FIBAR is the biggest bar Show in Spain and was held in Valladolid in a pretty cool building that looks like a giant football, the Cúpula del Milenio on november 17-19.
The first ever European Tiki Experience took place there on the tuesday nov 17th and it was for that I was invited to do a seminar about the history of tiki together with Oriol Elias from the Rum and Tiki blog Three of Strong. We made a seminar called “Paradise Lost, the Roots of Tiki” where we covered the history and roots of the American Polynesian Pop culture with all it´s past and present bars and bartenders, carvers, artists, writers, musics and what the tiki culture is all about.
We also raised a toast with Chief Lapu Lapus to Jeff Beachbum Berry in appreciation of all that he did to uncover the lost recipes and all the books he wrote containing history and recipes for a lifetime! because without him we wouldn`t have all these recipes resurrected today.
And he toasted us back….in a video he made back in New Orleans 🙂
The other speakers in the Tiki Experience were Sly Augustin, owner of the Tiki bar Trailer Happiness in London who made a seminar called “The Future of Tiki”, and Miguel and David Perez also know as the two “Brothers in Tiki” were talking about tiki bar and tiki products.
Thanos Prunarus, owner of the famous Baba au Rum bar in Athens did a seminar about the Anatomy of Tiki Drinks and Miguel Escobedo, (Kona Lei) did a seminar called “Tiki-Orama:50 years of Cocktails and Iberian Tiki”
Among the guest bartenders were Guillermo Uriel, bartender at Mahiki in London.
Pavon tiki mugs was also for sale and I was happy to be able to grab a few….they have some that are really cool like the big bamboo and the pineapple mugs, they also have a swimming vahine bowl that is pretty cool and another with a smiling tiki that looks very happy and drunk 🙂
One thing that I learnt at the Tiki Experience is that Tiki in Europe is most likely going to become bigger and bigger but be formed in it´s on fashion and inventiveness – but without losing connection with the traditions. I see a very exciting future for both rums and tiki in Europe…
A very interesting seminar that I attended was Luca Picchis seminar about the Negroni cocktail where he also presented his book “Negroni Cocktail an Italian Legend” which I also bought a copy of and I would recommend anyone who`s a lover of cocktails to get a copy, it´s a masterpiece.
Every night after FIBAR there was a party and good food to have…the bar to go to was El Nino Perdido, great cocktails and nice atmosphere! Bar manager at El Nino Perdido is Juan Valls, also the organizer of FIBAR Valladolid.
There were a lot more things happening at FIBAR but we had only one day of the three so the other things that happened at FIBAR I cannot write about…..but i`m very happy to been able to be there, it was a great experience and I met so many nice people both new and old friends and I hope I can be back again the next year!
Here is as usual when I go to these kind of events, a picture parade….because pictures speak more…
Cúpula del Milenio
Beautiful Daquiris like these…
Paired with Spanish croquetas…
Siderit Hibiscus Gin, made in northern Spain and very tasty.
….made a very refreshing gin and tonic.
Hendrick`s Gin booth, give him a drink….
Luca Picchi (Head bartender in Coffee Rivoire of Florence and author of the book Negroni Cocktail) made a great seminar about the Negroni – The history of the Negroni cocktail and the Italian appetizer !
(pic credit FIBAR)
FAIR Rum from Belize!
And Puerto Rican Don Q
Mezcal goodness and burnt cinnamon stick – yummy…
Plantation rums! and of course the famous Stiggin´s Fancy….probably the tastiest pineapple rum I have ever tasted.
Big pineapple tiki mug from Pavon.
And a swimming vahine.
Aloha shirt and rums….
Oriol at our seminar “Paradise Lost, the Roots of Tiki”
And now we`re entering the realm of tiki…
Three of Strong and A Mountain of Crushed Ice taking it through the history of tiki to show where it came from and that tiki is so much more than just the drinks, which btw were some of the world´s first crafted farm to glass cocktails – in tropical costume.
And no tiki seminar without the Bums books!
Or the Bum himself….
Chief Lapu Lapu was served….
And it was good….
Sly Augustin (Trailer Happiness, London) talked about the exciting future of tiki.
(pic credit FIBAR)
While Miguel Escobedo (Kona Lei, Madrid) made a seminar called – Tiki-Orama:50 years of cocktails and Iberian Tiki, and Thanos Prunarus (Baba au Rum) spoke about the anatomy of The Anatomy of Tiki Drinks and of course his world famous rum bar, Baba au Rum (pic credit FIBAR)
Guest bartending was Guillermo Uriel, bartender at Mahiki in London. (pic credit FIBAR)
The Tiki Experience was created by Miguel Pérez Muñoz and David Perez, also known as the “Brothers in Tiki” (pic credit FIBAR) who also did a seminar about tiki bar and tiki products.
Three Dots and a dash, one of my fav tiki cocktails
There were so much more than what these pictures have shown and we were there only one of three days! try to go and visit the FIBAR in 2016!
Here´s an old favorite again, the Penang Afrididi #1. It`s a “forgotten” tiki drink from 1937 and it was created by Don the Beachcomber. I like Donn`s drinks and I like this one! it was served at Don the Beachcomber’s Caberet Restaurant in the International Marketplace in Honolulu, circa 1958.
I`m curious about the name of this drink and wonder how it came to be and where it comes from…? if anyone knows please write in the comments.
There´s vibrant old dusty magic tasty tiki history here!
There´s also more versions of this drink, for example the #2 which simply cuts the same ingredients by half, blend and strain into a cocktail coupe or glass. Also Jason Alexander at Tacoma Cabana made his version of this drink and called it Penang Afrididi #3.
Penang Afrididi #3
2 dashes of Horror in Clay Tropical bitters, 1/2 oz each lime, orange, pineapple juices and 1/2 oz passionfruit syrup, 1/4 oz each falernum and fassionola, 1 oz ginger beer, 1 1/2 oz light rum, 1 1/2 oz Deep Ones Gold Blend (a house blend of three rums he makes), flash blend all ingredients.
Here´s the fassionola again, I need to try to make my own someday and I need to get the commercial version as well (the red one) I`d love to compare them, something I`ve had in mind for a while but that gonna be another post, and I also wanna try Jason`s version.
There´s also an interesting descendent of this drink that was dates back to the Mai Kai opening in 1956 and they had two versions of it, that drink is called the Zula and it`s flavor profile has only three ingredients, Herbsaint (or Pernod), pineapple, gold rum. You can read about the Zula over at the Atomic Grog.
From “Sippin’ Safari” page 95 by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry
- 1 1/2 oz. Light Puerto Rican Rum
- 1 1/2 oz. Amber Virgin Islands Rum
- 1/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz. Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
- 1/2 oz. Orange Juice
- 1/2 oz. Passion Fruit Syrup
- 1/8 tsp. Pernod or Herbsaint
Put everything into a blender and add six ounces of crushed ice. Blend it at high speed for five seconds.
And I couldn`t resist to add some of the liquid from my jar of Maraschino cherries..and that´s what gave the drink that wonderful shades of red.
This is one of the typical old Don the Beachcomber drinks where he used his fantastic imagination to create types of drinks that at the time had never been seen before with multiple rums, juices, spices and “secrets” (like drops of Pernod)
His Rum Rhapsodies as he called them!
Next time I want to try the Atomic Grog`s Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Zula…and i`d love to make a twist on it as well.
But until then i`ll make this – a twist on the Penang Afrididi using an aged rhum agricole sweetened with a mix of 50/50 passionfruit syrup and hibiscus grenadine.
Afrididi Martiniquaise (or Penang Afrididi #4)
2 oz. Rhum agricole vieux (I used St James 12)
1.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Orange Juice
0.25 oz. Passion Fruit Syrup (homemade)
0.25 oz Hibiscus Grenadine (homemade)
1/8 tsp. Pernod or Herbsaint
Put everything into a blender and add six ounces of crushed ice. Blend it at high speed for five seconds. Pour into a snifter and add more crushed ice to fill. Garnish with a palm leaf and sugarcane stick.
It turned out to be a fruity and distincly rhum agricole forward drink….not strong, just fresh! the day I have my own fassionola made i`m gonna try that in this drink!
Today there´s more spiced rums on the market than ever before and it can be tricky to pick out the good ones because spiced rums can be so much….
I think we tend to drink more spiced rums in the winter season, many in warm rum drinks to beat the cold and depending on what you gonna do you may need different types of spiced rums. In this guest post there´s a few spiced rums listed that can be worth trying but of course, taste is personal so this is just a guideline.
St Aubin Spiced
This is a spiced Rhum Agricole, made from sugarcane juice instead of molasses. It´s made by the St Aubin Distillery on Mauritius. In it you find orange peel, hints of gingerbread cake and cinnamon. St Aubin plantation located on southern Mauritius has been cultivating sugarcane since 1890 and takes it´s name from one of it`s first owner Pierre de St Aubin.
On the estate there`s both artisanal and a traditional rums made. The water used in the rum making comes from their own spring water from Bois Chéri. It`s all local produce
Tonka Bean Infused Rum by Old Amazon
This 100% pot still rum is infused with Tonka Bean. Tonka Bean is a vanilla substitute that has been banned in many countries including the U.S. due to it´s content of coumarin which in high concentrations can be lethal. But it takes enourmously large doses – about 30 entire tonka beans to eat to fall ill. About the same volume at which nutmeg are toxic.The Old Amazon No1 Tonka bean infused rum can be safely used and guarantees a pleasant surprise.
Chairman’s Reserve Spiced
From St Lucia Distiller´s, this spiced rum is known as one of the very best of spiced rums available today. It has flavor notes of Orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon, caramel and vanilla. Chairman`s Reserve Spiced is one of the classic spiced rums and is best enjoyed with coconut water or ginger beer.
Kraken Black Spiced Rum
Launched in the UK in early 2010, this rum has an rich, spicy flavour. Named for the legendary sea monster, Kraken is a blend of Caribbean rums distilled from molasses made from locally-grown sugar cane. The rum is aged 1–2 years and then blended with a mix of 11 spices, including cinnamon, ginger and clove. It comes in a quite cool package!
Bristol Black Spice Rum
Bristol Black Spice Rum is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, apple, rich plump raisins and orange zest. This combination creates a bottle that is filled with spicy goodness and rich fruit flavours.
Dark Matter Spiced Rum
Made by the Ewen Brothers, this is a perfect mixture of fiery young rum and fresh spices. It is a good choice if you are looking for rum without any vanilla essence. The rum is also one of the best for making Bloody Mary (which is a mixture of rum and tomato juice). It even got lots of attention at the UK Rumfest.
This is one of the newest on this list as it was launched in 2014. It provides rum drinkers with a unique experience. It is spiced with Ginger and Cinnamon making it a welcome departure from all the vanilla flavoured rums in the market today. Most of those vanilla flavoured rums are just replicas of the UK’s Sailor Jerry! Pusser’s Spiced has a rich and warming profile, irrespective of the 35% ABV.
Find your favorite
These are a few good spiced rums you can count on to provide you with an exceptional experience. They will probably live a short lifespan in any spiced rum drinker’s cabinet. However, like rest the entries in this article, it is not for ladies that play on Jackpot Jane but more for spiced rum lovers. They are good enough to hopefully convert anyone to a lover of the Caribbean culture of spiced rum drinking!
Traditionally, Caribbean islanders would make spiced rums at home with whatever was locally available, and used spices like allspice, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon and most were locally consumed and only a very few made their way into the US.
Today we have more spiced rums available than before and there´s something for everyone!
The Tiki Farm 15th Anniversary Show with Big Toe, Ken Ruzic, Doug Horne, and Scott Scheidly showing wtih Michelle Bickford “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”
Friday, November 6th marks the opening night celebration of Tiki Farm’s 15th Anniversary, with a comprehensive exhibition of 500 of the most important and coveted selections of their over 2,000 different designs created to-date. Exclusive to the event, La Luz De Jesus will be world-premiering five brand new Tiki Farm limited edition Tiki mugs designed by Big Toe, Doug Horne, Flounder, Ken Ruzic and Michelle Bickford.
Each mug comes with a signed and numbered box label exclusive to that design, and one even comes with two Tiki Farm swizzle sticks.
An Anniversary Show Compendium is available for only $5. Art purchases can be handled by phone or email at (323)666-7667 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tiki Farm is credited as being the world’s largest and most recognized manufacturer of Tiki mugs, having produced millions of mugs over the last 15 years, designed by such notable artists as Shag, The Pizz, Crazy Al Evans, Rick Rietveld and countless others.
Picture credit Tiki Farm, this is just ONE wall of the Tiki Farm installation at La Luz de Jesus! Mugs that go on forever….!!!
On display as well will be a tribute display to Tiki Farm’s late Art Director, The Pizz. Dubbed “The Lord Of Lowbrow”, The Pizz played a pivotal role in Tiki Farm’s most recent years, lending his artistic and creative abilities to a massive amount of designs.
Tiki Farm’s client list includes Disneyland, Pixar, Mattel, Hard Rock, Trader Vic’s, The Discovery Channel, Fender, Body Glove, Hyatt Regency and literally 1000’s of other commissioning clients. On display as well will be a tribute display to Tiki Farm’s late Art Director, The Pizz. Dubbed “The Lord Of Lowbrow”, The Pizz played a pivotal role in
Tiki Farm’s most recent years, lending his artistic and creative abilities to a massive amount of designs.This exhibition should not be missed by any fans of the mid-century artistic movement as well of course by any fans of Tiki, Lowbrow Art and Kustom Kulture. “Tiki” is an integral part of these movements, especially here in Southern California, and no other company better exemplifies the passion, commitment and creative breadth that has made
Tiki such a household word any better than Southern California’s beloved Tiki Farm.Tiki Farm’s Holden Westland as well as many of the current artists involved in the Tiki scene will be on hand to celebrate an amazing and unparalleled 15 years of wonderful, mind-boggling Tiki artistry and creativity.
Since their inception back in the Fall of 2000, Tiki Farm has helped paved the way of the modern day Tiki mug resurgence, defining the movement and creating the head of steam that has allowed so many other Tiki enthusiasts to try their hand at mug making.
Tiki Farm’s founder and president, Holden Westland, is regarded as “The Hardest Working Man In Tiki”, and the results from his efforts evidenced in Tiki Farm’s continued manic-paced production will be on display for all to enjoy at this special exhibition. Guests will be treated to a free printed show compendium that will allow for an informative and insightful walk-through of this phenomenal display of world-famous Tiki Farm goodies!
Here are the five brand new Tiki Farm limited edition Tiki mugs designed by Big Toe, Doug Horne, Flounder, Ken Ruzic and Michelle Bickford:
Nari Rani Marquesan Mug by Flounder (Scott Scheidly)
Ltd. Edition of 100, 8″ in height, 22 oz. capacity, $50 each
Rub for Rum Easter Island Tiki Decanter by Michelle Bickford
Ltd. Edition of 100, 9″ in height, 50 oz. capacity, $75 each
Tiki Farm Temple Mug by Doug Horne
Ltd. Edition of 100, 7 5/8″ in height, 20 oz. capacity, $50 each Sold Out
Bobomb Hand Grenade Tiki Mug by Big Toe
Ltd. Edition of 100, 8″ in height, 22 oz. capacity, $50 each Sold Out
Poko Ono Pineapple Mug by Ken Ruzic
Ltd. Edition of 100, 7.5″ in height, 16 oz. capacity, $50 each Sold Out
My 10 paintings function as a love letter to the art of tiki mugs, the art of the tropical cocktail and to my relationship with Tiki Farm and my pal Holden Westland. I met Holden (aka “the hardest working man in tiki”) in the 80’s over happy-hour long island ice teas, then we were reacquainted in the mid-2000s when our love for tiki and Polynesian ‘pop’ culture caused our paths to cross again. It has been a unique pleasure to work with Holden to create what I hope is a unique voice in the tiki mug world, and it is my absolute honor to be a part of the Mondo Tiki art show. – Tom Laura a/k/a/ Big Toe
Big Toe – Party Bob Acrylic on panel, 8×11″ (12×14″ framed), $300
Big Toe – Marwal Maiden Acrylic on panel, 8×11″ (12×14″ framed), $300
Images of past pop culture mixed with current-day pop culture provide an endless source of inspiration and possibilities for me – states Long Beach area artist Doug Horne whose work reflects his love of mid-century atomic, deco and of course, tiki. Doug has designed numerous tiki mugs and worked with Fender on their Art-Coustics Tiki Art Series of guitars.
Doug Horne – Maori Head Pastel and pencil on paper, 17×20″ $600
Doug Horne – Kraken Rum Floater Pencil on paper, 16×27″, $700 Sold
Ken ‘Kinny’ Ruzic is a self-taught artist, former marine, and world traveler. Ruzic says he began his career in the surf industry doing tee-shirt graphic design for Rusty Surfboards and Hawaiian Island Creations. Wanting to pursue fine arts, Ruzic divided his time between honing his in both art and graphic design. Ken blends Polynesian myth and tradition with his personal artistic mythology and humor working with acrylics, water color, ink, & wood burning.
Ken Ruzic – The Abandoned Table acrylic on wood 10×20″ $400
Ken Ruzic – The Double Fister Acrylic on masonite/artboard, 10×20″, (16×26″ with a Bamboo Ben frame), $500
Scott Scheidly a/k/a Flounder
Scott Scheidly creates realistic renditions of the surreal, often with pop culture references. He has also developed a strong following for his incredible paintings of skeletal art and botanics, as well as his sense of humor. Scott lives and works in Orlando and has an art degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Scott Scheidly – Moon Goddess Acrylic, 12×29″, (16×31″ framed), $1,800
Scott Scheidly – Shrunken Modern Primitive Head Acrylic, 9.75×9.75″, (13.75×13.75″ framed), $800
November 6–29, 2015
Artist reception: Friday, November 6th; 8-11 PM
Live music from Tommy Tokioka plus mid-century and more from DJ Lee of LuxuriaMusic.com
La Luz de Jesus Gallery
4633 Hollywood Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Preview both shows: www.laluzdejesus.com/michelle-bickford-mondo-tiki-show
Picture credits to La Luz de Jesus and Tiki Farm (picture of tiki wall)
Featured post by Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery:
I was very disappointed to read the November editorial of ‘Got Rum’ magazine by publisher Luis Ayala. It seems as though Luis is responding to hearsay rather than making a substantive commentary on the Gargano Classification of Rum. It is not about Pot v Column; it is much more nuanced than that. Luca Gargano of Velier, Italy is one of the leading independent bottlers of rum and considered one of the category’s foremost authorities. He is not “lacking in the knowledge to push the concept”. I am confident once Luis has it properly explained, he will support the initiative.
Lets start with Luis’s first claim:
“some people in the industry are proposing differentiating rums based on the type of still used for their distillation, the choices being “Pot Still” or “Column Still.”
This is entirely inaccurate! No such choices are proposed!
Here are the four categories of the Gargano Classification:
1. Pure Single Rum – 100% pot (i.e. batch) still
2. Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
3. Rum – rum from a traditional column still
4. Industrial Rum – Modern multi column still
Traditional Artisanal Rum Distillation
Modern Industrial “Rum” Distillation
Luis then sets up his first straw man:
“to claim that the distillate coming out of a simple pot still (round copper bottom, onion head with swan neck) and an Adams Pot Still with Two Retorts is the same”
But no one has made such a claim.
Moreover, the point of the Gargano classification is not to place the “same” rums in the same category (indeed if that was the case we could just simply taste them). The purpose of the classification is to separate rums in an informative manner: traditional v modern, artisanal v industrial, endogenous v exogenous flavour, authentic v ersatz. The order of the categories is an order for authenticity, complexity and real intrinsic value. It is not an order of preference, more on that later.
And another straw man:
“To further assume that the distillate coming out of a “beer” or “stripping” column is the same as that coming out of a rectifying column is even more ridiculous.”
No such assumption is being made. I reiterate, the classification is about authenticity and value, not whether the rums are the “same”.
It further seems to me that Luis is making a common mistake. The dichotomy is not pot v column; the correct dichotomy is batch v continuous.
The “simple pot still” and the “Adams pot still” are both batch stills. And they are both traditional too, retorts and rectifying sections having been found on batch stills for rum since the early 19th century. As they are both traditional batch stills, they belong in the same category. A batch still with plates is still a batch still. There are no hybrid stills batch v continuous is a dichotomy. Distillers are very much free to make different rums from them. The making of the wine is an important step as distillation and so too is maturation. We expect and hope the rums within a category will not be the same!
What makes the batch v continuous dichotomy so important? Well in a batch still output is a function of time and in continuous distillation system the output is a function of position (in a system which is characterised by a steady state). The latter places an inherent constraint on profile of the spirit.
This key difference means several important things for our classification:
(1) Only the batch still affords the distiller access to the entire volatile component of the wine from which he can select his single heart or multiple fractions to make up his heart as he desires.
(2) Time driven output does not lend itself easily to automation because of the lack of a steady state for any meaningful amount of time. Even today with the best of automation the operation is still largely in the hands of the master distiller and thus inherently artisanal.
(3) The batch still is truly “small batch” and the cost of distillation is orders of magnitude higher than the continuous still (technically this is in part because in a batch still we are distilling a wine of decreasing strength whereas in the continuous still the strength of the wine is constant).
In simple terms the batch still is an indispensable component of premium rum. Or rather put another way, without true small batch distillation what exactly are you paying a premium for? It is unquestionably the most traditional method of distillation.
It will likely be suggested that “heavy” or “full bodied” spirits can be distilled from a column still. Indeed they can but they are inferior to the batch still. That is a subject for an entire article (or two) but a couple of quotes from Distillation scholars (from both rum and whisky) should hopefully convince the reader that it is not a spurious claim.
“Obviously, a carelessly distilled light rum is not a first-class, genuine, heavy rum”……..In preparing heavy rums, distillation of the fermented mash is best conducted in a discontinuous or batch still ” – Rafael Arroyo in Production of Heavy Rums (1945)
Arroyo likens making heavy rums from a continuous still as equivalent to carelessly distilling light rum.
“In order to obtain whisky of high quality, concentration of the spirit must be than 94.17 abv” – M Pyke in Journal of Brewing (1965)
Pyke’s comment reminds me of another common misconception. Whisky (or rum) distilled at high proof of 94% in a traditional ‘coffey’ still is a galaxy away from the distillate at 96% of industrial multi column plants with extractive distillation. Flavour is not a simple function of proof and you cannot directly compare the proof from a continuous system with what is the average proof of the output of a batch system.
But I digress unnecessarily. It is enough that the batch still is the only truly artisanal distillation to place it in the highest category. This might be a novel concept in rum but it is orthodoxy in whisky and brandy.
Luis poses the following as a challenge to the classification:
“Those who assume that all pot stills produce heavy, congener-rich distillates, forget (or conveniently ignore) the fact that many small (“craft”) distilleries actually use pot stills to produce vodka and other light/neutral spirits.”
This is entirely irrelevant!
What idiosyncratic craft distillers do with their pot stills is irrelevant to the classification. The batch still affords the distiller the opportunity to “capture the soul” of his flavourful wine. If he chooses through successive distillations to destroy the flavour that is his prerogative. Stupidity is everyone’s prerogative.
I would caution against the belief that “neutral spirits” do arrive from the pot still. While it is not theoretically impossible to make neutral spirits from batch distillation it is completely impractical. I know of no batch distillation making neutral spirit in practice. To meet the modern specification of neutral spirits a continuous technique known as extractive distillation is necessary. I have visited some of these so called “craft” distillers and observed the purchase of neutral spirits to be distilled again in the pot. Well vodka in, vodka out. Except its now called “craft vodka”. There is a pending court case alleging the same against a certain “craft vodka”. In other cases the product is simply not neutral spirit.
Distilled from low wines and call “pot stilled”? Perhaps more likely distilled from diluted neutral spirit. To meet the classification of “pure single rum”, the spirit must be distilled from the wine. I reiterate no one has proposed the vapid twin classification of pot and column. This is a serious classification. Silly games do not threaten it.
Luis apparently believes we are interested in the following question:
“How then, is one to differentiate the rich, congener-laden distillate from its lighter counterpart?”
Again this is irrelevant and not germane to the purpose of the classification. The classification is not about putting the “same” rums in a category and neither is it about separating “light” from “heavy”.
Luis’s answer to his own question is a tautology. Indeed if we were interested in classifying rums by congener counts, we would, wait for it, count congeners! But congener counts are a banal way to classify rums. It is inane to believe that a spirit containing hundreds of flavour inducing compounds should be classified by a handful of trite readily identifiable congeners. A poorly rectified column spirit even blended with neutral spirit will have ‘impressive’ congener counts. Does that make it artisanal? Can we tell from the lab test if the flavour profile is authentic? Does it capture the soul of the wine? Only an organoleptic test will suffice. These abridged lab results cannot even distinguish rum from whisky. A congener count of a few select congeners is just plain silly.
It is often said that Rum is a “global spirit” but it is far from the truth. Rum distillation as a 19th century distiller would recognise is today sadly uncommon. We have lost so many distilleries in the 20th century. There were 110 distilleries in Jamaica in 1901. Today there are 4. It is important to distinguish between traditional and modern distillation. Much “rum” today is absurdly neutral in character and not even produced by Rum Distilleries but rather by Industrial scale alcohol plants located to take advantage of cheap labour in some parts of the Caribbean. Traditional rum distillation in these territories has long disappeared. So-called “rum” is a tiny part of their output. They are the antithesis of artisanal. Consumers, bloggers, enthusiasts need to know the difference.
Rum is a spirit in the best of traditions but the category is facing two alternate paths. Is premium rum to have real value (as for whisky and cognac) or perceived value (as for vodka)? With rum’s renaissance too many ersatz products are arriving on the market to take advantage of consumers. Industrial scale production (from distilleries unknown or unseen), murky (or downright false) age statements, wine or other flavourings, sweetened by sugar and coloured like coca cola with caramel. At the same time, we have truly artisanal pure batch still rums with transparent age statements, from a named distillery, free of added colour, flavourings and sugar. Pure rum as it should be.
We need a framework that allows enthusiasts (and ultimately consumers) to distinguish between the two. Some will argue that typical consumers will care little about distillation and they would be right. But those same consumers know they must pay more for Cognac over Brandy and for Single Malt over Blended. These premium spirit buyers also know an age statements means, wait for it, its actual age! Not some ‘solera’ nonsense that is nothing less than a shameless attempt to obfuscate. When a brand asks for premium pricing, they must tick the boxes: artisanal production and transparent age statements. The new framework will help guide enthusiasts to understand if the rum meets the demanded value.
It is little wonder then that Rum does so poorly at the highest level. According to the IWSR only 16% of rum sales are at the premium/super premium level in contrast to 66% for Whisky (it is even 48% for Tequila). Our most expensive actively available rums can only barely make the top 50 list of the most expensive actively available whiskies. Why? We have to get our communication right and white/gold/dark for categories is pathetic.
Enthusiasts need to ask themselves what do they want from the category? Real value and authenticity or seduction with sugar and nice packaging for Industrial scale products. If the latter is sufficient to attract premium pricing, then traditional rum production may go extinct. It is already an endangered species. The large corporate brands will fight this classification. They prefer to sell perceived value, as it is far more profitable. We need opinion leaders like Luis on our side. Don’t dismiss a much needed classification as merely pot v column or light v heavy. The new classification is also not intended to create an order of preference. Just the same way you are entitled to prefer a blended whisky over a single malt, you are still free to love your Bacardi mojito or Captain and Coke (if you really insist!).
The new framework does not tell you what to enjoy but rather how to value what you enjoy.
This year was without doubt the best Rumfest ever! such great selection of rums and classes, tastings and good people. The venue, the ILEC Conference Centre is a good place for this and I don`t think it felt too crowded this year. With over 400 rums to try a rum enthusiast will be very busy these 2 days…
The varietes and types of rums was astonishing – everything from old favorites and big brands to new rums for this years UK Rumfest. Some of the old ones included St Nicholas Abbey, Foursquare, Real McCoy, Bristol Spirits, Don Q, Westernhall, St Aubin, Ron Diplomatico, Botran, Pusser`s, Angostura, Rum Fire and more….
And some of the new rums included Hamilton rums and Matugga and then there was a new rhum agricole tasting room manned by Benoit Bail and Jerry Gitany with several tastings of different agricole cane spirits from Martinique with four tastings a day (!) which was a great new addition for this year – as well as the House of Velier tasting room.
The House of Velier tasting room and session by Gianluca Gargano….who brought not only his educational and entertaining classes to the UK Rumfest but also an array of absolutely incredible rums – among them were four of the eight new upcoming Habitaion Velier pure single pot still rums, one among them in collaboration with Foursquare. You can see them all here.
More rhum agricoles and the presence of Velier is what i have been missing the previous years….now i`m very happy 🙂 and I hope the presence of Hamilton rums is an indication of those rums being sold in Europe soon….that said, there were of course a LOT of other interesting and exciting rums too! too many to get to try them all believe it or not.
The day before the rumfest which was on the saturday and sunday, was the Boutique Rumfest, an event for the trade with a great selection of rums on display as well and a chance for people in the industry to get together. And before the Boutique Rumfest was the Rum University with masterclasses by Tito Cordero from Ron Diplomatico. Richard Seale from Foursquare and Aroma Therapy.
And of course there were cocktail competitions, rum auctions and Caribbean rum cooking……..paired with the traditional carnival dancers and drummers.
I started my UK Rumfest adventure with a trip on the thursday night to the Tiki on Thames Rumfest Party at Mahiki which was very nice with a whole bunch of good rum friends there. Mahiki has some beautiful tiki decor and the drinks were good and the ambiance wonderful!
Doesn`t matter how much you know about rum, or think you know…there´s always much much more to learn, and the Rum University is a good thing to attend! the rum school never ends…
This year there were three seminars, the first was with Tito Cordero about Ron Diplomatico which contained some very interesting information about how their rums are distilled, in an intricate way with many different stills and ways, I had no idea…and then of course we got to taste one of their rums., the Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.
Ron Diplomatico grow their own sugarcane in Venezuela and use water from their own wells behind the distillery, also they propagate their own yeast, it´s one of the world´s top range rums.
The next seminar, the Aroma Therapy was all about mastering the art of olfaction that forms our sense of smell and the ability identificate aromas and smells. We got taste strips which over a matter of minutes changed their fragrances, and we wrote down what flavor notes we got from them before the true flavor notes of the strips was revealed, a very interesting experiment.
When you describe a flavor note, go from A-Z, for example “banana” is not just “banana” it can be so many things – from unripe or green to caramelized with raw sugar and one key thing to id aromas and smells is aroma recognition. Go into the depth of what you taste and smell when trying to describe it.
The last seminar was with Richard Seale debunking rum myths and revealing some hard facts and truths….also talking about rum cathegories and distillation. Anyone interested in rum should go to one of Richard`s seminars. One thing to learn is that fermentation is the making of the “wine” and the creation of flavor while distillation is the extraction of flavor, while maturation is the evolution of flavor.
He also made an interesting experiment, we got three glasses with clear spirit, two were industrial rums and one contained a vodka and he asked us to pick out which one was the vodka, and that sounds like an easy task but it wasn`t, me for one, was very unsure about which one was what and that my friends showed me how some industrial rums are made to be just like vodka…an eye opener for sure.
I don`t know which brands of rums they were but I know for sure that that is NOT the kind of rums I want to drink, I want rum to taste like rum and don`t want it to be industrial. Also there were two glasses, one with a pot still rum and one from a column to show us how the pot more accurately captured the raw material, the wine of the molasses and smelled like true rum.
Further Richard stated that all rums that contains sugar are not bad but all bad rums contains sugar….
After the Rum Univeristy the Boutique Rumfest was on…and when you come out to that rum filled room you feel like children coming to a big playground full of candy and toys… 😀
There was a good selection of rum producers displaying their rums, the good thing about Boutique Rumfest is that they have time to really chat with you since it`s not so crowded. It`s also a place to get to try more odd rums that you usually don`t stumble on and one such rum and that had a very different flavor was Matugga rum which is made in the UK using ingredients from East Africa.
Another interesting rum was Nine Leaves from Japan, a rum that tastes better than I knew coming from a country which is known more for their whiskies than rum.
Also happy to see the Hamilton rums there, for the first time in Europe and I sampled the three I reviewed earlier this summer (Guyana 43%, Jamaica Pot Still Black and Saint Lucia Pot Still 7 years) plus the Jamaican Pot Still Gold and the Saint Lucia Pot Still 9 years, and it was all good…..I especially liked the Saint Lucia 9.
Heavy rums with a lot of rich and pungent flavors.
Rumfest Day One
And finally, the big day! the Rumfest with everything that it entails….LOTS of rums to discover and try as well as old favorites to drink again. Caribbean food and music and lots of seminars and tastings! and the “global rum mafia” was well represented! It`s the people that makes it all up! old friemds and new friends, you meet them all the Rumfest!
House of Velier
First tasting seminar for me was House of Velier, what else? it`s some of the best rums in the world and I been a fan of Velier rums for many years. I followed the notes that was taped to the walls….eager to get to the rum sanctuary called “House of Velier Tasting Room”….hmm….those are some magic words…
The rest of the people coming after me could surf on the waves of drooling on the carpet…..but joke aside, it was very special.
Just follow the signs….
Luca Gargano, always so passionate about his rums presented a great session with some really incredible rums to sample, some which probably i`ll never get to try again. Luca took us through his history with rum from when he as a young brand ambassador for St James rhum in the 70s first went to Martinique………at the time he fell in love with rhum/rum and never looked back.
When he was 27 he purchased the company Velier and started to import several brands of rums and the rest is (very interesting) history until this day with Luca for the first time at the UK Rumfest presenting a few of his wonderful and unique rums.
I saw and also wrote about his Clairin presentation earleir at this year`s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and it was absolutely fabulous.
Among the rums he presented was the red magnum bottled “Caroni 2000 Millenium” (Extra Strong 120 proof) and which blew me away….and the fabulous “Basseterre -95” from Guadeloupe, four expressions of the House of Velier Single Pot Still rums, Uitvlught 1996, the new Caroni 17 year, the wonderful Clairins from Haiti, Rhum Rhum 2012 version integrale (higher proof) Caroni single cask 2000, Diamond 1999……..oh my the RUMS!
And very interesting was the new soon to be launched single pot still rums (looking forward to get me a bottle of that Foursquare – or if possible, all of them….)
It was a tasting fest like no other! when you get to taste these kinds of rums, the word “rum” gets a whole new meaning.
Rhum Agricole from Martinique
After Velier I went to the Rhum Agricole tasting session, “Rhums of Martinique” by Benoit Bail and Jerry Gitany where we could sample different rhums agricoles, among them rhums from St James, Trois Rivières, La Mauny, Neisson, Rhum JM, HSE, Rhum Clemènt…all great rhums.
I`m very happy to see so much more rhum agricoles at the UK Rumfest, it has been called for for a long time….we need more rhum agricole at the (non french) rum events.
A Baby has grown up!
Yep! there´s a “rum baby” that has grown up this year….namely St Nicholas Abbey`s newest rum which a little bit pre-maturely was launched last year….the 5 year old expression.
This year the baby has grown up and the flavors matured. It has the typical st Nicholas Abbey flavor, an explosion of flavors in other words, I think it tastes stronger and more complex than it was last year.
This rum was made from their white rum that was laid to rest creating their first estate produced 5 year old rum.. It`s their first rum distilled and aged entirely on the estate (the previous rums were made exclusively for the plantation by master Distiller Richard Seale from R.L Seale and Foursquare) and was ready in 2014.
The St Nicholas Abbey Rum 5 Year Old is a beautiful Rum that commemorates a beautiful story – not least, the first generation of Warren’s, Arthur and Henry, born into St. Nicholas Abbey 21st May 2014.
It`s only to congratulate! it`s a fine fine range of rum expressions, on the very top of good rums in this world and if you would do a blind tasting you would easily be able to pick up any of the St Nicholas Abbey rums because they really do have a very distinct flavor.
And not only do they sell their beautiful rums in hand engraved botttles at their estate and distillery on Barbados, there´s all kinds of absolutely gorgeous products, one is their sugarcane syrup which was on display at the Rumfest. And it`s not your usual sugar syrup, this is made with their sugar cane “honey” (not the same as honey from the bees:-) which is fermented sugar cane juice and it has a deep deep flavor….same as their rums and no wonder, that`s what their rums are made from…
Of course Foursquare had their Doorly`s there and also the Port Cask Finish which I also tried last year, but this year there were also a few new expressions (at least to me) that I had not tasted before, all special casks – a 2004 vintage at 61%, a Sinfadel Cask Blend at 43% and a 2013 Cognac Cask at 65%, they were all very good!
These are rums for sipping and enjoying slowly….good rums shall never be gulped down! you waste the precius (and often expensive) “juice” and miss out on the whole array of taste notes that is hidden in the “treasure chest”….
I wouldn`t use these in cocktails either, some rums are best sipped neat.
I like to see Foursquare coming up with more cask strength rums because I think they carry so much more flavor and punch, they are so much more interesting….
Rumfest Day Two
Same same but different….with other rums to try that I missed yesterday and it´s always such a good feeling to return to that happy rum filled big room on the sunday…. 🙂 and I did go back to the Velier tasting room since there were some additional other rums to try on the sunday and I don`t need to be asked twice if I want to return to a Velier tasting room….I could go to a Velier tasting room every day the whole year long.
I also went back to the Rhum agricole tasting room too to try what I missed yesterday….because yesterday there was so much chatting that I missed out on some of the rums when time did run out….
Followed the agricole tasting room was the Mauritius Gold Cocktail Competition and then the traditional Caribbean drummers and dancers which always closes down the Rumfest.
Another nice thing was the Bacardi “hut” with cool cocktails, same way as last year but another rum (Bacardi 8) and other cocktails. This time we got a wooden tray with three mini cocktail “glasses” on, one was a Bacardi 8 neat, one was an Old Fashioned and one was the “Old Cuban” cocktail.
Very tasty (especially the Old Cuban) and very neat! I really like how they present their products.
Passing by the Angostura both beautifully arranged with all their iconic rums and bitters I saw one of the coolest rum barrel mugs ever, if I could just get me one of these….I wish….if I had one of these mugs i`d make tiki drinks with Angostura 5 and 7 year old rums….how cool wouldn`t that be? what I love the most about it is how beautiful the barrel is and then the butterfly!!
Beautiful Angostura rums
Here´s pictures of the Rumfest, I hope to see you there the next year dear readers of my blog 🙂 it`s an amazing event with so much to see and do!
Jamaican flavors with Blackwell rum! and cocktails….
The Golden Eye and Black Storm…followed by…
…..some JWray overproof Rum Punches!
The man responsible for it all….Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell. Holding the special Rumfest Blend!
Ekte Rum from Copenhagen Rum Club! Dark and Aged…
Pungent and Geeky!
What would a rumfest be without pirates? and this particular pirate, “Jack” was everywhere…. 😀
I see this rum every year…it`s a good one and to me the rumfest would be “empty” without this bottle around….
More good overproofs….RumFire and RumBar.
Another brand I like, Mezan rums, especially the Monymusk one.
At the Don Q stand, Alexx Mouzouris did a fantastic job with both the cocktails and the decorations…..just like he did the last year. He knows how to make it stand out and look inviting and special! and he sure knows how to make super tasty cocktails.
Rums from Mautitius….
Bristol Classic….another rum i`m used to see at the UK Rumfest, this is a classic good rum brand with many different expressions and types of rums represented.
And Real McCoy! this is a very very good rum! made by Foursquare for Real McCoy.
This picture is just to make you thirsty… 🙂
And when you`re thirsty….a Painkiller is never wrong….
Cheers and Up Spirits!
Pusser`s Gunpowder Proof.
Rhum agricole, so different from molasses rums and equally good, this is what I love about rum, there´s so many different ones!
In between rums or WITH rums, Shocka´s coconuts is a must have at the UK Rumfest. I filled mine with Mezan Monymusk rum….
A very good sugarcane syrup, made on Martinique.
Trois Rivières….nice rhums.
HSE – Habitation Saint Etienne, Sherry Finish, a very good rhum agricole.
Here`s the new 17 year old Caroni by Velier, it´s very good….
The 2000 Caroni Millenium magnum bottle, an incredible rum! with the 17 year, these are some seriously good rums and if I could afford that big red magnum Caroni….but maybe one day.
Velier rums…a whole table full of them for tasting….
Caroni, single Cask.
Aged in the tropics.
More tropical aged demerara rums from Velier….
This is rum prn for rum geeks…..
Basseterre -95, a fantastic rum from Guadeloupe, I like this one very much.
Rhum Rhum 2012, the stronger version (version integrale) amazing rum!
Habitation Velier, Forsythe Pot Still 2005. On the back label it says “it`s the fruits of the first distillation in more than 50 years at Worthy Park in the double retort pot still built by Forsyth. Barrel proof without additives or colorings. It was the first rum to be produced at Worthy Park when the historic estate which had previously worked interruptedly since 1670, started distilling again.
Uitvlugt 1996….another amazing rum.
Aloha time at Mahiki 🙂
With tasty Pina Coladas.
Giant clam shell to wash your hands in at the ladies room, Mahiki, beautiful!
So it started with a tiki bar and ended with another tiki bar….
After the Rumfest closed down there was the traditional after party at the Trailer Happiness!!! something I did NOT wanna miss! and there we got these huuuuuge Zombies in skull mugs…..and I don`t know what they did put in those but yes they totally zombied me out ….. 😀
This was so not to be missed! What a wonderful way to finish the Rumfest, with these huge superpotent Zombies! I hope I can be back again the next year!
Champion of the 42 Below cocktail world cup and owner of the Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna, Italy – master of tiki drinks and tasty libations and undisputed lover of pineapples, meet Daniele Dalla Pola!
Hailing from Milan and now living in Bologna where he resides at the Nu Lounge Bar when he`s not travelling the world spreading tiki and tropical drinks and aloha.
I have been admiring the tiki drinks and vintage style photos of Daniele Dalla Pola for a long time, I hope to one day be able to have one in person! last time I met Daniele was in New Orleans at the 2014 TOTC event “Dynamic Duos” at the Cane and Table where Jeff Beachbum Berry did bartend together with Nick Detrich mixing up drinks with Plantation rum.
It was an evening of great friendship, fun and tasty cocktails as this picture by my friend Laura Godel can tell!
Curious about how Daniele came into the world of tiki and what tiki means to him i asked him about his story:
You are one of the most prolific bartenders out there… tell us your story Daniele?
Thank you for a compliment! A long story short, to be a prolific bartender it`s essential to have passion for what you are doing, but passion without talent is nothing. My talent is all about hospitality. I learned how to improve my skills during my long time living in Miami, USA.
Everyday was a challenge, because I could loose my job in any moment. There was and there is still a lot of competitors-hardworkers so if you are not on focus you can lose your chance to success.
And it’s like this everywhere in the world. In last 10 years our world has been changing so much, a lot of “trains” (opportunities) pass by….you have to jump in.
And tiki, how did you get into that?
I been a tropical oriented kind of person since I started this profession and I always dreamed about opening a bar in Hawaii. I just fell in love with this incredible world of cool fancy drinks many years a go. Then thanks to the new golden era of cocktails I even decided to make a radical change to my bar, like Trader Vic did in the past.
I have seen tiki getting more popular in Europe, especially in the UK but it´s not near as big as in the US, naturally, and a lot of people seem to think tiki is just a style and just all about the drinks, when they are actually just a part of a whole culture and lifestyle, what`s your thoughts on that?
Tiki Culture is the coolest era ever, sometime I just wish that I can travel back in time and walk into one of the Don The Beachcomber or participate in one of the amazing Luaus at the Encino Plantation, maybe make a Missionary s Downfall to Clark Gable…
I agree that tiki is not just a type of cocktail, tiki can be a lifestyle, your home can be tiki style, you can buy outfit tiki style, you can have even a tattoo, but without Aloha Spirit all this won`t be possible.
And as for the drinks, what´s your favorite tiki drinks?
I love to make the Pearl Diver and the Missionary s Downfall…. my favorite depends of the moment…. now it`s Don`s Special.
I cannot do this interview without talking about pineapples, you really do promote the King of Fruits like no one else, why is it so special?
You just said it !!!! it`s the king of fruit and a symbol of friendship and of hospitality. It´s so good and i love the texture in cocktails and now it`s fashion too.
Obviously a silly question, but tell me why should I visit the Nu Lounge Bar?
Because of me !!!! is a joke !!!! 🙂 many reasons, one of them is for sure the location and all the good looking guys that work there…..
I see you use a lot of coconut, pineapple and banana, are they your favorite flavor pairings?
That was an easy question – RUM and LIME…….. 🙂
Your photos have a very nice vintage look, do you have any photography tips?
Just buy cool apps and practice, make sure that the background is nice and that there is nothing that can disturb, for example like a garbage bin, also I usually don t like pics with straws, try to have your style so the people can recognize your works easily. And change it when you dont like it anymore…..find a new style and start again.
Tell me something about Hawaii….what the Aloha shirt means to you!
Hawaii is magic, Hawaii is paradise….all the islands are incredibly beautiful, everything there is so special, all the breathtaking views, the beaches, the sound of ukulele, the kalua pig, and the beers are amazing,[ liquid Aloha ] the Kona coffee… and you can see some cute hula girls dancing.
But you can live with Aloha Spirit everywhere you want.
Talking about Aloha Shirts, I`ll say just one thing, now we cross the line a bit because fashion industry in the last couple of years is doing a lot *Hawaiian Style* and people will get tired of this.
But I`ll not! One day I hope to become a Kamaʻāina, so I`ll have a discount in the Aloha Shirt Shop….
And finally, you recently had a gorgeous pineapple mug made, is that a new signature mug for your bar?
Of course ….the Sexy Colada! and here`s the MANOA:
45 ml Bacardi Carta oro rum
30 ml Arcane cane crush rum
3 ml Absinthe
10 ml Pimento dram liqueur
15 ml Passion fruit syrup
15 ml Homemade falernum syrup
20 ml Grapefruit juice
20 ml Lime juice
5g Sugar cubes
1g Ground cinnamon
300g Crushed ice
Pour lime juice, grapefruit juice, falernum syrup, passion fruit syrup, pimento dram liqueur, white rum and overproof rum into a shaker and fill the shaker with crushed ice and shake.
Pour together with ice into a tiki mug and garnish with a mint sprig and a half lime with a sugar cube soaked in absinthe. Set the sugar on fire and sprinkle it with ground cinnamon.
After writing this post I know one thing for sure, someday I need to get myself over to Nu Lounge Bar….and now they also have these super cool pineapple mugs, a part of the Marama Project for Nu Lounge Bar. I made a “Aku Lapu Lapu” in it and the mug is just the right size for a good tiki drink and the top has a hole in it for the straw.
I think the mug is so cool………
And now let´s take a look at Daniele`s drinks! they are photographed in a lovely vintage tiki style and the garnishes and glassware and everything around are all creative and elaborate and the king is of course – the pineapple!
Here`s eye candy for tiki drink and tropical drink lovers! all are Daniele´s drinks and many of these are what you get if you head over to Nu Lounge Bar! I just love the vintage tiki style in these photos! and there´s such great attention to detail….but beware – it´s a VERY LOOOONG picture parade…..
With a hint of coconut, pineapple and banana…..spices, smoke and fire…….
Aloha is the greeting…..let´s get tropical!
Start with a Mai Tai……
Then get something spicy with a vibrant lively rhum agricole….the Spiced Martinique Swizzle!
And then….here it is! – Daniele´s fresh yummy drooly Sexy Colada!
Fragrant….cinnamon dusting on top…..
More pineapple! from Pina to Painkiller!
Sail away to the tropics….get tropical! and STAY tropical!!!
The Maori Sour ( Nu Lounge Bar )
20 ml. passion fruit puree
2 barspoon Guadeloupe sugar mixed with green tea ( powder )
20 ml. lime juice
1/2 passion fruit
60 ml. 42 below vodka
20 ml. manuka honey mix
Shake and pour unstrained in a cool glass
Add more ice ( crushed )
Garnish with the empty passion fruit filled with green tea , berrys, sugar
Ready for some heat? the Nu Volcano is erupting!
Followed by smoke…..
And lots of it….oozing it´s way around the table…
Pineapple and coconut again!!! let`s kill some more pain….
Yeah…we sure are in pineapple paradise….
And we´re on island time aren`t we…..?
Dreaming of Blue Hawaii….can you hear the waves crashing?
And the sweet island tones of the ukulele….
I spy a Scott Taylor mug….
We know what DTO is….and now it´s even BDT – Banana daquiri time!
Aqua de Mai Tai….very innovative and stunning presentation!
Missionary’s Flip Flop!
Painkiller, Spice Colada and Boo Loo
Pineapple love 🙂
As you can see, there´s a lot of attention to detail here…I mean down to the last tiny details….a sign of a true master! and a lot of Aloha spirit in his works! Beautiful pictures aren`t they? all pics in the picture parade are courtesy and credited to Daniele Dalla Pola, the pics of the smoke are courtesy Ariel from www.ascocktailproducts.eu Mahalo for giving me permission to use them here!
Address: Via Dè Musei, 6, 40124 Bologna, Italy
Phone:+39 051 222532
Hours:5:00 pm – 3:00 am
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…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 tiki drinks! but it also mixes well in other cocktails like for example rum swizzles and 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 to create something far greater than the sum of its parts…. 🙂
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 incredibly 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, but personally I like both 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 and has a sharp kick to it, it´s like a wild horse….there´s no delicate refinement it`s just BOOM! – but it`s not unbalanced, just 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 – to me, is not so much a sipping rum as 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 to 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 great in mixing, and it mixed well in a variety of cocktails.
It`s strong though 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 other cocktails too 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 mouthfeel 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…
1 oz pineapple juice
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.
1.5 oz Rational Spirits Santeria Rum
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz passionfruit 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 passionfruit syrup, just add the fruit meat from 2-3 fresh passionfruits 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.
And here are links to Lost Spirits and Rational Spirits Facebook pages.
Disclaimer – I may be the brand ambassador for Rational Spirits but this specific post is an independent review by A Mountain of Crushed Ice same as all other rum reviews on this site.
“Rum is more than a Spirit, it´s a Life Style”
Expect rum connoisseurs from all corners of the globe at the UK’s largest rum celebration taking place next month – The RumFest!
This time of the year there`s so much rum happenings in Europe and all are happening with just weeks in between them making it really hard to attend them all….and for me it boils down to once again attending the UK Rumfest.
I have covered previous UK Rumfests here and now there`ll be one more and I really looking forward to see my rum friends again and see what new and old rums will be there to try out and enjoy and not to mention all the seminars and other events that will keep you busy busy busy………
Here`s the press release:
The countdown begins for the ninth addition of the world’s premier rum festival taking place at ILEC Conference Centre, Earl’s Court on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th October 2015.
Thousands of rum lovers will be treated to blends from all corners of the globe. Whether a Ron Tiburon from Belize, a Le Dom Tom from France or a Nine Leaves blend from Japan, there are over 400 rare and exquisite rums to sip, savour and buy across the two days. Following the success of last year, the Golden Tot tokens return where visitors can pick up a token for just £5 opening the doors to rum’s elite allowing the more serious rum enthusiast to try rums that usually retail for over £200 a bottle.
Away from the tasting shacks and immersive pop-ups will be a series of enriching and tantalising seminars, masterclasses and workshops including the not-to-be missed Cachaca Tasting mapping out its rich history in Brazil and flavours; an introductory level aroma masterclasses; chocolate and rum pairing; a fascinating look at the history of rum; and a series of one-to-one tastings.
Top blenders, mixologists and distillers will also be on hand to teach ticket holders the art of cocktail making as well as more ways to enjoy their favourite rums.
Whilst one of the most influential and awarded personalities in the rum world, the legendary Tito Cordero, Diplomatico’s Master Blender, will take visitors on a journey through the foothills of the Andes.
The RumFest’s famous food offering will deliver mouth watering cuisine from exotic rum making locations and temperatures are set to rise with live stage demos showcasing rum pairings, cooking demos, live cocktail competitions and more. Vanessa Bolosier creator Creole Kitchen is model turned award-winning chef and will be bringing years of inherited stories and recipes to RumFest’s Main Stage.
Expect big flavours and plenty of spice from a lady with innate Caribbean cuisine knowledge. Contemporary Caribbean cook Shivi Ramoutar will take over Sunday’s Main Stage presenting her culinary mission to twist these classic caribbean dishes and ingredients from her childhood into her own vibrant, fresh and easy-to-make delights.
Other highlights for 2015 include the return of RumFest’s Auction in partnership with Christie’s auction house. A must see for this year, RumFest is hoping to smash last year’s grand total where over 20 precious and rare rum were sold off for charity.
Carnival Hour rounds off the RumFest experience each day in the ultimate party finale, featuring live bands and dancers that embrace the fun and social spirit of rum.
This year for the first time in history The Rum Experience is teaming up with leading bars, chefs, distillers, brands and rum lovers to curate a week long series of events that will take over the capital for the inauguralThe Rum Experience Week. Each event will be hosted by a different brand or partner and will show attendees new ways to experience rum, including rum pairings with cigars and chocolate, rum infused cooking classes and exclusive menus, a Thames Tiki rum cruise and interactive tastings.
The fitting finale to the week long-long events is of course The RumFest. Tickets to select events are available now and more events will be announced soon with full information on the website – rumexperienceweek.com or fromrumfest.co.uk.
RumFest Founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell is the leading name in rum. Dedicating his life to promoting rum and rum culture around the world, over the years Burrell has been recognised with a number of industry awards as well as regularly appearing as a rum expert at events and on television shows like Sunday Brunch, the Alan Titchmarsh Show and more.
Speaking about the return of RumFest, Burrell says, “We’ve refined RumFest this year into something very special. We’ll be taking rum lovers on the UK’s biggest celebration of rum yet, showing them the fun side of the culture, while at the same time giving an insight into the spirit so they can take home what they’ve learnt, armed with a better understanding of the spirit.
And with this we introduce the first ever Rum Experience Week which allows rum and spirit lovers to rejoice in the marvels of the category in a entire week-long celebration.
We look forward to seeing you there.”
The RumFest takes place in London at the ILEC, 17th to 18th October 2015. Standard day tickets are now on sale at £49.95, which includes access to all areas of the the event and tastings from all exhibitors. VIP tickets are on sale from £75 and allow for early access of one hour ahead of standard ticket buyers along with a two course Caribbean lunch and RumFest goodie bag.
Golden Tot Tokens are £5 each and allow for additional access to the more premium rums on offer. One token can be exchanged for rum retailing £80 – £100 and more expensive rums will be available for additional tokens. Tickets to the new private rum tastings will be announced soon. For full information on RumFest and to buy tickets head to rumfest.co.uk.
Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th October 2015
London’s ILEC, Earl’s Court
Up for review I have here three bottles of Hamilton rums from the Ministry of Rum Collection – a pot still Saint Lucian rum from 2006, aged 7 years, the Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum and then the 86 proof Demerara rum. These are rums I was wanting to review for a very long time but couldn`t get to do until now.
Ed Hamilton, who I first encountered at his Ministry of Rum website back in 2008 and who was my first rum mentor sailed the Caribbean for many years searching for rums, visiting distilleries and sampling rums and by the beginning of 2000 started to import rhum agricoles from the French Caribbean and imported rhums such as Neisson and La Favorite.
He also wrote rum books, Rums of the Eastern Caribbean and The Complete Guide to Rum: A Guide to Rums of the World that were published in the 1990s.
And now he hand select rums for his own Hamilton label and is the one who brought us the Hamilton 151 Demerara to help us survive the for now (and maybe forever) not longer produced Lemon Hart 151 (well, the US for now since LH151 is still not yet dried up in Europe – but hurry up Ed and get it to Europe too before it runs out….) and as for the rest of the world I have no idea about the LH151 situation but I guess it´s pretty non existant?
The bottles are very nice, dark, and “rum looking” and the labels are beautiful with an old style map of the island or country producing the rums in the center.
Saint Lucian Pot Still, 2006, 63.8%
Starting with the one I was the most curious about, the pot still Saint Lucian. Each of the Saint Lucia Pot Still rums in the Ministry of Rum Collection were distilled and aged in Saint Lucia then shipped to the US in the barrels in which they were aged. For details of each of these rums can be found on the Caribbean Spirits webpage.
The molasses used at St Lucia Distillers was sourced from Guyana and contained 65% dissolved sugar, one of the highest sugar contents of any molasses found in the Caribbean. The high sugar content is attributed to the age of the Guyanese sugar mill. But it doesn’t matter what the sugar content of the molasses / juice is, after distillation there is no residual sugar left in the spirit and what comes out of the still is dry.
And the rum doesn`t taste very sweet, it more tastes like real unadultered rum, and there was no caramel color or flavoring of any kind added to this rum either.
I was met with a very pleasant nose of plenty of mature macerated tropical fruits, oak, orange peel, vanilla and creamy butter….
But taking a sip, be prepared for a taste chock…. it`s an explosion of heavy pot still punch and strong flavors! but the the thing that really hits you comes after when a dry earthy astringency lets itself be known….which immediately brought my mind to rhum agricole where I think I mostly have found these kind of flavors but here`s a rum made from molasses.
And it`s so very different!! really intriguing…It has flavors of the same tropical fruits i found in the nose, and then oak, leather, tannins, spice and dark plums….paired with this dry earhty astringency remniscent of an aged rhum agricole….it`s an amazing rum! heavy and vibrant.
Re-visitng this rum the next day and this time with a few drops of water I don`t think very much changed…more than that the astringency became even more pronounced….maybe it got a little smoother in appearance.
Oh my….this is very interesting rum!
I happen to really like strong rums with character and so I have no problem liking this one. Another thing that I like is the transparency which Ed puts out on the bottle label, it describes exactly what this rum is all about and at the Ministry of Rum website you can read a lot more!
Heavy rums like this tend to be a bit difficult to use in cocktails if used alone and so I think this one might be best together with something that can tame it a little bit….
Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum, 46.5%
The next one is the Jamaican pot still black rum, this one is a blend of light, very light and heavy pot still rums from the Worthy Park Estate where rum has been made since 1670. And it has been colored with a double-strength black sugar-based caramel.
Here`s for a very pungent nose…mashed overripe bananas and other tropical fruits, burnt sugar, heavy molasses, hints of wood and pineapple….it`s a funky smell that attacks your senses.
But contrary to the taste chock of the Saint Lucian rum this one enters very smoothly…and that surprised me…
Fruity notes with overripe banana, pineapple and charred wood, molasses and tropical leaves. It`s not an elegant rum, nor is it light despite using two lighter pot still rums in the blend, but it´s smooth with a punchy heaviness and I like it.
Hamilton Guyana Rum, 43%
From the rivers of Demerara…my favorite rum region….
This rum is aged up to five years. and bottled from the same bulk of rum that makes up the Hamilton 151 Demerara which will be the next one of his for me to try. But let`s start with this lower proof demerara and see what it gives.
The nose is quite light with fruity, slightly woody and buttery notes, there´s hints of banana peel and dark sugar.
It has a smooth taste and a velvety buttery mouth feel, charred oak and mash of overripe tropical fruits, some smoke and charred wood, so typical for the demerara rums made with the last remaining original stills of their kind still operating in the world.
Here´s a great rum for mixing up those great tiki cocktails! what i`d do is use this as a base, maybe with another rum and then use the 151 for a float 🙂 and of course it´s also a good sipping rum.
Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Oh So Deadly (Recipe by the excellent Atomic Grog,)
0.5 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
0.25 oz orange juice
0.25 oz pineapple juice
3/8 oz (3 teaspoons) rich cinnamon syrup
0.5 oz rich honey mix (see below)
0.5 oz Hamilton Guyana rum
0.5 oz Hamilton Black Jamaican rum
1 oz light Virgin Islands rum
1 dash Angostura bitters
Blend at high speed with 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of crushed ice for 5 seconds. Pour into a specialty glass. Add more crushed ice to fill.
I recommend using an intense cinnamon syrup, such as the B.G. Reynolds. For the honey-mix use a ratio of 2:1 honey to water. Heat up slightly and dissolve the honey in the water, then cool in the fridge until use.
8 oz Lopez or Real Coconut Cream
2 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz Hamilton St Lucia Pot Still rum
3 oz Hamilton Guyana rum
Put everything in a blender and fill to the top with ice cubes and blend until slushy. Pour into ceramic coconut mugs or other tiki mugs.
Thanks to Jeanne “Catahula” Vidrine for letting me use her tiki collection while away from home 🙂
My conclusion: Is very simple – I love these rums! I like that they are so full of flavors. All three are very different, especially the Saint Lucian which I find to be something else….
They are full of flavors, complexity and punch! – all three of them.
Well done Ed Hamilton!!