And finally….finally the holy grail (or one of the grails) and wet dream of rum landed in my hands…..the Skeldon. The true genie in a bottle that can make magic is not a genie….it´s a rum!
The 1973 Skeldon, is a 32 year old rum from Guyana (abv 60.5%) by the independent bottler Velier and which over the years has earned a cult status among rum connaisseurs and collectors. Unavailable nowadays as far as I know unless you are lucky to score a sample somewhere or even a big bottle maybe, if your pocket is as deep as this rum…..
On the back of the label it says “aged 32 years in tropical weather” “Produced 544 bottles”. The angels share (the contents in the barrel evaporating over time) which concentrates the flavors, color and viscosity, must be something like 75-80%.
It´s a very long time I have wanted to try the Skeldon 73 and 78 (years) and finally my turn has come to be able to try the 1973 expression. I have a firm belief that the good rums sooner or later eventually comes to those who truly appreciates them……This little sample is to me as precious a treasure as a treasure box in all it`s glory…and this might be Luca´s very best rum ever. My mind goes to the best I know of and have tried of the rums from Velier, the UF30E – which I find incredible, will this one be as good or better or can they even compare? I`m sure not….they gotta be very different rums.
I take a look at the little sample bottle…the rum in there has a dark brownish color with hues of deep red…yes red, a pronounced dark deep red…and when I take pics of it in the glass it shows even purple hues…like a dark red purplish tinted wine…amazing.
The history of this rum goes back to the Skeldon sugar plantation which was established between 1802 – 1834 by William Ross on the far east part of Guyana, or more exactly, on the west bank of the Corentyne river, near the border of Suriname. From what I read on the pictures of the labels both the 73 and 78 was distilled in a coffey still in 1973 and bottled in 2005, so makes 32 long tropical years – but exactly where it was distilled I´m not sure…..since the Skeldon facility closed down in 1960. But during the last decade stills have been moved from one distillery to another and most likely the Skeldon still and it`s marques were moved to Uitvlught.
Ah… some of the mysteries of the old Guyana sugar plantations and their stills…will we ever know? I think not…and maybe that’s the best because when the magic is gone it´s gone…so let it remain…
And in true “Gargano manner”, Luca Gargano found the last barrels of it…(4 barrels!) – just like he found all those forgotten Caroni barrels in a warehouse at the defunct distillery on Trinidad …. and the 1980 Damoiseau…which was considered to not be “any good” since it contained a bit of molasses….(or it was rejected by the AOC) but Luca sensing a hidden gem bought almost the entire stock and and in 2002 released it at cask strength and that my friends was the beginning of the Velier era. Damosieu held back some of that rum which they released later at the same strength, probably taking notice Luca was on to something.
Luca is like the ultimate “rum finder” in the rum world…it seems that he just knows where the precious stuff is….and he transforms them into true gems of pure rums, all tropically aged and very unique, every expression is a one of a kind. When these rums are gone it`s an era that will be over.
That said, luckily for us, there`s also new rums in the making, for example the very interesting and unique Clairin rums from Haiti issued by Velier and the fabulous pure single rums from Habitation Velier which is a collaboration between Luca Gargano and the best producers of pot still rums. Also the Foursquare distillery has come out with some remarkable rums in collaboration with Velier like the single blend “Foursquare 2006” (a blend of pot still rum and twin column Coffey still rum from one distillery) – which sold out within just a few hours after it´s release….yeah….to some sort of collective chock among serious rum enthusiasts making it´s ripples through social media, it was just gone – and nope this girl didn`t score a bottle…but I scored a sample.
But back to the legendary old Skeldon…
So in an attempt to describe the taste notes of this rum from my notes made on an envelope as they came paired with the notes I got when I re-tasted it a few days later:
Nose – first hint – I first got something medical in my nose which gave way to liqorice…followed by musky dark prunes and black fruits, burnt molasses, leather, cocoa and tar…then mature tropical fruits, hint of banana peel, old wood, whiffs of caramel and slight hints of dark dark coffee…it´s a “dark” rum and I`m not talking about the color now but dark fruits and dark “stuff” and the nose is very very deep…
Taste – Hands down unbelievable, an explosion of flavors going out in all directions, but it`s balanced, complex and multi layered, so several tastings is needed. There´s charred wood, mashed tropical fruits, prunes and dark plums…liqorice, tobacco, tar and leather, black cherries…absolutely incredible and so deep and rich and full! It has kick but no burn…there is nothing that is unpleasant, nothing at all, it´s like a fine orchestra handling even the wildest and heaviest notes in full balance with both elegance, attitude and originality, it´s that exquisite.
It´s a heavy rum and strong, but the high proof is not difficult to handle.
Finsh – One thing surprised me, the long finish! it´s epic….!!! After I took my first small sips I decided to check the clock and see how long the finish stayed. After 30 minutes I said to myself, ok, this is long….and I`m impressed….but my dinner was ready so I decided to cut it and have my meal. I could always take the time again at the next session. After the meal and a lot of water – hints of the aftertaste was STILL there! incredible! and that has never happened to me before.
I also decided to do a glass-smell-test, by leaving the tasting glass unwashed and see for how long the smell of the rum stayed in it…something only a geek would do…well, it`s been three days and the smell or shall we say fragrance? is still there but today all of a sudden, I detect more buttery notes of caramel…
What a rum! it shows how a really excellent rum can be…and what the potential is…between two rums there can not only be “another world” it can truly be a whole other universe! in my opinion, this kind of rum can rival or equal anything of the best of anything in the spirits world. And the best thing is, there is nothing added to it, it`s just pure rum!
And last I want to thank the opportunity to officially thank my friend Lance for making it possible for me to try this wonder of a rum and also providing the pics of the big bottle and the pic of the back of the label. I want to add that he has what to me is the very best of all rum blogs, the “Lone Caner” containing an incredible amount of excellent reviews.
Another excellent source which is the most complete and in-detail writing on the history of the rums, sugar plantations and stills of Guyana where I have found lots of valuable information is the Barrel Aged Mind.
So here`s Tiki month again! you know february is tiki month right? at least it is on the Pegu blog which every february since 8 years, turns into a tiki blog for one month. And I always follow suit even though every month is tiki month for me 🙂
The other day I read his first post where he talks about the tiki-transformation of his basement bar where he have installed a freakin`VOLCANO! it erupts too….you can see it here in this video, I think this volcano is brilliant! and he built it himself. That`s pretty freakin`cool isn`t it?
So since we are in the tiki month that requires me to post up something…and I have a drink that seems to keep living on despite it was back in 2009 I made it for the Mixoloseum TDN (Thursday Drink Night) when the theme was Zombie, so I posted it and then forgot about it, until years later I heard it was served at the former PKNY in New York.
Then a couple years after that it was found in the book the “Zombie Horde” by the Professor Cocktail (David J Montgomery) a whole book dedicated ONLY to the Zombie drink with no less than 86 different Zombie and Zombie style recipes included, spanning from Don the Beachcombers 1934 Zombie Punch and over the years to more modern takes in 2013.
Now in 2016 a new version of it has emerged…a fabulous take on this drink elevating it to new levels of booze heights – or rather 2 new versions has emerged, because there´s also a version of the 2016 which transforms the focus from coconut to banana…
Yeah we are geeks here…
This is obviously a drink you can have fun and tinker with a lot! it`s not a traditional Zombie per se, not really, because ther isn`t much it has in common with say the 1934 Zombie Punch but it´s more a “Zombie-like” drink and the name “Guyana Zombie” due to the demerara rum content has stuck with it.
The 2016 version is made by none other than Tacoma Cabanas tiki master and fire wizard, Jason Alexander and he has invented a fantastic thing called “Spiced Coconut Honey” which is crazy good! so what i`m gonna do for this tiki month is posting up these drinks including pics of Jason`s earlier takes on this drink which he made at the Tacoma because I think they look beautiful.
Then there´s another drink worth a mention, Jason`s Colada Noir…
Guyana Zombie (my origial version from 2009)
2 oz demerara rum
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz honey-mix
1 tsp cream of coconut
0.5 oz fresh lime
A decent float of 151 demerara
Serve in goblet or other glass (or tiki mug) with crushed ice.
Blend with crushed ice at high speed for 5 sek. Pour into goblet with more crushed ice. Garnish with a little pinch of sprinkled demerara sugar, lime wedge and brandied cherry.
It`s boozy and full flavored in that kinda way that makes you feel satisfied but you still want more…
Next up is Jason`s brilliantly updated version, and now the cream of coconut and honey-mix has given way to “spiced coconut honey” and a dash of falernum makes it`s way with some extra zest:
2016 Guyana Zombie
A dash or two of Angostura bitters
3/4 oz lime
3/4 oz pineapple
1 oz Spiced Coconut Honey*
1/4 oz falernum
2 oz demerara rum
1 oz float of demerara 151
*Spiced Coconut Honey
9 oz Cream of Coconut (Lopez or Real)
9 oz Honey (not syrup!)
6 oz cinnamon syrup
3 oz Spices #2 (equal parts vanilla syrup and allspice liqueur)
Blend at high speed 5 sek or shake with ice, Pour into a snifter or fancy tiki glass or mug.
It´s a very tasty drink, no doubt!
I also made a version of this with banana syrup switching the flavor focus from coconut to banana. It turned out great! coconut, banana and pineapple they go very well together….
Guyana Banana Zombie
Served in one of Wim Thieleman`s fantastic tiki mugs the Marquesan Coconut!
A dash or two of Angostura bitters
3/4 oz lime
3/4 oz pineapple
1 oz Banana syrup
1/4 oz falernum
2 oz Hamilton Guyana
1 oz float of Cruzan Blackstrap
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass or tiki mug filled with crushed ice and garnsih with a piece of pineapple and tropical orchid.
And here is two of Jason`s takes on the original Guyana Zombie, made at Tacoma where this drink was very appreciated and no wonder when not only does it taste good, he makes them so pretty!
Also at Tacoma Cabana, Jason created a stunning version of the Pina Colada calling it Colada Noir…it´s the darker side of the normally so innocent Pina Colada…
1/2 oz lime
3/4 oz Cream of Coconut
3/4 oz Swedish Punsch
2 oz Pineapple juice
2 oz Rational Spirits Santeria (or Smith and Cross rum)
Shake with ice and strain into a tiki glass – and you may set it on fire too!
Which Jason did….and here´s a video in slow motion when Jason makes the flames filmed by Matt Pietrek aka Cocktailwonk. I`m totally mezmerized by this video…..it´s something hypnotic over fire filmed in slow motion and where the sound is like it´s coming from some mystic underworld…
And finally…I made a version of the Colada Noir but using banana syrup because I wanted to see how it tasted, i`m in love with banana syrup! I nowadays find myself “bananaize” a lot of drinks…good drinks to use banana syrup in are the Coladas, Boo Loo, Coconauts and drinks with citrus and tropical fruit juices as well as tiki drinks containing coffee which I shall post about soon.
Colada Noir Banane
0.5 oz lime juice
0.75 oz Cream of Coconut
0.5 oz strong Kona coffee (or Blue Mountain (Jamaica) or Community Coffee (New Orleans) brewed then cooled.
0.5 oz banana syrup
2 oz Rational Spirits Santeria (or Smith and Cross rum)
2 oz Pineapple juice
Blend in blender at high speed 5 sec with 1 cup crushed ice and pour into a snifter.
Fill up with more crushed ice if needed and garnish with a pineapple leaf and tropical orchid.
You can shake it too of course, but it gets more froothy with a blender.
Disclaimer – I may be the brand ambassador for Rational Spirits but this specific post is a post for the Tiki month as A Mountain of Crushed Ice.
And so finally I got to go the Latitude 29! I´ve been waiting since they opened with great anticipation and (high) expectancy…..well…I try to not have too high expectations whatever it is, better to have an open mind, but with this one i`s a bit different….because this is the BUM`s place….this is the man who uncoded all the secret codes and brought us all these lost drink recipes and who wrote no less than six stellar books on the subject if you count in Taboo Table.
His books have been my to go tiki drink (and history) books for years and so now he and his wife Annene Kay aka Mrs Bum opens a real tiki bar in my favorite city New Orleans!
And I wasn`t there when they opened….and had to wait all the way until this year´s Tales before I could finally go and see it – and in the meantime I`ve been drooling over all the food and drink pictures (can you say Tahitian Steak Frites?) and the drinks…..oh the drinks….
I`ve seen so many beautiful pictures of these drinks that I didn`t know what to start with….but I ended up ordering a Pontchartrain Pearl Diver as my first drink – in the NEW Pearl Diver`s glass! 🙂
The Pearl Diver`s glass, the Swizzle cup and the skull barspoons are all new for this summer in collaboration with Jeff Berry and Cocktail Kingdom and they were sold at the Tales but are also available online. The vintage Pearl Diver`s Punch glass is more or less impossible to find anymore so I`m really happy they are re-making them and same for the cool swizzle cup! I hope to see more re-making of these type of vintage tiki drink glasses….
And not only are the glasses really cool they come in beautiful vintage looking packages too!
The Pontchartrain Pearl Diver was good…..very very good – well balanced and oh so tasty! I didn`t try so very many drinks during the Tales because it was so incredibly busy….and so was I…so I decided to wait until after Tales and THEN go there for some serious drink tasting!
So last friday I went there early and I sat there and happily indulged Tahitian Steak Frites with luscious Coconut Butter and later a Mahi Mahi Bahn Mi accompanied by a whole array of drinks until in the evening, I actually spent a whole “working day” in the place!
And I had a nice chat with the Bum, about rums and rums and rums…and of course, tiki drinks. I was indeed a very good day….The place is so cool and relaxed, beautifully decorated and the music is great! with everything from real good and cool old style Jamaican reggae to surf music! and the co-bar manager Steven Yamada and his staff are very attentive, friendly and nice.
It`s really a place to go not only for the great drinks and food but also to escape from the world outside and it doesn`t matter if there´s big windows to the outside world…..because this is New Orleans! and the view from the beautiful arched windows is nothing but beautiful….over the pool and the tropical plants in the courtyard of Bienville House Hotel.
This used to be housing the former Iris restaurant, I went there in 2009 with all the Tales bloggers and now I cannot recognize the restaurant and bar anymore, it´s a total different world! quite the transformation….the only things that looks the same is the courtyard and the hotel lobby.
Take a look:
Back in 2009…Alan Walther tends the bar at Iris…..and he did serve some amazing cocktails! he later moved on to Loa, this was long before the Iris became what it is today – a true tiki haven!
The Tales Blogger Dinner in 2009 in the former Iris restaurant, the same view today of the beautiful courtyard and pool but the dining room has dramatically changed…..
This is such a tranquil and peaceful place….if staying at this hotel you get both all this plus the Latitude29 in one place…..
Eat Drink and be Merry!
Hurricane, Kea Colada and Royal Hawaiian Cocktail.
The food menu has something for everyone! executive Chef Chris Shortall and his staff creates their own take on modern Tiki Cuisine which is playful and tasty and there`s something for everyone including options for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free guests.
First thing I opted for was the Tahitian Steak Frites which I`ve been dreaming about since they opened…..
The Tahitian Steak Frites are tender, luscious and juicy (I ordered mine medium-rare) served with hot crispy thin fries and a tasty dipping sauce plus a dollop of coconut butter on top! the Bum told me that in Tahiti they add coconut to the cow´s diet and therefore everything the cows are producing have a touch of coconut flavor…heavenly….and so they wanted to re-create that idea here with the coconut butter.
I LOVE it!
I`m not joking, I think I could eat this almost every day….the meat is so tender and melts in your mouth together with that lovely coconut butter….
The Mahi Mahi Bahn Mi is wild caught Mahi poached in coconut oil, jalapeño, sriracha, and shallot….and at a Chef`s Challenge before the Tales I tried the ribs which are very tasty too….and not to forget the crispy green beans!
Another nice dish is the Shrimps in Blanket, the gulf shrimps here really are something special. They are big and juicy….and have more shrimp flavor than shrimps I`ve tasted anywhere else.
Shrimps in Blanket
These green beans were amazing…..
An array of seductive tropical tiki drinks…..
When you enter a tiki bar you want to be seduced….you want to forget the daily struggles and take a “trip to the South Seas” with exotic tropical drinks! (inspired by drinks in the Caribbean….) 🙂
So I started with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver….it`s such a good drink!…..balanced, fruity and rummy! The Pearl Diver is a mix of honey-butter-spice mix blended with passion fruit, lime and Jamaica rum. The butter adds a wonderful slightly viscous mouth-feel, if you didn`t know it was butter in the mix you wouldn`t know what it was but you would know there was something there….
After the Pearl Diver I had the namesake drink of this bar – the Latitude 29…..it comes in a tall glass wrapped in banana leaf for that real tropical feel – and you get that cool gorgeous swizzle stick! – made after the wall art by Bosko! The drink is made with eight-year Demerara rum, passion fruit purée, house made Madagascar vanilla syrup, orange, pineapple and lemon.
They are both gorgeous in their presentations with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver in the new re-made super cool Pearl Diver`s glass.
The Latitude 29
The Rum Barrel is according to the menu a communal drink but it says “For 2 to share, or 1 thirsty pirate to hoard. A kill-devil’s brew of 3 rums, 4 juices, multiple herbs, spices and sweeteners …” – so apparently I`m a “thirsty pirate” since I had no problem drinking it all by myself….
It sure makes you feel like a rummy pirate! 😀
It`s presentation is BEAUTIFUL! and fun! see the picture….they really take time to garnish up these beauties….and the drink itself is strong and rummy/fruity/spicy. One of my favorites!
Rum Barrel, complete with pineapple peel, cherries, orchid, swinging monkeys and umbrella! superfun garnish 🙂
And so is the Coffee Bongo…..also incredibly nicely garnished….with a pineapple leaf cut out to look like a palm tree frond…..topped with two coffee beans….stunning! the drink is also strong/spicy and rummy with lots of character and if you like coffee and pineapple together, you find it here.
Every drink is not rum though….there´s a drink called “Outcast of the Islands” which was amazingly tasty and is a mix of London gin and Persian lime…with cinnamon, ginger, almond and anise, heavenly….
And it LOOKS heavenly too! it comes served with an ice shell…..how cool is that? and the Navy Grog comes with the iconic ice cone which is made with the Bum`s ice cone device sold by Cocktail Kingdom (as well as the Pearl Diver`s glasses, the swizzle cup and the skull bar spoons)
And there are drinks with bourbon, brandy, tequila, beer and vodka….but I haven`t tried them all yet….there`s something for everyone in the drink menu too. Me, I tend to mostly stick to the rums….
Outcast of the Islands and the iconic Navy Grog
The Professor Remsberg`s Punch is a very interesting drink and very tasty too, the drink contains “Fine old Guadeloupe rum, gently stirred with lime and a Caribbean spiced syrup discovered over 30 years ago in San Juan by the Professor himself”…….I wonder what is in that syrup? If you didn`t know, Stephen Remsberg is the world´s biggest rum collector.
Professor Remsberg`s Punch
All the drinks at Latitude 29 are good and well balanced, from the (real, no chemical-mix) Hurricane, Mai Tai, TOTC Swizzle, Nui Nui, Kea Colada, Royal Hawaiian Cocktail, Lapu Lapu, Hawaii 504, Missionary`s Downfall and the Paniolo….which is Kentucky bourbon and Hawaiian macadamia nut liqueur shaken with lime, house made cranberry syrup and a dash of molé bitters.
It`s evident to me that they pay as much attention to the garnishes as the drinks themselves because some of these drinks ar off the charts when it comes to beautiful presentations! you get a little work of art in your hand!
And the drink names alone takes you on a exotic journey…..a lot of them created back in the heydays of tiki.
Tasty, exotic and beautiful.
The Hawaii 504
You know, you need to go there and just try all these heavenly things! btw….between 3 and 6 pm every day it´s Happy Hour with a special menu….where among the drinks you`ll find the Banana Banshee and the Royal Hawaiian Cocktail….both perfect to cool you down when it´s hot outside which is a guaranteed thing in New Orleans during the summer.
And the best thing of all….you get the Steak Frites for half the price! what is there not to love?
The Banana Banshee is a frozen cocktail with Jamaican rum, lime, coconut milk and coconut cream, fresh banana and aztec bitters and topped with grated chocolate!
I also ordered a few off-menu drinks with the help of Jeff Berry`s Total Tiki app, such a handy thing to have! and they were delivered top notch! I think Steve outdid himself with the Coconaut….coming beautifully garnished with a Cruzan Blackstrap float on the side. It tasted absolutely heavenly…..it was a mix of Hamilton 151 Demerara, El Dorado 5, for the rums plus that lovely float of blackstrap to pour yourself 🙂
This Coconaut was incredible!
The Zombie was spicy and nice just as I expected, and just about right with the strength, and the Kamehameha Rum Punch did live up to it´s name…..
Kamehameha Rum Punch and the Zombie…..
This interesting drink recipe is from Sippin`Safari and originates from the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii, as the origin of the drink around 1960.
So who was King Kamehameha you might ask? Kamehameha – also known as Kamehameha the Great was the head of a dynasty ruling the Hawaiian islands for more than a century. The name Kamehameha (pronounced kuh-may-ha-may-ha) means “the one set apart.” He conquered the Hawaiian islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawai`i in 1810.
This drink is actually named after the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii who took the name after the great Hawaiian King – Kamehameha.
Every year on Kamehameha Day (June 11, a state holiday in Hawai’i), National Statuary Hall is the scene of a ceremony in honor of the king and the statue of Kamehameha the Great is draped with lovely (and loooong) leis of fragrant flowers from Hawai’i. The Festival continues to pay tribute to Kamehameha and acts to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.
And as every tiki bar should, there:s also a couple of different communal drinks on the menu, the newest one is a monster drink called the “Plantocracy Punch” for 6-8 people but we were only three so we tried the Lapu Lapu which uses a recipe which according to the menu is a Don The Beachcomber’s “lost” unpublished 1964 recipe, recently discovered by the Bum and presented here for the first time in over 40 years.
And of course it`s appropriately garnished with little mermaids taking a rummy ice bath…..
Fruity, spicy, rummy Lapu Lapu and little mermaids swimming in the bowl….
While sitting in the bar I spotted two Samaroli rum bottles….and so of course I ordered a sample of each….and with the rum samples you get a small shot glass with water and a dropper, neat.
One was the 13 year old Guadeloupe 1998 Rhum Agricole and the other 1988 Demerara Dark Rum. The Guadeloupe is spicy and a touch smokey, with a strong character but at the same time, not too aggressive, it´s fruity, peppery, balanced and picky but also smooth.
A few drops of water brings out a whole array of tropical fruits flavors! this rum is incredible. I REALLY liked it!
The 23 year old 1988 Demerara rum had flavors of wood, macerated tropical fruits, apricot, vanilla, banana peel, mango and something else I couldn`t define…..but here a few drops of water didn`t bring out much change….still very woody, strong and fruity. Also a very good rum! Both of these rums are distilled in the Caribbean and then matured in Scotland.
They are not cheap but they are unique rums and they give you something to remember.
Then I saw a curiosity on the menu….it had a sort of mellow toasty coconut flavor…interesting….and I think it also could be used as ingredient in some of the drinks maybe? how about a Toasted Coconut Daiquiri?
The Interior Decor…..
Here is top crafts….the first thing you notice is of course the big centerpiece which now is in the same spot as the huge mirror was when it was the bar at Iris. The centerpiece is a huge carving of the Pacific Islands in a map in the forms of small tikis made by Daniel Gallardo aka Tiki Tiablo, and it`s a stunning work of art!!
Here is a collage of close-ups of the “Islands” in the map and there´s a nod to New Orleans too….do you see the fleur de lis on top?
Bosko Hrnjak did all the new (non-vintage) light fixtures and all of the new (non-vintage) tiki carvings, wall panels, etc, over 50 of them in total. And Dave “Basement Kahuna” Wolfe did 8 Easter Island carvings on the hut wall-dividers.
It`s all beautiful….
Another (practical) thing I greatly appreciate are the power outlets with USB ports located on each side of the tables, I wish more bars had that, it should be standard everywhere.
Tiki glasses, Barspoons and Orgeat
All tikiphiles already knows about the Pearl Diver`s glass, the swizze cup and the cool skull bar spoons which you can find at the Cocktail Kingdom which I mentioned above….but a new thing is the Latitude29 orgeat which comes in a heavy round glass bottle and is sold in the bar.
I haven`t tried the orgeat yet even though I bought a couple of bottles (USD 15 each) but i`m out travellling so that will have to wait.
So to sum it all up, what I was looking for was how the food and the drinks tasted and were presented and if there´s consistency….(and yes I have returned) and how the decor and the feel of the place was, what music did they play and how loud? is it possible to have a conversation or do you have to scream? and how I was treated as a guest.
Personally I have nothing to complain about, the food and drinks are top class, the decor tasteful and genuinely tiki, it`s a laid back and relaxed feel, the staff attentive, professional and very sweet and so I`ll keep coming back, this is now my primarily watering hole in New Orleans :-).
That said there´s a lot of very good bars here, I just happen to really really like well made tiki drinks and in the relaxed vibe and environment of a real good tiki bar, there I feel the most at home.
wood….spices….molasses….leather….oh my what flavors!
Here`s a 24 year old rum from Guyana by Our Rum and Spirits which is an independent German bottler that all of a sudden ended up in my hands! you know i love demerara rums very very much! couldn`t wait to take a sip of this….
I had never heard of Our Rum and Spirits until now, they are a German independent bottler since 9 years that had 2 rums in the beginning and now have 30 rums. He opened a restaurant in 2011, Gasthaus im Brühl in the town of Hildesheim where they offer rum and fruit brandy tastings.
After being asked if they had rums to sell they started to sell rum from Guyana since june last year. The first batch was Diamond 2003-2014 which now is sold out. It was 60 bottles of 62.5 % ABV demerara rum. Only 3 bottles remain in the restaurant.
And then in december 2014 a load of 100 bottles of rum from Barbados came (43%) which are 48 euros each plus a barrel of this 24 year old demerara rum (61.2 %) , 178 bottles at 110 euros each. The demerara rum is not colored or cold filtered.
Grab it while you can!
This rum was first aged in Britain and came to Germany in 2013.
The barrel is marked MEV which stands for Maine Rum Enmore Versailles which tells us that still the rum was produced in was the Versailles still which is a pot still – it once belonged to the Enmore Distillery.
The Versailles still was first moved to the Enmore Distillery, and then was further moved to the Uitvlugt Distillery in 1993 and later again in the beginning of 2000 when Uitvlugt was closed to the Diamond Distillery, where the still is operating today.
The history of the Guyana sugar estates and their stills is a bit complicated….especially since a lot of information is incomplete or lacking, nevertheless…because of that there´s an air of mystique surrounding the demerara rums and it will most likely continue to stay that way.
But in short, during the hey day of sugar production in Guyana there were something in between 200-380 rum distilleries, that was in the 17th century when almost every sugar estate had their own distillery and then they were slowly declining over time into the mid 18th century and until the turn of the century when only 64 were left.
Then in the 70s only 3 remained, and that was Diamond, Enmore and Uitvlugt out of which Diamond Liquors (Diamond Distillery) and Guyana Distillers (Uitvlugt Distillery) were merged into Demerara Distillers Limited, the DDL which today is the only operating distillery left in Guyana and are mostly known for the El Dorado rums but also sell rums in bulk to private bottlers, like Our Rum and Spirits and the 24 year old demerara rum which i`m reviewing now.
Now on to the review!
In the nose: it`s a deep barrel nose with wood, tropical fruits, leather, apricot, molasses, burnt sugar, hints of vanilla….
In the mouth: Oh wow….so many flavors! the wood flavor is deep without being so much wood that it totally overpowers everything else which sometimes can happen with very old rums, but deep! and it`s bordering the line. It tastes like “an old pirate ship”! hints of leather, dark molasses, apricot, raisin and plums, tropical fruits, orange peel, it´s thick and rich – it´s a woody flavor explosion….but to me there is something very satisfying with these deep rich flavors of very old rums.
Seeing to that there´s very few bottles of it i`d advise you get one if you can, it`s a good rum and for a demerara rum lover, you need this. Their online shop will be open in about 2 weeks from now, keep an eye open!
Wood`s 100 is an excellent overproof navy rum from Guyana and distilled at the diamond distillery using a combination of spirits made in pot and column stills from sugarcane growing on the banks of the river Demerara. The appearance is dark and syrupy and the flavor is unrefined rich demerara with kick and depth. This rum is bursting with good flavors! and a plus in my book – it´s a bit stronger.
Wood`s 100 was awarded ‘Distiller of the Year’ and ‘International Spirits Producer of the Year’ at the 2013 IWSC awards.
It´s been around a long time, more precisely for over a century before it was aqcuired by William Grant and Sons (who also owns the OVD demerara rum) in 2002, but it took me until this year´s UK Rumfest until i finally got to try it. I liked it at first sip – which i knew i would. It`s a down to earth demerara rum, very well suited for tiki drinks.
The nose promises of a flavorful demerara rum, and in the mouth it`s deep, dark and rich, you get burnt sugar and molasses, coffee and spice in a very upfront punch in the face kinda way. And that`s what I also expected from a wooden pot still demerara rum of that strength.
It`s 57% ABV or 114 proof, which is navy strength. It is said that in the old navy days sailors would “prove” the strength of their rum rations by checking that gunpowder doused with rum would still burn (thus verifying that rum was at least 57% ABV.) I once saw a gunpowder test at the Tales of the Cocktail where Lemon Hart 151 made the gunpowder ignite.
The color of it is of course coming from some sort of coloring (caramel) that kinda black doesn`t come from the barrel. If it has sugar added or not I don`t know.
There isn`t very much to find online storywise on this rum so it´s time to make a few drinks, starting with a classic:
3 dots and a dash
0.5 oz Lime Juice
0.5 oz Orange Juice
0.5 oz Honey Mix*
0.25 oz Falernum
0.25 oz Pimento Dram
6 oz Crushed Ice
0.5 oz Wood`s 100 Demerara Rum
1.5 oz Rhum agricole vieux (aged) Rum
Combine everything into a blender and blend at high speed for about 5 seconds. Pour into a tiki mug or a glass and garnish with 3 cherries speared on wood. The garnish is a slight variation from the original recipe where the wood spear is the dash instead of a piece of speared pineapple.
Honey mix – 1 part Honey + 1 part Water, heat to dissolve the honey and then cool to room temp.
Dark and Dusky (A variation on the “Dark and Stormy”)
0.5 oz fresh lime
0.25 oz pimento dram
2 oz Wood`s 100 Demerara Rum
Top up with Ginger Beer
Garnish with 3 black cherries and a black anthurium flower.
Volcano House Hot Buttered Rum (from Jeff Berry`s Grog Log)
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz sugar
Butter Cloves 1.5 oz Wood`s 100 demerara rum
Pour juice, Maraschino, sugar and rum into a (preheated) mug and fill the rest of the mug with very hot tea. Stir well and then float a small piece of butter. Add a twist of lemon peel and 3-4 cloves.
Hot Tiki Rum Punch (a twist of Hot Rum Punch from Red Jay Bartender’s guide cirka 1934)
1 tsp dark brown sugar to melt in a mug of hot tea
Add 1 oz Wood`s 100 and 1 oz Appleton Extra dark rums
Add 1/2-1 teaspoon spiced butter (after taste)
Spiced butter :
Room temp butter
1 tsp each of ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice.
small pinch salt
Beat sugar and butter together until thoroughly creamed and fluffy; beat in nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and salt. Store in the fridge until needed.
My conclusion: Wood´s 100 is a great mixer perfect for tiki drinks and other cocktails where you want a little bit of extra kick.
This fall came with four new rums in the “Rum Swedes” series from the Swedish independent bottler Swedish Firewater (www.eldvatten.se) with full proof single cask rums from Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. I wrote a review of their Caroni 1997 Single Barrel Rum earlier this year.
From Guyana i have two samples, one from 2002 and one 2003 and then Barbados 2000 and Jamaica 2000.
From Diamond distillery and aged 9 years, (60.9%/121.5 proof) it´s a heavy rum with hints of smoke. The color is dark mahogany.
Nose – Oh lovely demerara….it´s smoky, heavy, woody, dried tropical fruit, leather, banana peel, burnt molasses. A kick of strong alcohol if you come too close with the nose but a bit away from the glass a whole orchestra of flavors hits you.
Mouth – I added some ice to the glass and it opened up the rum a bit and made it easier to drink. It`s typical dark demerara flavors, same as the nose and slightly smoky. The mouth feel is a bit viscous and slightly oily, just as it should be with this kind of heavy rum. Neat it´s all these flavors concentrated and the aftertaste stays with you for quite some time. It`s lovely!
Distilled at the Port Morant Double Pot Still (61%/122 proof) the color is golden. It`s a more elegant and fruitier rum than the first one.
Nose – it has a lovely nose of both dried and ripe tropical fruits, banana, vanilla, mango, sugarcane.
Mouth – a bit of wood, same tropical fruits as in the nose, sugarcane but not very sweet though, just fine. Neat you feel the wood more and then the fruits step in. A great rum!
This rum is from Hampden Distillery which is famous for their high ester rums which are the result of very long fermentation of the molasses.They are doing their rums in an old fashioned way producing very distinctive but expensive rums.
The Hampden distillery dates back to 1743 and uses three copper pot stills. The distillery was closed in 2003 and re-opened with new owners sometimes around 2009. So this rum is from before the closure which makes it even more valuable. This rum is (58.4%/116.8 proof)
Very “creamy”, fruity, ripe tropical fruit, banana, sugarcane, very pleasant nose!
So tasty! tropical fruit again, banana, banana peel, overripe mango, brown sugar..some wood, burnt molasses. A rich rum with an elegant aftertaste that lingers in the mouth for a while.
And the last one, from the island of Barbados where they say rum was first made in the Caribbean. This rum is distilled by the West India Rum Distillers which are located at Brighton, Black Rock in the southern parish of St. Michael on the island of Barbados.
The distillery dates back to 1893 and was established by two German brothers (the Stades brothers) who wanted to produce rum to be shipped to Germany. It returned into the hands of Barbados again in 1903. They are using two old pot stills and four column continuous stills. The famous Cockspur rum is distilled there.
The nose is a little fruity and sugary with something more, maybe toffee?
Fruity, a little wood, toffee, pralin, sugarcane, hint of chocolate. It`s not a heavy rum but rather elegant. Neat it has some more punch of course, after all it´s 116.8 proof.
They are all very good rums, i`d say the Guyana 2003 and Jamaica 2000 are my favorites of the four. They fetch the same high price as the privately bottled Caroni and Demerara rums in Italy and is about 120 euros a bottle and can as far as i know only be purchased in Sweden. There´s only 215 bottles of the Barbados 2000, 245 bottles of Guyana 2000, 185 bottles of Jamaica 2000 and 230 bottles of Guyana 2003.
The one cocktail i feel really eager to try with these excellent rums is a Mai Tai…it´s the idea of trying a combo of the 2003 Guyana and the 2000 Jamaica that intrigues me…
MAI TAI (Guyana and Jamaica)
1 oz Guyana 2003 and Jamaica 2000 combo (0.5 oz of each)
1 oz Appleton Extra
0.5 oz Ferrand Dry Curacao
0.25 oz orgeat
0.25 oz sugarcane syrup
1 oz fresh lime
half spent lime shell in the shaker
Shake with plenty of crushed ice and pour into a double old fashioned. Top up with more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with a mint sprig.
I think the mint is an important part of the Mai Tai, it adds that fragrance and you should spank it before adding it to the glass and then add a short straw placed near the mint.
The spent lime shell adds some of that lovely lime oil to the drink.
These two rums made an excellent Mai Tai, the drink was strong, flavorful and refreshing. They paired very well with Appleton Extra but if they had been of lower strength, say 55 % i would have used one oz of each.
Either way you can`t go wrong with these good rums.
Oh how i wish sometimes that i could just for a day or two transport myself back to the time where the tiki drinks were served with rums like the 17 year old JWray, the quintessential Mai Tai rum or for example the Jamaican Dagger rums…
Well, there IS still some of those rums left…maybe a bottle or three? and these are kept by a few rum collectors..but i actually once did have a smaller bottle of one of the dagger rums. And yep i won`t forget that rum. Or the other vintage rums i`ve luckily been able to taste in various places.
Many of these rums had a flavor profile that of old jamaican pot still plus so much more…and it seems to me that more and more rum companies are trying to re-create that flavor profile again – a good example is Smith and Cross. But these – even though they are very good to my taste – haven`t been able to duplicate the flavor those vintage rums had. We the rum drinkers who are or have not been in a position to collect some of those elusive vintage rums must make do with substitutions.
I`m going to make an example here with a vintage tiki drink called the Black Magic. Dark rums and coffee is what gave this drink it´s name and it was made by Mariano Licudine while he was still working for Don the Beachcomber in the Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Chicago. He later moved on to Fort Lauderdale to work at the Mai Kai.
I have read that he had 48 drinks on his cocktail menu that called for 43 different kinds of rum…so he knew his rums and how to blend different rums to create new flavor profiles for his cocktails – much like Don the Beachcomber.
So when he went to work at the Mai Kai he brought with him many of the recipes of Don Beach drinks and made his own twist on them.
What made the Black Magic so distinctive was not just the blend of dark rums and coffee which is delicious – but it was also the rums used and in this drink one of the Jamaican dagger rums played an important part.
Dagger was a Jamaican dark rum brand which is now defunct. The one i tried had a dark mahogany color and dark tones of burnt molasses and dried fruits, and it was spicy and woody, balanced and complex with a vintage feel.
There are different dagger rums with different agings and here´s what the Bum wrote about one of Mariano´s old dagger rums he tried at the Mai Kai´s back bar, stucked away on a shelf as it was.
“It puts the current dark Jamaican offerings on the market to shame; nothing in the Appleton or Myers’s portfolio even comes close.”
So what to do? how do we sub rums like that?
Reading more on the Atomic Grog`s website thought me that the same company that made the dagger rums now makes a rum that is hard to find – but not impossible – the Kohala Bay.
Now i have no way of finding Kohala Bay so then what to do? i kept reading and found out that they suggested an equal mix of Smith and Cross and El Dorado 12 year old demerara rum.
And finally – i can do that. What i can say is that these rums made a nice drink, tasty and strong but if it comes anywhere close to how the original Black Magic tasted when made with the jamaican dagger rum – it surely ain`t.
And close to how it tastes with the Kohala Bay rum? i cannot tell…all i can say that it´s a tasty drink and that the Smith and Cross/El Dorado 12 yo combo is a good one.
Try it for yourselves..this recipe is the Tribute to the Dark Magic as found on the Atomic Grog.
On the Mai Kai menu it said –
The owner’s choice. A superbly smooth but forthright blending of fine dark rums and tropical juices, subtly laced with coffee and truly refreshing.
* 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice
* 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
* 3/4 ounce white grapefruit juice
* 3/4 ounce rich honey mix
(2:1 honey to water, mixed and cooled)
* 1 1/2 ounces strong Kona coffee,
freshly brewed, then chilled
* 1 1/2 ounces Coruba dark Jamaican rum
* 1 1/2 ounces Kohala Bay dark Jamaican rum
(substitution suggestion below)
* 1/2 ounce Don’s Mix
(2 parts grapefruit juice to 1 part cinnamon syrup)
* 1/2 teaspoon allspice dram (aka pimento liquor)
* 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Blend with up to 1 1/2 cups of crushed ice in a top-down mixer for around 5 seconds, or until frothy. Pour into a large snifter glass with more crushed ice to fill. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Something about the coffee…try to get real Hawaiian Kona coffee if you can but if you can`t try to get either Louisiana Community coffee dark roast or Jamaican Blue Mountain. I don`t think any other coffee will do. You need a full flavored and strong coffee like these.
Instead of a snifter i decided to let this drink christen my new awesome tiki mug created by Scott Taylor who lives on Maui, Hawaii. if you want to see the awesome and very detailed mugs he makes you can go and check out his pictures on instagram ( type the name tikipop )
His shop “Beach Bumz” is one of the stops of Maui Tiki Tours owned by another great tiki mug artist – Rob Hawes – who`s Kala mug i featured in this earlier post. You find his pics on instagram too, (type tikirob)
If you go to Maui make sure to stop by the shop, you will find tiki mugs by Scott, Rob and some other local artists, tiki farm, etc.
Also Gecko on Oahu will be releasing Scott´s new Ka’oha design mug in a much more affordable run than the others that have sold..most likely in July on his Southseaarts.com website.
The pics below (by Scott Taylor) are some of Scott´s tiki mugs: