I stumbled over St Nicholas Abbey rum at the UK rumfest and out of all the new things i tried this is the rum that impressed me the most.
The one i`m gonna write about here is their 12 yo limited reserve rum which is a veritable explosion of flavors and so smooth….yet with a powerful punch. St Nicholas Abbey is a 350 year old plantation on the island of Barbados in the Caribbean with a rich and colorful history which you can read more about on their website.
They have a long traddition in producing rum and is one of the last surviving and intact 17th century plantations on the island. Initially R.L. Seale did help produce St Abbey´s first rums after the plantation was bought 2006 by the Warren family. They have chosen to avoid the mass production in favour of the traditional distillation process that has made rum from Barbados famous for more than 350 years.
What is interesting is that it´s not a molasses rum…it´s made from concentrated cane syrup that is double-distilled to about 92% prior to ageing. (traditional rhum agricole is usually distilled at 70-72%) At the UK rumfest i tasted a couple different agings – among them the 10 and the 12 yo plus the unaged and unlabeled rum they called the “see through” which isn`t sold commerically.
The unaged “see through” was made with estate grown cane, crushed in a traditional steam press and then made into cane honey and then fermented before a rough distillation in the pot column hybrid still. And then put through again and taken it off at 92% abv and cut with water to about 43%.
I have here their 12 yo dark rum in that stunning glass decanter and a sample of their unaged “see through” rum which is surprisingly smooth – very smooth actually and with a rich fruit and vanilla finish.
The “See Trough”
St Nicholas Abbey 12 yo
The 12 yo is so good that i am hesitant to mix with it but i`m gonna mix a cocktail nevertheless and it got to be a daiquiri since i don´t wanna destroy this fine rum with too many mixers and juices. It`s hand bottled unblended straight from the barrel in a glass decanter that is one of the awesomest i´ve seen with the great house, built in 1658 and palmtrees beautifully engraved on the glass.
The heavy decanter is sealed with a beautiful mahogany cork topped with hand-embossed leather, a symbol of the island’s first mahogany trees, that was planted 250 years ago on Cherry Tree Hill. And i find that cork very sturdy, something that i really like and which is necessary to keep the rum well closed in.
The label is applied by hand and each decanter is engraved with both a number and date. I really have nothing to complain about concerning this stunning decanter. They really have come up with some classy packaging!
The 12 yo rum won gold medal at the Ministry of Rum tasting competition in 2009 and the 10 yo won silver in the 2009 International Wine and Spirits competition.
Today the plantation also have a cottage industry producing a range of very interesting and pleasant condiments such as St Abbey Blackstrap Molasses, Pepper Rum, Gourmet Sugar and Hotpepper sauce which can be purchased at the plantation. That pepper rum, hot pepper sauce and black strap molasses….i feel like going straight to Barbados!
Before i make that daiquiri i`m going to describe how i find the 12 yo rum in the nose and on the palate:
ST NICHOLAS ABBEY 12 yo Limited Reserve
I would describe the nose as warm, rich and fruity with a touch of spices, wood and caramel. It´s like it tells you – taste me…
ON THE PALATE:
Well here we go…this is a journey into the land of what a really great rum can be…and swirling the rum the many “rum-legs” makes the glass almost striped.
This is really good stuff. I find it difficult to describe flavors but what i find here is even harder to describe because it´s such an explosion of flavors completely filling your mouth, I find tropical dried fruits, caramel and oak, molasses, and spice.
It`s a veritable flavor attack actually, filled with fruits, warmth, dried leather and it got punch. I start to wonder how a Mai Tai with this would taste…hmmm…
But i`m not making one, i`m making a daiquiri instead. But really, this is a premium sipping rum and i`m not gonna use up my precious bottle for too many mixed drinks, i have other good rums for that. It also has a long finish as well leaving you warm and comfortable.
What i`d like to do is just sit back in an old leather couch sipping this while reading a good book – or relax on the porch in a rocking chair somewhere where it´s warm and tropical. This rum provides great flavor and comfort.
WITH ST NICHOLAS ABBEY RUM TRUFFLES:
I was provided with a little lagniappe (a New Orleans expression for that little extra) to go with the rum…their own rum truffles! these are some wonderful dark chocolate truffles made with St Nicholas sugarcane rum, cocoa butter and dark chocolate coverture dusted with very small ruby red glittering stardust…like a dust of microscopic stars…
Inside is a crunchy yumminess – which paired with the rum took the rum flavors in a different direction to a higher sweeter level ending with a very fruity finish.
Well this was a treatment indeed! leaving you feeling like a luxury queen:-) I like how they put attention to details from the beautiful engravings of the bottle to the thin stamped paper enclosing it inside the box – or the little golden truffles box with brown satin wrap with St Nicholas Abbey stamped in gold.
It´s all just beautiful.
All i can say is that this is a exquisite aged rum, one of the best i´ve had. It´s full bodied, complex, flavorful and pleasant. You get a lot of good handcrafted old style rum here. I like the heavy beautiful glass bottle as well and it`s a rum with a colorful and rich history. My overall impression is that of a solid and very pleasant top shelf rum.
Finally, here´s a daiquiri with a demerara sugar syrup and fresh lime:
ST NICHOLAS DAIQUIRI
2 oz St Nicholas Abbey 12 yo rum
0.75 0z fresh lime juice
0.5 oz demerara syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with a golden demerara sugar rim.
As i expected it makes a tasty daiquiri but i still think it should mostly be sipped.
The fragrance of coffee is one of those lovely things that belongs to our comfort-zone, really, what would we do without it?
I`m gonna write a little series on my favorite flavor combinations and coffee and pineapple is first out. The pairing of flavors is something that i`ve always been interested in and i`m more or less always on the hunt for new flavors to play with.
But also old and proven flavor pairings are fun to mix with and good to imbibe and like the classic cocktails always will be there. One such flavor combination is coffee and pineapple and especially in the tiki drink world it`s a classic.
Pineapple goes well with cinnamon too – another tiki classic. But in this post i`ll deal with the coffee. Every coffee lover knows how important it is to choose good quality and flavorful coffee – beans or blends. I have over the years tried many different coffees and i have now settled with 3 types that i think is superior to any other.
These 3 coffees are first the coffee from Louisiana (especially Community Coffee) then Kona coffee from Hawaii and finally Jamaican Blue Mountain. These three are more flavorful, strong and fullbodied than any other i have tried from anywhere. The Community Coffee is my house coffee of the three.
I recently introduced that coffee to a co-worker and he said i have turned his coffee-world upside down and that he´ll never want another coffee…that´s how good he found it to be and i`m not going to say against that. He did put it above Blue Mountain which is a good coffee..
So good coffee for great cocktails! and coffee in cocktails is a wonderful thing, it creates a contrasting flavor and paired with pineapple is a marriage in heaven. When it comes to flavor pairings a rule of thumb is that the things that grows together in the same climate also goes best together.
Now the pineapple – it gotta be FRESH! i like the ones that are not yet fully ripe but still fragrant since they are really fresh and not too sweet. You can check if a pineapple is ripe by tearing off one of the top leaves, it should go off easily and by sniffing on it, it should be very fragrant. The kinda almost-ripe ones i like are lightly fragrant, the leaf goes off but not too easily and they are a bit greenish.
Put pineapple and coffee together with dark rum, lime and sugar and you´re in for a treat. Here´s a very classic type of tiki drink, i call this one Coffee Barrel, a bit boring name i know but it fits with the rum barrel mug i used. (These cool rum barrel mugs are from Smuggler´s Cove)
Place 5-6 coffee beans in a shaker and crush them but don´t make powder out of it. Add 5-6 chunks of fresh pineapple and muddle with the crushed beans.
1 oz white cachaca ( i used Abelha which is very smooth without being industrial – it´s handcrafted small batch)
Shake hard with ice and double strain into a tiki mug or chimney glass with crushed ice. If using a large mug like the rum barrel mug you may make a double recipe.
Float Smith & Cross (a good float)
Garnish mint sprig and pineapple chunks
This tastes rummy, spicy and tiki! and the addition of aphrodite bitters blends well with the pineapple-coffee theme since the bitters contains coffee as well. So let´s move on to one of my favorite cocktails, the daiquiri. And here´s my version of the Aphrodite Daiquiri:
1 oz white rum ( i used Havana Club 3 yo)
1 oz Smith & Cross
0.75 0z fresh lime juice
0.5 oz pineapple syrup
2-3 dashes Aphrodite bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with a rough golden sugar rim.
Liquid gold with just a touch of coffee and pineapple…
First i want to say one thing – i`m not very fond of bananas in cocktails..and that`s the reason why i jumped on the task of writing this post, i simply see it as a challenge to try to create something interesting with bananas..
The first thing – it can`t be too sweet and second – it can´t be too bananaish.
Third – it can´t be too slushy and thick.
Fourth – find or invent a cocktail where the banana-whatever thing will fit in well and actually make the drink tasty.A commercial banana liqueur or spirit was out of the question – i wanted fresh stuff.
So what to do? well i rubbed my brain and then figured that if i make a banana peel syrup (and maybe just a little of the fruit) it may add just a hint of banana flavour without getting overly much banana-sweet. For the banana peel syrup i wanted greenish somewhat unripe bananas,they are less sweet and hopefully would lend a more interesting “green” flavour to the syrup.
Lesson number one (i noted to self) : get the right type of fruit. And when it comes to bananas – bananas are not just bananas.The varieties have very different sizes and textures.
Now the next challenge was to hit the stores when they happened to have some green unripe bananas.There´s an Indian-african-caibbean store here which now and then carries apple bananas and they are often in the unripe state in that shop.
Apple bananas (musa manzano) are much tastier than the regular bananas,they have a sort of apple flavour with a hint of strawberry and at the same time they actually have a bit of tang as the fruits are sweet yet have a slight tartness.They are smaller, rounder, firmer and less sweet than other bananas.These seemed to be exactly the type of banana i needed for this.
GREEN APPLE-BANANA DAIQUIRI
* 1 1/2 oz light rum
* 3/4 oz lime juice
* 1 barspoon apple banana peel syrup
* ¼ oz honey water – honey and water mixed 1:1
Pour the rum, lime juice, honeymix and syrup into a shaker with ice cubes and shake, strain in to a glass and add a large chunk of ice and garnish with the other lime half
APPLE BANANA PEEL SYRUP
2:1 Sugar and water. ¾ part light muscovado sugar and ¼ part molasses. Peel from 1 apple banana and a few slices of the fruit.
To this syrup i used light muscovado sugar and a pinch of molasses plus the peel of one apple banana plus a few slices of the fruit as its not so sweet. Then i boiled it for 2 mins and then simmered very lightly for another 20 mins before cooling, straining and bottling. I got a very subtle banana flavor and so i think i could have used more of both peel and fruit. But it was a nice syrup, very rich in flavor.
Now we´ve had a cocktail that uses banana quite subtly, so what about making something that really is straight forward BANANA? despite my doubts about too much banana i decided to give it a go..and so here is something that is both a cocktail and a dessert, for your sweet tooth:
THE ULTIMATE BANANA COCKTAIL
2 oz demerara rum
1 tsp molasses
¼ oz fresh lime juice + a little extra for the bananas
¼ fresh lemon juice
2 oz fresh orange juice
Dash orange bitters
1 tsp Dark chocolate,chopped
1 tsp pecan nuts, caramelized and chopped.
2 small bananas – sliced lengthwise, halved and cut in quarters
Muddle lime, lemon and molasses in shaker. Add rum,juices and bitters. Shake and strain into a glass. Place the banana sticks in the glass and drizzle fresh lime juice over the bananas.Top with grated dark chocolate and caramelized pecan nuts.
And there you got it – the Ultimate Banana Cocktail.
CARAMELIZING THE PECAN NUTS
1 oz light sugar
A few drops lemon juice
A few pecan nuts
Melt the sugar very slowly in a mini pan with the lemon juice and when you have a brown caramel, and place the pan in a waterbath to cool. Add the pecan nuts, then take them out and leave to dry on a lightly buttered baking sheet.