Our Mid Winter Rum Tasting was a boisterous affair! Rum Enthusiasts enjoyed a lively debate and Ken our Sommelier tasted them through some interesting choices. Here's the selection:
Leblon Cachaça Blanco(sugar cane), Brazil, 40% abv. $41.99 700 ml.
The Destilaria Maison Leblon is located in Patos de Minas, an agricultural town in the western highlands of Minas Gerais, the heart of sugar cane country and is a fully-integrated craft distillery. Maison Leblon’s philosophy is that a great cachaça is made in the cane field first. Just like a great French wine, Leblon treats its cane with the utmost respect and care, ensuring that the final product represents everything that this fruit has to offer; Maison Leblon gently presses the cane to extract only the best-tasting sensorial qualities from the cane stalks. Like the production of the eau-de-vie for cognac or Scotch whiskies, Leblon’s alambique cachaça is made via the traditional batch method in copper potstills. The cachaça rests in French oak casks previously used in France to age XO Cognac for up to six months, polishing the spirit without altering the fruity cane nose. The distillery refers to this process as “the French kiss”. After aging, the cachaça is ready for assembly. Master Distiller Gilles Merlet and Carlos Eduardo Oliveira combine the various batches to build a complex flavor in terms of sensory attributes. Tasting Notes (courtesy Colleen Graham, About.com/Cocktails): Leblon traps a tequila-like nose with transparent fruity and herbal notes and undertones of vanilla. The full-bodied palate is smooth with complex layers of citrus, vanilla, pepper and the most subtle oak. A warm, velvety finish.
- Old Monk Dark Rum 7 Year Old (molasses), Uttar Pradesh, India, 42.8% abv. $33.99 750 ml.
Old Monk Rum is one of the oldest and best selling rums all over the world. This dark rum is one of a kind, having reached iconic status in its native India. It started its journey from the Defence Forces' canteens where it was sold as ration back in the 1960s. From the tight knit defence circles, its popularity grew, and slowly it wove itself into the very fabric of India. A well-stocked bar at home was never complete without a bottle of OId Monk. Company on a nippy winter evening or clinking glasses at the bar during weddings, Old Monk has been a part of Indian life in many ways. What makes the Old Monk's rise even more interesting is the absolute lack of advertising by the company. The brand grew in popularity only by word of mouth, a slower path but one that enjoys great credibility. Distiller’s Notes: Old Monk Rum is a classical 7 years old blended dark rum, with a hint of vanilla. Its taste is smooth, the fragrance is caramel, with an aroma of distilled sugar cane; consistency offine chocolate. It is suitable to enjoy as a long drink as well as a shot.
- Brugal Ron Reserva Familiar Extra Viejo (molasses), Dominican Republic, 40% abv. $36.99 750 ml.
Don Andres Brugal Montaner moved to the Dominican Republic with one idea: to perfect the art of rum-making. The Brugal family came from Spain and settled in Puerto Plata, a small beach side community on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Like many of the islands in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is an ideal location for sugar cane, which when processed, makes an excellent base to produce rum. In 1888, the family got into the rum business, carting sugarcane from the southern part of the country near Santo Domingo up to Puerto Plata. The company is still run by the Brugal family over a hundred years later. Rum Maestros Fernando Ortega Brugal and Guillermo Abbott Brugal both personally taste and approve every blend of Brugal and many of the key roles in the company are filled by members of the Brugal family. In the Dominican Republic there’s a common saying, “Brugal rum will make you want to dance, fight or make love, and here in the Dominican Republic we don’t really fight.” Passion and pride go into the production of Brugal rum. Distiller’s Notes: Color: Bright and clean, with deep, rich ambers. Nose: A symphony of natural and beautiful notes: wood, dried fruits, almonds, cocoa, vanilla, orange peel, caramel and molasses.
- Zuidam Family Distillery Flying Dutchman Premium Dark Rum #3 (molasses), The Netherlands, 40% abv. $59.99 700 ml
Zuidam Distillers was founded back in 1975 by Fred van Zuidam. He started with a small distillery of 300 square meters with 1 small copper still and 1 small production line. In 1989 Zuidam expanded their warehouse to 600 square meters and one production line. These days, both sons Patrick and Gilbert run the distillery under the watchful eyes of their parents, with Patrick caring for the distillery and production and Gilbert looking after the customers. They run a state of the art distillery of 3600 square meters with 4 brand new copper stills, over 1,000 oak barrels, 4 production lines and modern tank storage. However, Zuidam Distillers still creates their products in a traditional artisanal way. All ingredients are 100% natural and are carefully selected and processed, and all recipes are designed by father Fred and son Patrick van Zuidam. Tasting Notes (courtesy the folks at distiller.com):This Dutchman’s nose is heavenly sweet– dark cherry, vanilla, and hints of coconut, almost like a fine Dutch candy. It enters the palate with a bit of chocolate and dark fruit, exposing a delicious, round character. It finishes with a moderate amount of eucalyptus.
- Ron Marques Del Valle 8 Year (cane syrup), Columbia, 35% abv. $34.99 750 ml.
There is not much information available on this rum. The statement on the back of the bottle reads: “Ron Marques is the result of the most refined sugar cane extract, distilled with the purest water from the Andes and aged in oak barrels for 8 years, this conjunction of events gives this unique Rum an intense amber colour, a fine viscosity, an excellent depth of mature aromas and a smooth taste”.
- Varela Hermanos Ron Abuelo Gran Reserva Anejo 12 Years (molasses), Panama, $53.99 750 ml.
The largest sugar cane spirits producer and bottler in Panama, Varela Hermanos SA traces its history to 1908 when Don José Varela Blanco founded the Ingenio San Isidro sugar mill, the first in Panama. Today the company operates the Destilería Don José where they produce spirits from sugar cane juice and molasses. The modern distillery operates a four-column continuous still to produce several sugar cane spirits under the Seco, Cortez, Rum Jumbie and Abuelo labels. The company also produces vodka and gin. Recognizing that burning the cane is detrimental to the quality of juice, none of the cane is burned before it is harvested. Varela Hermanos SA is one of the few companies in the Caribbean that harvests all of their cane by hand providing much needed employment in the rural area of Pesé. The company also maintains a community career training center as part of their community responsibility program. Tasting Notes (courtesy of The Ministry Of Rum): Vanilla, toffee and baked fruit in the body lead to a smooth, dry, smoky finish.
- The Baron Samedi Rum Company Baron Samedi Spiced Rum Caribbean (Haiti), 45% abv. $41.99 750 ml.
In Haitian lore, The Baron Samedi lives between worlds. His charge is to escort the dead from the world of the living to the underworld, but he is notorious for his outrageous behavior and fondness for rum. When among the living he is often seen in his top hat, with his signature drink of rum in hand, laughing while partaking in whatever unruliness strikes his fancy. Distillery Notes: Deep amber with notes of nutmeg and hazelnut, the Baron Samedi Spiced Rum delivers full-bodied flavor with an incredibly smooth finish worthy of the most notorious of spirits.
- Barceló Imperial Aged Rum (cane sugar), Dominican Republic, 38% abv. $54.99 750 ml.
Following his dream of devising the best rum in the world, in 1929, a young Julián Barceló from Spain arrived in Santo Domingo and founded Barceló & Co. Soon he began producing one of his first rums and selling it throughout the country. Exports to other countries began only in the 1950’s; today, however, although Ron Barceló still produces only Ron Barceló, it is sold in over 50 countries, ranking it the 4th largest exporter of rum in the world. Kosher certification is awarded to industries that follow rigorous hygiene processes and practices, and Ron Barceló has been certified Kosher since the 24th August, 2011, testimony to the care taken in manufacturing its products at its San Pedro de Macorís factory in Dominican Republic. Distiller`s Notes: Bright copper-amber color. Aromas of buttercream, dried cherries, intense vanilla, pineapple jam and caramelized walnuts followed smoothly by a dry fruity lush medium body, full of depth and balance. Ending on a note of carrot cake, kola nut, mocha and a strong toasted flavor that slowly fades.
- Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva Anejo 18 Years (molasses), Cuba/Dominican Republic, 40% abv. $58.99 750 ml.
In 1872, two Spanish brothers, Benjamin and Eduardo Camp, together with a third partner, Evaristo Alvarez, set out to create the smoothest, highest quality rum that has ever been enjoyed. They opened a distillery in Santiago de Cuba, inspired by the production and ageing process used for brandy and cognac, and created a secret formula that has been passed down for generations. After the Castro take-over of Cuba, they emigrated to the Dominican Republic, but retained the formula for their product.Some 140 years later, Ron Matusalem continues to be recognized around the world as a symbol of quality and excellence. Distillery Notes: color: composed of magnificent shades of amber, red, and ochre, developed over time thanks to the Matusalem Solera system. Nose: releases a range of aromas from exquisite vanilla to dried apricot, with subtle notes of cherry and the dark smoothness of molasses. Flavor: provides a rich palate of complex flavors. After the depth in the flavor of vanilla, a softness of molasses and caramel, finished with a touch of red fruits and a note of aged oak.
- Williams & Humbert Dos Maderas 5 + 5 (molasses), Guyana/Barbados, Jerez De La Frontera, 40% abv. $ 64.99 750 ml.
The Dos Maderas range is a blend of rums from Barbados and Guyana: those from Barbados smooth and light with a refined bouquet and taste, those from Guyana with more body, making them perfect for blending. The rum is double aged (triple aged, in fact). After being aged for 5 years in American oak casks the Caribbean, the Dos Maderas is then shipped to the Williams & Humbert Sherry Bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera. There, the rum is aged for a further 3 years in casks that have previously aged Palo Cortado sherries. The rum is then aged a further 2 years in casks that have previously aged Pedro Ximenez sherry. Distillery Note: the final stage of ageing gives the Dos Maderas PX a very dark amber color and delicate hints of raisins, fig, and vanilla, which makes it very appealing.
Alcohol may be mankind’s worst enemy, But the bible says “Love your enemy”. Frank Sinatra
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