A Mountain of Crushed Ice is Rum Blogger of the Year 2013 UK Rumfest Golden Rum Barrel Awards

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Check out my review of Latitude 29!

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Demerara Rums from Guyana

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Demerara Rums Part Two

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Demerara Rums Part Three

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Cachaca and Rhum agricole, what`s the difference?

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CACHACA – Around Brazil in 40.000 Alembics

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Hibiscus Grenadine

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Tahitian Vanilla Syrup

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Gomme syrup

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Set the MAI TAI Straight!

Learn how to easily open a coconut and mix up a tasty Coconaut.

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Athens Rum and Whiskey Festival 2017

This was the second rum festival in Athens (rum and whiskey together this year) but my first time to attend the event which was taking place in the impressive neo-classical Zappeion Hall, built in 1878 which also is conveniently located near the beautiful park, the National Gardens around the city center with two metro stations nearby.

The festival was small but sweet…with a good vibe – and drunken crowds, thankfully, I did not see. Nice and relaxed! I stumbled on some rums I’ve never tried before too and to my pleasant surprise the Alamea Exotic Infusions that are soon to be launched at the Berlin Bar Convent on october 10-11 by Daniele Dalla Pola were there as well. Read more about Alamea here in my review. They made some very nice cocktails with it and I really enjoyed having drinks with the Alamea.

There were cocktails made in most booths plus there was a little Baba au Rum pop-up booth there as well so one could choose to both sip rum and whiskey neat but also get to drink very nice cocktails which I appreciated!

Baba au Rum once again came among the 50 best bars – this time no.30! so again I say congrats to the Baba team! was it only a couple days ago I was there? someone fly me back please! but then again – they will have a pop up bar in Berlin in a few days….during the BCB (Bar Convent Berlin) and the German Rumfest and I`m luckily heading in that direction.

 

As for seminars I went to the  “Artisanal Cachacas, Authentic Sugarcane Expressions” by Jimmy Bertazzoli and “The Holy Grail of Martinique” sponsored by rhum St James held by Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos and then Sly Augustin’s (Trailer Happiness, London) seminar about Tiki where he did talk about the movement of tiki and where it’s going, specifically from a European view, something I’m also talking about in ny (upcoming) book. It was like hearing somebody else express my mind! The good guys from Trailer also did a guest bartending at Baba where they presented four tiki drinks, (the one with the jerk spice was amazing)

As for bars in the city, Athens have a very vibrant bar scene with worldclass bartenders and a hospitality next to none! they really are that good! but I already said that before…and not only do they make great cocktails in the bars but they also play very good music! You are guaranteed to have fun! also, the rooftop bars….the views are incredible.

A few great bars to mention are Baba au Rum, Speakeasy, Gin Joint, Clumsies, Kolokotroni 9, Bank Job, Rabbit Hole and the seasonal Mary Pickford by the water in Piraeus (awesome rooftop bar with a great view of the water and all the boats, plus great food, drinks and music), and then the rooftop bar at the hotel “A for Athens” with an unrivaled view and occasion to see the sunset over the city with a stunningly beautiful lit up Panthenon/Acropolis by night….a sight to see I promise!

This is a good start for the Athens rumfest which I believe has potential to grow nicely to something really great and I hope to see it happen again next year.

Enjoy the rest by pictures! I think they say more than my words!

The Rum and Whisky fest:

Entering the rum and whisky fest under the high pillars of the Zappeon building is quite impressive…

And then you`re met by a familiar sight…booths with booze….and bartenders serving cocktails. The Bayou rum

I first discovered in New Orleans during the Tales.

And like they say in Nola, let the good times roll…that`s what`s rum is all about! I know this was a rum and whisky festival but the rum girl I am, I`m focusing on the rum…

FINE Drinking Magazine, one of the best bar magazines today, get yours here.

Thanos Prunarus and FINE.

This was delicious! the Cuban Swizzle with Santiago de Cuba Greece rum and Alamea Pimento Liqueur which is with the other Alamea products launched now at the BCB in Berlin and to soon be sold online and shipped worldwide so all the tiki folks and everyone else will be able to get them.

And the Santiago Mulata, with Alamea Hawaiian Coffee Liqueur and the Santiago de Cuba Greece rum. As tasty as the Cuban Swizzle.

The Almaea Spiced, one of the very few spiced rums I found to be really good, that is – not too sweet – and with natural flavor and ingredients. And how about that tiki label? 🙂

Moving on to some Hampden rums…a favorite brand from Jamaica. RumFire needs no presentation and neither does the Hampden Gold. World famous high ester Jamaican rums at it´s best!

Similar to the RumFire with that typical vegetal grassy and “kerosene”- like flavor notes (but much less up in your face as the JWray), the Rum Bar overproof is a blend of three pot still unaged rums. The Worthy Park Estate have produced sugar and molasses since 1720. And then a new expression I haven`t seen before with the blue label, called Full Flavored White Rum. Good rums!

Cheers to overproof Jamaican rum!

And a daiquiri with it was in order.

Another rum brand I like, Compagnie de Indes, I wrote about a few of their expressions here.

A Mediterranian style Rum Old Fashioned with Rum Nation`s agricole rum from la Rèunion. Beautifully presented and very tasty.

Naga rum from Indonesia, which I think we will see some more of when a certain tiki bartender starts mixing with it 🙂 it had a bit of an interesting funk to it`s flavor which I think would be good in especially tiki drinks.

Another rum I had never tried before, Ron SumMum from the Dominican Republic.They come in four expressions – from left to right – the Reserva Especial, the Sauternes Cask Finish, the Cognac Cask Finish and the Malt Whiskey Finish.

And Japanese Whisky, Akashi. The version of Akashi produced for the European market using a mixture of Japanese and foreign-made malt and grain whisky.The Japanese version has malt whisky and molasses spirit, which would not be classed as ‘whisky’ in the EU.

Yaguara Cachaca, which is an artisanal Cachaca that comes in these three expressions. From left to right – the Organic and the most flavorful one, the Oro which is aged in three different woods and the Branca. The sweet part in this cachaca is not coming from any added sugar but from the oak. Brazil have at least 4000 brands of cachaca but only 2% is exported and unfortunately most of the exported cachacas are industrial so the best ones with the most flavors stays in Brazil. So most people gets to know just those and mostly in Caipirinhas which I think is a shame. (Nothing wrong with Caipirinhas, they are tasty but there is more)

I hope that will change! so we can see more artisanal cachacas outside of Brazil! it´s an interesting spirit and very much alike the rhum agricole but yet so different.

Havana Club.

The menu from Trailer Happiness at their pop up at Baba au Rum. I especially liked the flavor and spicy kick of the jerk spiced Voodoo Island, both frutiy, spicy and smoky.

The view from the stairs of Zappeon.

Athens:

The Acropolis is like a guardian of the city…The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the 1687 siege by the Venetians in the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded…

The heaters at the rooftop cocktail bar at the “A for Athens” hotel looks like flying saucers that just landed….and the sun started to set…

A to go with the sunset…a matching colored drink called the “Polyphemus the Cyclops”.This drink was actually a sort of Zombie with a blend of Plantation OFTD, Chairman`s Reserve and Bacardi rums, spicy. The drink on the right side is called “Wear Sunscreen” and is a blend of Plantation Pineapple rum, Bacardi Gold, Don`s Mix, Coconut edible sunscreen (whatever that means…)

And the sun exploded in fiery colors…

Part of the menu at “A for Athens”

The Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, built in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power, seen from the rooftop bar at the “A for Athens” hotel cocktail bar. When you see it like that at night, it`s really magic, it adds a certain feel of the past to the present.

And of course it´s stunningly beautiful, pictures does not do it justice.

The Parthenon/Acropolis lit up to spread magic and beauty.

And the view in daylight from the rooftop restaurant at the Astor hotel. This is what you can call a breakfast with a view….

Zoomed in view of Mount Lycabettus/Λυκαβηττός, pronounced [likaviˈtos], a Cretaceous (the period between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago) limestone hill in Athens, at 300 meters (908 feet) above sea level. Pine trees cover its base, and at its two peaks are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a restaurant.

Rooftops of Athens.

Piraeus, seen from the rooftop bar Mary Pickford which we were lucky to get to on their last day before closing since it´s a seasonal summer bar that was created by the team of Baba au Rum along with Varoulko Seaside. Great view, great cocktails, great bartenders, fantastic seafood and great music sums up this place.

Seafood….at Mary Pickford. I don`t know what I was eating, I just know it was really amazing.

Incredibly tasty, a coffee Mai Tai at the Speakeasy.

Baba au Rum Cocktails.

And their Zombie…

And Baba Rum Sour with Barbancourt rum and a decent float of Cadenhead Cask Strength rum from the Bellevue distillery.

The beautiful National Gardens, located right behind the Zappeon Hall.

Impressive plants in the park. In the 1920s the park was renamed “National Garden”and became opened to the public and in honour of Queen Amalia of Greece, the entrance was moved to the 12 palms she planted and the street in front was renamed Queen Amalia Avenue. Since then the National Garden, is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

Baba au Rums iconic carousel…just love this one!

And my favorite bar in Athens, Baba au Rum.

Pretty much sums it up! Cafe”Just Made 33″ a great place for breakfast.

Hello Athens and thank you! I will be back!

Foursquare Triptych Single Blended Rum

I`m not sure if I have seen so much anticipation regarding a rum in a while and with that of course you build up high expectations. Knowing the rum is from Foursquare in collaboration with Velier you expect it to be a quality product and with that I mean quality in the real sense (free from additives, tasty and well made).

It`s also something with this type of bottle that Velier (and now Foursquare) is using, this black and oh so very RUM-like bottle that I think many of us Velier fans have got to really love and associate with simply very good rum. It`s like it has some sort of magic that just simply wants you to own it, maybe it`s  because you know the rum in them traditionally very often is exceptional.

So of course I had high expectations too of this rum with the intriguing name Triptych and couldn´t wait to try it. And when I did BOOM! … all I can say is – this is a very good rum….exactly what my palette loves and wants when it comes to rum.

It has an edge to it, it´s very flavorful, multilayered, complex and strong (just the way I like it) it comes at 56% ABV. The rum is very well made, and it´s well…rum…pure rum. Both Velier (who is a private bottler) and Foursquare (distillery) has established a solid reputation of producing consistently good products that are not doctored, sugared or full of additives. They don`t need to, because they come up with well made products in the first place and see to quality before quantity.

So what does the word triptych mean you might ask? I`m not an english speaker by birth so i had no idea when the rum first was talked about so some googling was in order and the word means this –

Triptych – pronounced -ˈtrɪptɪk

A picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together vertically and used as an altarpiece.

A set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.

To find out a little bit more about what inspired this rum, it`s name and how it was made I asked Richard Seale and it`s a blend of three rums from three different styles of cask that inspired the name Triptych.

“The 2004 is aged in ex-bourbon and is the classic Foursquare rum.

The 2005 is aged in ex-madeira. I like to use ex-madeiras. Madeira has a historic link with Barbados. It was an important stop in the Atlantic en route from England and being Portuguese was a friendly port for the English. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a lot of madeira was brought and consumed in the Island. The barrels were almost certainly used for rum.

The 2007 is primarily pot stilled rum aged in virgin American oak.

The three rums brought a nice balance together. The 2004 is essential to give the modern recognisable Foursquare style, while the 2005 is to bring a more historic profile to the rum. The use of ex-bourbons probably only dates to the 1940s. The 2007, pot still in virgin oak is also a more historic style and obviously brings the heaviest rum flavours to the blend.

The rum has been well received. Serge Valentin gave it 5 stars (90 points) and International Spirit Challenge (ISC), London gave it the Rum Trophy.

Try the nose in a wide rimmed glass for best effect.”

The bottle and the label

And then the bottle and the label, in true Velier style, are really clever and beautiful in their simplistic style that`s being used by Velier for so long and this particular Triptych bottle, along with the equally anticipated Foursquare 2006 happens to look very much like the two “holy grails” of rum, the Skeldon 73 and 78.

Same style and colors, and this style of bottle and the type of labels has with time achieved a cult status among rum enthusiasts and has become a sign of high class and standard which no fancy so called “premium” rum bottles will ever even get close to.

But despite the cool bottles…here it is NOT the bottle or label that sells the rum…it`s the content in the bottle – and the fact that consumers who are aware knows that the rum in these bottles are good stuff that are not doctored in any way.

The Triptych is a limited edition full proof rum (for rum connoisseurs mostly) and I´d say if you really are into rum and can get it, then go get it. And if you say “I don`t like rum” you have just not yet tasted the real one and should try to get to taste rums like this. Keep an eye open for more fine rums from the Foursquare Distillery (and/with Velier) because when these limited edition rums come out they go as fast as they came.

Unfortunately also partly because some buys up several bottles and put them out on EBay to skyrocketing prices, shame on them! that`s what happened to the Foursquare 2006 which many true and serious rum enthusiasts never got a chance to get their hands on or even try . But the price range of Foursquare rums in general is very consumer friendly, it doesn´t cost and arm and a leg to buy a bottle and you still get a well made pure rum.

I really like that Foursquare are now starting to produce some high proof rums with big flavors and what I have tasted so far is really really promising.

So here are my taste notes of the Triptych:

In the nose: Intense, with mashed well matured tropical fruits, apricots and peaches, dark plums and cherries. Light wood and pencil shavings, hints (slight) of vanilla and cocoa. It`s a very inviting nose for sure.

The mouth: I find the taste to be fruity, round and full with light woody tones, cherry, apricot, a brief gentle caress of vanilla that is passing by…followed by orange peel, tropical fruits and oak and spice and all in a very balanced orchestra of intense flavors.

Aftertaste and finish: Medium long finish that does not overpower but let`s itself be known for a while.

Color: A beautiful deep and clear amber. Not as dark as you`d think by looking at the bottle.

Final thoughts: No adjusting time for this rum needed on my part, it was instant love! It`s robust and complex with a lot going on, more than I can find words for. It`s a well made product, they know what they are doing. And it`s definitely a so called “sipping rum” but that`does not mean that you cannot make good drinks with it…because good rum makes good drinks – but since it`s very precious and I most likely won`t find another bottle, I`d make very few drinks and here is one – it`s a Trader Vic`s Mai Tai (using Triptych as the only rum and the new Alamea Exotic Infusions Peach Brandy instead of orange curacao)  and the rest I will save for sipping.

Looking forward to enjoy more rums of this caliber from Foursquare!

Alamea Exotic Infusions!

Tiki World Rejoice!! This is super exciting! four stunning products will soon be released (in october) that I know especially the tiki world will LOVE! It`s the Tiki maestro Daniele Dalla Pola behind them, you know that guy who loves pineapples so much? and builds up a real show during his entertaining presentations? and not to mention amazing tiki drinks and tiki drink photography, plus he owns the Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna, Italy.

The vintage style tiki labels on these products are something you really want in your tiki bar or home bar or any bar for that matter. They are stunning work of exotic tropical art! And the products? I have tasted them all and they are just as good as i thought, or even better. Personally I do not ever want to not have them in my home tiki happy place/bar. These will be available for shipping worldwide and I will update in this post when the website is ready.

The name Alamea on the label is named after a starfish species (crown-of-thorns starfish). An old Samoan saying is that among Samoan traditional fishermen it has been said that if you happen to get stung by the spines of the alamea, you should turn the starfish over and have its spongy-like feet touch the area where you have been stung and the alamea will heal its own doing.

Here are my taste notes and impressions of the Alamea Hawaiian Coffee Liqueur, Peach Brandy Liqueur, Pimento Rum Liqueur and Spiced Rum.

Alamea Hawaiian Coffee Liqueur

Deep Coffee flavor from Hawaiian coffee…sumptuous and satisfying.

Alamea Pimento Rum Liqueur

I tasted it side by side with the Hamilton Pimento Dram and I find the Hamilton to have more punch and body but this one to be more refined and frankly I like them both equally much. I think they can be preferred in different drinks depending on how heavy the drink is. Sometimes a heavier or lighter pimento dram may be called for.

Alamea Peach Brandy Liqueur

This one is so good I could lick the bottle, it´s just so incredibly TASTY! made from fresh peaches of italy.

Alamea Spiced

One of the best spiced I`ve had. I`m usually not a fan of spiced rums so very much but it depends, and this one I find to be good and not too sweet (super important when it comes to spiced rums) and with natural flavors.

You will see more of these products on this website in the future because I know I will use them a whole lot. So now…on to the drinks! these are fun to mix with and a great addition to the tiki and other exotic (and other) cocktails.

O`opa`s Trap

1 oz/30 ml Laphroaig 10 whisky

1.5 oz/45 ml Plantation OFTD overproof rum

0.5 oz/15 ml Alamea Hawaiian Coffee Liqueur

0.25 oz Alamea Pimento Liqueur

0.25 oz/7.5 ml Alamea Spice

0.5 oz/15 ml banana cream mix*

1.5 oz/45 ml fresh lime juice

1.5 oz/45 ml fresh pineapple juice

Blend in blender with 1 cup/2.5 dl crushed ice and pour into a zombie (chimney) glass and add more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with cocktail umbrella and speared Fabbri Amarena cherries.

Banana Cream Mix – 1 part butter + 1 part honey + 1 part banana syrup

Make a simple syrup with 2:1 ratio of demerara sugar and water (about 1 cup/2.5dl of sugar) and slice 1 banana in it and mash slightly with a fork and bring to boil, then simmer on medium-low heat for a couple minutes. Take off heat and leave to cool and settle for about 1 hour, then strain and bottle in a clean bottle.

Make the Banana Cream Mix and keep it slightly above room temp for use. This is sumptuous and delicious….perfect for tiki drinks with pineapple, banana and coffee.

2 Ports Cup

1 oz/30 ml GunRoom 2 Ports rum

1 oz/30 ml Plantation OFTD overproof rum

0,75 oz /22.5ml Alamea Peach Brandy Liqueur

0.5 oz/15 ml Campari to float in a half passionfruit shell on top of the ice.

0,75 oz /22.5ml fresh lime juice

0.5 oz/15 ml fresh pineapple juice

0.5 oz/15ml passionfruit juice

The passionfruit seeds from one passionfruit.

Add everything to shaker except the Campari and shake hard with ice, strain into a snifter. Add the passionfruit shell with the Campari float on top of the ice, to be floated before drinking. Garnish with pineapple leaf.

Punch Taiohaè

2 oz/60 ml fresh pineapple juice

0.75 oz/22.5 ml cream of coconut

0.25 oz/7.5 ml Alamea Hawaiian

Coffee Liqueur

1 oz/ 40 ml fresh lime juice

0.5 oz/15 ml Alamea Spice rum

1 oz/30 ml aged rhum agricole

0.5 oz/15 ml Demerara rum

0.5 oz/15 ml Appleton Rare Blend (Appleton 12)

Blend with 1 cup/2.5 dl crushed ice or shake very hard with ice cubes to get that cream of coconut to mix in perfectly and pour into a tiki mug filled with crushed ice.

Garnish with grated nutmeg, flower, tropical leaf and 3 speared cocktail cherries, Fabbri Amarena or Luxardo.

Aloha Nui Loa!

 

GunRoom 2 Ports Rum

Here`s an interesting rum with great taste from the Swedish company, Renbjer and Magnusson. GunRoom 2 Ports Rum is a blend of aged and unaged rums from Jamaica and Trinidad. Just like the GunRoom Navy Rum, the 2 Ports Rum is also their own creation/brand with a very similar label although it´s a different type of bottle. This rum belongs to the GunRoom Pouring Range. The pouring range is high quality products at reasonable prices so that in the bar you can afford to pour good spirits into the usual drinks.

This room is a mixture of two different origins. It consists of a aged rum from Trinidad with an age between 2-5 years and a minor portion of unaged Jamaican pot still rum. It`s a bright rum with character where the taste comes through in drinks. Perfect in Daiquiris or other rum cocktails. And a daiquiri – which is the rum test cocktail – is one of the two drinks I made.

But before that, here´s my impressions from sipping it neat.

Nose: The nose is fruity with mashed ripe tropical fruits, I get to think about mango, pineapple, peaches, apricots and banana surrounded by sugarcane sweetness..

Mouth: I like flavorful rums and this rum has character, with flavors of tropical fruits same as in the nose with a hint of….arrack? could be because the first GunRoom rum has it. It`s fruity in a sort of light way but not so light it loses it´s character, it has a well defined flavor. It`s a good rum for cocktails, especially daiquiris and of course it`s a pleasant little sipper too.

Aftertaste: In the aftertaste the banana flavors says “hi” most likely hailing from the Jamaican pot still part of the duo. It`s a light aftertaste that does linger shortly but nicely.

The color is clear due to the active carbon filtering taking away the color derived from the barrel during ageing. The abv is 40%, 80 proof.

Conclusion: I can`t find anything negative about this rum, it´s a great overall rum for cocktails and sipping neat. I don`t think anything is added to it. The only thing maybe could be that I would love to try it at a higher abv with a bit more bite…

I decided to mix the GunRoom 2 Ports with another rum to see how it went, so I picked Plantation OFTD for that since a little kick of overproof always is to my liking. Then a little sweet, some sour, some weak and a little spice and bitter in the form of a float of Campari which I think turned out really well because the Campari played nicely around with the flavors in the drink.

2 Ports Cup

1 oz/30 ml GunRoom 2 Ports rum

1 oz/30 ml Plantation OFTD overproof rum

0,75 oz /22.5ml Alamea Peach Brandy Liqueur (soon to be available worlwide by Daniele Dalla Pola, review of his exotic infusions coming soon.)

0.5 oz/15 ml Campari to float in a half passionfruit shell on top of the ice.

0,75 oz /22.5ml fresh lime juice

0.5 oz/15 ml fresh pineapple juice

0.5 oz/15ml passionfruit juice

The passionfruit seeds from one passionfruit.

Add everything to shaker except the Campari and shake hard with ice, strain into a snifter. Add the passionfruit shell with the Campari float on top of the ice, to be floated before drinking. Garnish with pineapple leaf.

And of course I wanted to test this rum in a classic daiquiri (Jeff BeachBum Berry formula) and it passed the test and did well.

GunRoom 2 Ports Daiquiri 

2 level teaspoons sugar blend –
(4 parts organic white cane sugar to 1 part turbinado or demerara sugar)
1 oz/30 ml fresh lime juice
2 oz/60 ml GunRoom 2 Ports rum
Garnish: lime wheel

Combine the sugar blend and lime juice in a mixing tin and stir until the sugar has fully dissolved into the lime juice.
Add the rum to the sugar and lime mixture, along with large cubes of ice, cracked with a bar spoon.
Quickly shake and strain the drink into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Garnish with a lime wheel.

FINE Drinking takes a peek at TIKI!

The 5th issue of the FINE Drinking Magazine is out for the summer! and it has a Tiki section! yep! and a very fine one too….in which also yours truly got a chance to talk a little about the upcoming book “Best of a Mountain of Crushed Ice” – Favorite Tropical and Tiki Cocktails. But there is more…of course and apart from the tiki section there`s a whole lot of interesting articles, among them one on Plantation rum. The magazine contains 129 pages!

The first thing I get in my mind when holding a new issue of Fine Drinking is it´s amazing quality and how thick it is, there´s something for everyone in each single issue with articles spanning from such diverse topics as sparkling wine to cigars and coffee flavor to fine drinking in Beirut…and to exotic tiki. The FINE Drinking Magazine started last year and published four different issues, one for every three months and with the fifth coming up just now.

I did the only thing that felt just right to me when I received it, I poured a glass of  the amazing Foursquare Triptych rum and sat back and immersed myself in some real fine drinking and reading…. You will read here about Triptych too, soon. A pure single rum too good to not write about.

I have written about Thanos Prunarus before, in my first post about the FINE Drinking magazine and also when I wrote about my visit to his rum bar, Baba au Rum in Athens, a trip I will never forget because the good folks over at Baba they go out of their way with their hospitality to make you feel right at home…and that I think is the secret about Baba, you feel like you are part of a family drinking cocktails in their living room. But it`s not just any “cocktails”…these are world-class craftmanship! And they also have a not -to-be-ashamed-of rum selection, it`s a rum bar after all. But if you want something else, they got that too. They make sure you as their guest leaves fully happy whatever your drinking preferences are, and of course you will return, Baba is a very happy place!. When you enter you will get much more than fine drinks.

In june, Baba au Rum and Linje Tio (part of Tjoget. and operated by bar manager Ludde Grenmo) in Stockholm had a guest bartending exchange and when Thanos came here with his lovely wife Katerina I did meet up with them for a sunny day in the city, followed by some chatting over a couple of tiki drinks at Sweden`s only tiki bar the Tiki Room and then the next day off to Linje Tio (which is a really great bar!) to try out the drinks Thanos so swiftly and expertly made. It was a joy to see him work, fast, elegant and the drinks were as beautifully presented as they tasted.

And one of the drinks I fell in love with…the drink was called Les Fleurs du Mal and was a mix of matching herbal, mango and pine spirits, a twist of celery, lemon and tonic and it was nothing but amazing! now don`t get me wrong, they were all amazing but this one stood out from the rest and since “the rest” were already amazing – that says something about how this drink tasted.

Fleur du Mal

But also very memorable was a drink called “Supremus no 56” – includes rhum agricole from Martinique and white tea….summer fruits and scent of lime – the recipe will be in my book.

The “Conceptual Form” was a concoction using lemons, elderflower, Campari and Baba au Rum`s own house-made Fassionola created by Elias Stergiopolous – which is a VERY tasty version of Fassionola. I have based my own recipe on that one, will also be in my book! The Conceptual Form was dedicated to pioneer of International bartending, Ben Reed. And the last drink was called “Lost Lovers” a very tasty drink with full bodied aged rum, Pedro Ximenez sherry giving it a flavor of cocoa, vanilla and smoke, followed by mature fruits, orange notes and spring blossom.

Both Baba au Rum and Linje Tio was awarded “World`s 50 Best Bars” 2017, Linje Tio is Sweden’s first bar to make The World’s 50 Best Bars and Baba au Rum also was awarded in 2013 and 2016. So combine the two and let Linje Tio go to Baba in Athens and then Baba go to Linje Tio in Stockholm = success! It was a very memorable evening 🙂 and I`m sure the Athens experience with Linje Tio cocktails was just as memorable.

I think the name of this magazine, Fine Drinking, says a whole lot, it embodies a concept of highest quality and attention to detail in everything from drinking to travelling and reading, there´s a lot of thought behind it and it definitely works! the bar Baba au Rum is run by the same concept and it´s all the brainchild of Thanos and the work of his team of amazing and talented people.

This fall, less than 2 months away it´s time for the 2nd Athens Rum & Whiskey Festival! September 30 and October 1st at Zappeion Megaron, downtown Athens! Festival includes participation, seminars and master-classes from highly distinguished international guests, specializing in rum and whiskey. The festival in Athens aims to shine light on influential personalities that relate to rum and whiskey within Greece as well as around the world.

Fine Drinking can be ordered from www.finedrinkingmagazine.com

 

FINE Drinking and fine rum…

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.