As I drove into Kilkee, I tried to imagine the thoughts of Ché Guevara as he arrived at the Marine Hotel Bar some sixty years ago. True, the weather is a little different to that of Havana, but the warm welcome and friendliness of the people is very similar, as is their ability to party.
We were there to celebrate the meeting by chance of two men Jim Fitzpatrick and Ché Guevara which resulted in the image created from a photograph of Ché which became known throughout the world.
What better way to celebrate the event, but with a Cuban rum and cigar evening. So to the Greyhound Bar we headed to be met by the manager, Keith, who did all in his power to make us feel welcome for the scheduled 6pm to 8pm tasting.
Local interest was aroused when Rob Fox arrived dressed as the inimitable Ché. and sporting a very respectable 1998 Romeo y Julieta Churchill cigar. One bystander questioned the quality of the cigar, and on being told by me that they were rolled on the thighs of virgins, retorted with the speed that you would expect from a Clare man ‘Sure, ’I’ve rolled on the thighs of virgins meself’.
Now to the business part of the evening, in the esteemed company of her Excellency, the Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, Teresita Trujillo Hernandez, we sampled Romeo No 3 Tubos and Havana Club Anejos Especial. Fox’s chose this selection as a Romeo No3 is the perfect smoke for the novice smoker new to Cuban cigars. This cigar has flavours of wood with a subtle tangy, grassy aftertaste. For those who required something a little more robust, a box of 1998 Romeo y Julieta Churchills was on offer. What a cigar! Perfectly constructed, this is complex with flavours of vanilla, coffee, nuts and herbs, and offers a remarkable creamy smoke.
Havana Club Añejo Especial is a premium golden rum, a blend stored for up to five years in the ageing cellars of Havana Club. An intense rum with a round and persistent finish. Its nose is an intense aroma, reminiscent of sugarcane with slightly smoky accents and hints of honey, vanilla and cinnamon. It is best enjoyed (as we did on the night) straight or on the rocks.
Enough of the business side of the night, whilst we enjoyed the wonderful combination of Cuban cigars and the craic, we were entertained by the excellent Havana Ché’ Cuban band. This talented group played with such energy, and included a diverse selection of numbers, from the Beach Boys to the Buena Vista Social Club, which had the crowd swaying and dancing salsa well into the misty Clare night.
This was a well organised local event with a truly international flavour. I hope that it will become a date to be marked on the October calendar for the future.