Por Larranaga Belicosos Extra Regional Release Asia Pacific 2008 (EMA JUL08) - Angostura No 1 Cask Collection ex-Bourbon Cask Rum
I am embarrassed to say that this is now the fourth time I have paired the Por Larranaga Belicosos Extra RR Asia Pacific 2008 (EMA JUL08, from Box 19 of 7,400, which is not quite as good as Mini-Smithy shipping off Rob’s prized box, numbered 1 of 5000 of some RR or LE or other – never gets old), for Kenfessions. They have proved slightly variable, with the most recent, prior to here, the superstar of the bunch. The bottom line, if we may elevate it, is that this one was close but a slightly lesser cigar, with apologies to the old American fairgrounds where the phrase originated – for those who failed to win a prize.
I did some research on a number of sites about this smoke. My favourite line was from Halfwheel – to paraphrase, it came from an era when Habanos was actually releasing the RRs on time. Doesn’t that seem a long time ago. Worth noting that it was also a time when distributors could have more than just one cigar as a Regional. And in 2008, Asia Pacific had two – the other was the Bolívar Short Bolívar.
This was in the early days of the program – it kicked off in 2005 – and it was still feeling its way. That said, there were some really good cigars released back then. This is a personal favourite.
It came in boxes of 25 and is 140 mm long (5½ inches), with a ring gauge of 52.
For me, a lovely start with some of that delicious PLPC caramel. Very soft and smooth, as one might hope from a quality cigar of more than a decade’s age. Has length of flavour and also notes of cinnamon. Notes of cereal/oatmeal and some milky coffee. A little bit of a mixed chocolate profile, with a hint of white chocolate but more milk chocolate. For me, 94, which I think is a point less than the last one.
I have found more spice in some past examples but no matter, this was lovely. Nicely balanced. Some might see it as inoffensive, but I tend more to the subtle complexity it offers. A slightly creamy texture and sits under medium-bodied.
The rum was even better, if one can compare apples to oranges. Angostura is based in Trinidad and Tobago (as a kid, loved getting stamps from there), apparently the only distillery there. They kicked off in Venezuela in 1824 with their bitters. In the 1870s, three of the family moved to Trinidad and then, 100 years later, acquired an esteemed local distillery.
In 2013, they released the first of a new line of rums, the ‘No 1 Cask Collection Series’. The first was the No 1 Cask Collection ex-Bourbon Cask Rum, here released for around $150. It was very much aimed at the premium end of the market, with only 9,600 bottles made for the entire world. The second release was from French Oak Casks (a little more prevalent at 15,030 bottles for the planet). The third is the No 1 Oloroso Sherry Cask, with 16,200 bottles.
This one, in the former Bourbon casks, spent between ten and twelve years maturing. 40% and comes in a protective tube, although all of this is most likely of academic interest only, as you’d be extremely lucky to find any still available.
For me, complex and balanced but rather subtle. While there is some enticing sweetness, it is not overdone by any means – no doubt, thanks to the fine balance. Nuts, honey, a hint of caramel, toffee and the merest whiff of smoke. Nectarines and mangos. Really good length. This is a superb rum (an easy 96 for me).
It is a thrilling cigar rum and worked brilliantly with this smoke. The flavours of the pair went hand in glove. Absolutely in sync. In the custom of two different drinks for every cigar, I had a good malt all set to go, but this was so perfect that there seemed little point.