Here`s a couple of exotic spirit syrups, they are made by Cent´Anni Spirit Syrups, created by Victoria D’Amato-Moran who hails from San Fransisco. I first met her at the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans back in 2009 and now seven years later I hold her new syrups in my hand ready to try them out, see how Tales brings people together!
She`s the daughter of a local bartender and started her career in the restaurant business and her family, the D’Amato-Moran’s family owned D’Amato’s Bar on the historical Broadway strip, and with her grandparents – who were talented chefs themselves – making wine, grappa, liqueurs and vinegars.
Victoria managed her cousin’s bar, Tony Nik’s, in North Beach in 2000, where she knew classic bartending and cocktail design would be her art, along with creating innovative syrups to compliment.
She entered and won her first drink competition in 2003, and voted the Best Sidecar Cocktail in 2005 by San Francisco Magazine, and now 21 successful winning competitions later, which includes the most recent WSWA Las Vegas 2014, the Las Vegas Nightclub & Bar Show’s, Battle of the Mixologists 2012 & 2013.
Victoria has created cocktail portfolios for a whole number of companies including Square One Spirits, Pur Spirits, Campari USA, Preiss Imports, Iconic Brands, Arta Tequila, and started from the ground up the bars and cocktail menus for among many more, the Michael Chiarello’s Bottega, Yountville, Gaston Acurios’ and La Mar Cebicheria San Francisco and currently working in Half Moon Bay at the historical San Benito Ale House.
She has been recognized for her work in many noteworthy magazines such as the Examiner, Gary Regans’ 2011 & 2012 Bartenders Guide, Tasting Panel Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Don Julio Recipe Book 2011, Natalie Bovis’ Garden Cocktails 2012, Pur Spirits Cocktail Book and many more and was assistant to Tim Federle’s Tequila Mockingbird.
Cent’Anni Spirit Syrups started in 2004 and were used in both cocktail menus and cocktail competitions. Getting these syrups to bottling has been a long journey and with the support of many fans, and 10 years in the making!
Cent’Anni Spirit Syrups will initially launch these three signature syrups: Lemon Spice, Pineapple Spice and Chocolate Chili Spice, offered in 750 ml. size bottles. Her syrups were created for ease of cocktail preparation behind the bar, for the home bartender, helping cocktail enthusiasts create delicious cocktails at home, and for culinary recipes. The syrups can be used with any base spirit as well as in cooking.
The complex flavor profiles will create innovative cocktails and enhance the classics as well as create wonderful non alcoholic beverages. These syrups are an exotic blend of spices, real juice, and pure cane sugar. The three new syrups are these:
Lemon Spice – Lemon juice and spices and tastes like concentrated lemon juice, very “zingy”!
Pineapple Spice – Pineappple juice, vanilla extract and lemon juice, has a mildly spicy pineapple flavor.
Chili-Chocolate Spice – Dark cocolate chips, orange juice, cocoa beans, cane sugar and dried cloves. It has a mild chili bite and hints of cloves and chocolate.
Here are three cocktails I made with these amazing syrups!
Saffron Sour (Recipe by Victoria D’Amato-Moran)
1 oz Cent’Anni Lemon Spice Syrup
1.5 oz Old Raj 92 Gin
1.5 oz Fresh Orange Juice
0.5 oz Velvet Falernum
4-5 Spanish Saffron Threads
Egg White from 1 Organic Egg
Add ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake hard 20 times. Add ice. Shake hard 20 more times. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish: Saffron threads
Well, I didn`t have saffron threads but I did have powdered saffron, it was still nice and added a lovely saffron flavor on the silky/creamy/foamy top of the drink…very rich and lush!
0.5 oz Cent´Anni Lemon Spice
0.5 oz Pineapple juice
0.5 oz Aperol
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 oz Aged Rhum Agricole
Dash Zulu Orange Bitters
Garnish Cinnamon dust and dried Pineapple slice
Glass: Daniel Gallardo
My take on Victorias “Rumway” which was named for the airport runway near the beach in Half Moon Bay. Well, this drink is named for the rum it contains which may lead you into the way of rum….
Chili-Chocolate Banana Daiquiri
0.5 oz Cent’Anni Chocolate Chili Spice
0.5 oz Cent’Anni Pineapple Spice
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Banana, well mature and thinly sliced
2 oz Appleton Extra Jamaican Rum
4 oz Crushed Ice
Blend in blender at high speed for 30 sec and pour unstrained into a fancy glass with ice.
Garnish banana slice cut diagonally.
1 oz Cent’Anni Chocolate Chili Spice
1.5 oz Ron Abuelo 12
2 oz Coconut Milk
Squirt of fresh lime
Add ingredients, to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frothy. Pour into a glass with ice. Garnish with a tropical orchid.
This is a twist of Victorias Chili-Spice Cream Soda but i didn`t have half and half or cream soda (not available here) so instead I used coconut milk. The drink tastes creamy rummy and coconutty with a hint of spice.
Conclusion: These are well made organic syrups fit for everything from cocktails to tikidrinks to culinary adventures!
For those who doesn`t know, the Facebook group “La Confrérie du Rhum” is now counting over 12 000 members and it keeps growing! when I wrote about their first rum La Confrérie Barbados 2000 in about a year ago the membership was 3600, so it has more than tripled in a year!
As a member of this group since the beginning and a regular visitor I can easily say this is one of the most talkative rum groups around, and there´s a lot of rum knowledge there, with – naturally since the group is french, a lot of rhum agricoles being discussed (and in between there´s everything else)
But Velier and Silver Seal rums also has a very strong presence as well since those kinds of usually cask strength, full proof, no-additives, one of a kind demerara, caroni and agricole rums are not only some of the best you can get on this planet but they have always been solid in Europe. Personally they were my favorite rums since years back.
If you want to explore the wonderful and interesting rhum agricoles, this is place to be, I have learnt so MUCH during my time there!
In early 2014, Jerry Gitany and Benoit Bail started secretly working together with the distillery La Favorite in Martinique and they worked on a special bottling dedicated to the group. Now almost 2 years later this “cuvèe” dropped just before last Christmas, in 2015.
This collaboration finally brought to a wonderful 20 years old agricole rum which was bottled, waxed and labeled by hand and packaged in beautiful boxes together with 2 tasting glasses branded by the distillery and the group. The price is 205 euro.
This single cask agricole rum is issued from 4 different casks and each bottle shows the cask which it´s issued from and it´s degree of alcohol on the label. There´s a limited edition of 1000 cask strength bottles at 45% ABV. It´s a one of a kind rum.
So here´s my taste notes:
Appearance: very beautiful dark mahogany.
Nose: The nose is round and full, there´s mature tropical fruits like juicy banana mash and peels, sugarcane, hints of florals and herbals, apricots, mango, aromatic and sweet…
Mouth: Deep….this rum is deep and very balanced. Notes of the same fruits as in the nose, hints of wood, it`s a dry rum and it has very pleasant dry aftertaste and is mild and smooth, really caressing the palate. In overall a well balanced, elegant and very pleasant rum to sip. Medium long and dry finish.
Thats it folks! if you can, go get it….it won`t last long.
La Confrérie du Rhum Facebook Group page is here and you can buy this rum at Christian de Montaguére, in his shop in Paris or by contacting Christian.
Two years ago was the first time I tried the Zulu aromatic bitters made by Laèrcio Zulu, bartender and mixologist from Brazil. I was always so fascinated by all the things he did, especially with all the fruits, roots, tinctures etc he did experiment with and he did experiment a lot!
Brazil is a country that really has an abundance of interesting fruits, roots and herbs, a lot I have never even heard about much less tried.
Zulu worked in São Paulo as a bartender for six years and one of the bars where he worked at was the Noh Bar, developing their cocktails and learnt to use such techniques as carbonization, aging and smoking. He also won the best bartender in Brazil in 2014 in the Diageo World Class, at the time working at La Maison Est Tombée.
He is now working with cocktail consultation through his brand Custom Cocktails – Bar Marketing, throughout Brazil and also making his bitters – Zulu Bitters.
Zulu is a master in making amazing cocktails, very often with his own exotic house made ingredients. The bitters I tried back then, this was 2013, was his first aromatic bitters and which have developed unto what I now have in hand along with a 5 year commemorative bitters, a barrel aged and an orange bitters.
A lot have happened since then!
Here he tells his his own story:
The first Brazilian bitter brand with Brazilian heart and soul took it`s first steps in September 2010, that`s when the Zulu Bitter brand was born and developed along with the career of its creator; Zulu Bartender. So, lets talk about this guy and his amazing journey.
Laércio Zulu, mixologist, was born in the state of Bahia (Brazil) and has been living in Sao Paulo now for 6 years. His work thrives on the values and appreciation for Brazilian ingredients, a reflection of his constant trips inside Brazil’s vast territory seeking for new flavors and sensations. This gives Zulu great knowledge about some ingredients that are unusual for the general public, but very common for the regular man in a small towns around his country.
Thinking about #valoresnacionais (national values), Zulu chases not only unusual ingredients, but also different ways to produce his cocktails, from using ants from the Amazon rainforest to shake cocktails in capoeira rhythm. Every detail designed to give classic cocktails a Brazilian twist.
He says: “My biggest goal is to show the real Brazilian flavors, not only by giving another direction for the use of tropical ingredients, that are, of course, very common in Brazil, but also going way further than that.”
This crazy guy got out of his small town in Bahia to be a bartender in Sao Paulo in 2009, taking American-style bartenders classes in schools like Bertones Bartenders and Flair Brazil, both already extinct, and started working in that same year.
From this point on, he got more and more passionate for mixology and immersed himself on self-learning and reading about it in every book or piece of information he could put his hand on. In the next year, things started getting bitter (LOL).
Before even begin his research of national ingredients, he felt the need to understand more about the history of mixology, how it was developed and how to produce ingredients from scratch.
He dived into classic mixology books, such as Gary Regan’s “The Joy of Mixology”, Tony Abou-Ganim’s “The Modern Mixology; David Wondrich’s “Imbibe”, Dale Degroff’s “The Essential Cocktails” and, more important, the very first cocktails guide: Jerry Thomas’ “The Bartender’s Guide” 1862.
All these readings helped Zulu to make sense not only how the consumer behavior changed through the years and how each region had its characteristics for consumption of mixed drinks. Most of all, he made sense of the real value of mixology and became fascinated with evolution of the techniques and how the mixed drinks took a very interesting place in society.
That’s when the so acclaimed seasoning (Bitters) steps in.
During the beggining of mixology, to talk about “bitters” was to talk about a “bartender’s secret”. It was the “special touch” for cocktails, responsible for bartender’s authenticity and personality in each cocktail. This concept sounded very well with Zulu and the idea of creating and producing his own bitters was born.
In the following article, Zulu explains his process:
For the technical side of production, I started producing a series of known recipes to understand how the infusions of different ingredients worked. These recipes are still very famous, like Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters, Boker’s Bitters and Gaz Regan Orange Bitters. I did this for innumerous times to get sense of the balance of the ingredients.
For each sample of the first batches (back in 2011), I always shared with professional bartenders who had my respect and admiration like Marcio Silva, Marcelo Vasconcelos, Marcelo Serrano, James Guimarães and Talita Simões to have an orientation, mostly because, until then, I had not tried many different bitter’s brands. The positive feedbacks were a great motivation.
After that, I started to buy several bitters online, because, in Brazil, Angostura Bitters was the only brand you could find. So, everytime I could find a different one I restlessly tried it and ran to my kitchen to produce new recipes for my bitters.
By 2012, I gave up on any imported ingredients, focusing just on local ingredients.
During my experiences, I divided three groups of ingredients to get the recipe I believed to be the face of Brazilian spice: As I tried commercial bitters with amazing textures, I added Brazil Nuts to the body of ingredients of Zulu Bitters. That gives the viscosity and shine I wanted in the mixture.
For aromatic complexity, cinnamon, guarana seeds and amburana seeds stand out. For color, jurema preta and cashew were up to the task. I believe that these three pillars are the main factors to say that Zulu Bitters does have Brazilian heart and soul… because to explain the “Axe” and the “ginga” that goes inside that little bottle, one have to know Brazil.”
That`s a great story isn´t it? I had to ask Zulu what Axe and ginga means and a little about his use of ants in cocktails because I find that very interesting (especially after I first tried amazing foraged cocktails made by Marcello Biancaniello with ants beer in them) and he explains it like this;
“I used Amazon ants in a cocktail during a presentation at the World Class 2014 Finals, in London. My intention was to combine the citric touch of the ants with my recipe of Gold Label Reserve Whisky, umbu reduction (Umbu is tropical fruit from Bahia) Abatetuda molass (an Amazonic island) and Zulu Aromatic Bitters.
Axe represents energy, strength. The energy giving and receiving. It is directly connected with the lifestyle of Brazilian people who believes in spirituality from african religions. Ginga is a lifestyle, its the Brazilian “swag”. Its also the movement that preceeds the capoeira game. Very related with people from Bahia”
So on my table here I now have four of his bitters, the aromatic, the barrel aged, 5 year commemorative and orange bitters, i`m gonna try to describe their flavors:
Very much what the name says – aromatic! there´s a lot of roots flavors and what I´d call “dark spices” but the color is light brown, it´s earhty, aromatic and at the same time brilliant and lively. It has notes of roast cocoa, dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, cinnamon, banana and dried spices.
A little bit bitter yes but not too much and well balanced, I don`t feel any specific spice taking over.
I can also imagine these amazing bitters in cooking…not just cocktail making! some of these aromatics on meat before grilling…
Woody and spicy, but definetily woody, well “barrel aged” right? but there could be other woods and roots in it as well, interesting flavor and very aromatic, very nice bitters, it has some kinda coffee and raw cocoa notes too, at least to me. The color is light brown.
Brilliant! with a tingling on the tongue! very strong flavor of not only orange peel but theres a lot going on in this little bottle. Mainly composed of Bahia orange peel, guarana seeds, cumin and balsam bark but there´s more than that. The color is dark orange bordering to brown and there´s hints of wood and roots.
It´s very tasty bitters. Perfect for lighter cocktails and would be great in some desserts as well and with grilled seafood.
These bitters aromatics are intense!
5 Year Commemorative:
Here´s astringency and very herbal flavor, my guess is that there´s some mimosa or chamomille in it. These bitters are aromatic and spicy and very very herbal, also the color, it´s light greenish-yellow.
I also have to mention his first aromatic bitters, they have a totally different flavor than the aromatics of today, it´s a different kind of woody flavor in them and they are still tasty after 2 years.
I must say that these bitters are all amazing and some of the best i`ve tried so far! he sure knows what he is doing….
Here´s a super cool cocktail from Zulu:
Boca de Lobo
50 ml Cachaça Leblon
20 ml homemade Castanha-do-pará cordial (Brazil nut cordial)
15 ml lime juice
15 ml Catuaba (a Brazilian bark)
4 dash Zulu Orange Bitters
Shaken together and served in a tiki mug with crushed ice.
I haven`t tried it yet…because I don`t have the Brazil nut cordial or catuaba beverage, which is a drink made from extracts of a plant found in the Amazon forest which also is an aphrodisiac and a famous one too, and it`s sold in bark form, as tea or beverage.
And how do you make a Brazil nut cordial? (here´s for going out and google again… :-)) but the recipe can also be seen as inspiration for using these bitters and the bark can maybe be substituted with something else or be omitted if you cannot find it.
Brazil nut cordial can maybe be switched for a homemade Brazil nut orgeat instead? it would totally change the flavor but it´s easy to make and Brazil nuts are usually available and I believe it would still be a good drink. Just don´t forget to change the ratios too!
I`d maybe do 2 oz of cachaca, 0.5 oz Brazil nut orgeat, 0.5 oz lime juice, 2 dash Zulu orange bitters and instead of the catuaba bark tincture, 2 dashes of the barrel aged bitters.
So where can people get these bitters from? because they cannot also be substituted…and frankly I have never tried any other bitters that are anywhere close to the flavors of these and naturally so since these contains local Brazilian ingredients…
For now it´s possible to buy them online (in smaller amounts) on this website – the website is in Portugese but can easily be translated with any of the online translation pages not sure if the online payment system works outside of Brazil but here´s the e-mail adress for inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org and here is his Facebook page.
And with these interesting and flavorful bitters I had to make a cocktail or two of my own to try them out:
2 oz aged Cachaca
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz banana syrup (made with grilled banana heated up with and then cooled in dark sugarcane syrup (you can sub with Giffard Banane de Brézil but check ratios if you do)
4 dashes Zulu orange bitters
Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.
Turns out rich and flavorful….
This is a classic Coconaut with the addition of Zulu Aromatic Bitters.
2 oz Cream Of Coconut (Real or Lopez)
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz Jamaican dark rum
4 dashes Zulu Aromatic Bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a coconut vessel or glass
with crushed ice.
Garnish with tropical orchid
Very very tasty!
The old and the new aromatic bitters.
Compagnie des Indes is a French independent bottler which was founded by Florent Beuchet has a solid wine and spirits background since he comes from a family of wine makers in Burgundy in France, so he naturally started with wine education and tastings and then travelled to the US and worked for Banks Rum in NYC as their Brand Ambassador for 2 years before starting his own brand Compagnie des Indes in 2014.
The idea behind Compagnie des Indes is to bring authentic rum from many regions with both blends of different countries as well as one origins and single casks showing the genuine character of the rums from each region.
The name Compagnie des Indes pays hommage and bring memories from days past when merchants from the East India Companies travelled to bring back precious and exotic goods from far away places. And in like manner Florent brings rums distinct to each region to us.
There´s a commitment to transpareny clearly stating on each label exactly what the bottle contains as well as the name of the distillery, bottling date, number etc – I want to se more of this!
Recently there were two tastings here with rums from Compagnie des Indes, both mixed in cocktails and neat. The range was nine different rums whereof five were single casks. Some rums were also at cask strength. In cocktails the rums are really nice, they mix very well but they also sip very well so they are versatile.
These are generally drier style of rums with no sugar or anything added except for a very few which has a lower amount of sugar or caramel but Florian is all transparent about it and from this upcoming year there will be no more caramel added.
The rums Florian brought to the tasting were these:
1 – Caraibe – A blend of rums from Barbados (mostly Foursquare) 25%, Trinidad 50% and Guyana 25% Aged for between three and five years in American white oak, distilled in column stills, no age statement. This rum is fruity and complex with hints of apricot, peaches and vanilla with a little peppery touch.
2 – Latino – the second of the blends, contains 60% rum from the Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala (who makes Botran and Zacapa) and then 40% Caraibe. It`s a light type of rum, typical for the Spanish types of rum or ron with caramel, toffee and vanilla aromas and a “coffee bean” like finish. Aged 5 years in American white oak.
3 – St Lucia – 13 years single cask, 43% This is a 100% pot still rum using molasses from Guyana. No additives except water. Spicy, warm and woody with a nice fruity finish.
4 – Martinique – 13 years single cask 44% from the Dillon distillery. No additives except water. Has been aged in the “more spicy” french oak, with more dryness and touch of smoke. This is a rhum agricole that is a bit less grassy on the notes than what we usually see with an elegant fruity flavor of ripe tropical fruits.
5 – Barbados 12 year old – pot and column still rum from Foursquare. This rum surprised me with very clear notes of the same flavors as I have encountered in the rums from St Nicholas Abbey. Now that in intself is actually not surprising since Richard Seale and Foursquare have made all the St Nicholas Abbey´s rums except for their latest 5 year old expression. But this is still the first rum I try apart from the very SNA rums that has those flavor notes, interesting….and of course – very nice aromas! kudos to Foursquare! and of course – No additives what so ever.
6 – Boulet de Canon n1 – A limited edition of rum aged in islay whiskey barrels. A refined blend of the Caraibe with 5 yrs rums from Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana, finished in an Islay whisky barrel for 8 months. Has an elegant touch of smoke and a nice finish. Boulet n2 is coming later this year and will be aged in peated whiskey barrels.
7 – Jamaica – 5 years, Navy Strength 57% Worthy Park, Monymusk, Hampden and then, a secret Jamaican distillery makes up this expression. Very nice and flavorful and smooth in regard to it´s proof. No added sugar or caramel colouring. One of my favorites in this bunch!
8 – Haiti 11 years, Barbancourt distillery. Cask strength rum 59.4% it gets better and better…has a round aromatic nose of what it comes from, the old stills at Barbancourt. Unfiltered. No additives what so ever. No added sugar, caramel colouring or water. Very aromatic, dry and fruity. Love at first sight…
9 – Guyana – And the last one, a demerara…(Port Mourant) Very nice and flavorful – but not heavy to my surprise since it´s a cask a strength rum at 58%.
There´s many more rums than these by Compagine des Indes, and especially interesting are a range of very attractive cask strength rums available only in Denmark.
This is a rum company issuing very nice expressions where many are single casks and many also interesting cask strength rums and most without any added sugar (and if they have some – it is stated clearly on the label) so these rums are worthy to look out for.
One last thing, I think the labels are absolutely gorgeous!!
Samaroli is an Italian private bottler of rums and whiskies since 1968. Silvano Samaroli made himself well known by selecting and bottling great scotches and rums. His rums are produced from single casks that are selected one by one and the rums are matured or partly matured in the cooler climate of Scotland.
There´s a whole bunch of new Samaroli rums for this year to try out and here´s two, one Trinidad Caroni rum 1999 cask #10 and a Demerara from Guyana, from 1990 and cask #18. Both are very interesting espressions and they have no additives and are brimming with flavors. I think even though the Caroni and Demerara rums are two different styles of rums, some of the Caronis, especialy the heavy ones reminds me in many ways of the old demerara rums even though each have their own typical distinct flavor profile.
It´s the depth of flavors and then something else, maybe that punch…because the light Caronis I have tried does not have that similarity with Demeraras at all. This Caroni here is not a heavy Caroni in terms of proof but in terms of flavor I think it matches the “heavy” ones.
Demerara 1990, cask #18, 45%
This is an Enmore demerara rum distilled in 1990 and bottled in Scotland in 2015 which makes it a 25 year old rum….it has been double aged, so partly in tropical climate and partly in the cool Scotland climate which brings something from both worlds.
What I get when I sniff in the glass is first of all wood….a lot of deep barrel hits my nose… then molasses, mashed overripe dark tropical fruits, tobacco, burnt sugar and leather, slight very pleasant hints of butterscotch and caramel…
It´s interesting to sit and smell the nose of rums like these because they are so complex and there´s a lot going on. Hard to put words on sometimes.
Taking a first sip the wood explodes in my mouth – old demerara rum barrel and it´s a trip back in time to drink it. There´s the flavors of the same tobacco and molasses notes as in the nose, burnt sugar and mashed tropical fruits, hints of vanilla, leather and earth. It has a deep demerara flavor and is very woody….almost on the way to be overpowering on the wood notes but it sits just right there before it becomes too much. Also it´s not on the sweet side which I like.
I love these old demerara rums as you know, there´s nothing like them and just like the old Caronis, never will be. And sadly, when these are gone they are gone….that is especially true for the Caronis since they are no more produced but it´s true also these single cask demeraras. This one for example, only 340 bottles were made.
These rums are collectors items.
So let it be sipped….
Trinidad 1999, cask #10, 45%
This Caroni rum was distilled in 1999 and bottled in 2015, so it´s 16 year old. It was first aged on Trinidad and then further aged in Scotland.
The nose is quite light and it´s pleasantly fruity and here the wood makes itself known but in the background, not upfront like the demerara rum. Sweet hints of succulent tropical fruits but the nose doesn`t really reveal what´s to come….
In the mouth this rum is absolutely gorgeous! it´s brimming with brilliant fruity notes and it has an aftertaste that I really like – a lot! Parts is wood and then there´s smething else. And there´s apricot, vanilla and maybe mango…and other mashed tropical fruits, hints of liquorice and it has a very pleasant dry finish.
Then that after taste…I cannot put words on what it is…but it´s so delicious…
Here´s another incredible Caroni, only 260 bottles were made.
The Caroni Sugar Factory
There were originally more than 50 different rums brands produced in Trinidad – by 1950 that number had reduced to 8 and today there is only one left – Angostura. Caroni was established in 1918 on the site of the old Caroni Sugar factory and operated until 2002.
The Caroni sugar factory started to operate a cast iron still in 1918 and at that time there were some eight or ten other sugar factories operating, each producing different types of rums and these rums were bought up by merchants and sold to rum shops all over the island. There were all kinds of “blends” and concoctions being made by both the merchants and the rum shop owners and sold over the counter as “petit quarts”
Eventually Caroni went from the original cast iron still to use a wooden coffey still – until 1945 when they got a copper still which was followed by a single column in 1957 and then a four column Gerb Herman still in 1980.
For nearly 100 years Caroni has had large sugar estates on the island and was the major producer of molasses. Sadly now since it`s closed no more of their magnificient rums are produced.
Pictures in this post are courtesy Rombo.
The two Samaroli 1999 Trinidad and 1990 Demerara (and others) can in Europe be purchased here.
FIBAR is the biggest bar Show in Spain and was held in Valladolid in a pretty cool building that looks like a giant football, the Cúpula del Milenio on november 17-19.
The first ever European Tiki Experience took place there on the tuesday nov 17th and it was for that I was invited to do a seminar about the history of tiki together with Oriol Elias from the Rum and Tiki blog Three of Strong. We made a seminar called “Paradise Lost, the Roots of Tiki” where we covered the history and roots of the American Polynesian Pop culture with all it´s past and present bars and bartenders, carvers, artists, writers, musics and what the tiki culture is all about.
We also raised a toast with Chief Lapu Lapus to Jeff Beachbum Berry in appreciation of all that he did to uncover the lost recipes and all the books he wrote containing history and recipes for a lifetime! because without him we wouldn`t have all these recipes resurrected today.
And he toasted us back….in a video he made back in New Orleans
The other speakers in the Tiki Experience were Sly Augustin, owner of the Tiki bar Trailer Happiness in London who made a seminar called “The Future of Tiki”, and Miguel and David Perez also know as the two “Brothers in Tiki” were talking about tiki bar and tiki products.
Thanos Prunarus, owner of the famous Baba au Rum bar in Athens did a seminar about the Anatomy of Tiki Drinks and Miguel Escobedo, (Kona Lei) did a seminar called “Tiki-Orama:50 years of Cocktails and Iberian Tiki”
Among the guest bartenders were Guillermo Uriel, bartender at Mahiki in London.
Pavon tiki mugs was also for sale and I was happy to be able to grab a few….they have some that are really cool like the big bamboo and the pineapple mugs, they also have a swimming vahine bowl that is pretty cool and another with a smiling tiki that looks very happy and drunk
One thing that I learnt at the Tiki Experience is that Tiki in Europe is most likely going to become bigger and bigger but be formed in it´s on fashion and inventiveness – but without losing connection with the traditions. I see a very exciting future for both rums and tiki in Europe…
A very interesting seminar that I attended was Luca Picchis seminar about the Negroni cocktail where he also presented his book “Negroni Cocktail an Italian Legend” which I also bought a copy of and I would recommend anyone who`s a lover of cocktails to get a copy, it´s a masterpiece.
Every night after FIBAR there was a party and good food to have…the bar to go to was El Nino Perdido, great cocktails and nice atmosphere! Bar manager at El Nino Perdido is Juan Valls, also the organizer of FIBAR Valladolid.
There were a lot more things happening at FIBAR but we had only one day of the three so the other things that happened at FIBAR I cannot write about…..but i`m very happy to been able to be there, it was a great experience and I met so many nice people both new and old friends and I hope I can be back again the next year!
Here is as usual when I go to these kind of events, a picture parade….because pictures speak more…
Cúpula del Milenio
Beautiful Daquiris like these…
Paired with Spanish croquetas…
Siderit Hibiscus Gin, made in northern Spain and very tasty.
….made a very refreshing gin and tonic.
Hendrick`s Gin booth, give him a drink….
Luca Picchi (Head bartender in Coffee Rivoire of Florence and author of the book Negroni Cocktail) made a great seminar about the Negroni – The history of the Negroni cocktail and the Italian appetizer !
(pic credit FIBAR)
FAIR Rum from Belize!
And Puerto Rican Don Q
Mezcal goodness and burnt cinnamon stick – yummy…
Plantation rums! and of course the famous Stiggin´s Fancy….probably the tastiest pineapple rum I have ever tasted.
Big pineapple tiki mug from Pavon.
And a swimming vahine.
Aloha shirt and rums….
Oriol at our seminar “Paradise Lost, the Roots of Tiki”
And now we`re entering the realm of tiki…
Three of Strong and A Mountain of Crushed Ice taking it through the history of tiki to show where it came from and that tiki is so much more than just the drinks, which btw were some of the world´s first crafted farm to glass cocktails – in tropical costume.
And no tiki seminar without the Bums books!
Or the Bum himself….
Chief Lapu Lapu was served….
And it was good….
Sly Augustin (Trailer Happiness, London) talked about the exciting future of tiki.
(pic credit FIBAR)
While Miguel Escobedo (Kona Lei, Madrid) made a seminar called – Tiki-Orama:50 years of cocktails and Iberian Tiki, and Thanos Prunarus (Baba au Rum) spoke about the anatomy of The Anatomy of Tiki Drinks and of course his world famous rum bar, Baba au Rum (pic credit FIBAR)
Guest bartending was Guillermo Uriel, bartender at Mahiki in London. (pic credit FIBAR)
The Tiki Experience was created by Miguel Pérez Muñoz and David Perez, also known as the “Brothers in Tiki” (pic credit FIBAR) who also did a seminar about tiki bar and tiki products.
Three Dots and a dash, one of my fav tiki cocktails
There were so much more than what these pictures have shown and we were there only one of three days! try to go and visit the FIBAR in 2016!
Here´s an old favorite again, the Penang Afrididi #1. It`s a “forgotten” tiki drink from 1937 and it was created by Don the Beachcomber. I like Donn`s drinks and I like this one! it was served at Don the Beachcomber’s Caberet Restaurant in the International Marketplace in Honolulu, circa 1958.
I`m curious about the name of this drink and wonder how it came to be and where it comes from…? if anyone knows please write in the comments.
There´s vibrant old dusty magic tasty tiki history here!
There´s also more versions of this drink, for example the #2 which simply cuts the same ingredients by half, blend and strain into a cocktail coupe or glass. Also Jason Alexander at Tacoma Cabana made his version of this drink and called it Penang Afrididi #3.
Penang Afrididi #3
2 dashes of Horror in Clay Tropical bitters, 1/2 oz each lime, orange, pineapple juices and 1/2 oz passionfruit syrup, 1/4 oz each falernum and fassionola, 1 oz ginger beer, 1 1/2 oz light rum, 1 1/2 oz Deep Ones Gold Blend (a house blend of three rums he makes), flash blend all ingredients.
Here´s the fassionola again, I need to try to make my own someday and I need to get the commercial version as well (the red one) I`d love to compare them, something I`ve had in mind for a while but that gonna be another post, and I also wanna try Jason`s version.
There´s also an interesting descendent of this drink that was dates back to the Mai Kai opening in 1956 and they had two versions of it, that drink is called the Zula and it`s flavor profile has only three ingredients, Herbsaint (or Pernod), pineapple, gold rum. You can read about the Zula over at the Atomic Grog.
From “Sippin’ Safari” page 95 by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
- 1 1/2 oz. Light Puerto Rican Rum
- 1 1/2 oz. Amber Virgin Islands Rum
- 1/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz. Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
- 1/2 oz. Orange Juice
- 1/2 oz. Passion Fruit Syrup
- 1/8 tsp. Pernod or Herbsaint
Put everything into a blender and add six ounces of crushed ice. Blend it at high speed for five seconds.
And I couldn`t resist to add some of the liquid from my jar of Maraschino cherries..and that´s what gave the drink that wonderful shades of red.
This is one of the typical old Don the Beachcomber drinks where he used his fantastic imagination to create types of drinks that at the time had never been seen before with multiple rums, juices, spices and “secrets” (like drops of Pernod)
His Rum Rhapsodies as he called them!
Next time I want to try the Atomic Grog`s Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Zula…and i`d love to make a twist on it as well.
But until then i`ll make this – a twist on the Penang Afrididi using an aged rhum agricole sweetened with a mix of 50/50 passionfruit syrup and hibiscus grenadine.
Afrididi Martiniquaise (or Penang Afrididi #4)
2 oz. Rhum agricole vieux (I used St James 12)
1.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Orange Juice
0.25 oz. Passion Fruit Syrup (homemade)
0.25 oz Hibiscus Grenadine (homemade)
1/8 tsp. Pernod or Herbsaint
Put everything into a blender and add six ounces of crushed ice. Blend it at high speed for five seconds. Pour into a snifter and add more crushed ice to fill. Garnish with a palm leaf and sugarcane stick.
It turned out to be a fruity and distincly rhum agricole forward drink….not strong, just fresh! the day I have my own fassionola made i`m gonna try that in this drink!
Today there´s more spiced rums on the market than ever before and it can be tricky to pick out the good ones because spiced rums can be so much….
I think we tend to drink more spiced rums in the winter season, many in warm rum drinks to beat the cold and depending on what you gonna do you may need different types of spiced rums. In this guest post there´s a few spiced rums listed that can be worth trying but of course, taste is personal so this is just a guideline.
St Aubin Spiced
This is a spiced Rhum Agricole, made from sugarcane juice instead of molasses. It´s made by the St Aubin Distillery on Mauritius. In it you find orange peel, hints of gingerbread cake and cinnamon. St Aubin plantation located on southern Mauritius has been cultivating sugarcane since 1890 and takes it´s name from one of it`s first owner Pierre de St Aubin.
On the estate there`s both artisanal and a traditional rums made. The water used in the rum making comes from their own spring water from Bois Chéri. It`s all local produce
Tonka Bean Infused Rum by Old Amazon
This 100% pot still rum is infused with Tonka Bean. Tonka Bean is a vanilla substitute that has been banned in many countries including the U.S. due to it´s content of coumarin which in high concentrations can be lethal. But it takes enourmously large doses – about 30 entire tonka beans to eat to fall ill. About the same volume at which nutmeg are toxic.The Old Amazon No1 Tonka bean infused rum can be safely used and guarantees a pleasant surprise.
Chairman’s Reserve Spiced
From St Lucia Distiller´s, this spiced rum is known as one of the very best of spiced rums available today. It has flavor notes of Orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon, caramel and vanilla. Chairman`s Reserve Spiced is one of the classic spiced rums and is best enjoyed with coconut water or ginger beer.
Kraken Black Spiced Rum
Launched in the UK in early 2010, this rum has an rich, spicy flavour. Named for the legendary sea monster, Kraken is a blend of Caribbean rums distilled from molasses made from locally-grown sugar cane. The rum is aged 1–2 years and then blended with a mix of 11 spices, including cinnamon, ginger and clove. It comes in a quite cool package!
Bristol Black Spice Rum
Bristol Black Spice Rum is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, apple, rich plump raisins and orange zest. This combination creates a bottle that is filled with spicy goodness and rich fruit flavours.
Dark Matter Spiced Rum
Made by the Ewen Brothers, this is a perfect mixture of fiery young rum and fresh spices. It is a good choice if you are looking for rum without any vanilla essence. The rum is also one of the best for making Bloody Mary (which is a mixture of rum and tomato juice). It even got lots of attention at the UK Rumfest.
This is one of the newest on this list as it was launched in 2014. It provides rum drinkers with a unique experience. It is spiced with Ginger and Cinnamon making it a welcome departure from all the vanilla flavoured rums in the market today. Most of those vanilla flavoured rums are just replicas of the UK’s Sailor Jerry! Pusser’s Spiced has a rich and warming profile, irrespective of the 35% ABV.
Find your favorite
These are a few good spiced rums you can count on to provide you with an exceptional experience. They will probably live a short lifespan in any spiced rum drinker’s cabinet. However, like rest the entries in this article, it is not for ladies that play on Jackpot Jane but more for spiced rum lovers. They are good enough to hopefully convert anyone to a lover of the Caribbean culture of spiced rum drinking!
Traditionally, Caribbean islanders would make spiced rums at home with whatever was locally available, and used spices like allspice, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon and most were locally consumed and only a very few made their way into the US.
Today we have more spiced rums available than before and there´s something for everyone!
The Tiki Farm 15th Anniversary Show with Big Toe, Ken Ruzic, Doug Horne, and Scott Scheidly showing wtih Michelle Bickford “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”
Friday, November 6th marks the opening night celebration of Tiki Farm’s 15th Anniversary, with a comprehensive exhibition of 500 of the most important and coveted selections of their over 2,000 different designs created to-date. Exclusive to the event, La Luz De Jesus will be world-premiering five brand new Tiki Farm limited edition Tiki mugs designed by Big Toe, Doug Horne, Flounder, Ken Ruzic and Michelle Bickford.
Each mug comes with a signed and numbered box label exclusive to that design, and one even comes with two Tiki Farm swizzle sticks.
An Anniversary Show Compendium is available for only $5. Art purchases can be handled by phone or email at (323)666-7667 or email@example.com
Tiki Farm is credited as being the world’s largest and most recognized manufacturer of Tiki mugs, having produced millions of mugs over the last 15 years, designed by such notable artists as Shag, The Pizz, Crazy Al Evans, Rick Rietveld and countless others.
Picture credit Tiki Farm, this is just ONE wall of the Tiki Farm installation at La Luz de Jesus! Mugs that go on forever….!!!
On display as well will be a tribute display to Tiki Farm’s late Art Director, The Pizz. Dubbed “The Lord Of Lowbrow”, The Pizz played a pivotal role in Tiki Farm’s most recent years, lending his artistic and creative abilities to a massive amount of designs.
Tiki Farm’s client list includes Disneyland, Pixar, Mattel, Hard Rock, Trader Vic’s, The Discovery Channel, Fender, Body Glove, Hyatt Regency and literally 1000’s of other commissioning clients. On display as well will be a tribute display to Tiki Farm’s late Art Director, The Pizz. Dubbed “The Lord Of Lowbrow”, The Pizz played a pivotal role in
Tiki Farm’s most recent years, lending his artistic and creative abilities to a massive amount of designs.This exhibition should not be missed by any fans of the mid-century artistic movement as well of course by any fans of Tiki, Lowbrow Art and Kustom Kulture. “Tiki” is an integral part of these movements, especially here in Southern California, and no other company better exemplifies the passion, commitment and creative breadth that has made
Tiki such a household word any better than Southern California’s beloved Tiki Farm.Tiki Farm’s Holden Westland as well as many of the current artists involved in the Tiki scene will be on hand to celebrate an amazing and unparalleled 15 years of wonderful, mind-boggling Tiki artistry and creativity.
Since their inception back in the Fall of 2000, Tiki Farm has helped paved the way of the modern day Tiki mug resurgence, defining the movement and creating the head of steam that has allowed so many other Tiki enthusiasts to try their hand at mug making.
Tiki Farm’s founder and president, Holden Westland, is regarded as “The Hardest Working Man In Tiki”, and the results from his efforts evidenced in Tiki Farm’s continued manic-paced production will be on display for all to enjoy at this special exhibition. Guests will be treated to a free printed show compendium that will allow for an informative and insightful walk-through of this phenomenal display of world-famous Tiki Farm goodies!
Here are the five brand new Tiki Farm limited edition Tiki mugs designed by Big Toe, Doug Horne, Flounder, Ken Ruzic and Michelle Bickford:
Nari Rani Marquesan Mug by Flounder (Scott Scheidly)
Ltd. Edition of 100, 8″ in height, 22 oz. capacity, $50 each
Rub for Rum Easter Island Tiki Decanter by Michelle Bickford
Ltd. Edition of 100, 9″ in height, 50 oz. capacity, $75 each
Tiki Farm Temple Mug by Doug Horne
Ltd. Edition of 100, 7 5/8″ in height, 20 oz. capacity, $50 each Sold Out
Bobomb Hand Grenade Tiki Mug by Big Toe
Ltd. Edition of 100, 8″ in height, 22 oz. capacity, $50 each Sold Out
Poko Ono Pineapple Mug by Ken Ruzic
Ltd. Edition of 100, 7.5″ in height, 16 oz. capacity, $50 each Sold Out
My 10 paintings function as a love letter to the art of tiki mugs, the art of the tropical cocktail and to my relationship with Tiki Farm and my pal Holden Westland. I met Holden (aka “the hardest working man in tiki”) in the 80’s over happy-hour long island ice teas, then we were reacquainted in the mid-2000s when our love for tiki and Polynesian ‘pop’ culture caused our paths to cross again. It has been a unique pleasure to work with Holden to create what I hope is a unique voice in the tiki mug world, and it is my absolute honor to be a part of the Mondo Tiki art show. – Tom Laura a/k/a/ Big Toe
Big Toe – Party Bob Acrylic on panel, 8×11″ (12×14″ framed), $300
Big Toe – Marwal Maiden Acrylic on panel, 8×11″ (12×14″ framed), $300
Images of past pop culture mixed with current-day pop culture provide an endless source of inspiration and possibilities for me – states Long Beach area artist Doug Horne whose work reflects his love of mid-century atomic, deco and of course, tiki. Doug has designed numerous tiki mugs and worked with Fender on their Art-Coustics Tiki Art Series of guitars.
Doug Horne – Maori Head Pastel and pencil on paper, 17×20″ $600
Doug Horne – Kraken Rum Floater Pencil on paper, 16×27″, $700 Sold
Ken ‘Kinny’ Ruzic is a self-taught artist, former marine, and world traveler. Ruzic says he began his career in the surf industry doing tee-shirt graphic design for Rusty Surfboards and Hawaiian Island Creations. Wanting to pursue fine arts, Ruzic divided his time between honing his in both art and graphic design. Ken blends Polynesian myth and tradition with his personal artistic mythology and humor working with acrylics, water color, ink, & wood burning.
Ken Ruzic – The Abandoned Table acrylic on wood 10×20″ $400
Ken Ruzic – The Double Fister Acrylic on masonite/artboard, 10×20″, (16×26″ with a Bamboo Ben frame), $500
Scott Scheidly a/k/a Flounder
Scott Scheidly creates realistic renditions of the surreal, often with pop culture references. He has also developed a strong following for his incredible paintings of skeletal art and botanics, as well as his sense of humor. Scott lives and works in Orlando and has an art degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Scott Scheidly – Moon Goddess Acrylic, 12×29″, (16×31″ framed), $1,800
Scott Scheidly – Shrunken Modern Primitive Head Acrylic, 9.75×9.75″, (13.75×13.75″ framed), $800
November 6–29, 2015
Artist reception: Friday, November 6th; 8-11 PM
Live music from Tommy Tokioka plus mid-century and more from DJ Lee of LuxuriaMusic.com
La Luz de Jesus Gallery
4633 Hollywood Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Preview both shows: www.laluzdejesus.com/michelle-bickford-mondo-tiki-show
Picture credits to La Luz de Jesus and Tiki Farm (picture of tiki wall)
Featured post by Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery:
I was very disappointed to read the November editorial of ‘Got Rum’ magazine by publisher Luis Ayala. It seems as though Luis is responding to hearsay rather than making a substantive commentary on the Gargano Classification of Rum. It is not about Pot v Column; it is much more nuanced than that. Luca Gargano of Velier, Italy is one of the leading independent bottlers of rum and considered one of the category’s foremost authorities. He is not “lacking in the knowledge to push the concept”. I am confident once Luis has it properly explained, he will support the initiative.
Lets start with Luis’s first claim:
“some people in the industry are proposing differentiating rums based on the type of still used for their distillation, the choices being “Pot Still” or “Column Still.”
This is entirely inaccurate! No such choices are proposed!
Here are the four categories of the Gargano Classification:
1. Pure Single Rum – 100% pot (i.e. batch) still
2. Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
3. Rum – rum from a traditional column still
4. Industrial Rum – Modern multi column still
Traditional Artisanal Rum Distillation
Modern Industrial “Rum” Distillation
Luis then sets up his first straw man:
“to claim that the distillate coming out of a simple pot still (round copper bottom, onion head with swan neck) and an Adams Pot Still with Two Retorts is the same”
But no one has made such a claim.
Moreover, the point of the Gargano classification is not to place the “same” rums in the same category (indeed if that was the case we could just simply taste them). The purpose of the classification is to separate rums in an informative manner: traditional v modern, artisanal v industrial, endogenous v exogenous flavour, authentic v ersatz. The order of the categories is an order for authenticity, complexity and real intrinsic value. It is not an order of preference, more on that later.
And another straw man:
“To further assume that the distillate coming out of a “beer” or “stripping” column is the same as that coming out of a rectifying column is even more ridiculous.”
No such assumption is being made. I reiterate, the classification is about authenticity and value, not whether the rums are the “same”.
It further seems to me that Luis is making a common mistake. The dichotomy is not pot v column; the correct dichotomy is batch v continuous.
The “simple pot still” and the “Adams pot still” are both batch stills. And they are both traditional too, retorts and rectifying sections having been found on batch stills for rum since the early 19th century. As they are both traditional batch stills, they belong in the same category. A batch still with plates is still a batch still. There are no hybrid stills batch v continuous is a dichotomy. Distillers are very much free to make different rums from them. The making of the wine is an important step as distillation and so too is maturation. We expect and hope the rums within a category will not be the same!
What makes the batch v continuous dichotomy so important? Well in a batch still output is a function of time and in continuous distillation system the output is a function of position (in a system which is characterised by a steady state). The latter places an inherent constraint on profile of the spirit.
This key difference means several important things for our classification:
(1) Only the batch still affords the distiller access to the entire volatile component of the wine from which he can select his single heart or multiple fractions to make up his heart as he desires.
(2) Time driven output does not lend itself easily to automation because of the lack of a steady state for any meaningful amount of time. Even today with the best of automation the operation is still largely in the hands of the master distiller and thus inherently artisanal.
(3) The batch still is truly “small batch” and the cost of distillation is orders of magnitude higher than the continuous still (technically this is in part because in a batch still we are distilling a wine of decreasing strength whereas in the continuous still the strength of the wine is constant).
In simple terms the batch still is an indispensable component of premium rum. Or rather put another way, without true small batch distillation what exactly are you paying a premium for? It is unquestionably the most traditional method of distillation.
It will likely be suggested that “heavy” or “full bodied” spirits can be distilled from a column still. Indeed they can but they are inferior to the batch still. That is a subject for an entire article (or two) but a couple of quotes from Distillation scholars (from both rum and whisky) should hopefully convince the reader that it is not a spurious claim.
“Obviously, a carelessly distilled light rum is not a first-class, genuine, heavy rum”……..In preparing heavy rums, distillation of the fermented mash is best conducted in a discontinuous or batch still ” – Rafael Arroyo in Production of Heavy Rums (1945)
Arroyo likens making heavy rums from a continuous still as equivalent to carelessly distilling light rum.
“In order to obtain whisky of high quality, concentration of the spirit must be than 94.17 abv” – M Pyke in Journal of Brewing (1965)
Pyke’s comment reminds me of another common misconception. Whisky (or rum) distilled at high proof of 94% in a traditional ‘coffey’ still is a galaxy away from the distillate at 96% of industrial multi column plants with extractive distillation. Flavour is not a simple function of proof and you cannot directly compare the proof from a continuous system with what is the average proof of the output of a batch system.
But I digress unnecessarily. It is enough that the batch still is the only truly artisanal distillation to place it in the highest category. This might be a novel concept in rum but it is orthodoxy in whisky and brandy.
Luis poses the following as a challenge to the classification:
“Those who assume that all pot stills produce heavy, congener-rich distillates, forget (or conveniently ignore) the fact that many small (“craft”) distilleries actually use pot stills to produce vodka and other light/neutral spirits.”
This is entirely irrelevant!
What idiosyncratic craft distillers do with their pot stills is irrelevant to the classification. The batch still affords the distiller the opportunity to “capture the soul” of his flavourful wine. If he chooses through successive distillations to destroy the flavour that is his prerogative. Stupidity is everyone’s prerogative.
I would caution against the belief that “neutral spirits” do arrive from the pot still. While it is not theoretically impossible to make neutral spirits from batch distillation it is completely impractical. I know of no batch distillation making neutral spirit in practice. To meet the modern specification of neutral spirits a continuous technique known as extractive distillation is necessary. I have visited some of these so called “craft” distillers and observed the purchase of neutral spirits to be distilled again in the pot. Well vodka in, vodka out. Except its now called “craft vodka”. There is a pending court case alleging the same against a certain “craft vodka”. In other cases the product is simply not neutral spirit.
Distilled from low wines and call “pot stilled”? Perhaps more likely distilled from diluted neutral spirit. To meet the classification of “pure single rum”, the spirit must be distilled from the wine. I reiterate no one has proposed the vapid twin classification of pot and column. This is a serious classification. Silly games do not threaten it.
Luis apparently believes we are interested in the following question:
“How then, is one to differentiate the rich, congener-laden distillate from its lighter counterpart?”
Again this is irrelevant and not germane to the purpose of the classification. The classification is not about putting the “same” rums in a category and neither is it about separating “light” from “heavy”.
Luis’s answer to his own question is a tautology. Indeed if we were interested in classifying rums by congener counts, we would, wait for it, count congeners! But congener counts are a banal way to classify rums. It is inane to believe that a spirit containing hundreds of flavour inducing compounds should be classified by a handful of trite readily identifiable congeners. A poorly rectified column spirit even blended with neutral spirit will have ‘impressive’ congener counts. Does that make it artisanal? Can we tell from the lab test if the flavour profile is authentic? Does it capture the soul of the wine? Only an organoleptic test will suffice. These abridged lab results cannot even distinguish rum from whisky. A congener count of a few select congeners is just plain silly.
It is often said that Rum is a “global spirit” but it is far from the truth. Rum distillation as a 19th century distiller would recognise is today sadly uncommon. We have lost so many distilleries in the 20th century. There were 110 distilleries in Jamaica in 1901. Today there are 4. It is important to distinguish between traditional and modern distillation. Much “rum” today is absurdly neutral in character and not even produced by Rum Distilleries but rather by Industrial scale alcohol plants located to take advantage of cheap labour in some parts of the Caribbean. Traditional rum distillation in these territories has long disappeared. So-called “rum” is a tiny part of their output. They are the antithesis of artisanal. Consumers, bloggers, enthusiasts need to know the difference.
Rum is a spirit in the best of traditions but the category is facing two alternate paths. Is premium rum to have real value (as for whisky and cognac) or perceived value (as for vodka)? With rum’s renaissance too many ersatz products are arriving on the market to take advantage of consumers. Industrial scale production (from distilleries unknown or unseen), murky (or downright false) age statements, wine or other flavourings, sweetened by sugar and coloured like coca cola with caramel. At the same time, we have truly artisanal pure batch still rums with transparent age statements, from a named distillery, free of added colour, flavourings and sugar. Pure rum as it should be.
We need a framework that allows enthusiasts (and ultimately consumers) to distinguish between the two. Some will argue that typical consumers will care little about distillation and they would be right. But those same consumers know they must pay more for Cognac over Brandy and for Single Malt over Blended. These premium spirit buyers also know an age statements means, wait for it, its actual age! Not some ‘solera’ nonsense that is nothing less than a shameless attempt to obfuscate. When a brand asks for premium pricing, they must tick the boxes: artisanal production and transparent age statements. The new framework will help guide enthusiasts to understand if the rum meets the demanded value.
It is little wonder then that Rum does so poorly at the highest level. According to the IWSR only 16% of rum sales are at the premium/super premium level in contrast to 66% for Whisky (it is even 48% for Tequila). Our most expensive actively available rums can only barely make the top 50 list of the most expensive actively available whiskies. Why? We have to get our communication right and white/gold/dark for categories is pathetic.
Enthusiasts need to ask themselves what do they want from the category? Real value and authenticity or seduction with sugar and nice packaging for Industrial scale products. If the latter is sufficient to attract premium pricing, then traditional rum production may go extinct. It is already an endangered species. The large corporate brands will fight this classification. They prefer to sell perceived value, as it is far more profitable. We need opinion leaders like Luis on our side. Don’t dismiss a much needed classification as merely pot v column or light v heavy. The new classification is also not intended to create an order of preference. Just the same way you are entitled to prefer a blended whisky over a single malt, you are still free to love your Bacardi mojito or Captain and Coke (if you really insist!).
The new framework does not tell you what to enjoy but rather how to value what you enjoy.