nose suggested — like a buttered bar of dark chocolate. When the first sip went down, it did taste a bit like that drunken first taste of Newports. But like a choking smoker, this spiced rum just needed to breathe. And also like said amateurish smoker, the rum is relatively young, aged two years minimum — but that works in its favor, foregoing a heavier mouthfeel so that the already strong flavors aren’t overpowering. The Arabica coffee beans with which the rum is aged are amplified by the molasses flavors you’d expect from rum, evoking fresh grounds, and are softened slightly by the Madagascar vanilla. The bourbon barrel aging and fenugreek both make themselves known in that ashy aftertaste — easily the most divisive quality of this bottle, and the result of the rum being passed through American hardwood smoke. An ice cube helps soften the blow, though perhaps not enough if you’re significantly put off by the flavor.
In the field of spiced rums, Stolen Rum Coffee & Cigarettes tastes as unique as its recipe. And like most spiced rums, most people won’t want to drink it on its own, which is why Stolen recommends using the spirit for Bloody Mary’s and White Russians; the latter sounds interesting, but as for the former, it seems unlikely that anyone would want to taste the hair of both dogs. If you’re a rum drinker looking for something new, it’s worth experimenting with a bottle; otherwise, it probably won’t become a habit.