Hibiscus Grenadine

What happens if you throw in a handful of dried hibiscus flowers into homemade bright grenadine? – it turns to teh awesome….

When you make homemade grenadine it usually gets paler in color than the commercial variants, but with the dried hibiscus flowers added this isn`t the case anymore, the hibiscus flowers inparts a blood red color. And on top of that they also add a very fresh crisp and floral tropical flavor.

It was my friend Chris Stanley from Rookie libations who first told me about adding dried hibiscus flowers to the grenadine, and i will be forever grateful.

Commercial grenadine cannot compare to homemade and its worth the little effort to make it yourself, it doesn`t take long time either. But you need to have fresh pomegranates and these are fairly expensive, but for home use 1 large pomegranate makes about 1L grenadine.

But the measures are a bit approximate but this is a forgiving recipe, it´s not like baking where everything has to be exact, sometimes i use one large pomegranate (if it´s huge) and sometimes i use two if they are a bit smaller.

Same thing with the flowers, i throw in “a handful” and it always works like a charm..

 

So here is how to make it:

Get 1-2 large pomegranates, check that they are of good quality. To easiest separate the seeds from the bitter membrane, just cut the pomegranate in quarters and brake loose the seeds under water in a bowl.

The seeds will sink and the membrane float.

In a pot make a simple syrup by adding 1:1 sugar and water, and add the pomegranate seeds and a good handful of dried hibiscus flowers. I find my hibiscus flowers in a health shop. Then lightly boil this for about 5 min, then simmer for another 10 min before taking off the heat and set aside to cool.

Leave to cool and set for 1-2 hrs to really get the flavors out.

Then strain and bottle in a clean bottle and keep the grenadine in the fridge. I dont know how long it lasts before it go bad as I always use it up fairly quick, but I would guess 1-2 months. To get a really bright red color its best to use white or light colored sugar.

See what a bright red color you get because you combine both pomegranate seeds and hibiscus flowers…and it´s all natural.

As I`m very fond of raw sugars and not so much like the refined white sugar I use a raw cane sugar that is called oxfam and it has a very lightly tinted white/goldish color which doesnt darken the final grenadine color.

Here is one of my favorite drinks containing grenadine and which becomes even tastier with hibiscus grenadine.

PORT LIGHT By trader Vic – page 66 in Grog Log

1 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz passion fruit syrup
3 tsp grenadine
1 oz Bourbon

Blend with 1 cup crushed ice for 5 sek and pour into collins glass or nautical tumbler.Add more crushed ice to fill.

Here is Trader Vic`s Port Light from Trader Vic’s Pacific Island Cookbook

In a blender with 1 scoop shave ice:
2 tsp honey
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Mynor’s Passion Fruit Nectar
1 egg white
2oz Bourbon

Blend and pour into Port Light glass, or a red tumbler with cracked ice. Decorate with fresh mint. The same drink using scotch instead of bourbon is called Starboard Light.

The Port Light and Starboard Light cocktails were originally served in special glass “Marine Tumblers” – the red glass for the Port and the green glass for the Starboard.

A MONTH OF MAI TAIS – Exploring the rums, one Mai Tai at a time

A MAI TAI A DAY…

As a part of the Mai Tai rum combo cocktail-blog coverage i have made a couple different Mai Tais, mostly from demerara rums. I know the Mai Tai had dark Jamaican rum first, and then was paired with a Martiniqan rum, but i think demerara rums makes awesome Mai Tais and the whole idea of this rum combo coverage is to, well, try different rum combos..

Rumdood alone have over 118 rums to choose from…and i don´t know how many combinations, probably to keep him busy for the rest of his life..So together we will all hopefully cover enough various rum combos to keep most thirsty Mai Tai lovers happy regardless of where you live, we hope there will be something for everyone.

The whole january and into february has been and continues to be Mai Tai month for us, we are working with various rum combinations in our search for the tastiest Mai Tais all based on Trader Vics recipe, as well as attempting to set the recipe for a real Mai Tai straight.

The original Mai Tai by Trader Vic called for the 17 year old JWray & Nephew rum which today exists only a few bottles, if even that, in the hands of a few lucky people. And from what i hear from the taste notes it must have been an exceptional rum for the Mai Tai.  Its fun to experiment and i have found that demerara rums makes excellent Mai Tai´s.They give the Mai Tai`s a deep complex flavor, by their own or for that lively flavor, paired with Clement VSOP or St James hors d`age.

For this post i have made 14 different Mai Tais, many with some unusual demeraras but not all. I know many of these rums i use here are hard to find and some very pricey, but i thought it could be interesting still to cover a few of these kind of rums as well and there has been demands for these rums to be written about too.

If i would to sub these demerara rums i have i would use Lemon Hart 151 for the high proofs like Uitvlugt and Silver Seal, and El Dorado 12 for the other heavy demeraras.

Another very good rum combo in my opinion for the original recipe is otherwise Appleton Extra and St James hors d`age, or Clement VSOP. Yet another very nice combo is Pusser`s and Zaya which i first read about in the Tiki Central.

THE ORIGINAL FORMULA

2 ounces 17-year-old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican rum
1/2 ounce French Garnier Orgeat
1/2 ounce Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
1/4 ounce Rock Candy Syrup
Juice from one fresh lime

Shake and garnish with half of the lime shell inside the drink and float a sprig of fresh mint at the edge of the glass.

TRADER VIC`s SANCTIONED RECIPE from Intoxica:

1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 oz Martinique rum
1 oz fresh lime juice (one lime)
0.5 oz curacao
0.25 oz each of orgeat and simple syrup

Mix all ingredients and shake with ice.  Strain into a glass over crushed ice. Garnish with lime shell and a sprig of mint.

The basic recipe used for my Mai Tais here is Trader Vics formula with either 1 oz each of 2 rums or 2 oz of one rum. I use Vic´s formula because i like its simplicity and balace of flavors as well as letting the rum flavor really come through and i like it better than Don`s Mai Tai which is totally different. Which one of these were the original is an endless discussion which i won´t bother with in this post.

The orgeat i like to use nowadays is Trader Tiki´s extra thick (homemade) when i dont use my own homemade. As for orange curacao, i don´t have it right now, so i used Cointreau but as i find that Cointreau can easily be a bit overpowering, i used 1/4 oz than 0.5 oz. I have listed my Mai Tai`s with the best first (outstanding, which is a 14) and then falling to the last #1 which isn`t bad at all.

One thing i don`t want to be without when i make Mai Tai`s is the mint sprig, because  i really love the fragrance of fresh crispy mint when imbibing a Mai Tai, and without mint i think a Mai Tai is naked. But when i`m out of mint (or rather the shops are out) then i use lime for garnish.

The straws need to be short and placed near the mint so the fragrance reaches you. The crushed or shaved ice is another key ingredient, apart from good quality rums.

LET´S SET THE MAI TAI STRAIGHT

Ingredients NOT to use in my opinion, is grenadine and orange or pineapple juices, or amaretto or anything else that is not in the original Vic`s recipe. You may throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that into a Mai Tai recipe and end up with some very tasty drinks but these are not Mai Tais. Give it a new name!

The possibly WORST Mai Tai recipe i have ever encountered came from a cocktail book: light rum, simple syrup, limejuice, orange juice, orange curacao, coconut milk, green dyed cocktail cherries, red dyed cocktail cherries, orange slices, pineapple chunks…stating after, that all ingredients except the rum can be subbed with instant powder cocktail-mix…

COCKTAIL MIX???!!!

Why adding (and changing) all these stuff to a already perfect recipe? and then even call it a Mai Tai? Trader Vic`s Mai Tai is such a perfectly balanced drink and it deserves to be made right. Its supposed to have fresh lime..its supposed to taste rum! The rums are meant to predominate and shine through in this drink and the rest of ingredients are singing along balancing the rum flavors to perfection.

On to the rum combos! Now – i have used some unusual demeraras here that can be hard to get if you live outside of Europe since most of them are bulk demeraras aged in Scotland and bottled and sold by private importers from for example Italy, but they can be substituted with El Dorado rums.

MAI TAI #14 with Silver Seal demerara 15 yo

This one has long been my favorite. Its simply Mai Tai roa ae, and its just so full flavored and exquisite in perfect balance,  intoxicating…and nothing so far i`ve had beats it, period. Or so i thought….but that was until i tried JWray & Nephew´s old Jamaican Dagger Punch dark rum..WOW..i doesn`t really beat the Silver Seal but i found it equally good.

So now i also think i have sort of gotten an idea as to how the Mai Tais were in the old days. I dont know how old the dagger punch rum is, i would guess from between the 40-50s because there`s no evidence of their production after the 1950s. These rums were produced by Wray & Nephew in various age-increments (1 Dagger, 2 Dagger, 3 Dagger) and they were all dark Jamaican rum.

So the 2 now share 1st place, which got me to wonder how these two would combine, more on that soon.

THE SILVER SEAL 15 YEAR DEMERARA

This 110 proof Silver Seal Rum has a way to just perfectly marry the other ingredients and simply make a outstanding Mai Tai, very addictive. The flavor is hard to describe, its fullbodied, a complex mix of molasses, dark chocolate, wood, vanilla, dried fruits, punch and yum!

Another thing i love with this rum in a Mai Tai is that it bites, as its 110 proof. 2 oz Silver Seal 15 year is used. Interesting is that from what i hear from those lucky people having the 17 year old rum, the Silver Seal has a lot of common flavour notes, like an aroma of a heavy burnt caramel, with smoky finish, although the 17 yar old Wray is said to be far heavier with overwhelming woody tones – or so i´ve heard.

MAI TAI  #14 JWray & Nephew Jamaican Dagger Punch – Old Jamaican  Dark Rum

I was amazed by this one..first by the color, dark mahogany. Then the flavor, which i really cannot describe so easily, its well…vintage. It has dark tones of molasses and dried fruits, and is spicy and woody. Very balanced and complex. I imagine that JWrays 17 year old rum could probably have tasted something similar as well. This dagger is 8 years old.

When i use the Silver Seal i feel like its a bit close to this one but the two are still very different. And i cannot say either what it is that i find they have in common, one is a demerara and the other is jamaican, but there´s that funky punch – pot still.

I had such a hard time to determine which one of these two is the best Mai Tai i`ve had, it didn´t help to sip them side by side, so they will both share the 1 st place. I used 2 oz of the Jamaican dagger rum.I tried this dagger rum in this Mai Tai experiment more out of curiosity that anything else and this rum must be seen as such as its not produced anymore.

MAI TAI #14 with Silver Seal15 and JWray´s Jamaican dagger punch rum

As i found both of these each one on their own to make the best Mai Tais i`ve had so far i decided to combine them and use 1 oz of each. The two combined? sheesh..here is the exquisite, strong, demerara flavor of the Silver Seal with that rich, strong and spicy taste of the Jamaican dagger. The color is much lighter than it was when i used only the dagger punch rum. So now there´s 3 Mai Tais, based on 2 rums sharing the top position.

MAI TAI #13 with Samaroli`s Port Morant 1990, and Banks XM10.

SAMAROLI PORT MORANT 1990

This demerara rum is made by Samaroli and is bottled in 2007 in Scotland. It has no added color. The flavor is very deeply woody, a bit floral and fruity with flavors of molasses. 366 bottles were made so this is a rare find. Port Morant 1990 is 90 proof. I`m not using it in too many Mai Tais, but its hard to resist as it makes real mean Mai Tais, its almost as good as the Silver Seal. Paired with XM10 –  a very close number two.

BANKS XM10

XM Royal Gold 10 Year Old (80 proof) is a superb aged demerara rum with a very round and full flavor profile with fruits, molasses and toffee flavors. One of my favorites. If you can get this one, (and its soon to be sold in US as well), and El Dorado rums plus Lemon Hart 151, then you`re fine as far as demeraras go.

I used 1.5 oz Banks XM10 and 0.5 oz Samaroli Port Morant. I took less of the Port Morant as it has such a strong woody flavor. In these proportions i find it complements the toffee flavors of XM very well.

MAI TAI #12 with Banks XM10

As the XM10 is so yummy, its almost like drinking liquid toffee, i wanted to use only this rum ( 2 oz)  in the drink. I`m not dissapointed, the sweetness and roundness of the body in this rum makes an excellent and very smooth Mai Tai which goes down way too easily.

XM Royal Gold 10 Year Old is a superb aged demerara rum crafted by the Aguiar Industries master blenders. This rum is hands down wonderful. Its a creamy full bodied masterwork, very round, with warm round toffee-like flavors. I`m happy for those in the US who soon will be able to buy this fine rum.

MAI TAI #11 Coruba12 and Banks XM10

If we shall talk about yumminess..here it is! Coruba12 has a lot of complexity and some sweetness, dried fruits and molasses-toffeelike flavors and paired with XM10 which  is a step ahead with the toffeeness but with the typical demerara flavor, you`re in for a very tasty Mai Tai.

MAI TAI #10 Banks XM10 and JM Reserve Special

My first thought when tasting this one was “wow this is tasty! very very tasty..” Its like the rums just melt together into a real elixir of pleasure. I`m not even sure it shall have no 10. Now JM isnt a cheap rhum agricole…i wish it was. Its really a very good sipping rum, but as we know, the better ingredients, the better cocktails. And in this research any rum that is good could be used i think.

MAI TAI #9 Banks XM10 and Clemént XO

This one is just WOW, so tasty! the punch of the XM10 with its toffeeness paired with Clemént XO which is a outstanding aged rhum agricole, tasty.

MAI TAI #8  El Dorado12 and Clemènt VSOP

This is a very pleasant and tasty Mai Tai. El Dorado 12 is just punchy enough to blend well with Clemènt and combined they are great. I`m unfortunately out of El Dorado 15 but on the other hand, that´s such a strongly punchy rum that it takes over the other flavors a bit. But that`s just my taste. Otherwise its my fav rum together with Silver Seal 15.

MAI TAI #7 Zaya (Guatemala) and Pusser`s 15

This is just so tasty. I first read about it on Tiki Central, long ago and i think it was Pusser´s blue label that was used. Well, this one is tasty too! The punchiness of the navy rum with the sweetness of Zaya – nice!

MAI TAI #6 Lemon Hart Jamaican and El Dorado 12

Here we have a Mai Tai with 2 very good rums and the taste is good but for some reason i expected more, maybe i expect too much? this one tastes good but i guess that with some of these other demeraras its easy to get a bit spoilt. Did i have only these 2 rums to use, i would have loved this Mai Tai. Well, i do, i love all good Mai Tais!

MAI TAI #5  Silver Seal 15 and Clemént VSOP

I expected much of this one, probably because of Silver Seal, but its not as good as i thought but still very tasty i shall not deny that and it became even tastier while it mellowed in the glass. But its a huge difference to use 2 oz of just Silver Seal or to pair it with Clemént VSOP.

MAI TAI #4  Port Royal and St James 12 with Uitvlugt Port Morant 1990 float

Port Royal is a beautiful little demerara rarity which is aged 14 years and is a bit on the sweet side, yet very woody, its 92 proof. I was figuring it would be interesting to pair it with St James 12 year which is a rum i all of a sudden discovered being on limited offer in our spirit shop. I hadn´t seen it before anywhere, neither did i find any information on it but i bought it and yes, its a very smooth agricole rum. Probably its a special edition or something, nobody has been able to tell me anything.

It turned out to be a very very tasty Mai Tai, the smooth St James 12 perfectly blends with the woody Port Royal, so i give it no#5.

The original recipe do not call for any float but i like floats and so here is one with a float of the overproof Port Morant 1990 for an extra kick. I`m totally sure that Banks XM10 and St James12 or hors d`age would be a very nice combo as well. I used 1 oz of each.

MAI TAI #3  Appleton Extra and Havana Club 7 year

This is also a pleasant rum combo and I suspect this will be used by one or more of my fellow blogger friends .This mellow and rich flavored rum combo makes  for very tasty Mai Tais. These rums are premium, both are versatile and luckily also moderately priced, good for the “everyday Mai Tai”.. I used 1 oz of each.

MAI TAI #2  Appleton extra and Old Vatted (O.V.D)

With Appleton extra as base i didn`t need to worry about good taste, the addition of 0.5 oz Old Vatted demerara just added a touch of deep woodiness. I had a problem in deciding which one of  either this one or the Appleton Extra and Havana Club 7 year, should be #3. But Havana Club7 wins with its overall yumminess.

Here i used 1.5 oz Appleton Extra and 0.5 oz OVD

MAI TAI #1 Banks XM10 and Uitvlugt 1990 fullproof

A kick of the fullproof Uitvlugt to punch up the round sweet and toffeelike XM isn`t bad at all, but i think you got to love demeraras to fully appreciate this combo as the Uitvlugt is a li`l bit on the almost harsh side with the high proof and woodiness.

I used 1.5 oz of XM to 0.5 oz of Uitvlugt. As Uitvlugt highproof (132 proof) is a very strong demerara and i used just a little bit extra simple syrup in this. This rum combo is for those demerara geeks who loves deep woodiness. This is the last one and even though the least on my scale it isnt bad at all.

Overall, the best Mai Tai rum combo suggestions with rums available today, based on my experince with these i`ve tried here, except for the dagger rum which is supposed to be seen as a curiosity, are in no specific order:

Appleton Extra with St James hors d`age or Clemént VSOP

2 oz Silver Seal 15 demerara

(or 1.5 oz El Dorado 12 with a 0.5 oz Lemon Hart 151, alternatively 0.5 oz El D12, 1 oz XM10 and 0.5 oz LH 151, it won`t be the same thing but its the best subs i can think of for the moment)

Banks XM10 demerara

El Dorado 12 and Clemént VSOP

Zaya and Pusser´s

There`s other rums apart from El Dorado 15 that i haven`t used because as i`m out of it and that`s Coruba dark, Appleton Reserve and VX and Lemon Hart 151. I`m sure they would be good in Mai Tai`s as well and mixed with say Banks XM…got to try that one some day! To read more about demerara rums, see my other demerara rum posts.

One thing that fascinates me is that how one rum can be really outstanding paired with another and then when paired with yet a different rum all of a sudden isn´t that outstanding as it was with the first rum. So it isnt so easy to find the ultimate pairing, i`m not even sure if i have and luckily its probably a never ending research. The world of flavors is really fascinating!

So finally here is my advice for those of you looking for perfectly yummy Mai Tais, if you can get it, get Silver Seal15 and Banks XM10, and get Appleton Extra, Clemènt VSOP, Zaya and Pusser`s. Use Trader Vics recipe and don`t add pineapple and orange juices, amaretto or grenadine.

I was asking some fellow bloggers in the mixoloseum chat room about why they think its so hard for people to stick to the real Mai Tai recipe as it is a very simple recipe and it seems like the biggest problem in many places is how to find orgeat. Here i can find it sometimes but i make my own which isnt very hard. As its a bit boring –  but not difficult, to get the blanched almonds out of their shell, i don`t make that large batches, i make about 1L at a time. I keep my orgeat in the fridge.

Here´s a link to the orgeat i make:  http://fxcuisine.com/Default.asp?Display=26

Here´s another link to orgeat: http://www.artofdrink.com/2006/02/orgeat-syrup.php

The demerara rums i`ve used can be purchased at R2M shopSpeciality Drinks, TheWhiskey Exchange or the German and Italy EBay.

I myself have only had a real Mai Tai at a bar only in one place and that was atTikiRoom here in Stockholm, with the rum combos Appleton VX-Havana Cub7 and Appleton Extra-El Dorado dark, what about you? where have you been served at real Mai Tai?

DEMERARA RUMS Part Three

In this second part of my series on demerara rums i try out i`m going to write about Banks XM, OVD –  Old Vatted Demerara and Samaroli Port Morant 1990.

BANKS XM ROYAL EXTRA MATURE DEMERARA RUM

Since the 1840`s, the D’Aguiar family have been in business in Guyana, its for over 150 years, and over the years this company`s rums have been awarded many accolades, including three outstanding awards at the International Wine and Spirits Competition for its 10 year-old rum and XM VXO, which won a double gold medal and a bronze award respectively.

Banks DIH buy rum in bulk, from DDL, and age, blend and bottle it at Thirst Park on the southern outskirts of Georgetown. DDL have several different stills, but they are all on one site. All Demerara rum is distilled at the DDL distillery at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.

XM Royal Gold 10 Year Old is a superb aged demerara rum crafted by the Aguiar Industries master blenders. I can really vouch for this rums superior tastiness –  its hands down wonderful. Its a creamy full bodied masterwork, very round, with lots of toffee-like flavor. So Yummy!

I`ve now heard its going to be sold in the US and i`m very happy for my demerara loving friends living there. There´s an excellent review of this rum over at Refined Vices.

I also have the 12 year old Millenium, a blend of aged demerara rums, and more refined in flavor than the 10yo, but it lacks the rounded “toffeeness” of XM10 and I prefer the 10, but its a very nice rum with a distinctive flavor.

Then we have XM VXO – famous for its unique bouquet and aroma which I haven`t been able to try yet. Its crafted from rums aged for 7 years in Sherry casks and then the choicest casks are selected for blending XM VXO 7 year old.

XM is distilled at Diamond by DDL, and then aged and bottled by Banks/DIH outside Georgetown. Banks/DIH is a blender. The bottle is now sold with a new blue label.

So to summarize these 2 XM rums:

The XM10 is full bodied, round, with lots of toffee-like flavor, with a little bite.

The XM12 Millenium lacks much of that toffee-like flavor and is a bit lighter and more refined.

O.V.D –  OLD VATTED DEMERARA RUM

First time i tried this rum my thoughts immediately went to Lemon Hart 151. O.V.D has a lot of similar flavors but at 80 proof of course without that overproof bite and I also find it woodier and drier. I find its a very good mixing rum provided that not too much is used as the woodiness is very pronounced.

It adds a distinctive character to for example, tropical and tiki drinks in the same way as LH151 does. Its nice for sipping as well provided you like this kinda woody rums and has a distinctive oaky aroma as it have matured for up to seven years in oak.

Its a  blend of Demerara Rums made from sugar cane growing along the banks of the Demerara River. It is matured in Guyana, it’s full-bodied, mellow, woody and spicy, with some complex toffee flavours, rich on the palate, mellow finish and a hint of sweet molasses. O.V.D is blended from the finest demerara rums in the world, and matured in oak casks.

Originally Old Vatted was imported by George Morton from Guyana in 1838. Morton was a whisky bottler and blender – since recognized as Scotland’s leading rum specialist. Today the George Morton Company is a subsidiary of William Grant & Sons Ltd.

One thing that is very good about OVD is that its very reasonably priced, about the same price as XM10, just a bit hard to find.

Its said that Morton created Old Vatted Demerara rum especially for the Scottish palate…

OLD because its aged longer than most rums to obtain a mellow, rich and spicy taste and it has been imported to Scotland since 1838.

VATTED, because specially imported, top quality rums from Guyana are carefully vatted or blended to become consistent, rounded and full-bodied.

DEMERARA, because it comes from the country in which the Dutch established the colony of Demerara. And its made from the very best sugar cane stock and the rums from this region are renown for being dark and aromatic and for their richness of flavour.

Producer: Demerara Distillers   –   www.demrum.com

SAMAROLI PORT MORANT 1990

Samaroli is an Italian independent bottler, a legendary whisky selector and famed for the exceptional quality of their releases and for their artsy, innovative labels and packaging.

In 1992, after a 12 years period of enquiries in the tropical places, Silvano S. Samaroli started with the bottling of special lots of Rum in Scotland. His first Rum became a very successful 1948 West Indies Dark Rum. This was the start of a growing portfolio. I´ve read there`s only 4 bottles left of that rum. At this moment there are several beautiful Rums available that bear the name Samaroli. Since the Rums are all from just 1 big or small cask, all products by Samaroli are limited editions.

I find my Samaroli Port Morant 1990 excellent. It has a very deep woody flavor with some peppery and tropical fruit notes accompanied by molasses and vanilla. Its naturally colored by aging. Its too rare to mix with, only 366 bottles were made.

A pricey treasure indeed.

Any rum that is referred to as Demerara rum must be distilled in Guyana in the county of Demerara.

DEMERARA RUMS Part Two

I`m on a demerara rum journey.

One of my aims in this life is to try as many demerara rums i can find, but so far i haven`t been able to try that many. Not all from the El Dorado range are yet tasted for instance. But the Lemon Hart 151 I`ve had of course, and Banks XM 10 and 12 year old Millenium. The XM rums are now going to be sold in the US.

El Dorado rums has its own blog post here.

But there are also many other interesting demerara rums, most often private labels, some are shipped to Scotland for continental aging. These demeraras are in the higher price range and depending on where you live, they can be hard to find. It was my friend Paul from London who first told me about these wonderful rums.

At that time the Silver Seal brand ( an Italian company better known for their frequently stunning and highly collectable whisky bottlings) was only as far as i could see, available from Pedrelli in Italy who does not ship internationally.

Silver Seal – 92 bottle.

So it was not until Roberto added Silver Seal to his R2Mshop that i could lay my hands on a Silver Seal bottle which really are beautifully shaped bottles with stunning labels.

I bought the 15 year old Silver Seal -92 demerara (110 proof) and the first thing i did after tasting it neat was to make a Mai Tai. And then i too was blown away.. and made Mai Tais during 2 weeks. Really, this rum is a sipping rum, but who can resist making perfect Mai Tais?

It must be something special with this rum, the Mai Tais really becomes very very tasty.

Now i`m a lucky owner of a new bottle of that wonderful rum plus 2 others that i hadn`t tried before. Uitvlugt 1990 full proof (132 proof) from Velier and Port Royal (92 proof, selected and bottled for Sarzi Amadé , Milano, Italy). These are all heavy and strong demeraras.

I didn´t think about how strong the Uitvlugt was until i took a good sip and was punched back right in the face. These 3 rums are very flavorful, strong and tasty.

To start with from the first 3 rums i got – Port Royal which comes in a very attractive bottle, its a bit sweeter and a bit lighter than the other two, but it does have a heavy demerara flavor and is quite woody, and it also has a strong kick. The taste stays long with you as well. Its not in the same class as the 15yo Silver Seal rum and the Uitvlugt from Velier – far from it – but its perfectly both sippable and mixable. This rum is aged for 14 years.

This selection comes from a 1991 alembic distillation (distilled using a copper still) and is aged in small barrels until the bottling in sept 2004. Only 370 bottles were made. The nose and the flavor is that of a deep demerara and its a heavy rum but not as fully and complete tasting as Silver Seal-92.

The next to taste, the Silver Seal 15 year also has this deep demarara flavor, deeper and rounder and fuller than Port Royal and it packs a punch as well. Its the only demerara rum from the Silver Seal range i`ve yet tasted. Unfortunately the 28 year old (120 proof and said to have extremely aromatic, round flavor, is most likely no longer available.

The four sides of the Silver Seal box showing the wildlife series.

But there`s a few others (Enmore 1975 – 32 yo, 136 proof – 60 bottles made, (I`ve heard its a bit overaged and tastes too strong of wood. What turns me off is the exceptionally high price of this one) Enmore 1996, Enmore 1988, (20 year old, 92 proof) Some of these i hope to try as well.

This – 92 Silver Seal is excellent to sip and wonderful to mix, what more can i say?

And so the third, Uitvlugt full proof, old demerara rum (132 proof) from Velier, owned by Luca Gargano, a legend in the rum world. 4 barrels distilled in double pot still in december 1990. Marks on the barrels, MPM. Bottled in march 2008, – 881 bottles were produced. Its this one that kicked me unawares. It has a deep woody demerara flavor and packs a real punch.

Good to sip, float and mix with even though it is not a mixing rum…..not really… One must mind what one mixes with  if one mixes… Don`t let this wonderful rum get lost by a whole phlethora of mixers, but simple drinks is ok I think, as long as they are rum forward. The nose is amazing, strong, with a slight medical hint to it due to the strong proof.

Uitvlugt is the name of the famous distillery of Dutch origin situated west of the river, on the Atlantic coast in Guyana. Using the famous Port Morant still, (the barrels are marked MPM )  the last vat still in the demerara area distilling full-bodied and intense rums.

I´m not a rum reviewer and don`t know so good how to put flavors in words, so this is as good as I can describe these rums. Rums with great body and intensity. Totally demerara rum heaven.

When leaning the glass on the side and then back up again, the rum forms legs on the side of the glass. Light-bodied rums will have thin “legs” that move quickly, while medium and full-bodied rums will have thick “legs” moving slowly. One of the ways you can evaluate the body of a rum.

In part three (to be posted in about 4 days) i`m going to write about Banks XM, OVD – Old Vatted Demerara and Samaroli Port Morant 1990.

Any rum that is refered to as Demerara rum must be distilled in Guyana in the county of Demerara.

DEMERARA BOMB WHITE ZOMBIE

This recipe is based on Robert Burr`s (Gifted rums guide) White zombie. The original recipe is:

Rob’s White Zombie

4 oz Cruzan Rum Cream
1.5 oz Cruzan Black Strap
1.5 oz Voodoo Spiced Rum
1.5 oz Redrum
1.5 oz Bruddah Kimio’s Da Bomb 155 Overproof (em-bombing fluid)

Fill a big shaker with ice, add rums, and shake ’til yer hand damn-near freezes. Pour into a tall glass, add a straw and a garnish of small pineapple wedge. Find a good place to relax.

10 ounces of rum that tastes like a milkshake, named for the famous movie starring Bela Lugosi — White Zombie — the first zombie movie ever made.

The White Zombie rum cocktail was developed and tested by Rob V. Burr, the Cane Spirit Guide.

I would really like to try the white zombie but don`t have access to those rums so i made my own version with my dem rums which is this:

DEMERARA BOMB WHITE ZOMBIE

3 oz El Dorado Rum Cream
1 oz Amarula Cream
2 oz Port Royal demerara (92 proof)
2 oz Banks XM demerara

And a dollop of Fernet Branca ( about 1/2 barspoon)

Shake and strain..pour into a yummy glass and throw in a fragrant mexican cinnamon stick.

You may sub the demeraras in the recipe with El Dorado 12, 15 and/or Lemon Hart 151.

From this version of the White Zombie i made a drink for the TDN which was themed float, (every cocktail had to have a float) which i called “Demerara Bomb #2″ and it happened to win that TDN. So to not forget from where the inspiration to that cocktail came from, it was all originated in the White Zombie by Rob V. Burr – named for the first zombie movie ever made — White Zombie

 DEMERARA PUNCH

1 oz demerara rum
1 oz aged rhum agricole
Chunks of fresh pineapple
Cane cola to top
1 oz Honey-cream-mix
Float overproof demerara rum
Crushed ice
Pineapple garnish

Muddle 5-6 chunks of fresh pineapple with 0.5 lime juice and 0.5 vanilla syrup
Add 1 oz aged agricole, 1 oz demerara rum (I used St James 12 and Port Royal)
Add 1 oz honey-cream-mix (1:1:1 honey-butter-sugar-above roomtemp)
Fill glass with crushed ice

Shake hard and fast with ice and strain.
Top with a little sugarcane cola and float overproof dark demerara rum
Fill up with more crushed ice if needed.
Garnish baby pineapple.

THE HONEY CREAM MIX:

The honey-cream-mix, with its problem of butter solids separation, there are different ways to try to solve it, i do like this:

Warm the honey, sugar, butter to very warm, then let it cool a little but stay above room temp and dry shake first (without ice) and then add ice and shake real hard and fast and hope for the best. And serve in a Tiki mug and not a glass.

Sugarcane!

SUGAR…

I love sugarcane and sugars and especially i like flavorful unrefined raw cane sugar. My favorite sugars are many…muscovado, raw sugar, demerara, molasses. I´m a syrup geek too so i use a lot of different sugars and it can be a bit confusing with all these sugars, which one is what and which are best?

The most common is of course the ordinary refined white sugar, but as all refined things its stripped from flavorful components. Its not the sugar i prefer but its still useful for simple syrups.

I think there´s a type of sugar for different purposes and in cocktails i prefer dark sugars for drinks with dark base spirits, like dark rum, and white or golden sugars for light drinks. Then fine sugars are good for muddling.

Same with syrups, dark sugar goes with “dark” ingredients like Tahitian vanilla for example and light sugars go for say a mango syrup. When i make my vanilla sugar i mix two sugar types, a light and a dark muscovado which are mixed with the seeds and the beans from Tahitian vanilla.

Dark muscovado has a slight licorice flavor and a very rounded full taste and light muscovado is more toffee-like.

I buy Tate&Lyle or Billington`s which are very similar, sometimes i wonder if its even from the same source. Both are UK based.

 

From upper left and clockwise is:

1) Oxfam bio cane sugar from Paraguay, 2) Billingtons Fairtrade unrefined demerara (from Malawi), 3) Billingtons unrefined cane sugar, 4) Billingtons molasses, 5) Billingtons light muscovado 6) Billington´s dark muscovado (the rest of Billingtons are produced in Mauritius)

This is how i find these sugars:

1) Oxfam bio cane sugar: Very fine textured, the color is not white but has a yellowish tint. The flavor is very much like Billingtons unrefined cane sugar #3

2) Billingtons unrefined demerara: is much coarser and typically one of those “home baking” sugars.

3) Billingtons unrefined cane sugar: Is a golden glistening and very pleasant allround sugar, gritty. Sweet and flavorful taste, i like this one in tea and coffee

4) Billingtons molasses, very dark, it forms clumps and is extremely flavorful and might be used where it will not overpower other flavors.

5) Billingtons light muscovado: The most tasty of all these sugars in my opinion, the texture is smooth and its really yummy with toffee flavors. A perfect allround sugar.

6) Billingtons dark muscovado: Same flavor as the light but with a lot more “dark” flavors and a hint of liqorice. Its like the molasses, best used with things suited for these strong flavors.

Many of these sugars, especially the muscovados get hard when exposed to air and needs to be softened again, it might work by placing a warm wet towel over the jar for a while. Best way is to keep the lid tight on.

MUSCOVADO

Muscovado is a type of unrefined brown sugar with a strong molasses flavour. It is very dark brown, and slightly stickier and coarser than most brown sugars.

Unlike most other brown sugars, which are made by adding molasses to refined white sugar, muscovado takes its flavor and color from its source, sugarcane juice when processors of Muscovado boil down cane-sugar juice to make the sugar. It offers good resistance to high temperatures and has a reasonably long shelf life.

MOLASSES

Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar making process. Its dark and very flavorful. Most rum made from molasses is made from imported molasses. Raw sugar is covered by a thin film of molasses, which is a dark thick syrup containing sugar, water, plant material, minerals, and other non-sugars. The layer of molasses is removed by dissolving the sugar and separating in centrifuges and carbon filtering.

DEMERARA

Demerara has the natural brown color of cane sugar and it takes its name from the Demerara colony in Guyana, which was the original source of this type of sugar, but is produced today mainly in Mauritius.

For some reason the name demerara is still used even though produced so far away from Guyana. My package from Billington`s fairtrade natural demerara is actually produced in Malawi..

TURBINADO AND SUCANAT

Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is a type of sugar cane extract. It is made by steaming unrefined raw sugar. Turbinado sugar is similar in appearance to brown sugar but paler. A popular brand name is Sugar in the Raw.

Sucanat is sometimes confused with Turbinado – but they are fundamentally different. Turbinado sugar contains only a trace amount of its original molasses content, making it more or less like refined sugar except with a golden color and a hint of molasses flavor. Sucanat, on the other hand, retains its full molasses content and flavor, and its pure dried cane juice.

Turbinado is more crystalline and clear in its form compared to the grainy Sucanat. Unfortunately there are lot of bar syrups which are made from high fructose corn syrup which is very unhealthy and does not carry the same flavor as natural sugar.

In all fruits and vegetables we can find sugar (sucrose) which is a natural carbohydrate. Sugarcane contains 12-14% sucrose and are harvested after 9-12 months growth.

PETIT CANNE

Petit Canne sugarcane syrup is a interesting syrup as its made by dissolving raw Martinique sugar cane sugar in hot water to make a saturated syrup retaining the flavor of the raw sugar.

SPICY SUGARCANE GIRL

This cocktail brings together Jamaican and Guyanese dark rums, cane sugars, fresh blood orange and lime juices, with a touch of spice, all spiked with a JWray kick.

1 oz dark Jamaican rum (Appleton extra)

1 oz demerara rum (Banks XM10)

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz 3 sugar simple syrup

1 oz fresh pineapple juice

1 oz fresh blood orange juice

1 drop spice tincture (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, steeped in some overproof rum for 2 weeks)

3 drops pernod

Splash JWray overproof rum.

Shake all ingredients over ice, strain and pour into highball filled with crushed ice. Top with a splash of JWray overproof rum. Garnish blood orange wedge and fresh mint or if you have it, a sugarcane stick.

3 SUGAR SIMPLE SYRUP

Its a 1:1 simple syrup,made from 3 different sugars. I used 1 part light muscovado, 1 part unrefined cane sugar and 1 part demerara sugar. Add sugars and water to a pan and heat it gently and stir until all sugars have dissolved, then cool, strain and bottle.

For those who really wants to go into some in-depth reading on sugarcane then Netafim is for you.

RHUM AGRICOLE AND CACHACA

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RHUM AGRICOLE AND CACHACA?

I´ve read so many articles and seen so much confuison when it comes to what exactly is the difference between rhum agricole and cachaca. And then there`s rhum Barbancourt, is it or is it not a rhum agricole?

So i got the bright (?) idea to write a blog post and try to see if i can sort out what the differences are. I might not have it all clear either. To a large part i have Ed Hamilton and all the fellow members of the Ministry of Rum to thank for what i today know about rums. If i have missed anything or have something wrong here, or if there´s more to it, please feel free to comment.

Cachaça is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice while most (but not all ) rum is a distillate of fermented molasses.

Cachaça is typically distilled to between 38 and 48% abv while rhum agricole in the French islands is distilled to about 72% abv. Then of course, Cachaca must be made in Brazil while rhum agricole if made in Martinique must carry the AOC mark. Some people says cachaca should be called rum and others says rum should be called cachaca..I myself call rum for rum and cachaca is cachaca and rhum agricole is, well..rhum agricole. And sensorial – they taste completely different.

RHUM AGRICOLE

Rhum agricole is made from pure sugar cane juice which has been fermented and fermentation begins within hours of the cane being harvested.

Martinique is the only geographic area in the sugar cane spirits industry, with an Appelation and rhum agricole made in Martinique carries the AOC or Appelation d’origine Controlée mark. Rum from molasses is also produced and its called ‘rhum industriel’ or ‘rhum traditionnel’. Rhum agricole is distilled to about 72% abv.

The rhum agricole that is made in the other french islands such as Guadeloupe, la Reunion etc would probably not meet the AOC requirements since one of the requirements is the type of cane and then geographic areas, drainage, soil type, etc

Rhum agricole is also made in French Guyana and two of the most known brands is La Belle Cabresse and La Cayennaise. These rhum agricoles has a slight different flavor than the agricoles made in Martinique.

La Belle Cabresse for instance is less refined with a spicy floral note and a lot of flavor. I have only tried La Belle Cabresse, but La Cayennaise is said to be sweeter and rounder and a bit less herbal but with a distictive agricole flavor. Very interesting rums.

On the whole, rhum agricoles are very diverse even within the same island. As for the “terroir”, its not just the soil and type of cane that is used, its also the tradition of the spirit which includes the fermentation, distillation, and blending and its not limited to that.

The rhums from Martinique are lighter and more refined than the rhums from Guadeloupe for example, which are heavier and in my own opinion much more “grassy”.

THE AOC

The AOC or Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée mark was adopted by the Martinique distillers in 1996 and it is unique to the rhum of Martinique.

Rhum agricole can be bottled in Martinique or France but i`ve heard they may tighten the regulations so that the AOC mark can only be carried by rhum agricole bottled in Martinique. The Martinique AOC regulations were adopted to improve the quality and value of their products.

RHUM BARBANCOURT

Rhum Barbancourt isn`t considered a rhum agricole even though its made from sugar cane juice. It seems to be in a class of its own. It has been suggested that sometimes the sugar cane juice is mixed with concentrated sugar cane syrup, but i dont know if there´s any evidence for it. There isn`t much information on how this rum is made. It certainly is a very fine and good rum.

There is two versions of the 15 year old Reserve du Domaine. Its the first version that has a serial number on the back and a newer version that is labeled Estate Reserve and that do not have any serial number.

The old Reserve du Domaine is said to be darker, richer and smoother while the new version is a bit sweeter, lighter and a bit less smooth. i haven`t been able to compare them myself.

The difference between them is most likely to be because of the chill filtration on the rums that are for export to non-tropical countries. The chill filtration technique is used to avoid the deposits or haze which could temporarily occur when the bottles are subject to colder temperatures. Its also a commercial process to standardise the product, its even written on Barbancourts home page that they use chill filtration.

Unfortunately the chill filtration removes esters and aldehydes, as well as some of the rums natural oils, which leads to a altering of the flavor profile and general mouthfeel of the rum.

CACHACA

According to Brazilian law cachaça must be distilled from 38 up to 54% alcohol by volume and its bottled at 38-48% abv. Up to 6mg sugar can be added. Cachaça can be made from fresh sugar cane juice or melado which is sugar cane juice which has been reduced but without removing any crystalline sugar out of the juice.

The harvested sugarcane is washed and pressed through large metal rollers to extract the juice and its this first pressing that makes cachaca. The juice is then filtered to extract any cane fragments etc before the process of fermenting. Cachaca is fermented in wooden or copper vats and then boiled down three times and the result is a sticky concentrate.

The aging process yields a cachaça with a smoother taste and most often a yellow or caramel color. Premium cachacas are distilled in such a way that the sugarcane flavor isnt lost. To be labeled “aged” a cachaca must be aged at least one year according to Brazilian law.

Cachaca is traditionally aged in native Brazilian woods that adds distinct flavors and characteristics to the final product and this aging in various rainforest woods is something i find very interesting and i would like to further reserach that topic…

As far as i know they use at least 26 different woods…woods with exotic names such as balsam wood, jequitibá, guarandi, umburana, ipê, jatobá, imburana, cedar, freijó….or garapeira which is used to age for example Abelha Gold – an artisanal  cachaca with lots of flavor and personality that i really like.

Garapeira is a type of native Brazilian Ash which adds it´s own sweetness and spiciness – but without changing the flavor of the cachaca itself contrary to what oak barrel aging does which adds that familiar vanilla or toffee notes that we are used to from molasses rum.

But cachaca isn´t only aged in Brazilian woods, Leblon for example have their cachacas rested or aged in cognac casks while Moleca Gold is aged in oak barrels.

Most often the cachaca producers uses a leavening agent in the production of their cachaca, meaning that during the stage of fermentation they will add corn meal, corn flour or rice bran, to the sugar cane must. And that these grain additions will add distinctive flavors and aromas to the cachaca besides producing the alcohol.

This is a fermentation starter mash that is made from cane juice and toasted corn meal which is generally and tradtionally practised. Traditionally cachaça is fermented using indigenous yeast strains that are naturally occurring in the cane.

Artisanal cachaça is typically made in batch potstills, while industrial cachaça is made with continuous column stills.

Then there is also a third type of cachaca that is made by adding caramel or wood extracts without any aging – called “yellow” cachaca – and the addition of the wood extracts and caramel gives the “yellow” cachaca a much sweeter taste.

So these are the main things that differentiates cachaca from rhum agricole as far as i know. Then when it comes to rum, apart from rhum agricole, its made from molasses, a totally different way to produce this sugar cane spirit.

To round this up i made a ti punch with palmsugar and a ginger caipirinha.

DIRTY VIEUX PALM SUGAR TI POOONCH

1 oz rhum agricole blanc

1 oz rhum agricole vieux

A slice off the side of a lime or as much as you prefer

0.5 oz palm sugar syrup

Start squeezing the lime and drop into the glass. Add the palm sugar syrup and the rhums and stir to mix. Add a cracked ice cube if you like.

FRESH GINGER CAIPIRINHA

2 oz cachaca

0.5-1 oz simple syrup or 1 heaped tblsp raw sugar.

I use raw sugar even though its not dissolving as easily as the traditionally used superfine sugar because i like the flavor of the specific raw sugar i have (Billingtons golden natural unrefined cane sugar) better.

1/2 to 1 lime depending on size. Cut the ends off, then the pith and cut it in pieces.

2 cm piece of fresh ginger,sliced.

Muddle lime, sugar and ginger in a rocks glass, add crushed ice and cachaca, stir well. Fill up with more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Is there anything aside from distillation abv, terroir, AOC and the use of leavening agents that is distictly different about the production of rhum agricole and cachaca? also if there is anything in this post that is not accurate i wanna know so it can be updated if needed, so please comment…