Cohiba Robusto - Equipo Navazos ‘La Bota de Ron, Number 65’
Well, as they say in the classics, talk about a weekend to rip the Funk out of your Wagnall’s.
Sport does tend to get in the way of deadlines, but I had planned a good cigar and rum to watch the Broncs in their big semi-final against the Eels.
Elsewhere, the fifth Ashes test (the Ashes is the contest between Australia and England for cricket played every couple of years alternating between countries and usually over five five-day tests, and therefore represents world supremacy – it was so named as when we beat them for the first time back in the 1880’s, someone allegedly burnt the bails and put the ashes in a small urn, which is now the trophy); the Lions in their first AFL prelim final for 15 years; the Gunners v Watford (surely…?) and then the Skins against the Girls tomorrow morning. A good chance that it all might go terribly pear-shaped.
The Lions lost a thriller. The cricket has been stupid – sending them in on that pitch should be a criminal offence but the misuse of the review system and dropped catches screamed of a side that, having won the Ashes (the most important thing in sport, if not life), just wanted to be on the plane home. The Gunners are dodgy at best in away games, and injuries already piling up, so I fully expect to wake up to the news of a loss to bottom of the heap, Watford (to make it worse, Man C are letting Liverpool run away with this, losing to Norwich when a good mate of mine, a Norwich fanatic, was actually over there for the game and will never let me forget it), and the chances of beating the hated girls are dismal at best – I reckon if we win the toss, that will be our only victory.
Now (and yes, I will get to the cigar and rum very soon), the Broncs. Ordinary season but they did make the semis – Lord knows how. But they beat the Eels a few weeks ago. The Eels were wooden-spooners last year and we had every chance. Half-jokingly, I told Rob at the start that this could be a 50 point loss. I was wrong. 58 – 0. For our American brethren, imagine last year’s Browns thrashing the Pats in a playoff by 50 plus. And the Pats not even scoring. It was that bad. The Broncos, one of the greatest teams of the last 30 years, suffered the biggest loss in their history. It was the biggest finals loss by any team in history – around 100 years. And the cherry on top was that I was so disgusted by yet another try that I dropped my cigar on the carpet and sent ash across the place. Special.
The cigar, a Cohiba Robusto of indeterminate age but I am guessing 2-3 years, was in the bag of seconds Rob kindly left for Kenfessions. The wrapper was a touch pockmarked, but the cigar was very good. Not often a CoRo isn’t. Started with dark flavours, chocolate, blackberry, liquorice. Dense and plush smoke. Moved into lovely chocolate flavours. Then wonderful creamy coffee notes and finished with a hint of caramel. Well, in truth, it finished on the carpet but that aside, a cracker. 95.
The rum? Very rare (I just managed to grab the last remaining bottle in Australia and no more is coming, so unless you happen across it on a list, then your chances are slim – turn up here with a suitable cigar and just maybe…). It is the Equipo Navazos ‘La Bota de Ron, Number 65’. Amazing stuff. If I may go straight to the bottom line, last time I tried this rum I gave it 98, but I had not remembered that before drinking it. I gave it 98 again.
The Equipo Navazos team are making some of the most exciting wines, sherries to be specific, on the planet – well, technically I guess one would say they are negociants rather than makers, as they buy casks of aged sherries, usually peacefully resting in the dark corners of local bodegas, and blend and bottle. They occasionally venture forth to try their hand at other styles. And have done so here.
Allow me to expand on Navazos. It all started innocently enough. Originally, Jesus Barquin (a criminology professor at the University of Granada) and Eduardo Ojeda (the technical director of Grupo Estevez, better known as Valdespino, although there is more to it than just that) were simply two mates who shared a love for sherry – a profession for Eduardo and a passion for Jesus. It was never intended to become a commercial operation.
They had many similar sherry-phile friends around the world. The two them would often tour the various bodegas. Needless to say, they had great contacts and saw many brilliant casks, most of which a normal visitor would never get near. On one such visit, back in 2005, the pair identified a special amontillado in the Ayala cellars (no relation, sadly), surplus to the producer’s requirements, which had been ageing for twenty years. They decided to purchase it, bottled 600 bottles, and shared it amongst their friends, naming it ‘La Bota de Amontillado’ after the Edgar Allen Poe story. It was “No 1” – all their wines and spirits are numbered in the order of production. We are now into the 80's. The following year, another two sherries were located, bottled and shared with friends.
Over the following years, more followed. Word spread. Quickly. The international wine community has taken to these brilliant sherries like never before. Now, every year, we see a handful of new releases from these guys. They are all sold on release, none are retained for museum purposes or a subsequent offering, although sometimes the casks may produce a further sherry, bottled as a discrete release. Production is naturally very limited. Some may reach several thousand bottles but others, only a few hundred. For the entire world.
Also, needless to say, prices for these sherries are strictly upper echelon. Those of us who consider ourselves Navazos-philes will grab a bottle here and there, when we can. The chances do not come along too often. But then, nor should they. These wines are very special. They have been referred to as the DRC of fortifieds.
They have also dipped their proverbial toes into spirits with the very occasional whisky, brandy and rum. I also managed to get one of their last two brandies, No 64. A mate got the other one.
La Bota 65 is also from an old Oloroso cask. It was bottled back in May 2016. The alcohol comes in at 44% and the rum is estimated to be between fifteen and twenty years of age. It is ‘unchillfiltered’, which might be a new word, and there are no additives of any kind. No colouring, sweeteners or aromatics. Typical of all Navazos releases.
First, more bad news. Only 800 bottles were made.
It originates from the same series of butts that saw their first efforts (they had done one rum before this one), but this is a single cask bottling and the alcohol has been moderated to 44%, not the original 51%, more in line with usual rum practices. The team refer to it as ‘more civilised’ and as “a textbook example of the ideal iron fist in a velvet glove”. That butt was fully emptied for the 800 bottles, so there is no more. This is not a ‘magic pudding’ (an old Aussie children’s book where one could eat the pudding and it would always replenish itself).
The original source was 32 casks of rum from the Antilles which spent five years in bourbon barrels and was then transferred to the newly-emptied oloroso casks. This is one of them, specially selected as being able to stand alone.
Dark colour, lovely aromas, real complexity. There are notes of plums (not something I normally think of with rum), salted caramel, dried fruits, spices, figs, chocolate and stonefruits. A really seductive texture. Lovely length and the finish is clean as a whistle. No cloying at all. And again, 98.
This rum and the CoRo were a near perfect match.
And while the rest of the weekend’s activities might have been a crapfest, this was special. And we still have the Ashes, so not all is wrong with the world.