High Proof rums from Guyana, Jamaica and Barbados by Swedish Fire Water

RumSwedes

This fall came with four new rums in the “Rum Swedes” series from the Swedish independent bottler Swedish Firewater (www.eldvatten.se) with full proof single cask rums from Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. I wrote a review of their Caroni 1997 Single Barrel Rum earlier this year.

From Guyana i have two samples, one from 2002 and one 2003 and then Barbados 2000 and Jamaica 2000.

GUYANA 2003

From Diamond distillery and aged 9 years, (60.9%/121.5 proof) it´s a heavy rum with hints of smoke. The color is dark mahogany.

Nose – Oh lovely demerara….it´s smoky, heavy, woody, dried tropical fruit, leather, banana peel, burnt molasses. A kick of strong alcohol if you come too close with the nose but a bit away from the glass a whole orchestra of flavors hits you.

Mouth – I added some ice to the glass and it opened up the rum a bit and made it easier to drink. It`s typical dark demerara flavors, same as the nose and slightly smoky. The mouth feel is a bit viscous and slightly oily, just as it should be with this kind of heavy rum. Neat it´s all these flavors concentrated and the aftertaste stays with you for quite some time. It`s lovely!

GUYANA 2002

Distilled at the Port Morant Double Pot Still (61%/122 proof) the color is golden. It`s a more elegant and fruitier rum than the first one.

Nose – it has a lovely nose of both dried and ripe tropical fruits, banana, vanilla, mango, sugarcane.

Mouth – a bit of wood, same tropical fruits as in the nose, sugarcane but not very sweet though, just fine. Neat you feel the wood more and then the fruits step in. A great rum!

JAMAICA 2000

This rum is from Hampden Distillery which is famous for their high ester rums which are the result of very long fermentation of the molasses.They are doing their rums in an old fashioned way producing very distinctive but expensive rums.

The Hampden distillery dates back to 1743 and uses three copper pot stills. The distillery was closed in 2003 and re-opened with new owners sometimes around 2009. So this rum is from before the closure which makes it even more valuable. This rum is (58.4%/116.8 proof)

NOSE

Very “creamy”, fruity, ripe tropical fruit, banana, sugarcane, very pleasant nose!

MOUTH

So tasty! tropical fruit again, banana, banana peel, overripe mango, brown sugar..some wood, burnt molasses. A rich rum with an elegant aftertaste that lingers in the mouth for a while.

BARBADOS

And the last one, from the island of Barbados where they say rum was first made in the Caribbean. This rum is distilled by the West India Rum Distillers which are located at Brighton, Black Rock in the southern parish of St. Michael on the island of Barbados.

The distillery dates back to 1893 and was established by two German brothers (the Stades brothers) who wanted to produce rum to be shipped to Germany. It returned into the hands of Barbados again in 1903. They are using two old pot stills and four column continuous stills. The famous Cockspur rum is distilled there.

NOSE

The nose is a little fruity and sugary with something more, maybe toffee?

MOUTH

Fruity, a little wood, toffee, pralin, sugarcane, hint of chocolate. It`s not a heavy rum but rather elegant. Neat it has some more punch of course, after all it´s 116.8 proof.

Rum Swedes tasting bottles

CONCLUSION

They are all very good rums, i`d say the Guyana 2003 and Jamaica 2000 are my favorites of the four. They fetch the same high price as the privately bottled Caroni and Demerara rums in Italy and is about 120 euros a bottle and can as far as i know only be purchased in Sweden. There´s only 215 bottles of the Barbados 2000, 245 bottles of Guyana 2000, 185 bottles of Jamaica 2000 and 230 bottles of Guyana 2003.

The one cocktail i feel really eager to try with these excellent rums is a Mai Tai…it´s the idea of trying a combo of the 2003 Guyana and the 2000 Jamaica that intrigues me…

MAI TAI  (Guyana and Jamaica)

MAI TAI INST 2

1 oz Guyana 2003 and Jamaica 2000 combo (0.5 oz of each)

1 oz Appleton Extra

0.5 oz Ferrand Dry Curacao

0.25 oz orgeat

0.25 oz sugarcane syrup

1 oz fresh lime

half spent lime shell in the shaker

Shake with plenty of crushed ice and pour into a double old fashioned. Top up with more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with a mint sprig.

I think the mint is an important part of the Mai Tai, it adds that fragrance and you should spank it before adding it to the glass and then add a short straw placed near the mint.

The spent lime shell adds some of that lovely lime oil to the drink.

These two rums made an excellent Mai Tai, the drink was strong, flavorful and refreshing. They paired very well with Appleton Extra but if they had been of lower strength, say 55 % i would have used one oz of each.

Either way you can`t go wrong with these good rums.

Caroni – 97 Single Barrel Rum

What would we do without good rums?

I got a Caroni here…Caroni 1997 single barrel rum from Trinidad…it´s a full proof heavy rum ( 61.8% ABV) aged 15 years – 13 years in Trinidad and 2 years in England and then bottled in Glasgow, Scottland. The color is a beautiful dark mahogany.

The Caroni disitllery was closed down in 2002  due to industry consolidation and many of the barrels that were sold ended up in England.

This bottle i have here is a sample provided by the Swedish bottler ” Swedish Firewater” (Svenska Eldvatten in Swedish) and they are an independent bottler mainly specializing in Whiskey) This bottle is a bourbon cask #108 out of 114 bottles.

CARONI SUGAR FACTORY

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

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

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

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

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

And i must say the flavor DOES remind me quite a bit of a demerara rum, it has the same full bodied and smoky character but without that demerara flavor that only demerara rums have but it has the same type of character.

Caroni 1997 Single Barrel Rum

I must say i`m against ruining good rum with additives and sugars (yes sugar) and filtered to the point of losing both character and personality becoming a commercial anonymus product for the masses – sadly believing that what they drink is real rum…

But that`s not the case with this rum i have here – this is pure rum full of flavor. Since it´s so strong I`ve been sipping it very carefully, and then finally mixed it in a few rum cocktails containing juices, sugarcane syrup and ice.

Nose

The nose is strong and powerful, breathing closely it´s a bit harsh due to the alcohol strength but after letting the rum sit and breathe in the glass for about 10 minutes the initial harshness is gone and there`s wonderful aromas of oak, sugarcane, caramel, toffee and smoke…it´s just lovely…

Mouth

Due to how strong it is I prefer to add some ice to the glass. I think this rum is in flavor like a fine cognac with sugarcane and caramel but too strong to drink neat. There is also a spicy smokiness to it that i like very much.

This is a massive rum!

Cocktails

This rum can be both sipped and mixed and I must say it`s a fantastic mixer and it makes a killer Mai Tai of the kind I have only made with heavy and full proof demerara rums before.

Caroni Mai Tai

1.5 oz Caroni

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz orange curacao ( i used Ferrand´s Dry Curacao)

0.25 oz orgeat

0.25 oz sugarcane syrup

Crushed ice and a fresh mint sprig

Half spent lime shell in the shaker and then dropped in the glass – to add the aromatic fragrant oils from the peel

Shake with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Smack a mint sprig and put a short straw near the mint.

This recipe is the classic Trader Vic`s Mai Tai – i have only reduced the usual 2 oz of 2 different rums to 1.5 of the Caroni due to it`s strength and then also reduced the 1 oz lime juice to .75.

This Caroni Mai Tai is very addictive….

And for the second drink, i choosed a cocktail from the book “Cuban Cocktails” (by Anistatia Miller & Jared Brown) called Nacional Cocktail ( 1948 version) and changed it a little bit by adding a little sugarcane syrup and up the pineapple juice 1 oz and added 2 dashes of Boy Drinks World Serrano Cocktail Spice – which technically isn`t a bitter but a  highly concentrated pepper tincture.

You may sub it by infusing the simple syrup with a fresh serrano pepper to get that serrano heat and flavor in the drink. Just cut up a pepper and let it boil shortly with the syrup when you make it and leave to cool.

Trinidad meets Cuba

1.5 oz Caroni

2 oz pineapple juice

0.25 oz apricot brandy

0.25 oz sugarcane syrup

dashes of lemon juice

2 dash serrano cocktail spice (boydrinksworld.com)

Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.

The combination of strong Caroni rum, Pineapple, lemon, apricot and the hot serrano flavor makes this cocktail really stand out, it´s very very tasty!  The combo of serrano and pineapple is match made in heaven…

Conclusion

 

So my final conclusion is that this Caroni -97 single barrel rum is a real gem, fit to sip and excellent to mix with. It`s massive, powerful and untamed.

I like this style of rums, they got so much explosive and comples flavors.