Picture credit for this awesome picure of the Santeria bottle surrounded by two of Mark Holts tiki mugs: Cocktail Guru
So how to tame this beast?? that was my first question to myself when I had my first sip of the Santeria rum that was made by the Lost Spirits distillery for Rational Spirits, a Charleston based distillery focusing on rum and which was founded to exploit the new technological improvements made at Lost Spirits in California and the first licensee of Thea One.
This is not an “easy” rum, this is a full fledged ester bomb and a strong one too. It´s a wild beast that needs to be tamed…but how to do that will be a real challenge and at 57.5 it sure packs a punch. I believe the ones that gonna like it the most is the tiki community because it really does shine in certain even if not all, tiki drinks! but it also mixes well in other cocktails of the type that has fresh juices and syrups and stuff – like for example rum swizzles but also rum sours and to me, it`s in mixed drinks it makes it`s real magic ….
I find the bottle very cool and the label is beautiful and really does reflect the spirit of this rum! the label is made by a Swedish graphic designer, Christian Bjurinder.
To start from the beginning of the making of this rum, the first batch is made in a limited edition of 500 bottles and according to Bryan Davis it´s a pot stilled dunder pit style rum and he have used several strains of bacteria not used in rum before.
But I suspected that being the Lost Spirits Distillery it will of course have something of a signature taste to it and I think I`m right on that because there`s a flavor note that I have also found in their Colonial and Navy Style rums (minus the pronounced espresso coffee notes in the Colonial)
There has been a lot written already about the Lost Spirits Distillery and their way of rum making with their advanced post distillation technology and you can read about all of that here and here. In the Lost Spirits Distillery alchemy meets mad-science….
Its run through their new Thea One reactor, (Targeted Hyper-Esterification Aging) post distillation – and it`s a bit of “black magic” how he does it, hence the name of this rum, or partly – because the Santeria rum was actually inspired by the Jurassic Park movie.
Here`s what Bryan has to say:
When humans develop new technologies, they first replicate the past or the world we know. Then they begin to imagine and use their newfound capabilities to craft dreams into reality. Sometimes those dreams lead to glorious results and sometimes to tragic consequences.
Santeria Rum is designed, more born, to reflect this most human of aspirations. The rum begins its life by brining the most arcane of spirits production techniques, the dunder pit, into the lab environment.
In nature, dunder pits host a specific family of bacteria that grow natively in the Jamaican soil. The bacterium ferment the residue in the pit into a rich broth of precursor molecules. Later during yeast fermentation and during the obligatory barrel-aging period, those precursors develop into the dense rich signature flavor that we know as Jamaican high ester rum.
Santeria reproduces this process in the lab using bacteria that have never been used in rum fermentation before. Those bacteria were carefully selected, incubated, and nurtured to both survive in the new environment but also to create an equally rich aroma and flavor profile to their Jamaican cousins. Yet with completely different precursor molecules.
The dense white spirit was then matured with new American oak in a Thea One photocatalytic reactor. The result is a whole new category of rum never seen before. Will our dream be glorious, or an abomination? Only time will tell.
So actually it`s 21st century science technology behind it paired with quite a bit of the mad scientist……..
Obviously not everybody will like this method while others find it very interesting, exciting and quite mind boggling. I think that this whole thing what Lost Spirits are doing is interesting and fascinating….What`s important to know is that there are no additives in this rum, no coloring or sugar etc, it`s just pure pot still rum made from grade A molasses.
I think traditional made rum and this kind of rum are two entirely different animals though, and personally I like both – but this type is to me best for mixing rather than sipping and to me it`s like how the old saying goes – variety is the spice of life – and new and exciting experiences make life more interesting.
What I find intriguing is to see where all this gonna go? and this the first Rational Spirits release – Santeria is a whole new category of rum.
Wax seals for the Santeria rum, picture by Cocktailwonk
Nose and taste of the Santeria
So on to the nose and flavor of this rum, I find it having slight notes of creme bruleè and mature tropical fruits and then something “wine-like”, and then a bit of sweet butterscotch.
In the mouth there´s a lot going on…it`s a strong ester bomb for sure with hints of molasses, burnt sugarcane, wood, astringency, sharpness, wood, tropical fruits, apricot, dark plums and then something I cannot define. It`s very strong, almost overwhelming and has a sharp kick to it, it´s like a wild horse….there´s no delicate refinement it`s just BOOM! – very wild…..
It`s not very sweet but that`s no surprise since there`s no added sugar but there`s still a hint of sweetness though, just not very much. The color of the rum is that of dark mahogany, almost switching to black in certain lights and yet there is no coloring added either.
This – like I said, is to me – a mixing rum, even though certain pirates (like Bryan and Mark Holt) like to sip it 🙂 Mark for example found it to have heat that kept increasing, yet it never burned. But me – I think it`s quite brutal when sipped neat even though it has great and complex notes without being inaccessible – but it really does better in mixing, and it mixed well in a variety of cocktails even though there´s a challenge with it there too.
It doesn`t fit with all tiki drinks for example but those it fits with it really makes them shine, so it takes quite some experimentation to find out which drinks it mixes well with, but on the other hand, experimenting with rum is fun.
It`s strong and can easily overpower other ingredients and I like to tame it a bit with either another “softer” rum to round it out a bit or use multiple fresh juices a la Don the Beachcomber.
Would I buy me a bottle? yes I would – because I find it “a great rum to make real tiki bombs!!”… (to quote my friend Oriol over at Three of Strong)
That it`s like made for tiki drinks is clear and it`s great in many other cocktails except for one thing – with coke, for some reason Santeria and coke does not like each other.
After the California Rumfest there was a Tiki Party over at Mark Holt`s amazing Tiki House high up in the hills in a place called the “Top of the World” where the Santeria was served and it also made it`s way into Paper Plane where marvellous drinks were made with it and here is one such drink, it´s a gorgeous swizzle called Swizzle My Nizzle.
The recipe originated from Jasper’s Corner Tap in San Francisco, but the rum was switched to Santeria.
I think it looks pretty incredibly tasty…………. !!!
Picture courtesy Cocktailwonk
Swizzle My Nizzle
1.5 oz Rational Spirits Santeria Rum
1 oz vanilla agave syrup
1 oz passion fruit juice
0.75 oz lemon juice
4 dashes Habanero bitters
Build in footed pilsner/cobbled ice/swizzle/top with ice and garnish with mint sprig and top with 10 dashes peychauds
Here´s a take on a few tiki drinks that I made with it for this post, they are well worth the effort.
Here`s a really good tiki drink that for some reason you do not see very often, it´s underrated in my opinion. It´s one of the boozy ones thus fit for the Santeria rum!
3 oz orange juice
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz passionfruit syrup
¾ oz simple syrup
0.5 t vanilla extract (I didn`t have that, it was still good)
2 oz Rational Spirits Santeria Rum
Blend with 2.5 cups crushed ice and pour into a large snifter.
This turned out really really tasty….rummy, fruity and zesty! the Spindrift is strong and fullbodied with a perfect balance of flavours.
Banana Boo Loo
Beware of it`s quiet strength…….
A few small fresh pineapple chunks
2 1/2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 1/2 oz lime juice
1 oz banana-demerara syrup*
2 oz Rational Spirits Santeria Rum
Put pineapple chunks, banana-demerara syrup and lime and pineapple juices in blender and blend without ice until liquefied. Pour unstrained into a hollowed out pineapple filled with crushed ice (or goblet) add rum and stir until well chilled.
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)
This drink tasted AMAZING………holy batman wow! it was the first drink I made with this rum and I`m blown away……..
It`s quite rum forward and don`t be tricked by the banana syrup and pineapple smoothness – it will creep up on you, it´s boozy in a quiet way…
Aku Aku Lapu
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz Falernum
1 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum
1.5 oz Rational Spirits Santeria rum
Float Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum or Hamilton 151
16 oz crushed ice
Blend at high speed for about 20 seconds. Pour into large snifter, tiki mug or bowl and add more ice to fill. Traditional garnish is a gardenia but I a tropical orchid works too.
This Aku Aku Lapu was served in the supercool “Sexy Colada” pineapple mug from Nu Lounge Bar, courtesy of Daniele Dalla Pola.
The Living Dead
Here`s a take on my old Guyana Zombie which I made for the TDN in 2009. The living dead might come and hunt you down…
0.5 oz passionfruit juice
0.5 oz rich demerara syrup
1 tsp cream of coconut (Lopez or Real)
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz Rational Spirits Santeria
Shake with ice and strain into a tiki mug filled with crushed ice.
Garnish with pineapple leaves, speared pineapple chunks and tropical flowers. Dust a little cinnamon on top
Let the Living Dead transport you to the land of mystery……..
Daquiri….one of the best rum cocktails ever made and the base for so many other drinks in it´s simpleness.
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz passion fruit syrup*
Shake together with ice and strain into a well chilled cocktail glass or coupe.
Boozy…..if you like boozy daiquiris this is for you….
You can also easily make your own passion fruit syrup, just add the fruit meat from 2-3 fresh passion fruits into a simple syrup making and leave to set a couple hours and preferably overnight for a really bright zesty flavor. I used the same dark demerara sugar in both syrups and it came of super tasty.
Conclusion – Santeria can be sipped (if you`re a pirate 🙂 but it´s in tiki drinks and other suitable cocktails it really shines and oh my does it shine!!
The Santeria is not yet launched but a press release will be posted here when it does, it will be released to select cities currently anticipating Charleston, Boston and a few in California.
This specific post is an unbiased and independent review by A Mountain of Crushed Ice same as all other rum reviews on this site.