From Foursquare to Diamond, Bellevue and Hampden – Four Great Pure Rums from Excellence Rhum!

I`m not gonna lie, I really really really like cask strength rums…and when I get samples like these four here it´s like Christmas for a little kid. These rums comes from four different distilleries – Hampden (Jamaica), Foursquare (Barbados), Bellevue (Guadeloupe) and Diamond (Guyana). They clock in from 54.6 to 62.8 % abv and none has any additives whatsoever, no sugar, color or anything else is added and neither are they cold filtrated, all in order to respect the rum in it´s natural state. You know you get pure rum.

Will they taste good? you bet they will!

But let´s first talk a little about where they are coming from and where you can purchase them. During the Paris Rhumfest, Excellence Rhum launched their own brand of rums and they are part of the Excellence Rhum Collection which every year will give out four different batch collection rums.

The E-shop ExcellenceRhum.com was created in 2013 by Alexander Beudet and there´s about 1800 references of rum from all over the world to choose from. They also offer personalized advice on the rums and delivery anywhere in France under 24 hours and all around the world under 96 hours and they offer rum samples so you can try before you buy the big bottle.

Now, which rums do we have here? short descriptions coming up – first up is the Guadeloupe/Bellevue – SFGB – 1998 – 18 Y – 59.9% 251 bottles, 70 cl . This is not an agricole rum/rhum agricole but a traditional rum that has been aged in bourbon casks for 19 years, both tropical and continental. The Bellevue au Moule Estate and Distillery on Guadeloupe dates back to the end of the 19th century and was established by a Mr Rimbaud from Martinique. Today the distillery is owned and run by Mr Hervé Damoiseau. The distillery is located on the Marie-Galante island and is the first distillery in the Caribbean to have committed to protecting the environment.

Nose and Color – Rich lovely nose of mature wood and tropical fruits. The nose has a fruity creamy character that is very pleasant. The color is medium mahogany.

Mouth – Pure pleasure…mild and dry, balanced and warming with hints of wood and spice, tropical fruits, pencil shavings, leather and raisin.

Finish – Long and woody.

Final thoughts – This is a full proof marvel of a rum! powerful, intense yet mild, and rich, it was love at first sip…

After that excellent rum from Guadeloupe we have Jamaica/Hampden – LROK – 2000 -16 Y – 54.6% abv, 195 numbered 70 cl bottles. Hampden Estate is a famous distillery for ester-rich flavorful fruity and funky rums coming from long fermentation using airborne yeasts and local molasses. The estate dates back to around 1753 when it was a sugar plantation operating now since more than 250 years.

Nose and Color – yellow amber, fruity nose – a whole boquet of complex tropical fruit notes and floral tones. 

Mouth – The taste is absolutely lovely with plenty of rich flavors of tropical fruit mash, spices and molasses.

Finish – Semi-log finish with pineapple and fruit notes lingering for a while.

Final thoughts – A very lovely rum with character behind those tropical fruits.

Next….Foursquare….needs no presentation really. Quality and pure rums coming out of that distillery on Barbados as we know. Located in the southern countryside of Barbados, on 8 acres of a former sugar plantation, is the magnificent Foursquare Rum Distillery and Heritage Park. It`s best known for its collection of spiced rums but it produces a wide range of rums including Doorly’s and Rum 66 and have lately produced a range of cask finish rums, (Exceptional Cask Selections) and some excellent rums in collaboration with the House of Velier, which are wildly popular among rum enthusiasts. I can only see a growing market for cask-strength Foursquare rums since the number of rum enthusiasts who wish to have cask or full proof/strength rums is steadily growing and you can count me in that number. 

This sample is Foursquare – MBFS – 2006 – 11 Y, 62.8 % abv, 210 numbered 70 cl bottles. Distilled from column and pot still this would according to the Gargano Classification (which I will write about on this website later) be called Single Blended – Blend of traditional column and batch/pot still (from a single distillery)

Nose and Color – Almost the same color as the Hampden, yellow amber. On the nose, apricot and banana peel, slightly woody and sweet, the nose is complex like a fine tuned orchestra.

Mouth – Round and fruity with a bit of wood and spice. There´s a very pleasant aftertaste that hits you a little while after the first sip and some aeriation.

Finish – Semi long lingering fruity finish.

Final thoughts – This is a very flavorful balanced rum in a refined elegant way, yet not lacking depth and character and posesses a lot of complexity and aroma. 

The last one is a Diamond from Guyana made by the legendary DDL distillery. Guyana/Diamond – MPM – 2005 – 11 Y – 60.1%. 247 numbered 70 cl bottles. The DDL is where all Demerara rum comes from today, once upon a time (around the 1700s) there were more than 300 sugar estates in Guyana producing their own rums…

During the early 20th century all the stills were merged and they ended up finally at the Diamond Estate (which is attached to the now closed Diamond Sugar Estate) and owned by the DDL – Demerara Distillers Limited. They now are the last remaining estate on the east bank of the Demerara river. The rums from Guyana are very special indeed and this one here is no exception.

Nose and Color – Light straw colored with a dry woody nose at first, which gives way for sweeter notes of sugarcane and fine notes of tropical fruits. there´s also subtle hints of butterscotch and candy (!)

Mouth – Intense, woody, fruity and dry. Very aromatic with notes of pineapple, fruits and a hint of licorice and a sort of dryish finish which I find very pleasant.

Finish – Long, dry and fruity.

Final thoughts – I really like the woody dryness of this rum paired with the tropical fruit notes, it´s very aromatic.

Overall: All four of these rums are equally good but different in character and it´s just personal taste that will determine which one or ones you`d buy the big bottle of. Therefore I think it´s a good thing that Excellence Rhum also have samples for purchase so you can taste and try before you buy because they ain`t cheap. But you will definitely get unadultered quality rum for your money and a very pleasant taste experience.

I would not use any of these in my tiki drinks or cocktails because they are such fine tuned orchestras of exquisite flavors that would be lost together with juices and stuff, plus they are expensive, so sip and savor these marvels. So which one(s) will I buy? well, a woman must have the right to keep some secrets right? 🙂 all I will say is that they are all excellent rums!

 

Best of A Mountain of Crushed Ice is coming…

Aloha! some of you dear readers might have noticed how slow this blog has become since many months…it moves at the speed of a drunken snail or turtle…but there´s a reason for that – there´s a book in the Works! “Best of A Mountain of Crushed Ice” is a book about tiki drinks with the best from this website in updated versions along with new recipes and some “mixed potions” by friendly tiki bartenders and enthusiasts from around the world.

The book is for everyone who loves tropical exotic tiki drinks and the little “tutorials” aims at those who are new to tiki drinks, both consumers and bartenders but the book as a whole is for all tiki drink lovers . So that`s what`s up…and when will the book be ready? I`m not sure of an exact date…but the plan is for this summer.

Trying to write posts for this website at the same time as writing the book plus also working with other things plus taking care of my domestic life turns out a little bit too much for this laid back flip-flop kind of lady so please bear with me when this website is taking a little temporary “half”-break. That said, I might pop in a blog post every now and then…and when the book is ready it will be announced right here.

So why writing a book? well, the blog is celebrating it`s 10th Anniversary this year! that`s ten years of collected recipes, rambles, experiments and knowledge, some better, some worse, some outright crazy…as is the nature of many cocktail blogs. But over time it can be difficult to find some of the best posts even though there`s an archive, but how often do people really bother digging in the yearly archives? blog posts and the drinks in them have a tendency to over time become forgotten. So I think putting the best from it in a book is not a bad idea, plus when I no longer is here this blog will not be either but then the book will be! So now you know why it`s moving so slow here for the moment.

In the meantime, here´s a little teaser picture collage…

Let´s Celebrate Appleton Master Blender Joy Spence!

If you didn`t know, today is International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate remarkable women in our life. Appleton Estate is honored to celebrate a women who has embarked on an exemplary and inspirational career, Master Blender Joy Spence. I have met her in London, at the UK Rumfest and a more charismatic person is hard to find.

Over two decades ago Joy Spence became the world’s first female Master Blender. To honor this outstanding accomplishment as well as pay homage to her bountiful years at Appleton Estate, the distillery is announcing the official debut of its celebratory limited-edition 25 Year–Old Rum, “JOY”, crafted in honor of pioneer Joy Spence and her 20th Anniversary as Appleton Estate’s Master Blender, a fitting tribute to the visionary who has spent much of her career perfecting it.

“For my anniversary blend, I simply set out to create the rum that I’d like to sip while watching the colors of my garden change in the warm glow of the Jamaican sunset,” said Master Blender Joy Spence. “It includes two rum marques, which are of particular sentimental significance to me: The first of these marques was laid down to age in 1981 – the year I joined the Appleton Estate team, and the second is my favorite marque of pot still rum. The final blend is a wonderful rum that I hope Appleton Estate fans will enjoy.”

On the palate, JOY opens with Appleton Estate’s trademark delicate orange peel, leading into a delicious mix of ginger, spice, warm vanilla, butterscotch, and coffee, with lingering layers of almond and toasted oak. With an exceptionally smooth finish of brown sugar, the new release is sure to please all those that have the privilege of sipping it.

A rum visionary ahead of her time;

As a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry, Joy is nothing short of a pioneer. At a very young age, Joy fell in love with the field of Chemistry and dreamed of working in a field where she could bring that passion to life.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and with a Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry – a rarity for a Jamaican woman at that time – she joined Appleton Estate in 1981 as Chief Chemist, and quickly became enthralled with the process of blending rum.

Over the next 16 years, under the expert guidance of then Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, Joy honed her sensory skills, developing an unrivalled palate and excellent sense of smell, until she herself was named Master Blender in 1997. Throughout her tenure, Joy has been decorated with a myriad of awards, starting with honorary doctorate degrees from both alma maters, and culminating with a national award from the Jamaican government for her contribution to the rum industry.

Both an artist and a scientist, Joy has spent the last twenty years creating some of the finest rums the world has ever tasted, and the “JOY” Anniversary Blend may be her greatest triumph yet.

In her 36 years with the distillery, Spence has spearheaded the brand’s legacy of quality, care and dedication. She is an industry pioneer with unparalleled skills at creating premium blended rums, which is in every bottle produced.

This latest and exclusive honorary release is a reflection of a remarkably resilient and passionate woman who embodies grace, devotion, intelligence, perseverance, and, above all else, joy. Born in Jamaica, Joy enjoys cooking and gardening and is even renowned within her native country for creating her own face cream – yet another example of her skill blending the finest ingredients.

Appleton Estate’s “Joy” Anniversary Blend is bottled at 90 proof (45% alc./vol.) and retails at $250. Appleton Estate’s core range offers three premium rums:  Appleton Estate Signature Blend, Appleton Estate Reserve Blend and Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old.  In addition, Appleton Estate also has two ultra-premium rums:  Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Jamaica Rum and Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum which is a limited edition 50 year old minimum age rum.

Tasting notes:
Blend: A select blend of aged rums each matured a minimum of 25 years, including rum aged up to 35 years.
Appearance: Beautiful coppery gold color with shimmering highlights.
Bouquet: Opening with Appleton Estate’s trademark delicate orange peel as a top note and intertwined with ginger and spice, this special blend finishes with warm vanilla, butterscotch, coffee and lingering layers of almond and toasted oak.
Finish: Exceptionally smooth with an elegant finish of brown sugar.

Tiki Month 2017 – Doug`s Volcano

How time flies! we`re already in mid february and the Tiki Month is halfway through….

So, almost running late I just had to make a drink! and what could be more fitting than making a drink inspired by Doug Winship`s home made indoor volcano? if you didn´t know, Doug is the man behind the Tiki Month which appears every year in february on the Pegu blog (and by inspired bloggers around the blogosphere)

Next year Doug will celebrate his 10 year Anniversary with the Tiki Month! did 9 years pass already?? how did that happen? scary….I went to check his Tiki Month posts in his archives starting typing in february 2009 which is when it started. So many memories! that was the time when the Mixoloseum was going strong and we had the first”Mixohouse” in New Orleans. Feels like it was 100 years ago…

And then I found this post…..it´s called “How Tiki Month Began” – where he tells the story of how it started…it took me back to the golden days of tiki blogging….such nostalgia! incredible! it was a different feeling those days, it was a feeling of discovery, adventure and brotherhood among bloggers (and yes we even had our own organisation called the Cocktails and Spirits Online Writers Group with the likes such as Kaiserpenguin, Cocktailnerd and Dr Bamboo… The CSWOG was the 25 most prolific cocktail blogs at the time, come together doing events, both on and offline. Our signature drink was a communal style JWray overproof spiked Chartreuse swizzle served in flower vases.

I had no IDEA how much Doug looked up to us early tiki bloggers! and from having no tiki drink experience whatsoever to decide to go a whole month doing ONLY tiki is an amazing task to take up – and look at him now, almost ten years of tiki month blogging, and the research he have made and put together is incredible….go and read this post and all the others on his blog, Tiki Month 2017 in full swing! I have to give kudos to Doug for keeping it up for so long and I hope it won`t close down anytime soon.

There`s a video of Doug`s volcano, Mount Pegu – I posted it at last year`s Tiki Month, you can watch it here. I have admired his volcano for a long time, ever since he built it and I believe it must be pretty fun to have your own indoor volcano with erupting smoke and all, making your home tiki bar come alive!

For this drink I have put together rum, hibiscus grenadine, Cherry Heering, fresh lime, grapefruit and passion fruit. It was kind of too fruity and weak to me in flavor when I first made it but after adding Lost Spirits 61% Navy style rum the drink was kickin`and there came some depth of flavor.

If you can`t find that rum pick a rum that has a good punch both in flavor and proof. It´s a volcano after all, it´s supposed to be erupting…

Doug`s Volcano

1,5 oz grapefruit juice

1.5 oz passionfruit juice

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.25 oz Cherry Heering

0.75 oz hibiscus grenadine

1.5 oz Plantation 3 Stars Rum

1.5 oz Lost Spirits 61% Navy Style Rum

0.5 oz overproof rum (I used Meermaid)

Garnish – Dried hibiscus powder, two long lemon peels cut to look like lava streams, a pineapple leaf. Add some lime juice on the outside of a snifter and sprinkle hibiscus powder on it. You can make it yourself by crushing dried hibiscus flowers in a mortar.

Blend the ingredients in a blender at high speed for 5 seconds with 4 oz crushed ice and pour into a snifter, add more crushed ice to fill and the two lemon peels. Sprinkle some of the hibiscus powder on top of the ice and add 2 straws.

Now sit back and let that volcano take care of you…

Happy Tiki Month! next year we celebrate 10 years!!

Mount Pegu

Lost Spirits is Back!

After a time of quietness…the Lost Spirits is back with a new expression of their Navy style rum, this time with a changed formula. It`s a refined version of the old one with the smoky notes turned down a bit in favor of more fruitiness and a great deal of wood notes. It`s also drier and more balanced with an abv of 122 proof or 61% instead of the old 68%.

But they are not only back with a new rum expression, there is more….back in California from Charleston they are now in the process of building a new distillery in LA. The new distillery being built is going to be much bigger and also fully automated. For those who haven`t read the story about the Lost Spirits and how they use the Thea One reactor to speed up the ageing process I recommend reading more about the tech details over at Cocktailwonk.

This is the mad scientist Willy Wonka booze factory…it´s also most likely the only distillery using antique furniture made from American chestnut. In the 1860`s chestnut was commonly used for barrels but it`s hard to find today and so they are stripping the varnish off with a saw and using the wood in the reactor.

So there`s a lot of work going on there now setting up the new distillery, I have added some pics at the bottom of this post. I asked if the old smoke spewing dragon pot still gonna be there and from what I understand it will but also new ones, with the same theme of course…

You can see the old dragon still in this video here by Bryan Davis who also built the still himself.

Lost Spirits also added new team partners to the team including military scientist Wynn Sanders and Theron Reiner from Rattleback. Because it´s not only rum that`s going to come out of the Thea One…but also peaty scotch whisky originating from Islay.

Small batches of whisky will be Thea aged using a variety of different woods and the outcome will be the new “Abomination” line, with each expression named after different chapters in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau…

I have yet to taste their whiskies and I`m looking forward to try out their Abomination line, I wonder what it can do in cocktails? maybe there´s a secret weapon…

This picture gives me a bit of “Vampire Lestat feeling” …..

This is not your usual stuff!

The names of the first labels are as follows –

  • Concerning the Beast Folk
  • The Sayers of the Law
  • The Crying of the Puma

So that`s what´s happening in short…not a dull moment there, more will come.

But let´s move on to the rum and the drinks!

I wish I still had some of the old navy style rum left to compare with but from what I remember, it did mix fine but was a bit too strong for me to sip neat and so I welcome the fine tuning and lower proof of this new version of the navy style rum.

In the nose I pick up sherry and prunes, wood, molasses and spices and then something “rooty”. The nose is quite heavy on the sherry I think.

In the mouth there´s a woody explosion at first, then comes the prunes and sherry again, with warm sharpness followed by a distinctive dryness. There´s lots of dark fruits and some spice and maybe a hint of banana.The finish is long with strong and a bit aggressive sherry wood notes.

My conclusion is that this version of their navy style rum is in better balance and cleaner in taste than the first one and it shines in cocktails. A strong rum that asks to be part of drinks that can tame it a little bit…so I threw together my Banana Boo Loo and then a version of a classic tiki drink, the Pearl Diver`s Punch, just making it a bit more lush – the secret with that drink is in the Pearl Diver´s Mix…and because I happened to have a bunch of blood oranges at home I decided to try it with some of my favorite mezcal just to see how it would do.

All the drinks turned out very tasty, especially the Banana Boo Loo which secret is fresh banana and fresh pineapple juice. There´s something about Lost Spirits rums and banana…

Banana Boo Loo

This recipe is for a 75 cl/25 oz goblet (IKEA) and so it´s a double drink!

4 oz fresh pineapple juice (or equal parts fresh pineapple chunks and bottled pineapple juice pre-blended and strained)
2 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz banana-demerara syrup* (or you can mix in Giffard Banane du Brésil into demerara syrup)
4 oz Lost Spirits 61 % Navy Style Rum

Put everything in the blender and blend with 1 cup of crushed ice at high speed for 5 sec. Pour unstrained into a hollowed out pineapple (or goblet) fill up with more crushed ice if needed.

As for the syrup – make a rich simple syrup (it takes 5-10 minutes) with 2:1 (or make a 1;1 syrup if you prefer a lighter one, but personally I prefer a more rich viscous syrupy syrup, it just add that mouth feel to the cocktail and richness) with dark demerara sugar and water and when the sugar is dissolved by heating it up, add banana chunks to it from one half fresh banana and mash it with a fork then take off from heat and leave to cool and set for a couple hours or overnight ( I did overnight, it deepens the flavor)

Blood of the She Creature

1 oz Lost Spirits 61% Navy Style Rum
1 oz Appleton Signature Blend (former VX)
1.5 oz fresh squeezed blood orange juice
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.25 oz Macadamia nut syrup (Giffard)
0.5 oz orgeat
Float Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal

Shake with ice, strain and serve in a chilled cocktail coupe with a large piece of cracked ice chunk. Garnish with 2 pineapple leaves and a dehydrated blood orange slice.

Royal Pearl Diver

0.75 oz Royal Pearl Diver’s Mix
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz passionfruit juice
1 oz Lost Spirits 61% Navy Style Rum
1 oz Demerara rum
1 cup crushed ice

Add everything to a blender and blend at high speed 5 sec. Pour unstrained into a goblet or tiki mug and garnish with speared lime peel and cherry, a tropical orchid and a paper umbrella.

Serve immediately.

Sweet and sour, spicy and strong, complex and velvety smooth…

Royal Pearl Diver’s Mix (enough for 4 drinks):

1 oz unsalted butter (or ghee, clarified)
1 oz honey (use liquid)
1 oz orgeat
1/2 tsp pimento dram
pinch cinnamon spice

Heat butter and honey to melt, mix in the orgeat, pimento dram and cinnamon, then set aside to cool to room temp.

The building of the distillery in pictures:

Here`s a few pictures of the new distillery to be, courtesy of Lost Spirits and Doc Fried:

The 61% Navy Style rum is available through KL Wines.