When RUMS comes to Berlin…. The 7th German Rum Festival 2017

 

Europe is exploding with rum events in the fall and just a week after the rumfest in Athens, it was time for a few others, for example the ShowRUM in Rome, UK Rumfest in London and the German Rumfest in Berlin which is the one I headed to, but unfortunately this year, London and Berlin happened at the same time. I have been to the UK Rumfest a couple times but never to Berlin so this was extra interesting, and it didn`t get worse by the fact that Baba au Rum had a pop up bar the whole week from the start of the BCB (Bar Convent Berlin) to the end of the Rumfest at the My June bar.

They had even, with the help and organizing by Alexandra Barstalker brought the same wallpapers (which btw I learnt is made by a Swedish designer) that are on the walls in the Baba au Rum bar in Athens to My June Bar to make it even more like “at home in Baba”, well that my friends is looking into the details! if you go to her website you can read about how the idea about “Baba au Rum goes Berlin” came to be.

Berlin is a huge city but with a packed schedule on a few days I didn`t see that much of the city itself, except for going to some bars, restaurants and tastings, among them the “My June Bar” where Baba resided. The first night was apparently THE night to be there because virtually everybody in the booze/rum industry was there and it was really a crazy kick-start of the rumfest weekend and at the same time the closing down party of the BCB.

The German Rumfest is really huge and very well organized, and the rum selection was very good, I just missed the Velier rums there but they were in London at the UK Rumfest. Luckily the next year these two will not happen at the same time!

As a rum judge we had two days to do the rum tastings before the rumfest started and so that kept me busy and in very good company! always so nice to see friends from the “rum family” at various rum-filled events. Interesting to me was the contrasts between attending first a small and intimate rumfest (Athens) and then a really huge one. And both has their own charms.

The German Rum Awards are a competition in which professionals blind taste the rums submitted and make subjective, yet neutral assessments to a points awarding system where each juror only has to make one mark within a particular scale. This enables the juror to focus on the essentials – without the distraction of having to figure out how many available points to award.

An international jury will taste all submitted rums in a two-day evaluation process. The flights are divided into categories, e.g. Special Cask, Single-Cask, Agricole VS/VSOP, Overproof, Spiced Rum, No-Age-Statement, Cachaça aged etc etc. In total 18 categories, around 160 different rums and cachacas. The jury’s conducts the tasting blind at a quiet location and rates the rums according to a point system.

In order for a submitted product to be awarded and to receive a medal, a specific number of points must be achieved. The jury awards only one gold, silver and bronze medal in each category, which is different from many other competitions. Out of all the submitted products, there is also a “Best in Show“ award – it goes to the rum with the highest number of points, regardless of category.

This years results of the tasting competiton is here.

The venue for the rumfest, the Station Berlin is very large with high ceilings making it very roomy and that is needed with such a large crowd of people, it was still hot at the back of the room! I had a great experience in Berlin and hope to be back!

I will as usual, show the rumfest, in a parade of pictures:

Well crafted tasty cocktails and fun with the rum family at the June Bar with Baba au Rum! who came among the 50 Best Bars again this year.

Plantation Rum made for Baba au Rum, a multi island rum aged in bourbon oak, cognac barrels and peaty whisky barrels… It had an exceptionally fine and balanced flavor.

And then….the next day, time for work, rum judging at the BRLO Brewhouse.

There were many rums to taste for two days, around 160 different rums.

And when the tasting was done, they revealed the rums to us.

And this is where it gets really interesting because now you can compare your own notes and the points you gave to see which rums they were. After this was done we went for a brewery tour at the BRLO Brewhouse which I think had a pretty cool sign on the wall.

BRLO is the slavic origin of the name Berlin.The beers made here are really tasty! they make handcrafted beers in small batches and they do not filter the brews to keep all healthy nutrients. From December and onwards you can visit them at their brewery and restaurant. And this is located in a one of a kind building constructed from 38 shipping containers!

The next day….time for the rumfest! and what is better than starting a rumfest with some freshly pressed sugarcane juice? (by Mr Zuckerrohr) in which, you a bit later add some rum….

There were quite a bit of rhum agricoles to try (to my joy) since my favorite rum categories are cask strength molasses based rums and agricole rums.

And who is happier to show you these rhums than Jerry Gitany?

I like La Mauny…

And these…

Complex and aromatic, Reimonenq Rhum Vieux Réserve RQL from Guadeloupe, aged in bourbon and Cognac casks.

Toucan rhum agricole from French Guyana, here is their Boco (spiced)

And what is a rumfest without some Real mcCoy and Don Q rums and coconuts?

Or Plantation…

Or Angostura?

Presented by the ever so charismatic Daniyel Jones! (and look at that cool striped bois lèlè swizzle stick!)

Walking around here tasting rums and meeting people is like being in a candy-store for grown-ups…

But you need a resting place sometimes…

Before heading over to By the Dutch, to try their amazing Batavia arrack. It says “Indonesian rum” on the bottle, but I call it only Batavia Arrack – because there`s a significant local, cultural and historical difference between the two even though they are closely related (rum and arrack both uses molasses but the arrack also contains a little bit of fermented red rice added to the yeast) so “same same but different” as the saying goes. (in my opinion)

Talking Batavia arrack with Jos, which I later poured some in my glass of fresh sugarcane juice which also had some rum in it, because that`s typically what a rumnerd do at a rumfest… 🙂

And a special cask….which I hope they will offer for sale in the future. This one brought my mind to the flavorful high ester rums from Hampden.

And there`s more interesting rums in the works…something for us rumlovers to look forward to!

By Foursquare. Always reliable when it comes to the quality, nothing added to these rums, they are exactly what they say they are and they do taste good!

A popular place to be….

And so was this! Our Rums and Spirits booth with the rum that was my favorite, the “Guyana 2003 Diamond” at 63,7% which together with the “Our Blend Jamaica, Trinidad, Martinique” was awarded gold in the categories “Single Barrel” (Guyana 2003) and the “No Age Statement”. Further there was this 24 year old Demerara rum (Enmore) which I have at home 🙂 very tasty too.

I think Thanos, Alexander and Elias from Baba agreed…

And their Jamaican, which I also liked very much.

We are into some serious rum drinking now, continuing with the Kill Devil rums, my favorite? the red one in the middle. Cask strength (63.1%, Diamond) from Guyana.

After all these amazing strong rums it was good to change to a rum and chocolate pairing at the World`s End Rum booth….together with a refreshing and very cold cocktail. I spent quite some time here chatting with all the fine folks in and around this booth.

World`s End scored some awards too! in the middle, the Tiki Spiced (by Tom Neijens.)

Then I saw this guy…guarding the Meermaid Rums, he looked pretty content, full of rum and rather sleepy…it doesn`t take much imagination to”hear” him snore…

Meermaid rum, they also make a pretty cool overproof rum which I like to float over tiki drinks…

Rum, Rhum, Ron…that`s what we are here for.

Fine rums from Worthy Park, Jamaica and I really liked the Oloroso!

And of course, there was Rum Bar with their fine overproof which I had in daiquiris at the Athens rumfest 🙂

And another fine overproof, Rum Nation Jamaica which won the overproof category.

These three expressions from New Grove Rums from Mauritius are tropically aged and made from molasses with ageing in different woods.

Moscatel – Slightly woody with notes of honey and fruits. Aged in French oak for 7 years, then aged in barrels of Moscatel for one year. ABV 47,7%
Acacia – Slightly dry peppery and fruity rum with notes of acacia wood, it has been aged 7 years in French oak and 1 year in acacia. ABV 47,7%
Merisier – Notes of currants, wild cherry and dried apricots. Aged in French oak for 7 years, then aged in Birch barrels a year. ABV 47,7%

And Velho Barreiro Cachaca from Brazil.

Don Q, of course! representing Puerto Rico.

And from Sweden, the Gun Room Rum from Renbjer and Magnusson.

Kirk and Sweeney is a rum from the Dominican Republic which have taken their name from the name of a wooden schooner that was best known for smuggling rum from the Caribbean to the United States during Prohibition.

3 Island Rum is a brand of rum that was launched in the beginning of 2013 by Charles Hosie, the firm of spirits importers and founded in Hamburg 1918.

Aged rhum agricole by Trois Rivières.

The Hall of Fame where you could see all the award winning rums.

Ti Arrangèes de Cèd, rhum arrangè which is something I find cool to use instead of simple syrup in tiki drinks…a way to use it that is not the traditional way which is sipping it, which btw is good too and typical French island tradition.

Santa Teresa 1796, hailing from Venezuela.

This is what`s it´s all about! 🙂

More rum after the rum judging…and the BRLQ Brewery tour – we went to a masterclass/tasting of La Mauny and Trois Rivières rhum at the Stairs Bar held by Daniel Baudin, cellar master of La Mauny & Trois-Rivières.

These are some very good agricole rums!

And now I think you`ve had enough of my “blurs” and pics and I finish with a picture of the Tempodrom which is located right beside the hotel Crowne Plaza. The Tempodrom is an event venue that was founded by Irene Moessinger, and opened in 1980 next to the Berlin Wall on the west side of Potsdamer Platz, housed in a large circus tent.

Thank you Berlin for having me! hope to be back the next year!

Credit for some of these pics goes to:

Joshua Singh
Daniyel Jones
Florian Cuntz
Christian Nagel

From Foursquare to Diamond, Bellevue and Hampden – Four Great Pure Rums from Excellence Rhum!

I`m not gonna lie, I really really really like cask strength rums…and when I get samples like these four here it´s like Christmas for a little kid. These rums comes from four different distilleries – Hampden (Jamaica), Foursquare (Barbados), Bellevue (Guadeloupe) and Diamond (Guyana). They clock in from 54.6 to 62.8 % abv and none has any additives whatsoever, no sugar, color or anything else is added and neither are they cold filtrated, all in order to respect the rum in it´s natural state. You know you get pure rum.

Will they taste good? you bet they will!

But let´s first talk a little about where they are coming from and where you can purchase them. During the Paris Rhumfest, Excellence Rhum launched their own brand of rums and they are part of the Excellence Rhum Collection which every year will give out four different batch collection rums.

The E-shop ExcellenceRhum.com was created in 2013 by Alexander Beudet and there´s about 1800 references of rum from all over the world to choose from. They also offer personalized advice on the rums and delivery anywhere in France under 24 hours and all around the world under 96 hours and they offer rum samples so you can try before you buy the big bottle.

Now, which rums do we have here? short descriptions coming up – first up is the Guadeloupe/Bellevue – SFGB – 1998 – 18 Y – 59.9% 251 bottles, 70 cl . This is not an agricole rum/rhum agricole but a traditional rum that has been aged in bourbon casks for 19 years, both tropical and continental. The Bellevue au Moule Estate and Distillery on Guadeloupe dates back to the end of the 19th century and was established by a Mr Rimbaud from Martinique. Today the distillery is owned and run by Mr Hervé Damoiseau. The distillery is located on the Marie-Galante island and is the first distillery in the Caribbean to have committed to protecting the environment.

Nose and Color – Rich lovely nose of mature wood and tropical fruits. The nose has a fruity creamy character that is very pleasant. The color is medium mahogany.

Mouth – Pure pleasure…mild and dry, balanced and warming with hints of wood and spice, tropical fruits, pencil shavings, leather and raisin.

Finish – Long and woody.

Final thoughts – This is a full proof marvel of a rum! powerful, intense yet mild, and rich, it was love at first sip…

After that excellent rum from Guadeloupe we have Jamaica/Hampden – LROK – 2000 -16 Y – 54.6% abv, 195 numbered 70 cl bottles. Hampden Estate is a famous distillery for ester-rich flavorful fruity and funky rums coming from long fermentation using airborne yeasts and local molasses. The estate dates back to around 1753 when it was a sugar plantation operating now since more than 250 years.

Nose and Color – yellow amber, fruity nose – a whole boquet of complex tropical fruit notes and floral tones. 

Mouth – The taste is absolutely lovely with plenty of rich flavors of tropical fruit mash, spices and molasses.

Finish – Semi-log finish with pineapple and fruit notes lingering for a while.

Final thoughts – A very lovely rum with character behind those tropical fruits.

Next….Foursquare….needs no presentation really. Quality and pure rums coming out of that distillery on Barbados as we know. Located in the southern countryside of Barbados, on 8 acres of a former sugar plantation, is the magnificent Foursquare Rum Distillery and Heritage Park. It`s best known for its collection of spiced rums but it produces a wide range of rums including Doorly’s and Rum 66 and have lately produced a range of cask finish rums, (Exceptional Cask Selections) and some excellent rums in collaboration with the House of Velier, which are wildly popular among rum enthusiasts. I can only see a growing market for cask-strength Foursquare rums since the number of rum enthusiasts who wish to have cask or full proof/strength rums is steadily growing and you can count me in that number. 

This sample is Foursquare – MBFS – 2006 – 11 Y, 62.8 % abv, 210 numbered 70 cl bottles. Distilled from column and pot still this would according to the Gargano Classification (which I will write about on this website later) be called Single Blended – Blend of traditional column and batch/pot still (from a single distillery)

Nose and Color – Almost the same color as the Hampden, yellow amber. On the nose, apricot and banana peel, slightly woody and sweet, the nose is complex like a fine tuned orchestra.

Mouth – Round and fruity with a bit of wood and spice. There´s a very pleasant aftertaste that hits you a little while after the first sip and some aeriation.

Finish – Semi long lingering fruity finish.

Final thoughts – This is a very flavorful balanced rum in a refined elegant way, yet not lacking depth and character and posesses a lot of complexity and aroma. 

The last one is a Diamond from Guyana made by the legendary DDL distillery. Guyana/Diamond – MPM – 2005 – 11 Y – 60.1%. 247 numbered 70 cl bottles. The DDL is where all Demerara rum comes from today, once upon a time (around the 1700s) there were more than 300 sugar estates in Guyana producing their own rums…

During the early 20th century all the stills were merged and they ended up finally at the Diamond Estate (which is attached to the now closed Diamond Sugar Estate) and owned by the DDL – Demerara Distillers Limited. They now are the last remaining estate on the east bank of the Demerara river. The rums from Guyana are very special indeed and this one here is no exception.

Nose and Color – Light straw colored with a dry woody nose at first, which gives way for sweeter notes of sugarcane and fine notes of tropical fruits. there´s also subtle hints of butterscotch and candy (!)

Mouth – Intense, woody, fruity and dry. Very aromatic with notes of pineapple, fruits and a hint of licorice and a sort of dryish finish which I find very pleasant.

Finish – Long, dry and fruity.

Final thoughts – I really like the woody dryness of this rum paired with the tropical fruit notes, it´s very aromatic.

Overall: All four of these rums are equally good but different in character and it´s just personal taste that will determine which one or ones you`d buy the big bottle of. Therefore I think it´s a good thing that Excellence Rhum also have samples for purchase so you can taste and try before you buy because they ain`t cheap. But you will definitely get unadultered quality rum for your money and a very pleasant taste experience.

I would not use any of these in my tiki drinks or cocktails because they are such fine tuned orchestras of exquisite flavors that would be lost together with juices and stuff, plus they are expensive, so sip and savor these marvels. So which one(s) will I buy? well, a woman must have the right to keep some secrets right? 🙂 all I will say is that they are all excellent rums!

 

Rhumfest Paris 2016!

Rhumfest glass

Rum, Rhum and Ron…

The 2016 Rhumfest Paris took place on April 2, 3 & 4 th at Parc Floral, Paris. This event has become huge!!!

The venue was completely jam-packed with people! – So much rum….so much people!! on both days! and the day for the industry/professionals was on the the last day, the monday, and it would have been nice to have been there that day since the industry days are much less crowded, but unfortunately I had to travel back. Rhumfest Paris seem to me to have been completely sold out, around 8000 tickets were sold.

There were 119 participating brands and 40 exhibitors, plus 500 rums to try from as varied places as Thailand with Issan – agricole rum, and from La Rèunion island – Isautier, Savanna, Charette and Chatel….all very interesting rums! from Guyana one of my favorite brands, La Belle Cabresse and they also had various exotic rum punches and spices…

And represented for the first time at Rhumfest Paris – Tahiti! with the Mana`o rum – which – was a very interesting and tasty rhum agricole, it was surprisingly good for coming from such a small and far away place. What I especially liked with the Paris rumfest was that there were so much interesting and varied brands of rhum agricoles to try. I like to see at least as many agricoles as molasses based rums! and especially also smaller brands and here there was all of that in abundance.

But big brands were there too of course, among them Angostura who during a master class presented their new bottles for their classic rum range and had out for taste also their Amaro di Angostura.

Velier brought out their new Habitation Velier rums together with their Rhum Rhum and Clairin rums. I spent a lot of time at their booth…my favorites was the Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013 and then the Caroni 17!

Ekte Spirits from Denmark had some interesting rums to try as well, my favorite there was the demerara expressions.

But we started already on the thursday with the judging of the rums for the Rhumfest Paris Awards at La Rhumerie, a very nice French Caribbean rum bar and restaurant which I can recommend, especially for their rums and food! And the results of the 2016 Paris Rhumfest Awards is here.

A rumfest with lots of rum sampling needs some good fuel and there was some really tasty food available on food trucks with food from Martinique and Venezuela among others. I had spicy accras with extra hotsauce (of course) and other things, all very tasty! but the food thing that left me a memory is the Baba au Rhum dessert from La Rhumerie! it was so good…melted in your mouth….and soooo rum soaked!

There were masterclasses too and here is a link to them – http://livestream.com/midjdeal/events/5101484

During the nights there were a lot of things to do, you could sample a really fantastic range of rums at Mabel, among them I tried were the new El Dorado Cask Strength rums…and then Caronis…and at Maria Loca there was the one and only Daniele Dalla Pola doing his fantastic drinks during his “Arcane Jungle Night” with Arcane rum tiki drinks and great show! the drinks were so good!! (visiting his Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna is a must do!) and there was also a night of cocktails with Ron Botran Añejo!

Here is some shaking and pouring:

 

Also at Maria Loca we tried the new Maca rum which was very interesting and for being a spiced rum it was good! the intent is to create a spiced rum that differs from most and shows that spiced rums can be good and does not have to be cloingly sweet or unbalanced and overspiced.

Maca spiced rum logo

Then we have the Dirty Dick Tiki bar where the exotic drinks were always flowing….don`t go to Paris without going to Dirty Dick!

Late nights in Paris during Rhumfest week and Paris Rhum Week is a recipe for exhaustion….but a LOT of fun! 🙂 but also during the days there´s interesting things to do for a rum fanatic, for example visiting Christian de Montaguère, the rumshop of sorts! with more than 900 different rums, and also rum and cocktail books, french caribbean rum and cook books and even spices and exotic perfumes! (among them amazing tiare and frangipani perfumes and banana oils…) on 20 Rue de l’Abbé Grégoire, 75006 Paris, and here is their website. This shop is a paradise….

I think the big win with this rum festival was the incredible diversity of rums, especially (and naturally) all the different agricole rums!

Here is my usual picture parade… – enjoy, a little piece of  Rhumfest Paris!

TI ARR 1

If there was a prize for most beautiful stand, or booth, it would surely have gone to “Ti Arrangès de Cèd” which was a fantastic display of colors and beautiful “rhum arrangès” made by Cèdric Brément. I have a few of those at home, among them the banane-cacao, these are some tasty little treasures!

Ti arranges booth 6   Ti arranges booth 8

The new one with hibiscus is on the left. Aren`t they just beautiful?

Ti arranges booth 3    CDM TI MACADAMIA

Macadamia nuts and vanilla…

ananas victoria 2   ananas victoria

The star of the show…Ananans victoria!!!! this is the pineapple that is used for Plantation rums pineapple rum the Stiggin`s Fancy. This little pineapple grows on La Rèunion island outside of Africa. The one in the picure is a bit special though…it looks like a double pineapple and it had 6 or 7 shots! it was the wildest pineapple I ever seen! later I saw Daniele Dalla Pola walking around with it… I think he found himself a little “pineapple baby” 😀

Ti arranges booth ananas victoria    Ti arranges booth lime

Fresh, colorful, tasty and beautiful! pineapple, lime and rum!

manao    Ti Punch vieux Clement

Mana`o rhum!! this rhum agricole came all the way from Tahiti and it tasted very good! great sugarcane flavor. This is the first 100% organic rhum agricole produced in Tahiti. The name in the Tahitian language means “to think”, “to remember” and is a tribute to ancestral varieties of sugar cane. This is a purely local creation, produced from sugar cane from Taha’a, the first rhum agricole from French Polynesia. It was very interesting to try this! Read more here.

Rhum Clèment from Martinique had a little ti punch bar where you could get this very tasty little ti punch vieux!

Ekte Guyana 17    Ekte Guyana 23    Ekte Jamaica 12

Ekte Spirits sinle cask rums from Denmark. These are interesting! and they are all very good but are expensive.Then again, these are one of a kind rums, the number 2, the Jamaican 12 was made in 270 bottles only. The no 5, Guyana 17 years is 250 bottles and the 23 year old Guyana is 300 bottles made. Their website is here.

Ekte Spirits

And here is Ekte Spirits regular line of rums, I love the names! “Light & Dry”, “Pungent & Geeky”, “Spiced & Rich”, “Dark & Aged” and “Aged & Geeky”. These I tasted for the first time at the UK Rumfest last year. Also I like the fact that there `s a transparency concerning what the bottle contains, it´s stated on the website.

Angostura 1919 new package    Angostura new package 7

Angostura rums is changing “clothes” – but not rum! their classic rums are unchanged and they released the new package during a masterclass which you can watch online here and even though the website is in french the masterclasses are in english and also translated to french.

Velier signs2

When you see this sign…it works like a magnet…

Velier rums

Rows of pure goodness….Habitation Velier, Caronis, Rhum Rhum and Clairin rums!

HV Foursquare 2013    HV Forsyths 151

Now…we are talking! this Foursquare 2013 Barbados Pure Single Rum was the best of the rums I tried at the Rhumfest, it´s just hands down outstanding. The Forsyths WP 151 proof is another gem and this one would be perfect for tiki drinks!

HV Muller3177    HB Forsyths 502

More from Habitation Velier, the bottles looks really interesting I think and they contain really good rums!

Velier caroni 17    Velier Rhum Rhum frog labels

The 17 year Caroni is a wonder of explosive flavors! I think this lovely Caroni was my second best from the Rhumfest. Rhum Rhum Libération 2015 comes in a bottle with a very interesting and fun label and it comes in two strengths, go for the stronger one, the “version integrale” (the red label) This rhum was “liberated” from its cask in 2015 after six years of tropical ageing, Rhum Rhum Libération 2015 Full Proof is at 58.4° % ABV with no water added before bottling.

The Rhum Rhum brand was created by Luca Gargano of Velier in collaboration with Gianni Capovilla on the little island of Marie Galante which belongs to Guadeloupe.

Velier Clairin    Velier Rhum Rhum2

Clairin rhums from Haiti, these are very different from the rest and all very flavorful! Sajous is the “mildest” of the three followed by Vaval and then comes the horsekick, the Casimir, a rum that will kick your butt to the moon…..

Arcane Cane Crush    Issan rum

From two different parts of the world….Arcane rum comes from Mauritius and has some very nice and a bit different expressions while Issan hails from Thailand, and is a rhum agricole! it tastes good too!

La Belle Cabresse sign    CDM CANNE GRISE

More rhum agricole, La Belle Cabresse comes from French Guyana and is one of my old favorites, it has a flavor of it´s own, I think it´s the Guyana “terrorir”, it makes a nice ti punch! and so does the “Canne Grise” from Rhum Bielle, Marie Galante. Canne grise – grey cane is a type of sugarcane that originated from Barbados and that works very well on the small island of Marie Galante because it´s very resistant to drought. The rhum Canne Grise is very nice and fruity in flavor with an abv of 59%.

St James Excellence    Dormoy sirop de Canne

St James Cuvee Excellence is a very smooth and elegant rhum agricole which won a gold at the Paris Rhumfest Awards. St James rhums are always very very solid.

CDM PLANTATION RUMS    Pusser´s

Plantation rums….always present at any rumfest! And as usual you will also encounter Pusser´s rums at any rumfest! 🙂

CDM RUMPUNCH COCO MADRAS    CDM RUMPUNCH MON PEI

And here comes the rhum punches! I so love these! Punch Coco on the left from Guadeloupe and on the right are punches from french Guyana.

CDM RUMPUNCH CACAO 2     CDM RUMPUNCH EROTIKA

Punch Cacao and Punch Erotika and whatever is it is in that it probably works… 🙂 And here comes a few pictures of drinks, party, rum tasting, rum and fun!

DDP drink    DDP and Marc Battais2

Arcane rum booth, tiki drinks by Daniele Dalla Pola and Marc Battais! refreshing after all neat rum sampling. Sometimes you need to clean your palate with a tiki drink!

maria loca - sexy colada (5)     maria loca - sexy colada (8)

And when Daniele comes to town it sure gonna be a Sexy Coladas and a party! this particular Sexy Colada was served on top of  a glass that contained fresh coconut water….a wonderful treat.

At Rhumfest Daniyel and Ian    The international judges of rhumfest Paris awards

No rumfest anywhere without these guys….and the International judges of rhumfest Paris awards, but there needs to be more women! I was the only one! maybe there´ll be some more next year?

DD menu cover    DD Marrero daiquiri

Time for tiki drinks at Dirty Dick! here is the Marrero daiquiri which is the Dirty Dick hommage to Ramon “Monchito” Marrero Pèrez, the creator of the original Pina Colada. (cirka 1954) It´s a fresh, light and sharp drink and I love the presentation…

DD drink 5    DD meny drink

Lovely drink! the “Mystic Fist of Ku” the drink that gives you unlimited power! and I love the garnish!

DD tiki handles    DD painkiller

Tiki tap handles and beautiful Painkiller.

ED CASK STRENGTH LINE

From Dirty Dick to Mabel…time for some serious rum tasting with the new El Dorado cask strength rums!

ED CS PM 1999     ED CASK STRENGTH PM

The 1999 Port Morant is just an explosion of flavors, it was my fav of the three, but that said, the Versialles was in it´s own way almost equally good, or at least it was more interesting because the flavors kinda kept growing on you….I would like to spend more time with it, with both! the Enmore I didn`t care so much about, not that it was not good, it was, but to me, it lacked something special…these two were for me the winners of the range.

MABEL MENU    Mabel - rum menu 2

This is a great place to go if you wanna try rums, they have an amazing collection!

la rhumerie baba au rhum    la rhumerie wall lamp

Baba au Rhum, a treat that waited for me until after the last part of the judging and it was so worth waiting for! what a dessert! and sooooo rum soaked….with wonderful flavorful rum and it melted in my mouth! if I had the time I would have tried more of the foods at la Rhumerie but I will simply have to return.

la rhumerie art    la rhumerie painting cane cutter

Beautiful art and sculptures on the walls and in the room at la Rhumerie!

CDM ATLAS BOOK    CDM Neisson

Rum books and rums at Christian de Montaguère, the “Atlas du Rhum” I hope to see in english soon!!

CDM LA FAVORITE    Off to Paris Rhumfest!

Unbelievable rhum from la Favorite! and my old Mixoloseum bag for booze is still going strong!

Rumfest bracelet 2

And that was all! hope to see Rhumfest again the next year! Cheers!

La Confrérie du Rhum – Habitation La Favorite – Cuveé Spèciale 1995

Confrerie la Fav 4

For those who doesn`t know, the Facebook group “La Confrérie du Rhum” is now counting over 12 000 members and it keeps growing! when I wrote about their first rum La Confrérie Barbados 2000 in about a year ago the membership was 3600, so it has more than tripled in a year!

As a member of this group since the beginning and a regular visitor I can easily say this is one of the most talkative rum groups around, and there´s a lot of rum knowledge there, with – naturally since the group is french, a lot of rhum agricoles being discussed (and in between there´s everything else)

But Velier and Silver Seal rums also has a very strong presence as well since those kinds of usually cask strength, full proof, no-additives, one of a kind demerara, caroni and agricole rums are not only some of the best you can get on this planet but they have always been solid in Europe. Personally they were my favorite rums since years back.

If you want to explore the wonderful and interesting rhum agricoles, this is place to be, I have learnt so MUCH during my time there!

In early 2014, Jerry Gitany and Benoit Bail started secretly working together with the distillery La Favorite in Martinique and they worked on a special bottling dedicated to the group. Now almost 2 years later this “cuvèe” dropped just before last Christmas, in 2015.

Confrerie la Fav 3

This collaboration finally brought to a wonderful 20 years old agricole rum which was bottled, waxed and labeled by hand and packaged in beautiful boxes together with 2 tasting glasses branded by the distillery and the group. The price is 205 euro.

This single cask agricole rum is issued from 4 different casks and each bottle shows the cask which it´s issued from and it´s degree of alcohol on the label. There´s a limited edition of 1000 cask strength bottles at 45% ABV. It´s a one of a kind rum.

So here´s my taste notes:

Confrerie la Fav glass

Appearance: very beautiful dark mahogany.

Nose: The nose is round and full, there´s mature tropical fruits like juicy banana mash and peels, sugarcane, hints of florals and herbals, apricots, mango, aromatic and sweet…

Mouth: Deep….this rum is deep and very balanced. Notes of the same fruits as in the nose, hints of wood, it`s a dry rum and it has very pleasant dry aftertaste and is mild and smooth, really caressing the palate. In overall a well balanced, elegant and very pleasant rum to sip. Medium long and dry finish.

Thats it folks! if you can, go get it….it won`t last long.

Confrerie la Fav

 

Confrerie du rhum logo

 

La Confrérie du Rhum Facebook Group page is here and you can buy this rum at Christian de Montaguére, in his shop in Paris or by contacting Christian.

Compagnie des Indes

CDI rums

Compagnie des Indes is a French independent bottler which was founded by Florent Beuchet has a solid wine and spirits background since he comes from a family of wine makers in Burgundy in France, so he naturally started with wine education and tastings and then travelled to the US and worked for Banks Rum in NYC as their Brand Ambassador for 2 years before starting his own brand Compagnie des Indes in 2014.

The idea behind Compagnie des Indes is to bring authentic rum from many regions with both blends of different countries as well as one origins and single casks showing the genuine character of the rums from each region.

The name Compagnie des Indes pays hommage and bring memories from days past when merchants from the East India Companies travelled to bring back precious and exotic goods from far away places. And in like manner Florent brings rums distinct to each region to us.

There´s a commitment to transpareny clearly stating on each label exactly what the bottle contains as well as the name of the distillery, bottling date, number etc – I want to se more of this!

Recently there were two tastings here with rums from Compagnie des Indes, both mixed in cocktails and neat. The range was nine different rums whereof five were single casks. Some rums were also at cask strength. In cocktails the rums are really nice, they mix very well but they also sip very well so they are versatile.

These are generally drier style of rums with no sugar or anything added except for a very few which has a lower amount of sugar or caramel but Florian is all transparent about it and from this upcoming year there will be no more caramel added.

CDI rums2

The rums Florian brought to the tasting were these:

1 – Caraibe – A blend of rums from Barbados (mostly Foursquare) 25%, Trinidad 50% and Guyana 25%  Aged for between three and five years in American white oak, distilled in column stills, no age statement. This rum is fruity and complex with hints of apricot, peaches and vanilla with a little peppery touch.

2 – Latino – the second of the blends, contains 60% rum from the Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala (who makes Botran and Zacapa) and then 40% Caraibe. It`s a light type of rum, typical for the Spanish types of rum or ron with caramel, toffee and vanilla aromas and a “coffee bean” like finish. Aged 5 years in American white oak.

3 – St Lucia – 13 years single cask, 43% This is a 100% pot still rum using molasses from Guyana. No additives except water. Spicy, warm and woody with a nice fruity finish.

4 – Martinique – 13 years single cask 44% from the Dillon distillery. No additives except water. Has been aged in the “more spicy” french oak, with more dryness and touch of smoke. This is a rhum agricole that is a bit less grassy on the notes than what we usually see with an elegant fruity flavor of ripe tropical fruits.

5 – Barbados 12 year old – pot and column still rum from Foursquare. This rum surprised me with very clear notes of the same flavors as I have encountered in the rums from St Nicholas Abbey. Now that in intself is actually not surprising since Richard Seale and Foursquare have made all the St Nicholas Abbey´s rums except for their latest 5 year old expression. But this is still the first rum I try apart from the very SNA rums that has those flavor notes, interesting….and of course – very nice aromas! kudos to Foursquare! and of course – No additives what so ever.

6 – Boulet de Canon n1 – A limited edition of rum aged in islay whiskey barrels. A refined blend of the Caraibe with 5 yrs rums from Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana, finished in an Islay whisky barrel for 8 months. Has an elegant touch of smoke and a nice finish. Boulet n2 is coming later this year and will be aged in peated whiskey barrels.

7 – Jamaica – 5 years, Navy Strength 57% Worthy Park, Monymusk, Hampden and then, a secret Jamaican distillery makes up this expression. Very nice and flavorful and smooth in regard to it´s proof. No added sugar or caramel colouring. One of my favorites in this bunch!

8 – Haiti 11 years, Barbancourt distillery. Cask strength rum 59.4% it gets better and better…has a round aromatic nose of  what it comes from, the old stills at Barbancourt. Unfiltered. No additives what so ever. No added sugar, caramel colouring or water. Very aromatic, dry and fruity. Love at first sight…

9 – Guyana – And the last one, a demerara…(Port Mourant) Very nice and flavorful – but not heavy to my surprise since it´s a cask a strength rum at 58%.

There´s many more rums than these by Compagine des Indes, and especially interesting are a range of very attractive cask strength rums available only in Denmark.

This is a rum company issuing very nice expressions where many are single casks and many also interesting cask strength rums and most without any added sugar (and if they have some – it is stated clearly on the label) so these rums are worthy to look out for.

One last thing, I think the labels are absolutely gorgeous!!

CDI Martinique

CDI Barbados 12

CDI Boulet n1

CDI Guyana

CDI Guyana Haiti

Mac nut daiquiri

CDI row of rums

A Tale of Two Stills – A Response

RS

Featured post by Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery:

I was very disappointed to read the November editorial of ‘Got Rum’ magazine by publisher Luis Ayala. It seems as though Luis is responding to hearsay rather than making a substantive commentary on the Gargano Classification of Rum. It is not about Pot v Column; it is much more nuanced than that. Luca Gargano of Velier, Italy is one of the leading independent bottlers of rum and considered one of the category’s foremost authorities. He is not “lacking in the knowledge to push the concept”. I am confident once Luis has it properly explained, he will support the initiative.

Lets start with Luis’s first claim:

“some people in the industry are proposing differentiating rums based on the type of still used for their distillation, the choices being “Pot Still” or “Column Still.”

This is entirely inaccurate! No such choices are proposed!

Here are the four categories of the Gargano Classification:

1. Pure Single Rum – 100% pot (i.e. batch) still
2. Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
3. Rum – rum from a traditional column still
4. Industrial Rum – Modern multi column still

Pot Still

Traditional Artisanal Rum Distillation

Multi Column Still

Modern Industrial “Rum” Distillation

Luis then sets up his first straw man:

“to claim that the distillate coming out of a simple pot still (round copper bottom, onion head with swan neck) and an Adams Pot Still with Two Retorts is the same”

But no one has made such a claim.

Moreover, the point of the Gargano classification is not to place the “same” rums in the same category (indeed if that was the case we could just simply taste them). The purpose of the classification is to separate rums in an informative manner: traditional v modern, artisanal v industrial, endogenous v exogenous flavour, authentic v ersatz. The order of the categories is an order for authenticity, complexity and real intrinsic value. It is not an order of preference, more on that later.

And another straw man:

“To further assume that the distillate coming out of a “beer” or “stripping” column is the same as that coming out of a rectifying column is even more ridiculous.”

No such assumption is being made. I reiterate, the classification is about authenticity and value, not whether the rums are the “same”.

It further seems to me that Luis is making a common mistake. The dichotomy is not pot v column; the correct dichotomy is batch v continuous.

The “simple pot still” and the “Adams pot still” are both batch stills. And they are both traditional too, retorts and rectifying sections having been found on batch stills for rum since the early 19th century. As they are both traditional batch stills, they belong in the same category. A batch still with plates is still a batch still. There are no hybrid stills batch v continuous is a dichotomy. Distillers are very much free to make different rums from them. The making of the wine is an important step as distillation and so too is maturation. We expect and hope the rums within a category will not be the same!

What makes the batch v continuous dichotomy so important? Well in a batch still output is a function of time and in continuous distillation system the output is a function of position (in a system which is characterised by a steady state). The latter places an inherent constraint on profile of the spirit.

This key difference means several important things for our classification:

(1) Only the batch still affords the distiller access to the entire volatile component of the wine from which he can select his single heart or multiple fractions to make up his heart as he desires.
(2) Time driven output does not lend itself easily to automation because of the lack of a steady state for any meaningful amount of time. Even today with the best of automation the operation is still largely in the hands of the master distiller and thus inherently artisanal.
(3) The batch still is truly “small batch” and the cost of distillation is orders of magnitude higher than the continuous still (technically this is in part because in a batch still we are distilling a wine of decreasing strength whereas in the continuous still the strength of the wine is constant).

In simple terms the batch still is an indispensable component of premium rum. Or rather put another way, without true small batch distillation what exactly are you paying a premium for? It is unquestionably the most traditional method of distillation.

It will likely be suggested that “heavy” or “full bodied” spirits can be distilled from a column still. Indeed they can but they are inferior to the batch still. That is a subject for an entire article (or two) but a couple of quotes from Distillation scholars (from both rum and whisky) should hopefully convince the reader that it is not a spurious claim.

“Obviously, a carelessly distilled light rum is not a first-class, genuine, heavy rum”……..In preparing heavy rums, distillation of the fermented mash is best conducted in a discontinuous or batch still ” – Rafael Arroyo in Production of Heavy Rums (1945)

Arroyo likens making heavy rums from a continuous still as equivalent to carelessly distilling light rum.

“In order to obtain whisky of high quality, concentration of the spirit must be than 94.17 abv” – M Pyke in Journal of Brewing (1965)

Pyke’s comment reminds me of another common misconception. Whisky (or rum) distilled at high proof of 94% in a traditional ‘coffey’ still is a galaxy away from the distillate at 96% of industrial multi column plants with extractive distillation. Flavour is not a simple function of proof and you cannot directly compare the proof from a continuous system with what is the average proof of the output of a batch system.

But I digress unnecessarily. It is enough that the batch still is the only truly artisanal distillation to place it in the highest category. This might be a novel concept in rum but it is orthodoxy in whisky and brandy.

Luis poses the following as a challenge to the classification:

“Those who assume that all pot stills produce heavy, congener-rich distillates, forget (or conveniently ignore) the fact that many small (“craft”) distilleries actually use pot stills to produce vodka and other light/neutral spirits.”

This is entirely irrelevant!

What idiosyncratic craft distillers do with their pot stills is irrelevant to the classification. The batch still affords the distiller the opportunity to “capture the soul” of his flavourful wine. If he chooses through successive distillations to destroy the flavour that is his prerogative. Stupidity is everyone’s prerogative.

I would caution against the belief that “neutral spirits” do arrive from the pot still. While it is not theoretically impossible to make neutral spirits from batch distillation it is completely impractical. I know of no batch distillation making neutral spirit in practice. To meet the modern specification of neutral spirits a continuous technique known as extractive distillation is necessary. I have visited some of these so called “craft” distillers and observed the purchase of neutral spirits to be distilled again in the pot. Well vodka in, vodka out. Except its now called “craft vodka”. There is a pending court case alleging the same against a certain “craft vodka”. In other cases the product is simply not neutral spirit.

Distilled from low wines and call “pot stilled”? Perhaps more likely distilled from diluted neutral spirit. To meet the classification of “pure single rum”, the spirit must be distilled from the wine. I reiterate no one has proposed the vapid twin classification of pot and column. This is a serious classification. Silly games do not threaten it.

Luis apparently believes we are interested in the following question:

“How then, is one to differentiate the rich, congener-laden distillate from its lighter counterpart?”

Again this is irrelevant and not germane to the purpose of the classification. The classification is not about putting the “same” rums in a category and neither is it about separating “light” from “heavy”.

Luis’s answer to his own question is a tautology. Indeed if we were interested in classifying rums by congener counts, we would, wait for it, count congeners! But congener counts are a banal way to classify rums. It is inane to believe that a spirit containing hundreds of flavour inducing compounds should be classified by a handful of trite readily identifiable congeners. A poorly rectified column spirit even blended with neutral spirit will have ‘impressive’ congener counts. Does that make it artisanal? Can we tell from the lab test if the flavour profile is authentic? Does it capture the soul of the wine? Only an organoleptic test will suffice. These abridged lab results cannot even distinguish rum from whisky. A congener count of a few select congeners is just plain silly.

It is often said that Rum is a “global spirit” but it is far from the truth. Rum distillation as a 19th century distiller would recognise is today sadly uncommon. We have lost so many distilleries in the 20th century. There were 110 distilleries in Jamaica in 1901. Today there are 4. It is important to distinguish between traditional and modern distillation. Much “rum” today is absurdly neutral in character and not even produced by Rum Distilleries but rather by Industrial scale alcohol plants located to take advantage of cheap labour in some parts of the Caribbean. Traditional rum distillation in these territories has long disappeared. So-called “rum” is a tiny part of their output. They are the antithesis of artisanal. Consumers, bloggers, enthusiasts need to know the difference.

Rum is a spirit in the best of traditions but the category is facing two alternate paths. Is premium rum to have real value (as for whisky and cognac) or perceived value (as for vodka)? With rum’s renaissance too many ersatz products are arriving on the market to take advantage of consumers. Industrial scale production (from distilleries unknown or unseen), murky (or downright false) age statements, wine or other flavourings, sweetened by sugar and coloured like coca cola with caramel. At the same time, we have truly artisanal pure batch still rums with transparent age statements, from a named distillery, free of added colour, flavourings and sugar. Pure rum as it should be.

We need a framework that allows enthusiasts (and ultimately consumers) to distinguish between the two. Some will argue that typical consumers will care little about distillation and they would be right. But those same consumers know they must pay more for Cognac over Brandy and for Single Malt over Blended. These premium spirit buyers also know an age statements means, wait for it, its actual age! Not some ‘solera’ nonsense that is nothing less than a shameless attempt to obfuscate. When a brand asks for premium pricing, they must tick the boxes: artisanal production and transparent age statements. The new framework will help guide enthusiasts to understand if the rum meets the demanded value.

It is little wonder then that Rum does so poorly at the highest level. According to the IWSR only 16% of rum sales are at the premium/super premium level in contrast to 66% for Whisky (it is even 48% for Tequila). Our most expensive actively available rums can only barely make the top 50 list of the most expensive actively available whiskies. Why? We have to get our communication right and white/gold/dark for categories is pathetic.

Enthusiasts need to ask themselves what do they want from the category? Real value and authenticity or seduction with sugar and nice packaging for Industrial scale products. If the latter is sufficient to attract premium pricing, then traditional rum production may go extinct. It is already an endangered species. The large corporate brands will fight this classification. They prefer to sell perceived value, as it is far more profitable. We need opinion leaders like Luis on our side. Don’t dismiss a much needed classification as merely pot v column or light v heavy. The new classification is also not intended to create an order of preference. Just the same way you are entitled to prefer a blended whisky over a single malt, you are still free to love your Bacardi mojito or Captain and Coke (if you really insist!).

The new framework does not tell you what to enjoy but rather how to value what you enjoy.