Above: a roller at Graycliff (All photos by CJ)
This edition of Rum Journal heads to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, for a voyage deep into the world of rum and cigars — two pleasures that frequently go hand in hand.
The centuries-old Graycliff is home to the Caribbean’s first five-star restaurant (and a boutique hotel) and the site of a growing luxury brand.
It has also been producing some of the world’s top cigars since 1997, first under the stewardship of the late Avelino Lara, the onetime personal roller of Cuba’s Fidel Castro.
While Graycliff has expanded its brand beyond its hotel — with a series of airport cigar lounges and even its own watches, the location on West Hill street in Nassau remains one of the region’s luxury havens.
Rum Journal ventured to Graycliff to sample its rum-and-cigar journey, which combines a rum tasting flight with a chance to roll one’s own cigars at the company’s new 4,000-square-foot factory, which debuted earlier this year.
The trip began with a visit to the factory and a personal rolling lesson with one of Graycliff’s Cuban-born master rollers.
Next came a five-flight rum tasting, progressing from Cruzan from the Virgin Islands, to the old reliable Pusser’s Rum from the British Virgin Islands, Ron Abuelo from Panama and two from Guatemala: Montecristo and Zacapa, the latter of which Rum Journal wrote about last month.
The tasting begins with a history of rum and an exploration of the rum-making process.
Next it examines the various flavour profiles, strengths and aromas of each rum, moving progressively from lighter rums to those more potent. Tasting the rums in a row, from the lighter Cruzan to the very strong Pusser’s, followed by the more complex Central American rums — gives a unique experience — and one accessible both to the rum expert and the novice.
The rums can be even paired with some of the chocolate Graycliff makes a few steps away. Or, of course, accompanied by the aroma of a freshly-rolled, freshly-lit cigar.