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

Athens Rum and Whiskey Festival 2017

This was the second rum festival in Athens (rum and whiskey together this year) but my first time to attend the event which was taking place in the impressive neo-classical Zappeion Hall, built in 1878 which also is conveniently located near the beautiful park, the National Gardens around the city center with two metro stations nearby.

The festival was small but sweet…with a good vibe – and drunken crowds, thankfully, I did not see. Nice and relaxed! I stumbled on some rums I’ve never tried before too and to my pleasant surprise the Alamea Exotic Infusions that are soon to be launched at the Berlin Bar Convent on october 10-11 by Daniele Dalla Pola were there as well. Read more about Alamea here in my review. They made some very nice cocktails with it and I really enjoyed having drinks with the Alamea.

There were cocktails made in most booths plus there was a little Baba au Rum pop-up booth there as well so one could choose to both sip rum and whiskey neat but also get to drink very nice cocktails which I appreciated!

Baba au Rum once again came among the 50 best bars – this time no.30! so again I say congrats to the Baba team! was it only a couple days ago I was there? someone fly me back please! but then again – they will have a pop up bar in Berlin in a few days….during the BCB (Bar Convent Berlin) and the German Rumfest and I`m luckily heading in that direction.

 

As for seminars I went to the  “Artisanal Cachacas, Authentic Sugarcane Expressions” by Jimmy Bertazzoli and “The Holy Grail of Martinique” sponsored by rhum St James held by Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos and then Sly Augustin’s (Trailer Happiness, London) seminar about Tiki where he did talk about the movement of tiki and where it’s going, specifically from a European view, something I’m also talking about in ny (upcoming) book. It was like hearing somebody else express my mind! The good guys from Trailer also did a guest bartending at Baba where they presented four tiki drinks, (the one with the jerk spice was amazing)

As for bars in the city, Athens have a very vibrant bar scene with worldclass bartenders and a hospitality next to none! they really are that good! but I already said that before…and not only do they make great cocktails in the bars but they also play very good music! You are guaranteed to have fun! also, the rooftop bars….the views are incredible.

A few great bars to mention are Baba au Rum, Speakeasy, Gin Joint, Clumsies, Kolokotroni 9, Bank Job, Rabbit Hole and the seasonal Mary Pickford by the water in Piraeus (awesome rooftop bar with a great view of the water and all the boats, plus great food, drinks and music), and then the rooftop bar at the hotel “A for Athens” with an unrivaled view and occasion to see the sunset over the city with a stunningly beautiful lit up Panthenon/Acropolis by night….a sight to see I promise!

This is a good start for the Athens rumfest which I believe has potential to grow nicely to something really great and I hope to see it happen again next year.

Enjoy the rest by pictures! I think they say more than my words!

The Rum and Whisky fest:

Entering the rum and whisky fest under the high pillars of the Zappeon building is quite impressive…

And then you`re met by a familiar sight…booths with booze….and bartenders serving cocktails. The Bayou rum

I first discovered in New Orleans during the Tales.

And like they say in Nola, let the good times roll…that`s what`s rum is all about! I know this was a rum and whisky festival but the rum girl I am, I`m focusing on the rum…

FINE Drinking Magazine, one of the best bar magazines today, get yours here.

Thanos Prunarus and FINE.

This was delicious! the Cuban Swizzle with Santiago de Cuba Greece rum and Alamea Pimento Liqueur which is with the other Alamea products launched now at the BCB in Berlin and to soon be sold online and shipped worldwide so all the tiki folks and everyone else will be able to get them.

And the Santiago Mulata, with Alamea Hawaiian Coffee Liqueur and the Santiago de Cuba Greece rum. As tasty as the Cuban Swizzle.

The Almaea Spiced, one of the very few spiced rums I found to be really good, that is – not too sweet – and with natural flavor and ingredients. And how about that tiki label? 🙂

Moving on to some Hampden rums…a favorite brand from Jamaica. RumFire needs no presentation and neither does the Hampden Gold. World famous high ester Jamaican rums at it´s best!

Similar to the RumFire with that typical vegetal grassy and “kerosene”- like flavor notes (but much less up in your face as the JWray), the Rum Bar overproof is a blend of three pot still unaged rums. The Worthy Park Estate have produced sugar and molasses since 1720. And then a new expression I haven`t seen before with the blue label, called Full Flavored White Rum. Good rums!

Cheers to overproof Jamaican rum!

And a daiquiri with it was in order.

Another rum brand I like, Compagnie de Indes, I wrote about a few of their expressions here.

A Mediterranian style Rum Old Fashioned with Rum Nation`s agricole rum from la Rèunion. Beautifully presented and very tasty.

Naga rum from Indonesia, which I think we will see some more of when a certain tiki bartender starts mixing with it 🙂 it had a bit of an interesting funk to it`s flavor which I think would be good in especially tiki drinks.

Another rum I had never tried before, Ron SumMum from the Dominican Republic.They come in four expressions – from left to right – the Reserva Especial, the Sauternes Cask Finish, the Cognac Cask Finish and the Malt Whiskey Finish.

And Japanese Whisky, Akashi. The version of Akashi produced for the European market using a mixture of Japanese and foreign-made malt and grain whisky.The Japanese version has malt whisky and molasses spirit, which would not be classed as ‘whisky’ in the EU.

Yaguara Cachaca, which is an artisanal Cachaca that comes in these three expressions. From left to right – the Organic and the most flavorful one, the Oro which is aged in three different woods and the Branca. The sweet part in this cachaca is not coming from any added sugar but from the oak. Brazil have at least 4000 brands of cachaca but only 2% is exported and unfortunately most of the exported cachacas are industrial so the best ones with the most flavors stays in Brazil. So most people gets to know just those and mostly in Caipirinhas which I think is a shame. (Nothing wrong with Caipirinhas, they are tasty but there is more)

I hope that will change! so we can see more artisanal cachacas outside of Brazil! it´s an interesting spirit and very much alike the rhum agricole but yet so different.

Havana Club.

The menu from Trailer Happiness at their pop up at Baba au Rum. I especially liked the flavor and spicy kick of the jerk spiced Voodoo Island, both frutiy, spicy and smoky.

The view from the stairs of Zappeon.

Athens:

The Acropolis is like a guardian of the city…The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the 1687 siege by the Venetians in the Morean War when gunpowder being stored in the Parthenon was hit by a cannonball and exploded…

The heaters at the rooftop cocktail bar at the “A for Athens” hotel looks like flying saucers that just landed….and the sun started to set…

A to go with the sunset…a matching colored drink called the “Polyphemus the Cyclops”.This drink was actually a sort of Zombie with a blend of Plantation OFTD, Chairman`s Reserve and Bacardi rums, spicy. The drink on the right side is called “Wear Sunscreen” and is a blend of Plantation Pineapple rum, Bacardi Gold, Don`s Mix, Coconut edible sunscreen (whatever that means…)

And the sun exploded in fiery colors…

Part of the menu at “A for Athens”

The Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, built in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power, seen from the rooftop bar at the “A for Athens” hotel cocktail bar. When you see it like that at night, it`s really magic, it adds a certain feel of the past to the present.

And of course it´s stunningly beautiful, pictures does not do it justice.

The Parthenon/Acropolis lit up to spread magic and beauty.

And the view in daylight from the rooftop restaurant at the Astor hotel. This is what you can call a breakfast with a view….

Zoomed in view of Mount Lycabettus/Λυκαβηττός, pronounced [likaviˈtos], a Cretaceous (the period between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago) limestone hill in Athens, at 300 meters (908 feet) above sea level. Pine trees cover its base, and at its two peaks are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a restaurant.

Rooftops of Athens.

Piraeus, seen from the rooftop bar Mary Pickford which we were lucky to get to on their last day before closing since it´s a seasonal summer bar that was created by the team of Baba au Rum along with Varoulko Seaside. Great view, great cocktails, great bartenders, fantastic seafood and great music sums up this place.

Seafood….at Mary Pickford. I don`t know what I was eating, I just know it was really amazing.

Incredibly tasty, a coffee Mai Tai at the Speakeasy.

Baba au Rum Cocktails.

And their Zombie…

And Baba Rum Sour with Barbancourt rum and a decent float of Cadenhead Cask Strength rum from the Bellevue distillery.

The beautiful National Gardens, located right behind the Zappeon Hall.

Impressive plants in the park. In the 1920s the park was renamed “National Garden”and became opened to the public and in honour of Queen Amalia of Greece, the entrance was moved to the 12 palms she planted and the street in front was renamed Queen Amalia Avenue. Since then the National Garden, is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

Baba au Rums iconic carousel…just love this one!

And my favorite bar in Athens, Baba au Rum.

Pretty much sums it up! Cafe”Just Made 33″ a great place for breakfast.

Hello Athens and thank you! I will be back!

Foursquare Triptych Single Blended Rum

I`m not sure if I have seen so much anticipation regarding a rum in a while and with that of course you build up high expectations. Knowing the rum is from Foursquare in collaboration with Velier you expect it to be a quality product and with that I mean quality in the real sense (free from additives, tasty and well made).

It`s also something with this type of bottle that Velier (and now Foursquare) is using, this black and oh so very RUM-like bottle that I think many of us Velier fans have got to really love and associate with simply very good rum. It`s like it has some sort of magic that just simply wants you to own it, maybe it`s  because you know the rum in them traditionally very often is exceptional.

So of course I had high expectations too of this rum with the intriguing name Triptych and couldn´t wait to try it. And when I did BOOM! … all I can say is – this is a very good rum….exactly what my palette loves and wants when it comes to rum.

It has an edge to it, it´s very flavorful, multilayered, complex and strong (just the way I like it) it comes at 56% ABV. The rum is very well made, and it´s well…rum…pure rum. Both Velier (who is a private bottler) and Foursquare (distillery) has established a solid reputation of producing consistently good products that are not doctored, sugared or full of additives. They don`t need to, because they come up with well made products in the first place and see to quality before quantity.

So what does the word triptych mean you might ask? I`m not an english speaker by birth so i had no idea when the rum first was talked about so some googling was in order and the word means this –

Triptych – pronounced -ˈtrɪptɪk

A picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together vertically and used as an altarpiece.

A set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.

To find out a little bit more about what inspired this rum, it`s name and how it was made I asked Richard Seale and it`s a blend of three rums from three different styles of cask that inspired the name Triptych.

“The 2004 is aged in ex-bourbon and is the classic Foursquare rum.

The 2005 is aged in ex-madeira. I like to use ex-madeiras. Madeira has a historic link with Barbados. It was an important stop in the Atlantic en route from England and being Portuguese was a friendly port for the English. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a lot of madeira was brought and consumed in the Island. The barrels were almost certainly used for rum.

The 2007 is primarily pot stilled rum aged in virgin American oak.

The three rums brought a nice balance together. The 2004 is essential to give the modern recognisable Foursquare style, while the 2005 is to bring a more historic profile to the rum. The use of ex-bourbons probably only dates to the 1940s. The 2007, pot still in virgin oak is also a more historic style and obviously brings the heaviest rum flavours to the blend.

The rum has been well received. Serge Valentin gave it 5 stars (90 points) and International Spirit Challenge (ISC), London gave it the Rum Trophy.

Try the nose in a wide rimmed glass for best effect.”

The bottle and the label

And then the bottle and the label, in true Velier style, are really clever and beautiful in their simplistic style that`s being used by Velier for so long and this particular Triptych bottle, along with the equally anticipated Foursquare 2006 happens to look very much like the two “holy grails” of rum, the Skeldon 73 and 78.

Same style and colors, and this style of bottle and the type of labels has with time achieved a cult status among rum enthusiasts and has become a sign of high class and standard which no fancy so called “premium” rum bottles will ever even get close to.

But despite the cool bottles…here it is NOT the bottle or label that sells the rum…it`s the content in the bottle – and the fact that consumers who are aware knows that the rum in these bottles are good stuff that are not doctored in any way.

The Triptych is a limited edition full proof rum (for rum connoisseurs mostly) and I´d say if you really are into rum and can get it, then go get it. And if you say “I don`t like rum” you have just not yet tasted the real one and should try to get to taste rums like this. Keep an eye open for more fine rums from the Foursquare Distillery (and/with Velier) because when these limited edition rums come out they go as fast as they came.

Unfortunately also partly because some buys up several bottles and put them out on EBay to skyrocketing prices, shame on them! that`s what happened to the Foursquare 2006 which many true and serious rum enthusiasts never got a chance to get their hands on or even try . But the price range of Foursquare rums in general is very consumer friendly, it doesn´t cost and arm and a leg to buy a bottle and you still get a well made pure rum.

I really like that Foursquare are now starting to produce some high proof rums with big flavors and what I have tasted so far is really really promising.

So here are my taste notes of the Triptych:

In the nose: Intense, with mashed well matured tropical fruits, apricots and peaches, dark plums and cherries. Light wood and pencil shavings, hints (slight) of vanilla and cocoa. It`s a very inviting nose for sure.

The mouth: I find the taste to be fruity, round and full with light woody tones, cherry, apricot, a brief gentle caress of vanilla that is passing by…followed by orange peel, tropical fruits and oak and spice and all in a very balanced orchestra of intense flavors.

Aftertaste and finish: Medium long finish that does not overpower but let`s itself be known for a while.

Color: A beautiful deep and clear amber. Not as dark as you`d think by looking at the bottle.

Final thoughts: No adjusting time for this rum needed on my part, it was instant love! It`s robust and complex with a lot going on, more than I can find words for. It`s a well made product, they know what they are doing. And it`s definitely a so called “sipping rum” but that`does not mean that you cannot make good drinks with it…because good rum makes good drinks – but since it`s very precious and I most likely won`t find another bottle, I`d make very few drinks and here is one – it`s a Trader Vic`s Mai Tai (using Triptych as the only rum and the new Alamea Exotic Infusions Peach Brandy instead of orange curacao)  and the rest I will save for sipping.

Looking forward to enjoy more rums of this caliber from Foursquare!

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!

 

Best of A Mountain of Crushed Ice is coming…

Aloha! some of you dear readers might have noticed how slow this blog has become since many months…it moves at the speed of a drunken snail or turtle…but there´s a reason for that – there´s a book in the Works! “Best of A Mountain of Crushed Ice” is a book about tiki drinks with the best from this website in updated versions along with new recipes and some “mixed potions” by friendly tiki bartenders and enthusiasts from around the world.

The book is for everyone who loves tropical exotic tiki drinks and the little “tutorials” aims at those who are new to tiki drinks, both consumers and bartenders but the book as a whole is for all tiki drink lovers . So that`s what`s up…and when will the book be ready? I`m not sure of an exact date…but the plan is for this summer.

Trying to write posts for this website at the same time as writing the book plus also working with other things plus taking care of my domestic life turns out a little bit too much for this laid back flip-flop kind of lady so please bear with me when this website is taking a little temporary “half”-break. That said, I might pop in a blog post every now and then…and when the book is ready it will be announced right here.

So why writing a book? well, the blog is celebrating it`s 10th Anniversary this year! that`s ten years of collected recipes, rambles, experiments and knowledge, some better, some worse, some outright crazy…as is the nature of many cocktail blogs. But over time it can be difficult to find some of the best posts even though there`s an archive, but how often do people really bother digging in the yearly archives? blog posts and the drinks in them have a tendency to over time become forgotten. So I think putting the best from it in a book is not a bad idea, plus when I no longer is here this blog will not be either but then the book will be! So now you know why it`s moving so slow here for the moment.

In the meantime, here´s a little teaser picture collage…

Let´s Celebrate Appleton Master Blender Joy Spence!

If you didn`t know, today is International Women’s Day — 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 world’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 announcing the official debut of its celebratory limited-edition 25 Year–Old Rum, “JOY”, crafted in honor of pioneer Joy Spence and her 20th Anniversary as Appleton Estate’s Master Blender, a fitting tribute to the visionary who has spent much of her career perfecting it.

“For my anniversary blend, I simply set out to create the rum that I’d like to sip while watching the colors of my garden change in the warm glow of the Jamaican sunset,” said Master Blender Joy Spence. “It 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.”

On the palate, JOY opens with Appleton Estate’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 – 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 “JOY” Anniversary Blend may be her greatest triumph yet.

In her 36 years with the distillery, Spence has spearheaded the brand’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 Estate’s “Joy” Anniversary Blend is bottled at 90 proof (45% alc./vol.) and retails at $250. Appleton Estate’s core range offers three premium rums:  Appleton Estate Signature Blend, Appleton Estate Reserve Blend and Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old.  In addition, Appleton Estate also has two ultra-premium rums:  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.

Tasting notes:
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 Estate’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.

Tiki Month 2017 – Doug`s Volcano

How time flies! we`re already in mid february and the Tiki Month is halfway through….

So, almost running late I just had to make a drink! and what could be more fitting than making a drink inspired by Doug Winship`s home made indoor volcano? if you didn´t know, Doug is the man behind the Tiki Month which appears every year in february on the Pegu blog (and by inspired bloggers around the blogosphere)

Next year Doug will celebrate his 10 year Anniversary with the Tiki Month! did 9 years pass already?? how did that happen? scary….I went to check his Tiki Month posts in his archives starting typing in february 2009 which is when it started. So many memories! that was the time when the Mixoloseum was going strong and we had the first”Mixohouse” in New Orleans. Feels like it was 100 years ago…

And then I found this post…..it´s called “How Tiki Month Began” – where he tells the story of how it started…it took me back to the golden days of tiki blogging….such nostalgia! incredible! it was a different feeling those days, it was a feeling of discovery, adventure and brotherhood among bloggers (and yes we even had our own organisation called the Cocktails and Spirits Online Writers Group with the likes such as Kaiserpenguin, Cocktailnerd and Dr Bamboo… The CSWOG was the 25 most prolific cocktail blogs at the time, come together doing events, both on and offline. Our signature drink was a communal style JWray overproof spiked Chartreuse swizzle served in flower vases.

I had no IDEA how much Doug looked up to us early tiki bloggers! and from having no tiki drink experience whatsoever to decide to go a whole month doing ONLY tiki is an amazing task to take up – and look at him now, almost ten years of tiki month blogging, and the research he have made and put together is incredible….go and read this post and all the others on his blog, Tiki Month 2017 in full swing! I have to give kudos to Doug for keeping it up for so long and I hope it won`t close down anytime soon.

There`s a video of Doug`s volcano, Mount Pegu – I posted it at last year`s Tiki Month, you can watch it here. I have admired his volcano for a long time, ever since he built it and I believe it must be pretty fun to have your own indoor volcano with erupting smoke and all, making your home tiki bar come alive!

For this drink I have put together rum, hibiscus grenadine, Cherry Heering, fresh lime, grapefruit and passion fruit. It was kind of too fruity and weak to me in flavor when I first made it but after adding Lost Spirits 61% Navy style rum the drink was kickin`and there came some depth of flavor.

If you can`t find that rum pick a rum that has a good punch both in flavor and proof. It´s a volcano after all, it´s supposed to be erupting…

Doug`s Volcano

1,5 oz grapefruit juice

1.5 oz passionfruit juice

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.25 oz Cherry Heering

0.75 oz hibiscus grenadine

1.5 oz Plantation 3 Stars Rum

1.5 oz Lost Spirits 61% Navy Style Rum

0.5 oz overproof rum (I used Meermaid)

Garnish – Dried hibiscus powder, two long lemon peels cut to look like lava streams, a pineapple leaf. Add some lime juice on the outside of a snifter and sprinkle hibiscus powder on it. You can make it yourself by crushing dried hibiscus flowers in a mortar.

Blend the ingredients in a blender at high speed for 5 seconds with 4 oz crushed ice and pour into a snifter, add more crushed ice to fill and the two lemon peels. Sprinkle some of the hibiscus powder on top of the ice and add 2 straws.

Now sit back and let that volcano take care of you…

Happy Tiki Month! next year we celebrate 10 years!!

Mount Pegu