For those who doesn`t know, the Facebook group “La Confrérie du Rhum” is now counting over 12 000 members and it keeps growing! when I wrote about their first rum La Confrérie Barbados 2000 in about a year ago the membership was 3600, so it has more than tripled in a year!
As a member of this group since the beginning and a regular visitor I can easily say this is one of the most talkative rum groups around, and there´s a lot of rum knowledge there, with – naturally since the group is french, a lot of rhum agricoles being discussed (and in between there´s everything else)
But Velier and Silver Seal rums also has a very strong presence as well since those kinds of usually cask strength, full proof, no-additives, one of a kind demerara, caroni and agricole rums are not only some of the best you can get on this planet but they have always been solid in Europe. Personally they were my favorite rums since years back.
If you want to explore the wonderful and interesting rhum agricoles, this is place to be, I have learnt so MUCH during my time there!
In early 2014, Jerry Gitany and Benoit Bail started secretly working together with the distillery La Favorite in Martinique and they worked on a special bottling dedicated to the group. Now almost 2 years later this “cuvèe” dropped just before last Christmas, in 2015.
This collaboration finally brought to a wonderful 20 years old agricole rum which was bottled, waxed and labeled by hand and packaged in beautiful boxes together with 2 tasting glasses branded by the distillery and the group. The price is 205 euro.
This single cask agricole rum is issued from 4 different casks and each bottle shows the cask which it´s issued from and it´s degree of alcohol on the label. There´s a limited edition of 1000 cask strength bottles at 45% ABV. It´s a one of a kind rum.
So here´s my taste notes:
Appearance: very beautiful dark mahogany.
Nose: The nose is round and full, there´s mature tropical fruits like juicy banana mash and peels, sugarcane, hints of florals and herbals, apricots, mango, aromatic and sweet…
Mouth: Deep….this rum is deep and very balanced. Notes of the same fruits as in the nose, hints of wood, it`s a dry rum and it has very pleasant dry aftertaste and is mild and smooth, really caressing the palate. In overall a well balanced, elegant and very pleasant rum to sip. Medium long and dry finish.
Thats it folks! if you can, go get it….it won`t last long.
La Confrérie du Rhum Facebook Group page is here and you can buy this rum at Christian de Montaguére, in his shop in Paris or by contacting Christian.
Compagnie des Indes is a French independent bottler which was founded by Florent Beuchet has a solid wine and spirits background since he comes from a family of wine makers in Burgundy in France, so he naturally started with wine education and tastings and then travelled to the US and worked for Banks Rum in NYC as their Brand Ambassador for 2 years before starting his own brand Compagnie des Indes in 2014.
The idea behind Compagnie des Indes is to bring authentic rum from many regions with both blends of different countries as well as one origins and single casks showing the genuine character of the rums from each region.
The name Compagnie des Indes pays hommage and bring memories from days past when merchants from the East India Companies travelled to bring back precious and exotic goods from far away places. And in like manner Florent brings rums distinct to each region to us.
There´s a commitment to transpareny clearly stating on each label exactly what the bottle contains as well as the name of the distillery, bottling date, number etc – I want to se more of this!
Recently there were two tastings here with rums from Compagnie des Indes, both mixed in cocktails and neat. The range was nine different rums whereof five were single casks. Some rums were also at cask strength. In cocktails the rums are really nice, they mix very well but they also sip very well so they are versatile.
These are generally drier style of rums with no sugar or anything added except for a very few which has a lower amount of sugar or caramel but Florian is all transparent about it and from this upcoming year there will be no more caramel added.
The rums Florian brought to the tasting were these:
1 – Caraibe – A blend of rums from Barbados (mostly Foursquare) 25%, Trinidad 50% and Guyana 25% Aged for between three and five years in American white oak, distilled in column stills, no age statement. This rum is fruity and complex with hints of apricot, peaches and vanilla with a little peppery touch.
2 – Latino – the second of the blends, contains 60% rum from the Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala (who makes Botran and Zacapa) and then 40% Caraibe. It`s a light type of rum, typical for the Spanish types of rum or ron with caramel, toffee and vanilla aromas and a “coffee bean” like finish. Aged 5 years in American white oak.
3 – St Lucia – 13 years single cask, 43% This is a 100% pot still rum using molasses from Guyana. No additives except water. Spicy, warm and woody with a nice fruity finish.
4 – Martinique – 13 years single cask 44% from the Dillon distillery. No additives except water. Has been aged in the “more spicy” french oak, with more dryness and touch of smoke. This is a rhum agricole that is a bit less grassy on the notes than what we usually see with an elegant fruity flavor of ripe tropical fruits.
5 – Barbados 12 year old – pot and column still rum from Foursquare. This rum surprised me with very clear notes of the same flavors as I have encountered in the rums from St Nicholas Abbey. Now that in intself is actually not surprising since Richard Seale and Foursquare have made all the St Nicholas Abbey´s rums except for their latest 5 year old expression. But this is still the first rum I try apart from the very SNA rums that has those flavor notes, interesting….and of course – very nice aromas! kudos to Foursquare! and of course – No additives what so ever.
6 – Boulet de Canon n1 – A limited edition of rum aged in islay whiskey barrels. A refined blend of the Caraibe with 5 yrs rums from Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana, finished in an Islay whisky barrel for 8 months. Has an elegant touch of smoke and a nice finish. Boulet n2 is coming later this year and will be aged in peated whiskey barrels.
7 – Jamaica – 5 years, Navy Strength 57% Worthy Park, Monymusk, Hampden and then, a secret Jamaican distillery makes up this expression. Very nice and flavorful and smooth in regard to it´s proof. No added sugar or caramel colouring. One of my favorites in this bunch!
8 – Haiti 11 years, Barbancourt distillery. Cask strength rum 59.4% it gets better and better…has a round aromatic nose of what it comes from, the old stills at Barbancourt. Unfiltered. No additives what so ever. No added sugar, caramel colouring or water. Very aromatic, dry and fruity. Love at first sight…
9 – Guyana – And the last one, a demerara…(Port Mourant) Very nice and flavorful – but not heavy to my surprise since it´s a cask a strength rum at 58%.
There´s many more rums than these by Compagine des Indes, and especially interesting are a range of very attractive cask strength rums available only in Denmark.
This is a rum company issuing very nice expressions where many are single casks and many also interesting cask strength rums and most without any added sugar (and if they have some – it is stated clearly on the label) so these rums are worthy to look out for.
One last thing, I think the labels are absolutely gorgeous!!
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!
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
And so finally I got to go the Latitude 29! I´ve been waiting since they opened with great anticipation and (high) expectancy…..well…I try to not have too high expectations whatever it is, better to have an open mind, but with this one i`s a bit different….because this is the BUM`s place….this is the man who uncoded all the secret codes and brought us all these lost drink recipes and who wrote no less than six stellar books on the subject if you count in Taboo Table.
His books have been my to go tiki drink (and history) books for years and so now he and his wife Annene Kay aka Mrs Bum opens a real tiki bar in my favorite city New Orleans!
And I wasn`t there when they opened….and had to wait all the way until this year´s Tales before I could finally go and see it – and in the meantime I`ve been drooling over all the food and drink pictures (can you say Tahitian Steak Frites?) and the drinks…..oh the drinks….
I`ve seen so many beautiful pictures of these drinks that I didn`t know what to start with….but I ended up ordering a Pontchartrain Pearl Diver as my first drink – in the NEW Pearl Diver`s glass! 🙂
The Pearl Diver`s glass, the Swizzle cup and the skull barspoons are all new for this summer in collaboration with Jeff Berry and Cocktail Kingdom and they were sold at the Tales but are also available online. The vintage Pearl Diver`s Punch glass is more or less impossible to find anymore so I`m really happy they are re-making them and same for the cool swizzle cup! I hope to see more re-making of these type of vintage tiki drink glasses….
And not only are the glasses really cool they come in beautiful vintage looking packages too!
The Pontchartrain Pearl Diver was good…..very very good – well balanced and oh so tasty! I didn`t try so very many drinks during the Tales because it was so incredibly busy….and so was I…so I decided to wait until after Tales and THEN go there for some serious drink tasting!
So last friday I went there early and I sat there and happily indulged Tahitian Steak Frites with luscious Coconut Butter and later a Mahi Mahi Bahn Mi accompanied by a whole array of drinks until in the evening, I actually spent a whole “working day” in the place!
And I had a nice chat with the Bum, about rums and rums and rums…and of course, tiki drinks. I was indeed a very good day….The place is so cool and relaxed, beautifully decorated and the music is great! with everything from real good and cool old style Jamaican reggae to surf music! and the co-bar manager Steven Yamada and his staff are very attentive, friendly and nice.
It`s really a place to go not only for the great drinks and food but also to escape from the world outside and it doesn`t matter if there´s big windows to the outside world…..because this is New Orleans! and the view from the beautiful arched windows is nothing but beautiful….over the pool and the tropical plants in the courtyard of Bienville House Hotel.
This used to be housing the former Iris restaurant, I went there in 2009 with all the Tales bloggers and now I cannot recognize the restaurant and bar anymore, it´s a total different world! quite the transformation….the only things that looks the same is the courtyard and the hotel lobby.
Take a look:
Back in 2009…Alan Walther tends the bar at Iris…..and he did serve some amazing cocktails! he later moved on to Loa, this was long before the Iris became what it is today – a true tiki haven!
The Tales Blogger Dinner in 2009 in the former Iris restaurant, the same view today of the beautiful courtyard and pool but the dining room has dramatically changed…..
This is such a tranquil and peaceful place….if staying at this hotel you get both all this plus the Latitude29 in one place…..
Eat Drink and be Merry!
Hurricane, Kea Colada and Royal Hawaiian Cocktail.
The food menu has something for everyone! executive Chef Chris Shortall and his staff creates their own take on modern Tiki Cuisine which is playful and tasty and there`s something for everyone including options for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free guests.
First thing I opted for was the Tahitian Steak Frites which I`ve been dreaming about since they opened…..
The Tahitian Steak Frites are tender, luscious and juicy (I ordered mine medium-rare) served with hot crispy thin fries and a tasty dipping sauce plus a dollop of coconut butter on top! the Bum told me that in Tahiti they add coconut to the cow´s diet and therefore everything the cows are producing have a touch of coconut flavor…heavenly….and so they wanted to re-create that idea here with the coconut butter.
I LOVE it!
I`m not joking, I think I could eat this almost every day….the meat is so tender and melts in your mouth together with that lovely coconut butter….
The Mahi Mahi Bahn Mi is wild caught Mahi poached in coconut oil, jalapeño, sriracha, and shallot….and at a Chef`s Challenge before the Tales I tried the ribs which are very tasty too….and not to forget the crispy green beans!
Another nice dish is the Shrimps in Blanket, the gulf shrimps here really are something special. They are big and juicy….and have more shrimp flavor than shrimps I`ve tasted anywhere else.
Shrimps in Blanket
These green beans were amazing…..
An array of seductive tropical tiki drinks…..
When you enter a tiki bar you want to be seduced….you want to forget the daily struggles and take a “trip to the South Seas” with exotic tropical drinks! (inspired by drinks in the Caribbean….) 🙂
So I started with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver….it`s such a good drink!…..balanced, fruity and rummy! The Pearl Diver is a mix of honey-butter-spice mix blended with passion fruit, lime and Jamaica rum. The butter adds a wonderful slightly viscous mouth-feel, if you didn`t know it was butter in the mix you wouldn`t know what it was but you would know there was something there….
After the Pearl Diver I had the namesake drink of this bar – the Latitude 29…..it comes in a tall glass wrapped in banana leaf for that real tropical feel – and you get that cool gorgeous swizzle stick! – made after the wall art by Bosko! The drink is made with eight-year Demerara rum, passion fruit purée, house made Madagascar vanilla syrup, orange, pineapple and lemon.
They are both gorgeous in their presentations with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver in the new re-made super cool Pearl Diver`s glass.
The Latitude 29
The Rum Barrel is according to the menu a communal drink but it says “For 2 to share, or 1 thirsty pirate to hoard. A kill-devil’s brew of 3 rums, 4 juices, multiple herbs, spices and sweeteners …” – so apparently I`m a “thirsty pirate” since I had no problem drinking it all by myself….
It sure makes you feel like a rummy pirate! 😀
It`s presentation is BEAUTIFUL! and fun! see the picture….they really take time to garnish up these beauties….and the drink itself is strong and rummy/fruity/spicy. One of my favorites!
Rum Barrel, complete with pineapple peel, cherries, orchid, swinging monkeys and umbrella! superfun garnish 🙂
And so is the Coffee Bongo…..also incredibly nicely garnished….with a pineapple leaf cut out to look like a palm tree frond…..topped with two coffee beans….stunning! the drink is also strong/spicy and rummy with lots of character and if you like coffee and pineapple together, you find it here.
Every drink is not rum though….there´s a drink called “Outcast of the Islands” which was amazingly tasty and is a mix of London gin and Persian lime…with cinnamon, ginger, almond and anise, heavenly….
And it LOOKS heavenly too! it comes served with an ice shell…..how cool is that? and the Navy Grog comes with the iconic ice cone which is made with the Bum`s ice cone device sold by Cocktail Kingdom (as well as the Pearl Diver`s glasses, the swizzle cup and the skull bar spoons)
And there are drinks with bourbon, brandy, tequila, beer and vodka….but I haven`t tried them all yet….there`s something for everyone in the drink menu too. Me, I tend to mostly stick to the rums….
Outcast of the Islands and the iconic Navy Grog
The Professor Remsberg`s Punch is a very interesting drink and very tasty too, the drink contains “Fine old Guadeloupe rum, gently stirred with lime and a Caribbean spiced syrup discovered over 30 years ago in San Juan by the Professor himself”…….I wonder what is in that syrup? If you didn`t know, Stephen Remsberg is the world´s biggest rum collector.
Professor Remsberg`s Punch
All the drinks at Latitude 29 are good and well balanced, from the (real, no chemical-mix) Hurricane, Mai Tai, TOTC Swizzle, Nui Nui, Kea Colada, Royal Hawaiian Cocktail, Lapu Lapu, Hawaii 504, Missionary`s Downfall and the Paniolo….which is Kentucky bourbon and Hawaiian macadamia nut liqueur shaken with lime, house made cranberry syrup and a dash of molé bitters.
It`s evident to me that they pay as much attention to the garnishes as the drinks themselves because some of these drinks ar off the charts when it comes to beautiful presentations! you get a little work of art in your hand!
And the drink names alone takes you on a exotic journey…..a lot of them created back in the heydays of tiki.
Tasty, exotic and beautiful.
The Hawaii 504
You know, you need to go there and just try all these heavenly things! btw….between 3 and 6 pm every day it´s Happy Hour with a special menu….where among the drinks you`ll find the Banana Banshee and the Royal Hawaiian Cocktail….both perfect to cool you down when it´s hot outside which is a guaranteed thing in New Orleans during the summer.
And the best thing of all….you get the Steak Frites for half the price! what is there not to love?
The Banana Banshee is a frozen cocktail with Jamaican rum, lime, coconut milk and coconut cream, fresh banana and aztec bitters and topped with grated chocolate!
I also ordered a few off-menu drinks with the help of Jeff Berry`s Total Tiki app, such a handy thing to have! and they were delivered top notch! I think Steve outdid himself with the Coconaut….coming beautifully garnished with a Cruzan Blackstrap float on the side. It tasted absolutely heavenly…..it was a mix of Hamilton 151 Demerara, El Dorado 5, for the rums plus that lovely float of blackstrap to pour yourself 🙂
This Coconaut was incredible!
The Zombie was spicy and nice just as I expected, and just about right with the strength, and the Kamehameha Rum Punch did live up to it´s name…..
Kamehameha Rum Punch and the Zombie…..
This interesting drink recipe is from Sippin`Safari and originates from the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii, as the origin of the drink around 1960.
So who was King Kamehameha you might ask? Kamehameha – also known as Kamehameha the Great was the head of a dynasty ruling the Hawaiian islands for more than a century. The name Kamehameha (pronounced kuh-may-ha-may-ha) means “the one set apart.” He conquered the Hawaiian islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawai`i in 1810.
This drink is actually named after the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii who took the name after the great Hawaiian King – Kamehameha.
Every year on Kamehameha Day (June 11, a state holiday in Hawai’i), National Statuary Hall is the scene of a ceremony in honor of the king and the statue of Kamehameha the Great is draped with lovely (and loooong) leis of fragrant flowers from Hawai’i. The Festival continues to pay tribute to Kamehameha and acts to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.
And as every tiki bar should, there:s also a couple of different communal drinks on the menu, the newest one is a monster drink called the “Plantocracy Punch” for 6-8 people but we were only three so we tried the Lapu Lapu which uses a recipe which according to the menu is a Don The Beachcomber’s “lost” unpublished 1964 recipe, recently discovered by the Bum and presented here for the first time in over 40 years.
And of course it`s appropriately garnished with little mermaids taking a rummy ice bath…..
Fruity, spicy, rummy Lapu Lapu and little mermaids swimming in the bowl….
While sitting in the bar I spotted two Samaroli rum bottles….and so of course I ordered a sample of each….and with the rum samples you get a small shot glass with water and a dropper, neat.
One was the 13 year old Guadeloupe 1998 Rhum Agricole and the other 1988 Demerara Dark Rum. The Guadeloupe is spicy and a touch smokey, with a strong character but at the same time, not too aggressive, it´s fruity, peppery, balanced and picky but also smooth.
A few drops of water brings out a whole array of tropical fruits flavors! this rum is incredible. I REALLY liked it!
The 23 year old 1988 Demerara rum had flavors of wood, macerated tropical fruits, apricot, vanilla, banana peel, mango and something else I couldn`t define…..but here a few drops of water didn`t bring out much change….still very woody, strong and fruity. Also a very good rum! Both of these rums are distilled in the Caribbean and then matured in Scotland.
They are not cheap but they are unique rums and they give you something to remember.
Then I saw a curiosity on the menu….it had a sort of mellow toasty coconut flavor…interesting….and I think it also could be used as ingredient in some of the drinks maybe? how about a Toasted Coconut Daiquiri?
The Interior Decor…..
Here is top crafts….the first thing you notice is of course the big centerpiece which now is in the same spot as the huge mirror was when it was the bar at Iris. The centerpiece is a huge carving of the Pacific Islands in a map in the forms of small tikis made by Daniel Gallardo aka Tiki Tiablo, and it`s a stunning work of art!!
Here is a collage of close-ups of the “Islands” in the map and there´s a nod to New Orleans too….do you see the fleur de lis on top?
Bosko Hrnjak did all the new (non-vintage) light fixtures and all of the new (non-vintage) tiki carvings, wall panels, etc, over 50 of them in total. And Dave “Basement Kahuna” Wolfe did 8 Easter Island carvings on the hut wall-dividers.
It`s all beautiful….
Another (practical) thing I greatly appreciate are the power outlets with USB ports located on each side of the tables, I wish more bars had that, it should be standard everywhere.
Tiki glasses, Barspoons and Orgeat
All tikiphiles already knows about the Pearl Diver`s glass, the swizze cup and the cool skull bar spoons which you can find at the Cocktail Kingdom which I mentioned above….but a new thing is the Latitude29 orgeat which comes in a heavy round glass bottle and is sold in the bar.
I haven`t tried the orgeat yet even though I bought a couple of bottles (USD 15 each) but i`m out travellling so that will have to wait.
So to sum it all up, what I was looking for was how the food and the drinks tasted and were presented and if there´s consistency….(and yes I have returned) and how the decor and the feel of the place was, what music did they play and how loud? is it possible to have a conversation or do you have to scream? and how I was treated as a guest.
Personally I have nothing to complain about, the food and drinks are top class, the decor tasteful and genuinely tiki, it`s a laid back and relaxed feel, the staff attentive, professional and very sweet and so I`ll keep coming back, this is now my primarily watering hole in New Orleans :-).
That said there´s a lot of very good bars here, I just happen to really really like well made tiki drinks and in the relaxed vibe and environment of a real good tiki bar, there I feel the most at home.