A DUST OF NUTMEG

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An interesting fragrant spice and an old favorite tiki drink

The fragrance of nutmeg is very special, i cannot even really describe it – its spicy-woody and fresh, nutty and very satisfying.

Most often i connect nutmeg with either christmas drinks or libations from the caribbean both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Nutmeg and carrot juice  is a common combo for instance among the non-alcoholic drinks. Nutmeg pairs well with drinks containing milk and cream, maybe that´s the reason its so common around christmas. Its also often use to top various punches.

The nutmeg spice itself is often ground – its a brown nut encased first by the red mace which is sweeter and then by a yellowish shell.

Nutmeg is one of the oldest spices known. It comes from an evergreen tree (myristica fragrans) native to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, near Indonesia. This tree is bearing a nut with two separate flavors. Nutmeg is one flavor and the mace another, achieved by grinding the lacy outer covering surrounding the nutmeg.

It has a warm spicy flavor and as heat greatly diminishes its flavor its best added towards the end of cooking and should be grated fresh. Mace is often preferred in light-coloured dishes as it gives a saffron-like bright orange colour.

When i experimented with a drink for the Tiki TDN – the weekly thursday drink night by the Mixoloseum –  i wanted to play with my – oh so beloved – Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum. I found that this rum pairs well with aged agricole as well. I have kept talking about how well it pairs with demerara, especially El Dorado 12 yo and there is El Dorado rum in this drink too, the 15 yo.

For that drink i used one of my favorite agricoles which is Clèment VSOP – a smooth rum with good flavour.

The drink Po`aha Punch ( in Hawaiian Po`aha means Thursday) was dusted with nutmeg powder on top of crushed ice – a common way to crown many tiki (and other) drinks.

To my delight the Po`aha Punch also delighted the palate our beloved Bum! may it delight you too?

PO´AHA PUNCH

1oz Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum
1oz El Dorado 15yo
1 oz Clemènt VSOP, 0.5 oz fresh lime
¼ oz simple syrup
0.5 oz coffee liqueur
1t cream of coconut,
Fresh pineapple juice to top.

Run in blender until smooth with crushed ice. Pour in tall glass, top with fresh pineapple juice and more crushed ice to fill,dust nutmeg on top and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

EL DORADO 8 YEAR OLD RUM

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It took a while but now i have finally been able to try out El Dorado`s eight year old rum. This is a blend of pot still and column still rums – aged in used whisky and bourbon barrels and was launched in the UK at Trailer Happiness in october-09 just after the UK Rumfest. I was so close to go but things weren´t in my favor so i never made it, maybe i have better luck next time.

When it comes to El Dorado rums i`m always so curious to know more about their stills, one can maybe say that i`m slightly obsessed with these old stills..and the process with which rum is made – i find it totally fascinating. What is missing for me is to actually go there and see them for myself and taste some rum – that would be totally awesome.

The stills used for the 8yo are between the 5yo and the 12yo – it is predominantly the EHP (wooden column still) with a tiny bit of the PM (double wooden pot still) and a couple of metal column stills. The 12yo and upwards all have more pot still than the 8yo whereas the 3yo & 5yo are 100% column still.

But i have a treasure here…its called liquid gold and i wanna tell you how i think it tastes.

The first thing i noticed when i took my first sip was that this one is lighter than the 12 year old, but heavier than the 5 year old so it places itself somewhere in between. The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than the 12 but the balance of flavors is as good as you would expect a rum from El Dorado and its not a weak rum. I totally expect every single rum from them to be good and so far i have never been disappointed and i don´t think i ever will be.

The new bottles are cool with a rounded shape but i really hope they never ever change the bottles of the 12,15 , 21 and 25 year old rums because those bottles are the very essence of really rummy bottles. All their bottles also has some stunning labels.

But back to the flavor… this rum is fullbodied and has notes of both vanilla, toffee, dried fruit and citrus and then molasses, wood and spice. Its hard to try to describe flavors and notes and taste is also so personal but i try to give words to the flavors that fills my palate. Its also a training thing – the more rums you taste the better you can detect the various flavors and rum has many flavors!

The nose is to me somewhat woody and spicy with some hints of vanilla. If i close my eyes i see old rum barrels…and the lingering of the flavor stays long with you. This is much rum you get to a good price and all i can say is that El Dorado has come up with yet another outstanding rum.

Its very mixable too and that is a good thing because now we´re gonna mix up two rum swizzles and we`re gonna do it in style with a real sturdy El Dorado wooden swizzle stick! I love the sound of swizzling as much as the sound of the shaker, its something about the sound of crushed ice chilling a cocktail – its like music – and then when the drink arrives, ice cold and eye-pleasingly garnished unless its a non-garnish drink – its one of life`s true pleasures.

So let`s swizzle!

Swizzling is fun and the sound of the crushed tells you about the tastiness that`s gonna soon be ready to be imbibed. When you see the glass has become frosted on the outside, then you know the drink is cold enough.

GOLDEN SUN SWIZZLE

golden-sun

1.5 oz passionfruit juice

0.5 oz fresh orange juice

0.5 oz fresh lime

2 oz El Dorado 8 year old rum

1/4 simple syrup

1/4 passionfruit syrup

Dash Angostura bitters

Dash homemade greandine

Crushed ice

Swizzle it all in a tall glass half filled with crushed ice, then add a dash grenadine and fill up with more crushed ice. Garnish with fruits, a little mint and your swizzle stick.

I was a bit worried that the rum flavor wouldn`t come through with all this fruit but it did and the rum is enough present – as it should. I also think its important with homemade grenadine here as the natural flavors blends beautifully while a commercial grenadine probably would take over the flavor too much plus tasting – well – “evil”.

I wouldn`t mind a float of LH151 in this… Let`s make another one with a touch of exquisite dark chocolate:

SAVAGE GOLD & RAW CHOCOLATE

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2 oz pineapple juice

1/4 oz Campari

1/4 oz Mozart Dry chocolate spirit

2 oz El Dorado 8 year old rum

0.5 oz fresh lime

1/4 oz simple syrup

Crushed ice

Swizzle all ingredients in a highball glass and garnish with pineapple leaves.

I think i like this one much better, the chocolate flavor comes through and marries so well with both the rum, pineapple, and the campari which adds that little extra. If you like a less sweet drink you may omit the 1/4 oz of simple.

This is an outstanding all-round rum and El Dorado hasn`t disappointed me this time either, but i didn`t expect that. I have only mixed with it here but i can assure you – its great sipped neat.

el-dorado-swizzlestick

MXMO XLIV – “MONEY DRINKS”

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To quote from “Beers in The Shower” who are hosting this months Mixology Monday:

“I feel a “Money” drink is something you can put in front of anyone, regardless of tastes or distastes about the spirits involved. Come up with a drink or a list based on spirits about drinks that would appeal to anyone. example: turning someone onto a Corpse Reviver #2 when they like lemon drops.”

For those of us with access to top shelf spirits, Make an upscale twist on a classic. To quote an email from Paul, (Clarke, Cocktail Chronicles) :

“Along with what you mentioned, I’m thinking it could include stuff along the lines of “there are some drinks that really prompt you to break out the good stuff”, including ways people upgrade drinks for special occasions — having old friends over, birthday drinks, etc, for example mixing your regular Sazerac, but breaking out the Red Hook Rye and the Jade Edouard absinthe for a Sazerac capable of breaking the sound barrier.” – the only rule to this one is you actually have to make it “

So i want to upgrade a drink and i know what i want to make, i want to mix up the best Cuba Libre or Rum & Coke ever!

Now,  i`m not a person that is or ever have been very fond of rum and coke but i have noticed that many are. But also – and this is important, after i once tried it with sugarcane coke instead of the ordinary corn-fructose coke i felt a huge difference. So i`m going to mix up a Cuba Libre with two of the best rums i have and i`m gonna use sugarcane coke plus i`m also going to spice it up. Actually this is more of a twist of the Cuba Libre than an actual Cuba Libre.

I`m not going to dig into its history here, and as with so many other cocktails the exact way it was invented are told in different versions. Bacardi and Havana Club have their own versions for example, not surprisingly. Cuba Libre used to have a dark syrup made of cola nuts and coca.

Charles H. Baker points out in his Gentlemen’s Companion of 1934, the Cuba Libre “caught on everywhere throughout the [American] South … filtered through the North and West”.

To spice it i`m gonna use a splash of Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine because i love its spicy flavour and it goes well with coke. Also Root can be used or some Rootbeer i think, if you can`t find Catdaddy.

What we are stepping up from is the use of the corn-fructose sweetened coke to real sugarcane coke paired with premium rums and a bit catdaddy spiced up as well which makes this drink to become transformed.

SPICED SUGARCANE RUM AND COKE

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1 oz good demerara ( i used Port Morant demerara 1990 but try El Dorado 15 year old or Banks XM 10)
1 oz Havana Club 7 (sorry..sub with Appleton Extra, which in no way is similar but equally good)
0.75 oz Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine
Small sprinkle of fresh lime juice
Fill up with sugarcane coke
Crushed ice

Build quickly all ingredients in a rocks glass filled halfway with crushed ice, add more ice to fill. Garnish with lime wedge.

It turned out to be rummy and boozy, spicy and fresh at the same time.

Happy MxMo and thank you Kevin for hosting this month!

EL DORADO RUM – THE LIQUID GOLD

 

LIQUID GOLD…

El Dorado is a Spanish expression or word for “the golden one”. Originally it was El Hombre Dorado (the golden man), or El Rey Dorado (the golden king), and was the term used by the Spanish Empire to describe a mythical tribal chief (zipa) of the Muisca native people of Colombia, who, as an initiation rite, covered himself with gold dust and submerged in Lake Guatavita. The legends surrounding El Dorado changed over time, as it went from being a man, to a city, to a kingdom, and then finally an empire.

But in this case it`s a real thing, the El Dorado rum  – hinting to a “liquid gold” – which indeed is a Demerara rum but even more so – a Guyanese rum, and the only rums distilled in Guyana are those from the DDL – the only true Guyanese rums.

In 1992, the company introduced its El Dorado brand of rums to the local and international markets by focusing on the well-known legend surrounding its name. The well known story tells of explorers who traveled in search of a fabled golden city known as El Dorado.

Although the El Dorado rums were only launched on the international market in 1993, these rums have become internationally recognized as the best in their class and are prized for their unique flavor and taste. Currently these rums are distributed in over forty countries and the El Dorado holds the distinction of being the only internationally recognized Guyanese manufactured product. These rums are aged, bottled, and blended in conformance with the ISO standards – which is the highest global production standards.

GUYANA THE LAND OF MANY WATERS

Guyana is an Amerindian word meaning “Land of many waters”. The country can be characterized by its vast rain forests, many rivers, creeks and waterfalls, like the famous Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River. Guyana’s tepuis are famous for being the inspiration for the 1912 novel The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s.

Physically a part of South America but Guyana is culturally Caribbean rather than Latin American and is often considered part of the West Indies.

EL DORADO RUMS

The El Dorado rums are distilled, blended and bottled by Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) – located on the East Bank of Demerara, South Amerara, in Guyana. Demerara disitllers have been in rum production for over three and one half centuries and have even with the passing of time maintained the tradition.

DDL have several different stills, but they are all on one site. All Demerara rum is distilled at the DDL distillery at Diamond. Demerara distillers now have the only operating wooden continuous and pot stills in the world. There were at least 200 small distilleries operating in the 17th and 18th centuries, and every sugar factory in Guyana had its own distillery, from which a special blend of rum was produced.

There were for instance the Uitvlugt distillery that was in Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara, the Port Mourant distillery was in Port Mourant, and there were Enmore, Blairmont, Albion, Skeldon, Rose Hall and many more. These names are simply the geographical locations of where the distilleries used to be.

Each of these distilleries produced a unique rum that was identified to the estate by its identity mark, for example EHP to Enmore, An to Albion, SWR to Skeldon, PM to Port Mourant, ICBU to Uitvlugt, LBI to La Bonne Intention, to name a few. Due to change in ownership, economic constraints and other factors, with time, the sugar estates and the distilleries were consolidated.

What was unique was that even with consolidation the important marks were maintained at Demerara distillers – either the identical mark was produced by moving the original still to the new location or by producing it on an existing still on the new location. So even though the original distilleries are closed, the identical marks are produced at the existing distillery at Diamond, which is the only distillery left.

Demerara distillers are the only distillery in the world that has maintained the quality and tradition that is the identical marks and original wooden stills. This is what has made these rums so distinct as compared to others and they are the only distillers in Guyana. Any rum that is refered to as Demerara rum must be distilled in Guyana in the county of Demerara.

THE STILLS

The double wooden pot still and the wooden coffey still

Today the Demerara distillers operates 9 different stills and thus produces a fantastic range of rum marques. There are in operation 4 column Savalle stills, 2 wooden pots, 1 wooden coffey and 2 metal columns.

The distillery also uses a double wooden pot still, made up two wooden pots, a metal retort, rectifier and condenser which is producing these heavy, aromatic and flavourful rums. This still is the last operating of its kind in the world, and the rum that it produces is massively distinctive.

The old wooden coffey still too is also the last operating still of its kind in the world today, and the uniqueness of the Demerara rums are surely attributed to this still as well even though it must be said, a specific still cannot be associated with a specific rum, but more like “rum-type”. The wooden Coffey still is made of rectangular frames stacked on top of each other with metal perforated trays in between. The rectifier has cooling coils passing through some of the sections. These wooden stills are made of local hard wood.

Most people believe the 12 and the 15 are separated by merely 3 years whereas in fact they are produced using marques from different stills explaining their variety.

All El Dorado rums are at minimum the age indicated on the bottle – it can be older but not younger. The difference between the 2 wooden pot stills apart from that one is double is that they produce different quality rums. From the single pot comes a rum that is lightly milder with a touch of sweetness while the rum from the double pot is more robust, and much heavier with a good tone of fusel oil.

 SO WHAT´S IN THESE  RUMS?

The 5 year old contains predominantly Uitvlugt marques (brands) from the Savalle still and marques from the Enmore wooden Coffey .

The 12 year old is the sweeter of the El Dorado rums, and copper colored. It’s aged in used whisky and bourbon barrels. In 2006 it was reformulated, It has tasting notes of fruit, tobacco and orange peel and has tropical fruits and spice nose. This rum contains predominantly copper coffey still rum from Diamond blended with the double wooden pot still at Port Mourant and marques from the Enmore wooden Coffey.

The 15 year old is the driest of the El Dorado range and thus a perfect cigar accompaniment. Its taste notes are a mix of dry fruits, liquorice and spice oak. Silky mouth feel with dark chocolate, coffee with hints of sweet vanilla. It has a punchy smoky flavor and a long dry fruity finish.

It contains equally double wooden pot from Port Mourant and metal coffey from Diamond, blended with single wooden pot still (Versailles) and marques from the Enmore wooden coffey still.

The 21 year old is to my palate quite alike the 15 but still very different, much less of the smoky punch and more refined. Mixed fruits and spicy oak, dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee and a dry long fruity finish. Contains predominantly Albion marques from Savalle and then Enmore – wooden coffey still and single wooden pot still from Versailles.

The 25 year old contains predominantly Enmore – wooden coffey still and La Bonne intention marques from Savalle and then double wooden pot from Port Mourant and Albion marques from Savalle. This rum i have yet to try.

Same raw fermented wash put through differing stills, aged in the same warehouse then blended to make these rums. The barrels used are American, once used white oak bourbon barrels. Demerara has significant stock of bulk aged rums available with a warehousing capacity of about 60000 to 65000 barrels and supplies product also for numerous private labels.

Of all the El Dorado rums (except for the 25 i haven`t tasted yet) i prefer the 15 because it has substantially more depth and I love its smoky punch. It was the rum that many years ago got me into rum actually.

EL DORADO RUM RANGE

El Dorado white
El Dorado 3 year old cask aged (white)
El Dorado 5 year
El Dorado 8 year
El Dorado 12 year
El Dorado 15 year
El Dorado 21 year
El Dorado 25 year
El Dorado Gold
El Dorado Spice
El Dorado overproof 120
El Dorado overproof 140
El Dorado High Strength 151
El Dorado Rum Cream
El Dorado Chocolate Cream

All the same rum off 9 different stills.

Then they also have made 3 single barrel rums:

El Dorado Single Barrel Uitvlugt
El Dorado Single Barrel Enmore Disitllery
El Dorado Single Barrel Port Morant

These are single barrels examples, from different Guyanese distilleries, that would have been blended into fine El Dorado spirits. Since they are single barrel rums they doesnt taste the same as the blended rums, not as smooth, not as “refined”, more straight forward taste of the barrel they been aged in.

I have tried two of them so far, the ort Morant (PM) and the Uitvlugt (ICBU) – the PM is very woody while the ICBU is sweet.

When it comes to the overproof rum there are 3 different, two are (as far as i know) sold in Europe, one is a 140 proof caramel colored and the other is a white colored 126 proof. In the US, there´s a 151 rum labeled “High Strength Rum”

Update:  The Rare Collection was released in 2016. These are three cask strength expressions from the three heritage stills: the Enmore ‘EHP’ wooden Coffey still, the Port Mourant ‘PM’ double wooden pot still and the Versailles ‘VSG’ single wooden pot still. 3,000 bottles of each have been released to the global market. I have tried them and yes they are very good and filling the gap of stronger rums that the El Dorado line was lacking. They have yet to be reviewed by me though and that is simply because of the outrageous prices and the weird way these rums came out on the market. 

From what I read these cask strength rums are not adultered with added sugars, something the others in the ED range have had good measures of and that is a very positive thing since these fine rums tastes so much better without sugars masking the true good flavors.

If DDL can produce unadultered rums at a bit of a higher strength they will showcase the true character of the fine demerara rums which ARE a treasure worth taking good care of because they are unique.

And since I first wrote this post in 2010, the DDL have also issued the El Dorado Cask Finishes which is the El Dorado 15  with six different cask finishes. I have yet to try them.

THE EL DORADO HERITAGE CENTER

In reply to my question at the Ministry of Rum Carl Kanto – chemist/brand ambassador and personally responsible for crafting the El Dorado range of rums, has this to tell us about the El Dorado Heritage center:

“Even though in Guyana we have been in rum production for over 3 1/2 hundred years, there is very little record and/or artifacts relating to this activity. Demerara Distillers Limited decided that you cannot have the world best rums and unable to trace its evolution. As a result the idea of a rum museum was born and this became a reality March, 2007.

At present in the Rum Heritage Centre we have on display a batch redistillation still that was used in the early 1940s, two hydrostatic pressure controlers that were used on the Savalle stills in the early 1950s, a small copper double retort pot still that was used to do experiment rum, a wooden steam boiler manufactured in 1945, a plate heat exchanger, a molasses clarifier/yeast seperator, models of the Savalle still, the modern metal Coffey still, the double wooden pot still, the wooden Coffey still and a Brigs gin still. There are also a number of photographs of activities that took place in the company over the years.

There are a few bottles of product that were produced years ago and a small amphitheater where visitors can view videos on the company’s operations. Most importantly there is the Display and sampling bar where all the premium products are on display. This bar is made from old oak barrels – the sides (top and bottom), display centres and bar stools.

We are hoping that over time we can add items, with the help of the public, to make the Heritage Centre a show piece to truely depict the rich history of rums in Guyana. We would be very grateful if any one reading this note has any thing that they can contribute, whether information, literature, items, anything to do with rum can please contact me.”

Many thanks to Carl Kanto and Demerara distillers, also my good friend Paul McFadyen in London for helping me with pics of the stills and some valuable information.

Also thanks to Chenette for courtesy of the demerara river photos.