If you didn`t know, today is International Womenâ€™s Day â€” a day to celebrate remarkable women in our life. Appleton Estate is honored to celebrate a women who has embarked on an exemplary and inspirational career, Master Blender Joy Spence. I have met her in London, at the UK Rumfest and a more charismatic person is hard to find.
Over two decades ago Joy Spence became the worldâ€™s first female Master Blender. To honor this outstanding accomplishment as well as pay homage to her bountiful years at Appleton Estate, the distillery is announcingÂ the official debut of its celebratory limited-edition 25 Yearâ€“Old Rum, â€œJOYâ€, crafted in honor of pioneer Joy Spence and her 20th Anniversary as Appleton Estateâ€™s Master Blender, a fitting tribute to the visionary who has spent much of her career perfecting it.
â€œFor my anniversary blend, I simply set out to create the rum that Iâ€™d like to sip while watching the colors of my garden change in the warm glow of the Jamaican sunset,â€ said Master Blender Joy Spence. â€œIt includes two rum marques, which are of particular sentimental significance to me: The first of these marques was laid down to age in 1981 – the year I joined the Appleton Estate team, and the second is my favorite marque of pot still rum. The final blend is a wonderful rum that I hope Appleton Estate fans will enjoy.â€
On the palate, JOY opens with Appleton Estateâ€™s trademark delicate orange peel, leading into a delicious mix of ginger, spice, warm vanilla, butterscotch, and coffee, with lingering layers of almond and toasted oak. With an exceptionally smooth finish of brown sugar, the new release is sure to please all those that have the privilege of sipping it.
A rum visionary ahead of her time;
As a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry, Joy is nothing short of a pioneer. At a very young age, Joy fell in love with the field of Chemistry and dreamed of working in a field where she could bring that passion to life.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and with a Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry â€“ a rarity for a Jamaican woman at that time – she joined Appleton Estate in 1981 as Chief Chemist, and quickly became enthralled with the process of blending rum.
Over the next 16 years, under the expert guidance of then Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, Joy honed her sensory skills, developing an unrivalled palate and excellent sense of smell, until she herself was named Master Blender in 1997. Throughout her tenure, Joy has been decorated with a myriad of awards, starting with honorary doctorate degrees from both alma maters, and culminating with a national award from the Jamaican government for her contribution to the rum industry.
Both an artist and a scientist, Joy has spent the last twenty years creating some of the finest rums the world has ever tasted, and the â€œJOYâ€ Anniversary Blend may be her greatest triumph yet.
In her 36 years with the distillery, Spence has spearheaded the brandâ€™s legacy of quality, care and dedication. She is an industry pioneer with unparalleled skills at creating premium blended rums, which is in every bottle produced.
This latest and exclusive honorary release is a reflection of a remarkably resilient and passionate woman who embodies grace, devotion, intelligence, perseverance, and, above all else, joy. Born in Jamaica, Joy enjoys cooking and gardening and is even renowned within her native country for creating her own face cream – yet another example of her skill blending the finest ingredients.
Appleton Estateâ€™s â€œJoyâ€ Anniversary Blend is bottled at 90 proof (45% alc./vol.) and retails at $250.Â Appleton Estateâ€™s core range offers three premium rums: Â Appleton Estate Signature Blend, Appleton Estate Reserve Blend and Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old. Â In addition, Appleton Estate also has two ultra-premium rums: Â Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Jamaica Rum and Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum which is a limited edition 50 year old minimum age rum.
Blend: A select blend of aged rums each matured a minimum of 25 years, including rum aged up to 35 years.
Appearance: Beautiful coppery gold color with shimmering highlights.
Bouquet: Opening with Appleton Estateâ€™s trademark delicate orange peel as a top note and intertwined with ginger and spice, this special blend finishes with warm vanilla, butterscotch, coffee and lingering layers of almond and toasted oak.
Finish: Exceptionally smooth with an elegant finish of brown sugar.
Plantation Rum in Shades of Dark, White and Pineapple!
I was waiting with great excitement for the tasting and launch of the Pineapple Rum Stiggin’s Fancy by Plantation Rum – which I need to make it clear right away, is NOT for sale…..because this rum was an experiment by Alexandre Gabriel and David Wondrich….to be launched and tasted at the Tales of the Cocktail….
Well….I wasÂ not disappointed, the rum was delicious! with a deep well matured and slightly smoky pineapple flavor in the background of Plantation rums original dark rum. And the bottle is beautiful!! I asked Alexandre what made the flavor so deep and he told me it”s coming from that the pineapple skin has been distilled – together with pineapple fruit, which also has been macerated.
For being just an experiment I think the outcome was really delicious and very interesting!
The queue….aÂ nightmare forÂ anyone with aÂ hangover….luckily I was not…and don’t mind all the yellow hats….it’s a Tales thing….
Yep the queue to the tasting room was pure madness and the warm air stood still, but eventually we got in there….and deliciousness awaited…
Plantation rums, pineapple, white and dark as shots and in daiquiri cocktails…
Here served by Rocky – appropriately painted….I don’t know how he does it, but Rocky really is everywhere…
Yours truly with pineapple rum in hand, Alexandre Gabriel – Cognac Ferrand proprietor and spirits mastermind – and more delicious pineapple rum!
The DTO – Daiquiri Time Out coin, a treasure/token that was handed out, and which a certain man did drop inside a cab and had the entire cab floor torn up to find it…wherewith the cab driver in utter amazement said that this gotta be a very valuable coin…..
But there’s more to the coin than just a token for the fun of it, according to what I’ve heard, navy officers carried a special coin. When drinking, everyone showed their crew coin. If one person did not have their coin, they had to buy a round of drinks. This gave value to the coin and the tradition.
Now I have one wish….that plantation rum makes more of this fine pineapple rum….I could make use of a bottle…launching a delicious rum like this only for the Tales is really a teaser…!
The Appleton Estate Jamaican Bartenderâ€™s Brunch – Rum, Reggae, Food, Sun and Fun!
Oh my….this was a nice event! a yellow school bus fetching us up outside of Monteleone and serving cocktails on the way to the brunch filled with rum, reggae, Jamaican foods likeÂ jerked chicken, lots of fresh fruits and fresh cocktails, Jamaican fizzes, fixes & swizzles made with island flavors and fresh cane juice pressed on site.
And of course one of my favorite rums was there – theÂ JWray overproof – paired with Sanpellegrino!! (to subÂ Ting) plus Aperol…all by the pool at the Country Club. Very very nice on a hot sunny summer day down hereÂ in New Orleans.
Rum, fruits and fun in the sun!
Of course some of the usual shady rum suspects were there….The first refreshment was freshly pressed sugarcane juice before continuing to the bar for rum punches and JWray….Appleton alsoÂ treated us with large red Appleton bath towels and flip flops 🙂
Well….I wouldn’t mind repeating this….that’s for sure. Just look at that pineapple!
Or how about this….I dunno….can it get any better??
Jerked chicken, Coladas and sugarcane juice!
And time for a JWray shot from the melon….Appleton Rum baby! Please come back next year….
And now to something totally different…..
Ruthâ€™s Chris & Bulleit New Fashioned 1965-Style Luncheon
Bulleit Distilling Co needs no presentation….and this year they had a similar brunch as they did last year which then, was mint julep themed and absolutely fabulous! This years theme was the New Fashioned, a riff on the Old Fashioned…with Bulleit rye, Cherry Heering, orange rind, Italian Amarena cherry, Fee Brother’s black walnut and orange bitters.
The brunch was of course delicious…catered by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and if you haven’t tried their fantastic food it’s time you do if you have a chance. And the New Fashioned cocktail which will be served at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse was very tasty and the garnish was so beautiful with a shiny black “filthy Amarena cherry” from Filthy Food Premium Drink Garnish, speared on to a dehydrated orange slice.
The wild Amarena cherries are slow cooked in copper pots to produce a wonderful all natural, dark red cherry with a sweet front and tart finish.
Hollis Bulleit, Helen Mackey, VP of Menu Strategy & Innovation for Ruthâ€™s Chris Steak House and Tom Bulleit, founder of Bulleit Distilling Company presenting the event and their companies, while the crowd enjoyed an excellent luncheon.
The Crawfish Monica that was served was fantastic! and everything else too!
The ingredients to make the New Fashioned….the only thing not in the picture is the jar of “Filthy Amarena Cherries”.
I get thirsty when I see this drink in the picture….and the cocktail WAS good! for people in the US – you can join Ruth” s Chris Steakhouse for a nationwide 5-course handcrafted cocktail dinner with the same menu across the US, participating restaurants and pricing vary, see more at Chris Ruth’s Steakhouse website.
Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow! and flowed it did…rum here, rum there, rum everywhere – the UK Rumfest & Cane Spirits Festival is heaven for rum lovers and it shows people that rum is more than a spirit – itÂ´s a lifestyle with a whole culture surrounding it.
The UK RumFest brings together the industryâ€™sÂ plethora of blenders, distillers, bartenders and mixologists, writers, bloggers, brand ambassadors,Â rum enthusiasts – all joining in to celebrate all things rum.
Here you get a chance to try out both new and old, known and unknown rums and many cocktails , tiki drinks and rum punches of course, (oh the rum punches…) listen to sessions, dance with tropical dancers, taste caribbean food, watch bartender competitions – all to the rhythms of the caribbean and in the company of people who have that one thing in common – they all love rum!
The UK Rumfest 2011 took place from friday to sunday oct 14-16 at the Kensingtonâ€™s Olympia in LondonÂ with the friday reserved for the Boutique Rumfest (for the trade with tastings and sessions.) Saturday was the official Rumfest starting day and i donÂ´t think iÂ´ve seen a crazier crowd before when it comes to a room being packed with rum-lovers.
Also it was the London Cocktail Week starting the week before with 3 days left when i came into town:-)
But back to the friday and Boutique Rumfest. There was of course lots of rum to be tasted and since it was a calmer event we also got a much better chance to meet and talk to the producers about their products.
And apart from the big brands i got to try some of the to me unknown rums and other rums i`ve never tried before.Â Some of my favorites among those iÂ´d not tried before are st Nicholas Abbey from Barbados, a top notch fantastic rum! (a review of their 12 yo will follow)
Also Rumfire was new to me. That is a Jamaican overproof white rum from theÂ Hampden Estate which in Jamaica is knownÂ for its full, intensely flavorful pot still rums sold in bulk. Today`s Rumfire that now is released to the public is yesterdayÂ´s JB rum which was on the black market.Â The Rumfire is like a smoother version of JWray overproof, it has hints of that flavor but it`s not as upfront. A very interesting and tasty rum.
They made me a daiquiri with it and that was a nice daiquiri indeed, this rum mixes wonderfully. Also it won silver medal at the Ministry of Rum Tasting competition this year.
Interesting but a bit odd was the Madagascar rum Dzama, it was quite good i think but i couldnÂ´t be friends with the aftertaste which is what i found to be odd…so i have mixed feelings about this rum. An exotic bird…i wouldnÂ´t mind taste the rums again and take more time.
Also i finally got to try out Elements 8 Spiced, which i found to be quite tasty.
New for 2011 rumfest was the Tropical Food Market which was an entire area downstairs devoted to tropical food and delicacies – thatÂ´s where i got my freshly cut coconut! – with rum in it of course…There was also a shop entirely dedicated to muscovado sugar…
Also there was sessions and masterclasses andÂ the oneÂ´s i got a chance to attend first was the “Don`t Fear the Blender” with Beachbum Berry and then the El Dorado.
DONÂ´T FEAR THE BLENDER
I`m a friend of the blender, let me tell you that first.With the blender you get that aerated frothy thing you cannot really get with a shaker plus it does good things at the same time for you – it mixes, chills, dillutes, creates a froth)
The blender was first used in Havana in the Floridita, dating back to 1817 when it was first opened as “La PiÃ±a de Plata” – The Silver PineappleÂ in the place it still occupies, in the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets. It got itÂ´s name “El Florida” a 100 years later.Â The bartenders used to use 11 drinks shakers and you can just imagine the work…so when the blender appeared it wasÂ like a lifesaver and now it became easier to serve the never ending hords at Floridita. At the time the ice for the daiquiris was shaved.
Then Don the Beachcomber started to use the Hamilton Beach blender and more would follow.The blender aerates and dillutes some of the crushed ice just enough to “wake-up” the spirit. Some drinks requires just a quick flash blending while other wants 15-30 sek. In the BumÂ´s books the exact time for the blending is always written out.
This session was a real pleasure to attend and i wish it could be a weekendly habit…but alas…or if i could at least live neighbour with the Bum! i would go and borrow sugar…errr…rum…um…a tiki drink…
We got some tasty blended drinks too of course and here are the Bum`s recipes:
Let the blender go for a long time, 20 sek. Fine strain into a bitter-sugar rimmed glass, gently pressing the liquids.
Mix 4 tbsp demerara sugar with FeeÂ´s aromatic bitters (4 big dashes)
HONEY BUTTER MIX
Unsalted butter and honey in equal proportions, heated up to dissolve the honey and melt hte butter, leave to room temp before using it.
Also you can make a delicious honey-butter-cream by using sugar, butter, heavy cream and honey.
The butter-honey-mix or cream mix gives a silky mouth feel to the drink that unless you already know – will never know what it is…
We also got some other nice drinks to imbibe like the always so tasty MissionaryÂ´s Downfall.
I donÂ´t think i need to present what this rum is, if you donÂ´t know already go read my earlier post and check their website.
The session was hosted by Dave Broom (author of Rum) and Stefanie Holt, (El Dorado Global Brand Ambassador)
They took us through a journey to the land of many rivers, Guyana where the demerara rum is made. An interesting thing i learnt was that when the sugarcane fields are burnt a side effect is that the sugar in the cane is dissolved in the water that evaporates and thus makes the sugar content more concentrated and sweeter. The yeast is put in a molasses solution to get happy and multiply.
Further they spoke about the different stills and since i`m a DDL still geek i always find that interesting. What DDL does is simply to put as much Guyana as possible into the rum..
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY – RUMFEST!!
So saturday and sunday was the 2 days of Rumfest and these were 2 very intense days…rum tastings, cocktail and rum punches, tiki bartender of the year, sessions on rum, rum punch, rum, rum…and then the Golden Rum Barrel Awards.
This blog was one of four nominated “Rum Blog of the Year (Europe) and i`m very honored and wanna thank everyone who did vote for me. It didnÂ´t make it all the way though..the prize was given to my good friends Peter and Pauline over at the Floating Rum Shack, who i think really deserved it!Â There was also four nominated blogs for the USA cathegory and the winner was Rumconnection.
All the awards you can read about at the bottom of this blog post.
Also there was the Tiki Bartender of the Year contest with the final on the sunday. There was 3 bartenders in the final and the winner was Mahiki`sÂ head bartender Georgi.
What i particularly like about the Rumfest is that it is such a people thing, itÂ´s relaxed and laid back with that caribbean feel spiced with quite a bit of tiki vibes, an environment i feel right at home in.
Yes thereÂ´s food too! i did eat some real good Caribbean food at Ian`s restaurant CottonÂ´s – a place i really can recommend if you go to London! i hadÂ their famous Mixed Jerk Fish Grill – parrot fish, tilapia, snapper and tiger prawns served with fried plantain and rice & peasÂ and it was lovely! Washed down with cold Carib and Blue Marlin beers.
Also theÂ awards dinner was an amazing experience – the Caribbean style dinner with the Butterscotch Pumpkin Soup with Goat Cheese and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds was really tasty.
And then came the Coconut Crumbled Chicken with Sweet Potato mash and Sauteed Spinach…finished off with a Rum drenched fruit dessert, coffee and plain dark chocolate…hmmmm…
We could get fresh cut coconuts too…with rum in it!
St Nicholas Abbey from Barbados
Elements 8 Spiced
Black Tot Last Consignment sold by the Whiskey Exchange
In the Rum Frat House – itÂ´s like the Mixohouse in New Orleans but with rum lovers.
Rum Punch with Kraken Black Spiced
Dzama from Madagascar
God for Tiki drinks..
No Rumfest without Ting…and with Banks Five Island it`s wonderful.
Like a lighter and smoother version (flavorwise) of the JWray overproof…but don`t let that deceive you – this rum is strong.
And here`s the original JWray and Ting! which was my corps reviver on the sunday…backed up with chocolate muffins.
Don Q Rum – good for a lot of things
Ian Burrell – the one and only – Global Rum Ambassador and founder of the UK Rumfest.
THE GOLDEN RUM BARREL OF THE YEAR 2011 WINNERS
Rum Distillery of the Year 2011
The Foursquare Distillery, Barbados
Rum Distiller of the Year 2011
Richard Seale (Four Square, Barbados)
Rum Blender of the Year 2011
Tito Cordero (Venezuela: Diplomatico)
Rum Blogger of the Year (Europe) 2011
The Floating Rum shack
Rum Blogger of the Year (The Americaâ€™s) 2011
Rum Ambassador of the Year (UK) 2011 sponsored by Bar Life UK
Meimi Sanchez (Havana Club)
Rum Ambassador of the Year (International) 2011 sponsored by Drink International
David Cordoba (Bacardi Rum)
Jim Wrigley (Ron St.Teresa)
Best New Rum (Gold) 2011 sponsored by Coco Reâ€™al
Abuelo Centuria, Panama
Best New Rum (White) 2011 sponsored by Coco Reâ€™al
Banks 5 Island, Several Countries
Best New Rum Package 2011
Boutique RumFest Award 2011 sponsored by Imbibe Magazine
Doorly’s XO Rum, Barbados
The Rum Experience Rum Pioneers Award
Joy Spence from Appleton Jamaica rum. The first female Rum master blender.
Ed Hamilton from the Ministry of rum. Founder of the pioneering web page and rum forum.
I wanna raise a toast of El Dorado 15 Year Old rumÂ forÂ George Robinson, the head man at the Diamond Distillery in Guyana who passed away just a little while before the UK Rumfest. A toast was also held at the Golden Rum Barrel Awards.