TOTC 2014 – Which Rum, What Cocktail and Why? and Floridita – Cradle of the Daiquiri

Plantation rum samples 2

Picture Laura Godel

Which Rum, What Cocktail and Why?

This seminar was presented by Plantation Rum and held by Jeff Berry, Alexandre Gabriel, Martin Cate and Philip Duff and the room was packed and of course all the usual suspects were there 🙂

They took us through the history of rum, the tiki era, Don the Beachcomber, Trader Vic… and then a very interesting theory about the rums Trader Vic used in his Mai Tais, or rather the Martinique rum part. Most of us (if not all ?) have always thought that the Martinique rum Trader Vic used was an agricole rum, but there is a new theory on this that the rum actually was a molasses based rum and not an agricole.

How’s that and why?

Well, there seem to be some things that points to that, for example the Martinique rum was described at the time as a rum with a “heavy coffee color”, here is the points according to Martin Cate including a pic of the jet-black Barum bottled in Jamaica:

1. Very few agricoles were exported to the US at that time. Only brand I can see in the US is Saint James. Don Beach had no agricoles at all on his 1940s rum menu. Don describes Martinique rum as “Heavy-bodied, medium pungency” and “Not as dry as the Cuban nor as rummy as the Jamaican” – no word about grassiness or a different raw material at all.

2. His first Adjusted Mai Tai recipe uses Coruba- lightly aged black Jamaican rum. Heavier bodied, but no depth of character.

3. He described using Trader Vic’s brand Martinique rum in the 1950 to match the desired “nutty” flavor of the older Jamaican.

4. Trader Vic’s 1946 Book of Food and Drink (and 1947 and 172 Bartenders Guide) describe Martinique rum as “Commonly known as French rums, they are usually heavy in body, coffee-colored, very similar to Jamaica rums, but in many cases have the dry burned flavor of the Demerara.”

There’s just no way that’s agricole. Also, Vic cited and used Negrita- a black rum from the French islands that is molasses based.

Vic’s Martinique Rum List: Outstanding brands: Bellows Martinique* Black Head* Rhum St. James Barum* Casa Grazia (?) Gosling’s Martinique* Rhum Charleston* Rhum Chauvet* Rhum Risetta* Rhum Negrita*

*All Traditionelle

Then: Creation of Vic’s Brand Mai Tai Rum – 1960s:

“This rum was made to recapture the characteristics of the original 17-year-old rum. First he skillfully blended Jamaican rums and then added Martinique rum for its elusive and wonderful nutlike flavor (ed – that’s got to be rhum traditionelle) and a bit of light Virgin Island rum for the smoothness of body. (ed. – that’s just padding to keep the cost down) This combination became the Trader Vic Mai Tai rum as we know it today.” (“Today” being the 1960s)

BARUM

Picture courtesy Martin Cate

So to me it looks like it’s true that the Martinique rum was actually molasses based. The rum world is really interesting stuff…Sure I wrote a note about this when I reviewed the Denizen Merchant’s Reserve rum which is a blend with both Jamaican rums and molasses based Martinique rum (Grand Arome) but being at this seminar and Martin Cate helped me get more and deeper understanding of the details.

Martin Cate is still of the opinion though, that making a Mai Tai with half Jamaican and half Agricole is delicious regardless! I tend to agree…

Next up, more about rum….yeah I have a hard time staying away from any seminar talking about my favorite cane spirit….

FLORIDITA – The cradle of the Daiquiri

Floridita seminar Jeff and David

Picture Laura Godel

This years Tales did not disappoint, I think it was even better than last year. One of the seminars I went to was “The Floridita: cradle of the Daiquiri” held by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and David Wondrich and presented by Bacardi Rum. The seminar took us back to the 1930’s Havana and head bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert who even taught Trader Vic how to make tropical drinks! (Trader Vic also went to New Orleans to learn how to mix drinks – after all Nola is the birthplace of the cocktail…)

The recipe for the classic daiquiri was 2 oz white rum, juice of 1/2 hand-squeezed lime, 1 tsp sugar and the drink was mostly stirred but sometimes shaken – “thrown Cuban style” that is. The limes used were the large limes most of us are used to, not the smaller key limes and they were squeezed by hand.

Hemingway who moved to Havana and there discovered the Floridita asked his daiquiri to be changed – double the rum, eliminate the sugar (he had diabetes) and adding grapefruit juice and maraschino and the Papa Double was invented, also called the Hemingway daiquiri.

His record of Papa Double consumption was 17 drinks from the morning to the evening – he really loved his daiquiri! But he didn’t drink just daiquiris, he also used to drink for example, a cocktail called “Ideal” while reading his daily paper. The Ideal was 1 oz Italian vermouth, 1 oz French vermouth, 1 oz dry gin, 3/4 oz grapefruit juice and a tsp maraschino.

Floridita daiquiris 123

One of Constantinos trademarks was the combination of grapefruit and maraschino and he used a lot of fresh mint, sugar instead of syrup, dashes of curacao and lime peel – as ingredient. He became known for consistency and a generally high quality on his cocktails.

Constantino also had an “ice program” where different styles of ice were grouped into four: 1 – Menudo (cracked) 2 – Menudito (chpped) 3 – Afeitado (shaved) 4 – Frappe’ (snow) and when the daiquiri was made simple syrup wasn’t used because syrup adds a different texture and taste and instead the sugar was stirred into the juices. So you can see with what great care he took the attention to details in his drink mixing.

FLORIDITA DRINK

And from Hemingway Floridita got fame, fortune and became one of Esquire’s top seven bars in the world at the time.

Now, Trader Vic, who sat at the bar Floridita to study how tropical drinks were mixed took Constantino’s daiquiri recipe with him when he left and put it on his menu and called it “Trader Vic’s Daiquiri’………and his book the 1940′ s Bar Guide was the result of his studying in the Floridita and Constantino’s work.

The seminar taught us about the history of Floridita and the history of the daiquiri but there were more things than that mentioned, among them Don Beach, Trader Vic and of course, the Mai Tai, how can you not hear something about the Mai Tai when Jeff Berry is one of the panelists?

FLORIDITA SEMINAR JEFF BERRY

And to wrap it all up – I would recommend anyone to go to the Tales! it’s such an experience, it’s fun, you meet fun and interesting people and you learn a lot!

Next post coming up soon – the tastings!

Rum Nation CARONI 1998

Rum Nation Caroni 98

Not too long ago i wrote about the excellent Jamaica Pot Still Limited Edition rum from Rum Nation which i`m very impressed with and now they are launching their next rum which is none other than a Caroni….

I hold the Caroni rums and especially the heavy types very dear to heart because they are so incredibly GOOD! and i`m so sorry about the fact that the old Caroni distillery is no more making these fabulous rums and unfortunately one day they will be nothing but a sweet memory.

But luckily we are not yet there….and so there is still time to enjoy them and they really are true treasures to sip and savor both neat and in cocktails.

The Rum Nation Caroni is 16 years old have been aged both in the tropics, thus imparting the thickness the angels share produce…(the tropical conditions causes a 60% loss of the distilled spirit due to evaporation) and then aged further in Europe in American Oak casks that contained bourbon then rum Peruano 8yo.

It`s distilled in 1998 and bottled this year, in 2014. The sugar content is only 5 g/l and the alcohol proof is 110 or 55%

The result is an intense dark rum with notes of wood, cloves, cola, coffee and aromatic herbs.

The bottle is a beauty to behold…and the label a work of art – it has the characteristic stamp on it – the stamp on the bottle is due to Fabio Rosso being an avid stamp collector in younger years and now adding a touch of class to the bottles with the stamps and a nod to the country of origin – which i find lovely.

Rum Nation Caroni 98 3

The Caroni Sugar Factory

There were originally more than 50 different rums brands produced in Trinidad – by 1950 it was only 8 and today only Angostura is left. Caroni was established in 1918 on the site of the old Caroni Sugar factory and operated until 2002.

The Caroni sugar factory started to operate a cast iron still in 1918 and at that time there were some eight or ten other sugar factories operating, each producing different types of rums and these rums were bought up by merchants and sold to rum shops all over the island. There were all kinds of “blends” and concoctions being made by both the merchants and the rum shop owners and sold over the counter as “petit quarts”

Eventually Caroni increased the quality of the distilling process and went from the original cast iron still to use a wooden coffey still – until 1945 when they got a copper still which was followed by a single column in 1957 and then a four column Gerb Herman still in 1980.

They produced a number of products like Superb White Magic Rum, Creole Punch Rum, Special Old Cask Rum, Felicité Gold Rum, Caroni Puncheon Rum and Caroni Bay Rum.

For nearly 100 years Caroni has had large sugar estates on the island and was the major producer of molasses. Sadly now since it`s closed no more of their magnificient rums are produced and when it´s gone it´s gone.

And that is sad because the Caroni rums are unique. That said i must confess i haven`t yet tried many but the ones i`ve tried have all been outstanding and original in the same way as the demerara rums are.

And i must say the flavor of the so called heavy Caronis DOES remind me quite a bit of a demerara rum, it has the same full bodied character but without the demerara flavor – but there`s something similar…it has the same type of character despite of being a totally different rum.

My taste notes:

Nose – In the nose i feel wood, orange peel, sugarcane and tropical fruits.

Mouth – It`s smooth with hints of wood, kola and toffee, aromatic spice and tropical fruits.

A few drops of water mellows it out and brings out more fruitiness and i get the flavor of apricot. I like the fruitness in it and it´s not too sweet either with a sugar content of 5 g/l.

Cocktails…

I tried it in a daiquiri and as expected it made a great daiquiri and what i call a “Caroni daiquiri” with it´s distinct flavor from the Caroni rum.

But i have had so many daiquiris posted on this blog that i lost count, so i opted for something else and here`s my take of a really nice cocktail called Creole Fix which i found on Pinterest and which led me to this post (this awesome cocktail was created by Ania Robbins for Texas Tiki Week)

Creole Fix

Rum Nation Creole Fix 2

2.0 oz Rum Nation Caroni-98

0.75 oz fresh orange juice

0.75 oz lemon/lime juice

0.5 oz rich cinnamon syrup

A couple good dashes of Bitter Truth creole bitters (or Peychaud`s) on top of the ice gives the drink both a pretty color and a layer of spicy “creole-bitters/peychaudish” flavor that you`ll feel the taste of by the end of drinking.

Speared cinnamon powdered orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish!

Shake and pour into tall glass filled with crushed ice.

This is a refreshing fruity-rummy drink and it got a wonderful aroma from the cinnamon powdered orange slice…it`s rummy, fruity, a little spicy and the Caroni rum flavor does shine through.

Rum Nation Creole Fix 3

My conclusion:

The Rum Nation Caroni-98 is a excellent sipping rum and also equally good for various cocktails thus making it a versatile rum fit for a king or queen:-)

If there´s anything i could think of that could make it even better would be a bit higher proof, like 61% to give it some more punch – but in that case, not really for sipping – more for say…tiki drinks 🙂 – but at 55% it´s good for everyone. And besides, nothing stops a tiki drink maker from adding a overproof float if you wish…i think we are quite notorious for that…

If this rum was on the shelves here i`d definitely buy it as a staple for my homebar. I must say that Rum Nation does not disappoint me!

Cocktails with Rhums Arrangèes – Zwazo

Cocktails with Rhum Arrangé 2

More rhum arrangè cocktails!

So now i have got to try out two very nice rhum arrangèes made by Cèdric Brement and Benoit Bail, and since i wrote my reviews of Benoit´s exotic Zwazo ananas-vanille rhum arrangè and Cèd`s award winning Banane-Cacao, i feel i want to make more drinks with them and see what`s good – starting with the tropical Zwazo.

Even though the traditional way is mostly to drink these rhums neat since they contain so much flavor of their own, they are also used to make tropical punch style cocktails.

I don`t think they have been used very much in tiki style drinks….or have they? in any case it doesn`t hurt if i try right? i`m curious to see how they mix with other rums.

Don the Beachcomber was a master of creating balance with many exotic ingredients – and he was especially skillful when it came to the art of blending rums and so was the original Mai-Kai mixologist Mariano Licudine. One person today that i come to think about getting close in that direction is Martin Cate. (Smuggler´s Cove)

Starting with Zwazo ananas-vanille i needed to find drinks that had ingredients that would harmonize with the pineapple and agricole flavors of the rhum and then switch out the rums used in those drinks for the Zwazo and some other rums that i figured would go well with it.

Cocktails with Rhum Arrangé Book Potions

So i dived into the Bum`s new book the Potions…of the Caribbean for inspiration…and i sure found a lot.The book is filled with the one mouth watering drink after another (apart from all the interesting things there is to read in it) and the first drink that i decided to experiment with was the Siboney, which is a drink by Trader Vic circa 1950`s.

It`s basically a twist on the daiquiri with pineapple juice added and lemon instead of lime plus passionfruit syrup, mixed with Jamaican dark rum (but only 1 oz) I decided to simply just add 1 oz of Zwazo to give the drink more tropical depth.

And top it off with a generous float of something overproof…and my stomach feeling told me to grab my bottle of the Lost Spirits Polynesian Inspired rum.

The result was absolutely delicious! since the recipe called for dark Jamaican rum i took my Denizen Merchant`s Reserve which is a blend of plummer style pot still Jamaican rum and Rhum Grande Arome de la Martinique.

Now Rhum Grande Arome de la Martinique is not rhum agricole even if the name sounds like it – instead it´s molasses based rum.

The reason why it´s in the blend of the Denizen Merchant`s Reserve is that when they checked in with rum cocktail historians during the development process – they were told that Trader Vic likely blended this type of rum from Martinique with the 17 year Wray and Nephew in his original Mai Tai formula because it was cheapest rum available from Martinique at the time. 

Note, that it says “likely” so there´s no proof whether Vic used molasses based Martinique rum or rhum agricole in his blend with Jamaican rum in his Mai Tai`s when the 17 year Wray and Nephew rum was finished.

So here we got a rum that contains pot still Jamaican rum and a molasses based Martinique rhum, and then Zwazo – a rhum arrangè with pineapple and vanilla macerated in a rum base of 3 different rums from Martinique Trinidad and Guyana. 

And don`t forget the overproof Polynesian Inspired float…

It`s a lot of rums going on here…but to my joy the drink tasted fantastic, cool and refreshing yet with a strong rum bite. Deep flavor of mature tropical fruits, and then something “earthy”, maybe from the float of the Polynesian Inspired rum…I like the different layers in a tropical cocktail.

 Siboney – Swazo Style

Cocktails with Rhum Arrangé Siboney 5

1 oz dark Jamaican Rum
1 oz Zwazo
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
0.5 oz passionfruit syrup
Float of Jamaican style overproof dark rum

Shake well with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with sugar. (if you like)

Now unfortunately, for the time being, Zwazo is only sold in Europe, locally in Luxembourg and then in Paris at Christian de Montaguère and it´s a small batch seasonal product – so if you cannot find it, my best advice would be to either try to find a pineapple-vanilla rhum arrangè from one of the French islands, such as Martinique (or a pineapple rhum arrangè paired with vanilla syrup) or make your own. (google how to make rhum arrangè, and there´s a great french site with a forum containing tons of recipes here)

Likewise when it comes to the Lost Spirits rums, they are only sold in the US but not Europe or elsewhere…so i would sub them with Smith and Cross mixed with Lemon Hart 151, to get that strong punchy flavor – even though the flavor will not be the same, but since Smith and Cross mixed with LH 151 is a great combo i believe it will still taste fantastic!

Next cocktail to play with was the Island of Martinique Cocktail, which is a Don Beach drink circa 1948. This drink is actually a tikified ti-punch…

It was described in Beachcomber´s 1948 menu as a drink with “Lusty Martinique rums aged in casks for 120 moons. Subtly combined with falernum, wild honey, Angostura bitters and Maui mountain limes”

How does that sound?? mouthwatering to me…

The original recipe which is found in the book Potions of the Caribbean was handed to the Bum by ex-Beachcomber bartender Tony Ramos.

Island of Martinique Cocktail – with a Pineapple Twist

Cocktails with Rhum Arrangé Island of Martinique Cocktail

1 oz rhum agricole vieux
1 oz Zwazo
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz falernum
0.25 oz honey-mix (equal parts honey and water, gently heat it up so the honey dissolves in the water, then cool to room temp)
Dash Angostura bitters
A handful (3 oz) crushed ice
Float Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum on top (or Lemon Hart 151)

Blend at high speed in a blender for 5 seconds, then strain into
a hollowed out pineapple and float the Navy style rum on top.

The drink tasted fruity and spicy, the flavor of fully matured tropical fruit from Zwazo came through and this drink was not as fruity and earthy as the first one but more mellow and spicy, with a kick from the float.

Now let`s dive deeper into this amazing book…

On page 164 i found the Voodoo Grog, a concoction created by Trader Vic, circa mid 1950`s. A drink containing equal parts lime, grapefruit and pimento.

First time i made it i was a bit overwhelmed by the pimento/allspice flavor so i took the Pimento dram down from 0.75 oz to 0.5 and it was better for my palate, but if you like a strong allspice flavor the 0.75 will be good.

Also it matters what brand of pimento dram/allspice dram you are using, the best i think are either homemade or St Elisabeth`s or Bitter Truth. For the moment i have St Elisabeth.

Voodoo Grog

Cocktails with Rhum Arrangé Voodoo Grog filt

1 oz Denizen Merchant`s Reserve Rum
1 oz Swazo
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.75 oz grapefruit juice (white)
0.75 oz honey
0.5 oz passion fruit syrup
1 egg white
Grated nutmeg
1 cup (8 oz) Crushed ice

Dissolve honey in lime juice and place this mixture plus the rest of ingredients except for nutmeg in a blender and blend for 20 seconds. Pour unstrained into a large snifter or tiki mug.

Dust with freshly ground nutmeg and garnish with mint and pineapple. (I also wrapped a pandan leaf around the glass)

Last cocktail is the quintessential rhum agricole drink…a ti-punch but with aged rhum agricole and therefore it´s called a punch vieux.

Petit Punch Vieux

Punch Vieux

1 oz Zwazo
1 oz rhum agricole vieux
0.5 oz sirop de canne
One half of a fresh lime

Cut the lime half in two and squeeze both edges into an old fashioned glass. Drop in the first spent wedge in the glass, then rub the rim of the glass with the other and then discard the second wedge. Add sirop, rums and ice and stir to chill. I also did rim the glass with brown sugar and added a sugarcane stick and roughly cut lime peel as garnish.

Rimming the glass with sugar and adding a lime peel is not traditional punch vieux but this is all about experiments!

Sirop de Canne is a thick, dark syrup made from a slow reduction of fresh sugar cane juice. Exported by brands such as Clèment, Dubois, Depaz, Dillon and La Mauny.

You can make a similar syrup by making a rich syrup (2:1 ratio sugar to water) with dark raw sugar.

Punch Vieux is always a nice treat as is the regular Ti-Punch…

Zwazo definitely mixes well in this style of tropical drinks, it gives a deep pineapple/tropical fruit flavor into the drinks which for tiki drinks fits so well into the flavor profile of a lot of them.

The aim with this particular post is to show that you can do a lot with rhum arrangè that goes beyond the traditional use…

Go and check out the Zwazo page on Facebook!

Lost Spirits Polynesian Inspired Rum

LOST SPIRITS RUM POLY BOTTLE

This is the second rum made by the Lost Spirits Distillery, the first was the “Navy Style” rum which i wrote a review of earlier. This rum is called “Polynesian Inspired Rum” and is made with the same methods as the Navy Style and for those who are interested in knowing how it`s made – I send you over to this page, called “Rum Super Geekdom” 

High ester rums in the making…using high quality ingredients and distilled in Bryan`s beautiful handmade copper pot still. I wrote a little about esters and dunder in my post on the Navy Style rum. (It´s hard to believe how that funky muck-looking “witches brew” can make such good rums but it does:-)

The Polynesian Inspired rum also comes in a similarly beautiful bottle as the Navy Style rum, with an artful label, this label has a Marquesan style tiki on one side and moais on the other.

Poly Insp Rum label tiki and moai

The Polynesian Style rum isn`t out for purchase yet but it will hopefully soon be. Like I said in my earlier post, I think I see a steady trend for pot stilled rums with rich bold flavors suitable for both sipping and mixing of exotic and tiki drinks and other rum drinks and I welcome that.

If the Navy Style rum was full of funk and punch this one is sharper and more fiery. It has a bit lower proof at 66%.

To me the Navy style rum is rounder in it´s flavor profile but you can sip this rum too if you like to sip strong rums. Personally I do not prefer overproof rums for sipping and second, I think this rum and the Navy Style as well, are best suited for cocktails.

And for most, I suggest to use this rum in drinks – and as a mixing rum it´s really great – especially if you wanna make tropical, exotic and tiki drinks.

Here is their description:

“POLYNESIAN INSPIRED” Rum

NITROGEN DEPRIVED FERMENTATION

GRADE A MOLASSES

WILD BACTERIA BANANA DUNDER

LATE HARVEST RIESLING

SEASONED VIRGIN AMERICAN OAK

“Nitrogen deprived fermentation” is a way to trigger stress response in the yeast which leads to higher production of esters in the fermentation which in turn leads to more flavors completed from the acids. There are many ways to trigger this stress response and it turns out nitrogen deprivation is one of them.

I think it`s amazing what they are doing at the Lost Spirits Distillery…they built nearly everything at the distillery with only their tiny team of three people.

Lost Spirits Still

 The 600 gallon copper pot still…see more amazing pictures from the distillery here.

Aroma and flavor

So let´s move on to the tasting – the rum has a golden amber color and the nose is fruity with notes of apricot and ripe tropical fruits like macerated banana, it´s warm and inviting.

In the mouth the woodiness hits you and there´s a strong alcohol sharpness, a burn which slowly mellows down and warms your throat. It`s a bit astringent, some citrus notes and ripe tropical fruits same as in the nose followed by some caramel that smooths it out. The finish is quite long.

It´s strong and quite sharp but when you mix with it, it´s a whole different thing and I think this rum really shines in cocktails. It`s made in a different way than the traditional long barrel aging so I won`t compare it with those rums, this is a rum on it´s own. And now, let`s wrap it up with a few rum drinks:

I was all of a sudden craving one of my favorite tiki drinks, the Painkiller but it´s a version of it….

POLYNESIAN PAINKILLA

Poly Painkiller

4 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz Coco Real (or Coco Lopez) coconut cream
3 oz Lost Spirits Polynesian Inspired Rum

Shake all ingredients with crushed ice and pour unstrained into a coconut shell or other suitable glass or tiki mug. Dust with grated nutmeg or cinnamon and garnish with a mini pineapple. (or pineapple chunk, leaf and cinnamon stick)

OCHO RIOS

Ocho Rio filt

My version of Battery Harris’ Ocho Rios Cocktail, using Lost Spirits Polynesian Inspired rum and garnished with brown sugar-coffee rim and a tropical leaf.

2.o oz Lost Spirits Polynesian Inspired Rum
0.5 oz Aperol
1 oz honey syrup

Shake ingredients with ice and pour into a brown sugar-coffee rimmed rocks glass and top with a splash of Soda. Garnish with a tropical leaf but make sure the leaf doesn´t touch the drink.

The drink turned out tasting like a good rum sour minus the egg foam, very refreshing and the rum did it justice in every way.Does this rum lend itself to these type of drinks? YES!!! it really does…and with 3 oz of 132 proof rum it packs a punch.

So here´s my final thoughts – I really recommend it for all kinds of rum drinks and it really does have both the flavor and punch required for tiki drinks (and so does their Navy Style Rum) These two rums from the Lost Spirits Distillery are two very different rums even though they – my guess – are made in about the same way but probably aged differently.

You find Lost Spirits website here. For those who are going to the Miami Rumfest on april 25-27 – there will be a seminar on the Navy Style rum, ” Bryan Davis on making Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum” – where you get a chance to taste it and learn directly from Bryan how he makes his rums.

Les Rhums de Ced – Punch au Rhum Banane Cacao

Rhum de Ced Banane-Cocoa Ced pic

If you like the french island style “arranged rums” or rhum arrangès here´s a very interesting one. Rhum arangé is a speciality of the French islands, so most of them are made with rhum agricole, fruits and spices.

This rhum arrangè is made by Cèderic Brement who calls his rhums – Les Rhums de Ced/Ti’ arrangés de Ced.

What i have here is a rhum arrangè of cocoa and banana macerated in rhum agricole. Make no mistake here….this ain`t no overly sweet bananaesque concoction – instead you will meet a very elegant and mature flavor or pure raw cocoa upfront with a subtle rich flavor of tropical banana flambè in the background…and it´s absolutely lovely.

Cèdric who is a food engineer, started to create some rhums arrangés during his studies and produced his rhums at home during 10 years before he finally created his product – “Les Rhums de Ced”

He first tested his products on friends and family and then eventually friends of friends started to order his rhums and from there it got bigger. People appreciate the balance of fruits aroma, rum, vanilla and a little bit of sugar says Ced.

And with the success with the products he did quit his job to launch his products and he started with 6 products, which are 100% organic using fruits, spices and AOC rhum agricole from Martinique.

After that he developed a 6 months macerated product in oak barrel : Vanilla – Macadamia nuts.

I want to work to use only natural,  very high quality fruits and i’m looking for special and direct procurement. I want to highlight terroir.

Rhums de Ced medaille or

He won 8 medals in 2013 :

Gold for Victoria Pineapple at the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris

Gold for Ginger Apple at the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris

Gold for Mango Passion at the Rum Fest in Madrid

Silver for Pineapple Victoria at the Rum Fest in Madrid

In 2014 :

Gold for Cocoa Banana at the salon de l’agriculture in Paris

Impressive! of course i was dying to try one of his rhums and the one i have here to try out is the Cocoa Banana, and it´s as tasty as it sounds..

I was pleasantly surprised at the cut down sweetness of this rhum, it`s not like what you usually find when the ingredients banana and cocoa are in it. It has some sweetness of course, because it contains some sugarcane but it`s not cloingly sweet at all.

Nose – Cocoa, sugarcane, ripe bananas with a slight hint of vanilla. The balmy creamy sweetness from the cocoa lingers…

In the mouth – The mouthfeel is rich, then pure raw dark cocoa hits you but it doesn`t taste like an upfront chocolate rum, this is much more refined and the cocoa flavor is never anything near too sweet, rather it´s that raw quality of fresh dark cocoa beans. It`s rich and warm and it embraces you.

In the background you have a flavor of banana flambè sweetened by sugarcane and a very subtle hint of vanilla. The vanilla bean is still in the bottle, and how he managed to have it there without it adding too much vanilla flavor to the rhum is more than i know.

There`s only a very slight “rhum agricole grassiness” – the flavor trademark of rhum agricoles – that i can detect. It`s a very smooth rhum and there´s no alcohol burn at all, just a very subtle sharpness and it`s like the whole rhum is mellowed out…into a ripe fruity punch and then that raw cocoa flavor…

My impression:

It`s very tasty, well balanced, nuanced, quite complex, semi-sweet and of good quality.

It`s a very tropical rhum and is best sipped neat with or without ice – which is the way it really should be enjoyed – it has enough flavors all of  it´s own and nothing else is needed.

That said, of course you can make cocktails with it if you like and i decided to make a french island style tropical punch cocktail , it´s my version of a cocktail from the island of la Rèunion called “Mon ti cafrine”.

Punch Mon Ti Cafrine

Mon Ti Cafrine 3

3 oz (90 ml) Ti’ arrangés de Ced Banane-Cacao

Juice of 1/2 fresh lime

2 coffee beans in shaker

Muddle the coffee beans and lime juice, add the rhum and give it a quick shake. Double strain into a sugar rimmed glass.

Garnish with banana leaf.

“Mon ti cafrine” is a french crèole expression from la Rèunion and is an affectionate expression for a beloved woman.

Les Rhums de Ced`s webpage is here and Facebook page here and the rhums are sold at Christian de Montaguère´s rum shop in Paris. If you can`t go there he might send it, mail and ask.

Also Les Rhums de Cèd will be displayed and ready for tasting at the Rhumfest Paris in april 6-7.

Ced bottle

Zwazo Rhum Arrangè – Ananas/Vanille

zwazo label for blog

Rhum arangé is a speciality of the French islands, so most of them are made with rhum agricole but there´s also some people doing it with molasses rums. Benoît Bail – the maker of Zwazo uses a blend of both styles to get this particular taste and the blend is of 3 different rums from Martinique Trinidad and Guyana.

So what  i have here is a rhum arrangè that is a special mix between agricole and molasses rums, pineapple and vanilla. The difference between a spiced rum ( “rhum épicé “) and rhum arrangè (arranged rum:-) is that rhum arrangé also contains fruits or just fruits. And rhum arrangé is a sexier name than rhum épicé, don`t you think?

It`s quite low in ABV, 25% – because it`s made  especially for the persons who don’t like rums or don’t know them or even don’t drink strong alcohol for example people who like sweet fruity tastes without a strong alcohol taste.

And that`s also a great way to introduce rum to non rum lovers isn`t it?! and i can vouch for that this rum here tastes fantastic!

Benoît uses only organic seasonal fruits so the flavors available will vary throughout the year and since this is a highly artisanal product there´s limited quantity.

The two first Zwazo rums made by Benoit was this pineapple/vanilla and a banana/vanilla which i hope to try sometimes. New flavors are coming up in february!

ZWAZO  bottle for blog

At the beginning Benoît was just doing some rhums arrangés at home for himself, friends and family but with the time they began calling him to ask if he wouldn’t sell some because they would need some for friends or at barbecues.

So Benoît got the idea to make business with it and build his own brand and people much appreciated the idea and the taste of his flavoured rums – so he began making a business plan and looking for funds and now one and a half year later Zwazo is here!

And now i`m tasting this delicious Pineapple and vanilla rhum arrangè and all can say is that i`m really impressed because this rum is lovely!

I prefer to drink it neat with ice but it can be used mixed as well and one way to mix it is making a Ti Punch, either with just Zwazo or mixed with another white rhum agricole to boost up the alcohol punch.

ZWAZO ti punch for blog filt

It would be a waste to use it in drinks like the Zombie that contains a lot of other rums and mixers because it´s flavor is quite delicate and it would be a shame to mask it with other things. But i could do well in tiki drinks with just a few ingredients in them, and i can see it shine in a daiquiri for example or mixed with champagne.

The bottle is pretty, it looks very exotic with the pineapple chunks and vanilla beans inside and the tropical looking label and exotic name –  Zwazo means bird in french creole. The bird Benoit first had in mind was the Toucan but then the rhum Toucan came out from french Guyana and so they switched to another Caribbean bird – the Hummingbird…

On the nose it smells of ripe tropical fruits, vanilla and pineapple and you are transported to a tropical island…

The taste is sweet with mature tropical fruit, a bit like burnt sugar and pineapple or roast pineapple maybe,  with hints of apricot. Slight notes of agricole rum that gives a freshness to the blend paired with a hint of sexy vanilla…

And once the bottle is empty you can also take out the fruits inside and eat them or make jam with it, or put them in cakes.

It`s such a perfect rum when you want to be on the light side, make a wonderful summer drink – or on the contrary – something to escape the winter with.

I love it!

I made a simple Ti Punch with 2 oz Zwazo, the juice of 1/3 piece of the lime and 0.5 oz sugarcane syrup, stirred together with some ice.

ZWAZO Ti Punch glass for blog

As for now you can get Zwazo rums from one of the best rum shops in Europe – Christian de Montaguèrein Paris. If you can`t go there he might send it, mail and ask. They sell for for 25€.