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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – Steve Leukanech

 

Steve Leukanech

I believe a great way to describe Steve would be as a leading rum activist who is pushing for the rum category to have more transparency. Also Steve is organising a “Rum Geek Barbados Takeover 2018” trip. This is going to be in April and he has already arranged a huge amount of rum based activities. Current timeline includes a an informal chat with Richard Seale and Luca Gargano, Lunch tours at the Foursquare distillery, an event at St. Nicholas Abbey and plenty of meet-ups with some other rum enthusiasts who are making the journey as well. We believe this trip to Barbados is one not to be missed!

Facebook – Rum Geek Barbados Takeover 2018

 

 

Because there is a tie for first place in the list of the three most impressive rums released in 2017 my list contains four. Criterion and Triptych tied for first while the Navy from Velier and the JOY from Appleton rounded out the list.

 

Foursquare Criterion

A blend of column and pot still rums aged in ex-bourbon and ex-Madeira casks. Bottled at 56%, 112 proof. Balanced deep and complex with the Madeira and woody bourbon notes playing nice together. Great mouth feel and subtle flavours reward contemplative sipping.

 

 

 

 

 

Foursquare Triptych

A blend of three vintages aged in three different oaks. Ex-bourbon, ex-Madeira and virgin casks. Bottled at 56%, 112 proof. Bottled in late 2016 it wasn’t to be found until well into 2017 so I’m counting this as a 2017 release. A click softer but nonetheless balanced, complex, deep and rewarding bottle. If you take the time to listen this one has lots to say.

 

 

 

 

Velier Royal Navy Very Old Rum

A blend of rums from Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica aged from more than 11 to more than 20yrs. Bottled at 59% 118 proof. A bit unbalanced, kick ass funky and sharp with a marvellously entertaining almost endless finish. Not a beginners pour and not for everyone. As idiosyncratic as the man who blended and bottled it. This is as entertaining a ride as you are going to find in today’s rum market.

 

 

 

 

Appleton Estate Joy

A blend of rums aged from 25 to 35 years from both column and pot stills. Created by Joy Spence to celebrate her 20th anniversary as Master Blender. Bottled at 45% 90 proof. This is a masterpiece of blending. Marvellous balance with flavourful complexity. She describes this as the rum she wants to sip as she watches the sun set in Jamaica. A beautiful thought even if some of us might be hoping for a bit more proof in future releases.

 

From what I’m hearing there is a lot to look forward to in 2018. Drink well and enjoy the spirit!

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – RumCask

 

RumCask Family

To round off, I guess it is only right to finish on our favourites of 2017. Seeing as there are three of us we decided to have one selection each. We tried to pick unique rums from the year but struggled to diversify from the lists chosen. We did our best!

https://www.rumcask.com
https://www.facebook.com/RumCask
https://twitter.com/RumCask
https://www.instagram.com/RumCask

 

Mhoba Rum

My discovery of 2017 was tucked away in the back left of corner of the UK RumFest. South African rhum anyone? If you too tried Mhoba that day, you know what I’m talking about. Pure, single sugarcane rum produced by the charming and humble Robert Greaves who spoke with pride and great humility about his exceptional produce. The rum is “glass cask” stave aged, a completely unique method and contains no additives. The small batch philosophy results in delicious, smokey rums, packed with flavour and character. Hard to believe these guys at Mhoba are first time producers but they have gone about things the right way and I look forward to seeing and tasting more from them!

 

 

 

Foursquare Criterion

2017 was pretty spectacular for rum releases and I know a lot of people, myself included, have Foursquare’s Criterion (56%) high on their favourite’s list. For me Criterion was a breathtaking wonder! Spicy, flavourful, big and for me not typically-Bajan albeit dry and fruity. My stock is dwindling but it is a rum that must be drunk…if you can find any!

 

 

 

Whisky Broker – Diamond Distillery Aged 12 years

Technically, this was released in December 2016. So maybe I am cheating a tad to add some diversity. I’m not sorry. A fantastic cask strength (63.5%) release I believe from the Enmore still. There is a great nose of sweetness which is mainly Demerara sugar, raisins and dark chocolate. However the taste leads more towards burnt caramel, and liquorice. Definitely notes of coffee and oak which seem to balance out the rum. I do enjoy the random spike into medicinal/petrol type notes as well. Glad I bought more than one bottle!

 

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – Ivar De Laat

Ivar De Laat

Not being content with having a passion of his being seen as average by most people, Ivar wants to promote honest producers and their products to help to make any difference he can. He has a desire to gain rum knowledge from the true experts and then share that knowledge as far as he can. Ivar is really trying to push the rum category forward in Canada. Join his Facebook group to try to help him spread the good word!

Facebook – Rum Club Canada

 

I have to mention that access to good rum is limited while living in Ontario, Canada. Our government liquor stores have tax money on their mind, not an interesting rum selection. This is also why I started the Rum Club Canada on Facebook, to hopefully make a tiny difference in promoting rum over here. My 3 choices come from outside of Canada.

Foursquare Rum Distillery – Criterion

A very difficult choice between Triptych and Criterion. I like them both just as much. This should be a top 4 in that sense. I’ll give it to Criterion because it’s more widely available and at a lower price. It’s quite amazing that a rum of this quality is priced this low.  It has a proper age statement and lots of clear information on what’s in the bottle. Richard Seale and his team deserve a lot of credits for this and for teaching 99% of rum enthusiasts at least one thing about rum at the same time, which is a remarkable achievement. Foursquare has been on the rise for a while now and comes up in almost every other discussion about rum. Deservingly so.

 

 

Compagnie des Indies New Yarmouth 12

Not just because it’s a major funk bomb with strong paint stripper fumes, but also because it’s from a distillery that’s largely been under the radar. That makes the rum enthusiast’s heart beat a little faster. I’m hoping the many favourable opinions on this rum will guarantee more future releases.

 

 

 

 

 

Diamond and Versailles Vintage 1996 (Velier Demerara Distillers)

I was too late in the rum game to get my hands on earlier Velier releases. Apart from a lucky bar find in Venice and a few samples from rum friends, this was my first real opportunity to sit down with a bottle. It’s epic with much going on. It’s so expressive that even someone who’s not good at identifying flavours (aka me) can come up with more than two. Here goes: salty water, brown sugar, olives, smoke, oak, caramel, liquorice and molasses. I’m thankful for the opportunity I got to buy this bottle and for the marriage between Luca Gargano and DDL!

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – Stefan Kerner

Stefan Kerner

Stefan had his first rum involuntarily in 2006 during a visit to River Antoine Rum Distillery in Grenada. But it wasn’t until his trip to Jamaica in 2013 to Appleton Estate when he really forged a growing interest in the noble spirit. His rum journey has taken him to many rum festivals and distilleries throughout the world. Along the way rum became more than a spirit to Stefan and each of the bottles in his vast collection hide an emotional story and links to the great friends all created from rum.

 

 

 

2017 was a year filled with so many personal highlights. Therefore trying to narrow down the entire year into just 3 rums is very difficult. My rum friends often ask me ‘if you could only take 3 bottles onto a deserted island, which 3 would they be?’ You would think narrowing this down to just rum from 2017 would be easier? Not necessarily!

 

Diamond H 2010 – 70th Anniversary Velier

All previous rums with the mark HLCF (Samaroli Hampden Full Proof 1993, Cadenhead Hampden HLCF, Berry Bros. Hampden 1990, Duncan Taylor Hampden 1990) always had a certain amount of acidity that wasn’t present here. Even though this rum is “only” 7 years old, the tropical ripeness beats any continental aged rum even if it is 20 years or older. For me this is the best Hampden I ever had in a glass. Enough said!

 

 

 

Caroni 1996 Single Cask no. 5623; Selected by Kirsch Whisky

If you have been drinking Caroni for many years and have actually had a variety of different bottlings in your glass before, then you know the typical taste of smoke and burnt rubber that is common with this rum. However, the profile of this rum is complemented by a third component that has never been so strong before. Where in God’s name is this sweetness coming from? I can only explain this by the relocation of the barrels to Guyana. In conclusion, I’m falling in love with Guyana Stock!

 

 

 

Neisson 2005 – 70th Anniversary Velier

I have to admit that my Agricole experience is nowhere near as deep as rum made from molasses. Maybe they were always too soft and I could not get excited about them? However, the J.Bally 1998 – Brut De Fût awoke a renewed interest in me, thanks again to Sascha. Now I was able to try some Neisson and I found my darling here as well.

 

 

 

 

I would like to add that if I was asked me about the 3 bottlings with the greatest story and the biggest emotions, my selection would be very different. I would like to take this opportunity to thank two great friends for the unique and amazing 2017 and may the rum journey continue in 2018!

 

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – Rum Diaries Blog – Steven James

Rum Diaries Blog – Steven James

Steven’s blog on rum pulls no punches! As he puts it, ‘My aim, is to hopefully look at the Rums that I’ve tried in the past, am still trying and hope to try in the future.’ We especially enjoyed his informative Interview with Nikos Arvanitis. Make sure you check it out.

https://rumdiariesblog.wordpress.com
https://twitter.com/rumdiariesblog/
https://www.facebook.com/rumdiariesblog
https://www.instagram.com/rum_diaries/

 

Given the constant accusations levelled at me of being a Foursquare Distillery fanboy, I will endeavour to include only one Foursquare release in my Top 3 Rum releases of 2017 rather than the two………….

 

Number 1: Foursquare Triptych

For me whilst the 2006 was an absolute beast of a Rum, Triptych took things to the next level. Although initial tastings were instantly reflective of what a good Rum it was, it took me a good 5 or so weeks to truly appreciate it. When you stand back you see that Virgin Oak has been used to amazing effect and the ability to integrate something that could be so dominant into a blend that is so harmonious and pleasurable to drink takes real skill. I think for me, extracts from the final two paragraphs of my review sum it up.

“……..Each barrel has its moment in the spotlight, tells its own part of the story…….It takes the near perfect 2006 and just adds layer upon layer of complexity. It’s more nuanced. More light, more shade…..”

“Triptych is the mark of a Master Distiller and a Distillery rooted in tradition, devoted to doing things the right way. Building upon a desire to experiment, re-invigorated by the belief that others have placed in it and revelling in the impact that it is having on the industry and consumers alike. It is entirely on top of its game….”

Number 2: Compagnie des Indies New Yarmouth 12

First tried at the Boutique Rumfest 2017 in London. I swear that you could smell it across the room every time that Florent opened the bottle such was its pungent nose. The amount of people that I saw try this Rum, their eyes widening when they were first assaulted by the aroma and their huge grins when they tasted it ran into double digits. Its an assault on the senses and a Rum that you absolutely must buy.

This is where it becomes difficult as there are quite a few contenders for spot number three. Foursquare Criterion is obviously up there but I’m reluctant to add another Foursquare to my list as I’m becoming boringly predictable……The new Worthy Park Signature Marsala Cask release and Single Estate Reserve though these miss out on availability given that I obtained one this year. Velier Royal Navy blend also gets a mention as it takes a very good blender to tame and integrate 20-year-old Caroni into a blend. Don Q Single Barrel 2007 also gets an honourable mention as it is so flavourful for a 100% column spirit it really does make you reconsider what a column distillation can produce when executed properly and accompanied by excellent blending and exemplary cask management.

Number 3: Habitation Velier – The Last Ward

When I sit back and drink this Rum I’m drawn back to memories of the sun penetrating the windows of the pot still house at the St Lucy facility in Barbados and almost putting a spotlight on the dust particles in the air……. it transports me away……Yes the Rum is initially very hot and punchy….the alcohol isn’t very well integrated and the taste doesn’t match up to the excellent aromas. It’s dry as a bone and very, very woody….but it has a growing depth and complexity that rewards repeated visits to the bottle and patience.

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – The Floating Rum Shack – Peter Holland

 

The Floating Rum Shack – Peter Holland

Peter is best described as a rum presenter, writer and consultant. Take a look at his Rum CV here to see the myriad of key rum events of which Peter has been part of. Make sure you check him out for all your rum needs be it information on the rum world, to maybe getting lucky enough to partake in one of his twitter tastings!

https://thefloatingrumshack.com
https://twitter.com/floatingrumshac
https://www.facebook.com/FloatingRumShack/
https://www.instagram.com/thefloatingrumshack/

 

2017 proved to be a proper champ as far as Rum is concerned. More and more good stuff has been coming to market, all helping to counter some of the dross that’s all too freely available. In no particular order, my top three:

 

Rhum HSE Chateau Marquis de Terme 2005

The Rhum HSE Chateau Marquis de Terme 2005 was delicious and proved to be as equally accepted by all those whom I sampled it. I think HSE are one of the best producers in terms of wood management and their baseline is exceptionally high across the range, but this one managed to raise the bar further still!

 

 

 

Foursquare Rum Distillery – Criterion

I might be a little bias in my section of Foursquare Criterion. The combination of Madeira Cask influence and the personal sweet-spot for Foursquare weight of rum being around 56% meant I found this exceptionally drinkable. I know I do a little brand work with Foursquare – but my goodness I’ve drink a good bit of this and shared even more. I’ve got through four bottles and have four more at home!

 

 

 

Velier Royal Navy Very Old Rum

My final choice would probably be the Velier Royal Navy Very Old Rum. Expectations are high for Velier. But the way that some massively character-ful rums came together in that blend proved that it’s not just a case of throwing it together and hoping for the best. Each sip develops and takes you on a journey. The players are recognisable, but harmonious. If it was a football team, playing together the way the Rum works – they would surely be title contenders and that’s just what this rum is. I’m actually being quite selfish with it (which is not like me), because I can’t easily replace it and I’m not sure we’ll ever see anything like it again.

 

 

 

P.S. “Leaving out the Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve release was tough. Perhaps we could have a top four?”

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – The Lone Caner  – Lance Surujbally

 

The Lone Caner  – Lance Surujbally

In his own words Lance is not a judge, bartender, promoter, evangelist, cocktail guru, distiller, producer or in any way commercially involved with the industry. He is a man who is fortunate enough to have travelled the world and loves reading and writing, especially about rum. Being amongst the first people to write about some of the most sought after rums such as Velier, Rum Nation and Compagnie des Indes, he is definitely somebody you need in your rum life!

http://thelonecaner.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thelonecaner/
https://twitter.com/TheLoneCaner

 

2017 was a banner year for rums, following on from an equally impressive 2016.  More new distilleries opened, some old ones were brought back from the brink, Velier celebrated its 70th Anniversary, Foursquare went big guns and interest in Caronis and Jamaicans hit a fever pitch. Writers and bloggers and FB rum clubs also proliferated, and as a consequence a lot of really good rums from companies not always in the headlines received great word of mouth and publicity in a way that elevated the profile of the entire rum category.

Having written over a hundred reviews in 2017, it’s hard to pick out only three spectacular rums (my “best of” list would have many more entries than a mere trio); and many rums which I tried that year were made earlier and only came into general release in the period.  Still, when it comes to the intersection of rums that enthused me, made me think and took me in directions not previously considered, here are three I felt were standouts: representative of a new wave in their own right, and which summarized the wide variety of rums that were sampled in 2017.

Savanna Lontan Grand Arome Vieux

The Savanna Lontan 12 Year Old 2004 64.2% was an incredible rum that in one fell swoop put Reunion on the map (as if it wasn’t already marking its territory there).  The Savanna HERR got better press for being ultra-high in esters yet I felt that the Lontan 12 was better, more nuanced, perhaps even a smidgen richer….it balanced things off without sharpness, and its plush aromas of honey, stuffy attics, fruits, flowers and spices were only equalled by the way the tastes took those same flavours and ran with the, making a melange without a mess.

 

 

Neisson’s L’Espirit Blanc

Neisson’s L’Espirit 70⁰ Blanc Rum was a rum that got me enthusiastic about white rums that were more cultured than the oft-raw and uncivilized clairins from Haiti, yet which still displayed some of that youthful, brash, joyous off-the-reservation craziness of a newly minted modern-day rock star (complete with leather pants).  It was raw, fierce, uncompromising and unaged – but aromatic and tasty too.  Powerful almost beyond belief – but with herbal notes, grasses, spices, citrus, cherries, mangoes…a list that just kept on going.  It was a massive taste bomb like few others and totally drinkable in any combination – neat, mixed, rocks, diluted, whatever.  It was this rum that made me want to write the list of “21 Great Whites”, and I think it points to a resurgence and a greater appreciation of white unaged rums in the years to come.

 

 

Worthy Park Releases

Lastly I wanted to draw some attention to Worthy Park’s Pot Still 45%, Special Cask 59% Oloroso Finish and the Special Cask 60% Marsala Finish, all of which I tried in late 2017 (three times each, I was that enthralled).  Like Reunion’s Savanna distillery (and even some agricoles)  they combined a crisp herbal snap and light profile with heavier, duskier flavours of spices, funk, heavier fruits, burnt brown sugar and whipped cream – and all this assembled into a balance that was remarkably consistent and well behaved, at any strength.  Jamaican rums have laboured under Appleton’s shadow for years now, and it took this trip to make me understand that other distilleries from there are coming out and making waves big time and are part of the wave of the Caribbean’s whole rum future..

 

I can never stop with just a number, so here are some extras for the curious: Honourable Mention should go to the Criterion and the Triptych of Foursquare out of Barbados;  St. Aubin’s amazingly tasty rums out of Mauritius (especially the unaged white 50%); Nine Leaves Encrypted II from Japan; Toucan’s No. 4, an understated and unpretentious new rum from French Guiana; and Rum Nation’s most recent rare rum, the Jamaica 1986 30 Year Old blend (some of which comes from Longpond) should come in for mention as well.

It was and remains these rums and many others, which demonstrate (as if this were necessary) that the Rumiverse remains a dynamic and exciting one with developments from all point of the compass, in both traditional and new directions.  It makes one wonder what on earth they’ll come up with this year.

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – Rum Shop Boy – Simon Johnson

Rum Shop Boy – Simon Johnson

Simon doesn’t work in the spirit’s industry and is not endorsed by anybody. He writes to help to elevate the category and in particular the pure rums. Simon has a large list of reviews on some independent bottlers which haven’t been tried elsewhere. We especially enjoyed his Paddington Bear’s First Sip review.

https://rumshopboy.com/
https://www.facebook.com/rumshopboy/
https://www.instagram.com/rumshopboy/
https://twitter.com/rumshopboy

 

Number one and two were easy as they were the two standout rums of 2017, but picking the third was a challenge as I could have picked so many…..Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) had half a dozen, St Lucia Distiller’s Sixth Edition, Foursquare Criterion, Don Q’s 2007 and several other independent bottles.

 

1 Foursquare Triptych

Comfortably, my favourite rum of 2017 and one of the best drinks, of any kind, that I have ever tasted. Rum innovation from Master Blender/Distiller manager Richard coupled with centuries of rum-making tradition have produced a stunning tipple full of evolving aromas and flavours. Close your eyes and you could be drinking Armagnac…open them and you realise that Rum has arrived as the greatest spirit in the world.

 

 

2 Appleton Estate Joy

I grew up with Appleton rum and so will always have a soft spot for it. The blending skill required for this rum is a real tribute to one of the rum industry’s leading figures, Appleton’s Joy Spence. At a minimum of 25 years old, “Joy” balances oak ageing with classic Appleton orange peel and a hint of sweetness.

 

 

3 SMWS R9.2 “Paddington Bear’s First Sip”

I love trying single cask rums as they are a true expression of the rum maker’s art and offer an insight into the local terroir. We are fortunate in the UK to have many great independent bottlers – Kill Devil, Mezan, Bristol and Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) for example. SMWS have recently produced many fine single cask expressions that I thoroughly enjoyed – one of my favourites is the SMWS R9.2 “Paddington Bear’s First Sip”. This demonstrates that not all Spanish-style “ron” is full of additives or is overly sweet. This expression is fruity and smoky and very drinkable, even at 62.0%.

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – The Cocktail Wonk – Matt Pietrek

The Cocktail Wonk – Matt Pietrek

Matt runs a fantastic website that is more than just rum and as he puts it ‘a unique take on spirits and craft cocktails.’ With a passion for most things drinks related and a massive list of professional highlights (which can be seen here) you’d be mad not to take a look at the great work he does.

https://cocktailwonk.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cocktailwonk/
https://www.instagram.com/cocktailwonk/
https://twitter.com/cocktailwonk

Doctor Bird (Two James Distillery)

A funky Jamaican release from Worthy Park. It’s a blend of aged and high-ester unaged rums. It is also very reasonably priced. Finally, at 100 proof, it’s a reasonable alternative to Smith & Cross.

 

 

 

 

 

Compagnie des Indes New Yarmouth 12

Sourced from the other Wray & Nephew distillery that no one knows about, and rarely seen in independent  bottlings. This release proves that Long Pond and Hampden aren’t the only Jamaican distilleries that know the super-high ester game.

 

 

 

 

 

Appleton Estate Joy

A beautiful rum with a 25 year minimum age celebrating the legacy of Master Blender Joy Spence.

 

 

Can you tell I like Jamaican rums?

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – TheFatRumPirate – Wes Burgin

Wes runs a great website on rum. As he puts it ‘it is an unsophisticated review on the world of Rum’  We especially enjoyed his recent article on Top Ten Rums…So Far. Go and have a read for yourself.

https://www.thefatrumpirate.com
https://twitter.com/thefatrumpirate
https://www.facebook.com/thefatrumpirate
https://www.instagram.com/thefatrumpirate/

 

 

  1. Habitation Velier HLCF/LROK

Velier have released three Hampden Estate rums over the past 18 months or so. This one was released as part of LMDW 60th Anniversary. An epic Jamaican rum for the “dunderhead”. Funky, fruity and medicinal it’s a great drop.

 

 

 

 

  1. Plantation O.F.T.D.

Another slick piece of marketing from Plantation. The first of their rums to have “no dosage.” An Overproof mixer which might in time gain a reputation similar to Lemon Hart 151. In the end this can’t really be ignored. Full flavoured and full on.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Foursquare Rum Distillery – Criterion

I recently voted this as my Rum of the Year so it had to be number one on this countdown as well. Sadly it has sold out now but it was a wonderful example of the strides Foursquare has made over the past 2-3 years. Proof, if it was needed, that Bajan rum is not boring. The reality is that I could have compiled a top three of just Foursquare releases but I went for a bit variety.

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Top 3 Rum Releases 2017 – Rum Ambassador – Ian Burrell

Rum Ambassador – Ian Burrell

Ian Burrell – The Global Rum Ambassador, Edu-Tainer, TV Presenter, Speaker, Rum Consultant and Jamaican Blooded Man. Also the owner of the UK Rumfest. But what does he do? Well in his own words “I travel around the world spreading the gospel according to rum through seminars, mixology, bar training, tastings, judging competitions and drinking rum, so smile & enjoy, life’s too short”. If that isn’t a mantra you can get behind, I don’t know what is!

http://rumfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/IanRumAmbassador
https://twitter.com/Rum_Ambassador
https://www.instagram.com/ukrumfest/

 

Appleton Estate Joy

A genuine 25 year old Rum that showcases another great Jamaican single blended rum. Create by one of the legends of the industry Joy Spence.

 

 

 

 

Diplomatico Distillery Collection No. 1

This is a unique Rum and the first pure batch kettle Rum that I have tasted. A mark of DUSA’s ability to make a range of rums for drinkers of all types.

 

 

 

 

 

Velier St Lucia 2010

This is the first rum that I have ever selected for an independent bottler. I asked to taste and pick a barrel of Pure single rum for Velier as part of their 70th anniversary. A great honour and a tasty Rum too.

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RumCask Presents: Top 3 Rum Releases 2017

A very happy 2018 to all of our RumCask family out there.

To kick off the year we have decided to collaborate with some of the most respected rum voices in the industry to find out their favourite releases of 2017. You will find links to their social media accounts and websites with their opinions. If you want to widen your horizon here is a fantastic group of people who between them have an incredibly diverse knowledge of rum.

Please click on the picture or logo below to find out their selection of the top 3 rum releases in 2017.

 

TheFatRumPirate – Wes Burgin

Wes runs a great website on rum. As he puts it ‘it is an unsophisticated review on the world of Rum’  We especially enjoyed his recent article on Top Ten Rums…So Far. Go and have a read for yourself.

https://www.thefatrumpirate.com
https://twitter.com/thefatrumpirate
https://www.facebook.com/thefatrumpirate
https://www.instagram.com/thefatrumpirate/

 

The Cocktail Wonk – Matt Pietrek

Matt runs a fantastic website that is more than just rum and as he puts it ‘a unique take on spirits and craft cocktails.’ With a passion for most things drinks related and a massive list of professional highlights (which can be seen here) you’d be mad not to take a look at the great work he does.

https://cocktailwonk.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cocktailwonk/
https://www.instagram.com/cocktailwonk/
https://twitter.com/cocktailwonk

 

Rum Shop Boy – Simon Johnson

Simon doesn’t work in the spirit’s industry and is not endorsed by anybody. He writes to help to elevate the category and in particular the pure rums. Simon has a large list of reviews on some independent bottlers which haven’t been tried elsewhere. We especially enjoyed his Paddington Bear’s First Sip review.

https://rumshopboy.com/
https://www.facebook.com/rumshopboy/
https://www.instagram.com/rumshopboy/
https://twitter.com/rumshopboy

 

The Lone Caner  – Lance Surujbally

In his own words Lance is not a judge, bartender, promoter, evangelist, cocktail guru, distiller, producer or in any way commercially involved with the industry. He is a man who is fortunate enough to have travelled the world and loves reading and writing, especially about rum. Being amongst the first people to write about some of the most sought after rums such as Velier, Rum Nation and Compagnie des Indes, he is definitely somebody you need in your rum life!

http://thelonecaner.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thelonecaner/
https://twitter.com/TheLoneCaner

 

Rum Ambassador – Ian Burrell

Ian Burrell – The Global Rum Ambassador, Edu-Tainer, TV Presenter, Speaker, Rum Consultant and Jamaican Blooded Man. Also the owner of the UK Rumfest. But what does he do? Well in his own words “I travel around the world spreading the gospel according to rum through seminars, mixology, bar training, tastings, judging competitions and drinking rum, so smile & enjoy, life’s too short”. If that isn’t a mantra you can get behind, I don’t know what is!

http://rumfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/IanRumAmbassador
https://twitter.com/Rum_Ambassador
https://www.instagram.com/ukrumfest/

 

Rum Diaries Blog – Steven James

Steven’s blog on rum pulls no punches! As he puts it, ‘My aim, is to hopefully look at the Rums that I’ve tried in the past, am still trying and hope to try in the future.’ We especially enjoyed his informative Interview with Nikos Arvanitis. Make sure you check it out.

https://rumdiariesblog.wordpress.com
https://twitter.com/rumdiariesblog/
https://www.facebook.com/rumdiariesblog
https://www.instagram.com/rum_diaries/

 

The Floating Rum Shack – Peter Holland

Peter is best described as a rum presenter, writer and consultant. Take a look at his Rum CV here to see the myriad of key rum events of which Peter has been part of. Make sure you check him out for all your rum needs be it information on the rum world, to maybe getting lucky enough to partake in one of his twitter tastings!

https://thefloatingrumshack.com
https://twitter.com/floatingrumshac
https://www.facebook.com/FloatingRumShack/
https://www.instagram.com/thefloatingrumshack/

 

Ivar De Laat

Not being content with having a passion of his being seen as average by most people, Ivar wants to promote honest producers and their products to help to make any difference he can. He has a desire to gain rum knowledge from the true experts and then share that knowledge as far as he can. Ivar is really trying to push the rum category forward in Canada. Join his Facebook group to try to help him spread the good word!

Facebook – Rum Club Canada

 

Steve Leukanech

I believe a great way to describe Steve would be as a leading rum activist who is pushing for the rum category to have more transparency. Also Steve is organising a “Rum Geek Barbados Takeover 2018” trip. This is going to be in April and he has already arranged a huge amount of rum based activities. Current timeline includes a an informal chat with Richard Seale and Luca Gargano, Lunch tours at the Foursquare distillery, an event at St. Nicholas Abbey and plenty of meet-ups with some other rum enthusiasts who are making the journey as well. We believe this trip to Barbados is one not to be missed!

Facebook – Rum Geek Barbados Takeover 2018

 

Stefan Kerner

Stefan had his first rum involuntarily in 2006 during a visit to River Antoine Rum Distillery in Grenada. But it wasn’t until his trip to Jamaica in 2013 to Appleton Estate when he really forged a growing interest in the noble spirit. His rum journey has taken him to many rum festivals and distilleries throughout the world. Along the way rum became more than a spirit to Stefan and each of the bottles in his vast collection hide an emotional story and links to the great friends all created from rum.

 

 

 

RumCask Family

To round off, I guess it is only right to finish on our favourites of 2017. We tried to pick unique rums from the year but struggled to diversify from the lists chosen. We did our best!

https://www.rumcask.com
https://www.facebook.com/RumCask
https://twitter.com/RumCask
https://www.instagram.com/RumCask

 

Conclusion

As you can see overall, there is a huge variety of rum here. We think this goes to show that the rum world we are truly blessed with some stunning releases last year, and leaves us all excited for 2018!

A massive thank you to all of the rum voices who contributed. Please go and check out their respective websites and follow them as well over social media to be kept up on the rum world. They all have unique takes on the great spirit that is rum.

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Pirate’s Grog Rum Masterclass

Alongside the various bars and events that occurred during the London Cocktail Week between 2nd and 8th of October, Rumcask were invited to come along to the Pirates Grog masterclass held at the Smuggler’s Tavern pub in Fitzrovia. A great venue with a surprisingly wide array of rum on offer, with a room upstairs that seemed tailor made for masterclasses.

Upon arrival it was only right to enjoy the rum selection behind the bar before we got started and decided on well known Jamaican rum. After making our way upstairs we were warmly greeted by Gareth (Gaz) Noble who is vital to the rum’s inception in the UK and also the brand owner. We were sat at tables and given an introduction to the brand itself.

Pirate’s Grog was born in Roatán, just north of Honduras in Central America. The island has a rich history due to the fact that Pirates used to plunder in the Caribbean and then return to this island for safe keeping and trading. At certain points the island was inhabited by thousands of pirates as the light winds made it an ideal area where they could escape and hide. Therefore, when making a rum from this island, it made sense to stay true to its heritage and stick with a theme of pirates.

From here we moved onto tasting our first rum of the evening; ‘Pirate’s Grog Five Year’. The bottle has changed since its inception a few years ago. It is now an appealing, heavy glass bottomed bottle with a label reminiscent of a scroll opened up.  This rum is a blend of different stills including a pot still alongside column stills. However all of the blends are aged for between three and five years in ex bourbon barrels. They are charred before being used and as a result help to impart some of the oak and vanilla notes that are present in the rum. Bottled at 37.5% ABV, this makes the rum a little smoother to drink. I am also assured by Gaz that the rum has no additives, sugar or colouring added to it. What you are drinking is pure rum.

Alongside the vanilla and oak notes, I got notes of Demerara sugar, raisins and molasses. I wasn’t able to spend much time tasting but from what I had gathered so far this seemed to be quite smooth. The rum doesn’t linger at the back of the throat and then leaves a slight spicy burn. Quite an enjoyable rum and definitely better than I was expecting!

Gaz and the team indicated they felt this could be an entry level sipping rum, but also a high end mixing rum. I could see this working very well in a daiquiri cocktail and even mixed with ginger beer to create a twist on the ‘Dark n Stormy’ cocktail. A nice introduction to the Pirate’s Grog range on offer.

From here we moved to the more premium ‘Pirate’s Grog No.13’. This is an award winning rum winning both Best Aged Rum in the UK and the Best Design Effectiveness at the World Drink Awards 2017. The bottle and label are truly well designed. As you can see the label has elements of the brand itself, with ships, skulls, treasure and all things pirate on it. It looks a very premium product indeed. They released a first batch of 777 bottles which quickly sold out and they are currently showcasing the second batch of No.13. The rum itself is a blend of around 65% 13 year old rum and around 35% of 8 year ages Pirate’s Grog. Once again I am told there are no additives, sugar or colouring added to it.

The blend here gives me notes of soft fruit such as apricots as its main point of difference. The finish is longer and more developed than the initial offering.  A really nice tasty sipper that grows the longer you leave it waiting outside of the bottle. Probably not one to add to a cocktail, unless something along the lines of an old fashioned where there is very minimal added to the rum.

The final part of the masterclass was to introduce and use the ‘Black Ei8ht Coffee Rum.’ This liquor is a blend of cold blend Brazilian coffee and the five year old grog and has just 25% ABV. The bottle follows a similar approach to the five year grog, but this time it is black. A simple but elegant design.

The taste of this liquor is quite unique. There first taste on the tongue makes you believe there is about to be a sweet rush ahoy. However, from here we break into the taste of coffee blended with some dark chocolate and toffee. Any coffee drinker would really appreciate this.

From here we were handed cocktail sets and a recipe to make their “Espresso Rumtini.” The recipe for those who are interested (you will be interested!) is “Creamy, dangerous and delicious… It’s a sophisticated little devil.”

  • 50ml Pirate’s Grog 5 year
  • 25ml Pirate’s Grog Black Ei8ht Coffee Rum
  • 25ml Espresson
  • 25ml Vanilla Sugar Syrup.

Add the ingredients to a Boston Shaker and fill with ice. Shake hard and double strain into a chilled coupette glass. Garnish with coffee beans and/or chocolate dust.

After my great expertise in making cocktails, this was a breeze (I wish!). I was guided well however in the length of time the cocktail had to be shaken as well as how ferociously. The end result can be seen here and I must say was delicious, a cocktail I will be making in the future many times!

Overall, this masterclass was a great introduction to the Pirate’s Grog brand and team. From the Marketing and Events Director Beth, to Gary the sales manager through to Gaz himself, the entire team were very hospitable, knowledgeable, but more importantly actually were fun too! I look forward to seeing them all again soon.

To purchase any of the Pirate’s Grog feel free to visit our affiliate link here

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Review 17 – Foursquare Rum Distillery 2004

Foursquare Rum is renowned in the rum community. Ever since 1926 when Reginald Leon Seale founded the company in Barbados, rum has run through the veins of the Seale family. Today the master distiller and blender is his great grandson Richard Seale. Foursquare’s philosophy around the rum industry are to remain purists. They focus on the authenticity, complexity and balance of rum.

Recently, Foursquare have released a range of Rums known as their “Exceptional Cask Selection” and this 2004 is the third release from that range. It is labelled as the Mark III. Also it is worth noting that this release is the first that has been bottled at cask strength (59% ABV), much higher than the previous two.

The labelling on the bottle is very unique and ground-breaking. Rather than focus on a big brand logo, instead we are given all information about this rum on the labels. We are provided with the name of the distillery, country of origin, wood in which it was aged, time spent aging, the distillation process and the release date. We are also shown the ABV level as well. This represents a refreshing change from the norm and puts all the information in the hands of the customer for them to make a decision on whether this is a rum they would like to purchase.

Alongside that information we are told this rum is “Single Blend.” Richard Seale has been working closely alongside Luca Gargano and they are trying to push for a new labelling system in the rum industry so that the consumer understands what they are drinking. In this case “Single Blend” means rum which has been blended together from a single distillery. In this case we have a blend of pot still rum and column distilled rums. Look out for our article on that classification coming soon!

But let’s get into the review.

In the glass the rum is a golden mahogany colour. This has come purely from the production process and not from any added caramel colouring. The nose brings a hit of ethanol due to the high ABV, but past this I get notes of vanilla, smokey oak and some fruits. I also get some green apple and sugar cane juice. Quite classically Bajan.

Enough of the smelling, it’s time to taste. The first thing we would recommend here is care! This rum is 59% ABV and deserves respect. For those who like their rum strong by all means go ahead, but feel free to add a few drops of water to bring it down to a level that is more palatable for you.

After a couple of small sips to get accustomed to the powerful nature of the spirit, the flavours start to appear from behind the alcohol burn that is present. There is spiciness on the front of the tongue which doesn’t travel through the tongue but seems to appear again at the back of the throat. Now we get some of the notes which were on the nose earlier. The oak comes through alongside the spicy notes and some vanilla. The time spent in this bourbon oak is really shining through. Delving deeper we find hints of raisin and dried apricots. Very well balanced and the ending doesn’t burn anywhere near as much as expected with the ABV that is present. Amazingly well balance with a myriad of flavours for you to discover. Adding a few drops of water helps bring these flavours out further and unearth a couple of others including dark chocolate, hints of leather and something slightly akin to walnuts but a tad sweeter.

It is easy to see why this rum is part of Richard Seale’s exceptional cask selection range. It is also easy to see why this rum has received so many different awards by the IWSC and the ISC. The ISC also voted Foursquare the 2017 Rum Producer of the Year.

A final point to mention on this rum is the price. At just £50 the value of this rum is extraordinary. Aged for 11 years, nothing added except the master blender’s years of experience, this rum is a must have in your collection.

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RumFest Preview – 2017

The year was 2010…we embarked on a path that none we knew had ever travelled before. A cavernous hall said to be furnished with rum from the far reaches of the globe. Surely a place like this could not exist?

Our journey began early that day by boarding the eastbound Piccadilly Line from Northfields. We carefully studied the TFL map ensuring we knew all our changes and crossovers. 90 minutes later having successfully negotiated the Green Park Jubilee line interchange, a swift switch at Canning Town and then a pleasantly rumble-free ride on the DLR we finally emerged at Custom House. As photons of natural light hit our eyes the behemoth of the Excel Centre stood in front of us. Little did we know what delights were hidden behind the doors of this modern day Aladdin’s Cave…

6 hours later we emerged, eyes bleary but this time not due to the fading light of an October evening in East London. Something had changed in the world.  Something had changed in us too. Colours were more vibrant, tastes more prominent and life was all that more beautiful and to be cherished. What had transpired inside was nothing short of a saga. We had travelled the world but we had never left E16. We had run along the beaches of Barbados, we had galloped through the grassy fields of Guyana and we had conquered the peaks of the Pitons in St. Lucia. We did this all through…rum.

RumFest started in 2007 and was the brain child of Global Rum Ambassador (and these days TV personality!) Mr Ian Burrell. A former barman, DJ, rapper and restaurant owner (still) Ian created RumFest to showcase how rum is “perceived in the Tropics”. “Rum is not just a spirit but it’s a lifestyle” he says. We would have to agree.

RumFest returns for its 11th year to the streets of London and visitors are “invited to embark on a journey or rum discovery”. Even for those of us who have been for many years now (always great to see familiar faces in that rum-laden room!), there is still so much to learn and try.  Over 400 different rums from the world over will be available to sample and all except a handful (Golden Tots) are included within your ticket. We have never known RumFest to hold back and this year will surely be no exception.

Guests will be entertained throughout the day with live music, prize giveaways, seminars from rum experts and “industry aficionados”.  There will be delicious food from all over the world and the opportunity to buy many rums from the in-house shop. RumFest as always will be held over 2 (two!) days from Saturday 14th – Sunday 15th October.

This year Rumfest have over 400 of the worlds most premium and sought after rums. Highlights will include:

-The world’s largest Tiki-head bar from Plantation rum.
-Fever Tree Highball Bar
-Exclusive rum launches
-Rococo Chocolates
-Cigar Emporium
-Opportunity to purchase incredibly rare rum including Foursquare Triptych Single Blended Rum

Tickets can be purchased here and further information about the event is available on the official website.

RumCask will be there both days so if you see us, please say hi and let’s “celebrate the diversity of RUM” together!

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Review 16 – HSE – Élevé Sous Bois

A little while ago RumCask put on a Rum Masterclass at Charlotte’s W5, Ealing for those who wanted to discover or even learn more about the wonderful spirit! Rums made from molasses and sugar cane honey were of course present but we also wanted to challenge our audience with a true Rhum Agricole. Agricoles are distilled from sugar cane juice and are typical of the French Islands of the Caribbean such as Martinique and Guadeloupe. Our rhum of choice for the group that evening was the HSE Élevé Sous Bois (big thanks to Roger Barnes, Sergio Murath and Timmy Falzon for their support).

Habitation Saint-Etienne’s own website provides the best insight into the history of the distillery and paraphrasing would do it an injustice:

“Saint Etienne was modelled after “La Maugée”, a sugar refinery covering over 400 hectares from Gros Morne to Saint Joseph in the early 19th century. The architectural structure, including the master’s house, overlooking the distillery and the old workers’ huts, reflect a typical farm in Martinique.

In 1882, Saint Etienne was purchased by Amédée Aubéry, a young captain of industry who became one of the most famous figures in the economy of Martinique. He transformed the sugar refinery into a farm distillery and began to modernise infrastructures. He expanded the factory and built a beautiful façade with 28 curved windows, providing the building with optimal ventilation. Railways were set up near the distillery: draft animals pulled trolleys carrying sugar cane. Hydraulic power was provided by the River Lézarde through a stony canal that ran through the Creole garden. 

In 1909, the property came into the possession of the Simonnet family who developed the distillery activity until its decline at the end of the 1980s. The estate was taken over in 1994 by Yves and José Hayot, who relaunched the Saint-Etienne brand and began restoring and enhancing the sugar estate’s architectural heritage. The distillery, henceforth registered in the Additional Inventory of French Historic Monuments, is one of the only-remaining and most precious references of the craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal of industrial architecture of the end of the 19th century in Martinique. Its renovation is nearing completion.”

Today HSE has 18 different varieties of rhum ranging from their Rhum Blanc 50o through to a range of world cask finishes aged in barrels from Olorosso and Pedro Ximenez.  HSE even has a rhum that is aged in a heavily charred Kentucky Bourbon barrel known as the Black Sheriff!

Our chosen HSE offering for the evening was the Élevé Sous Bois (ESB). To wine drinkers ESB is a term that refers to a “forest floor or undergrowth note”; something seasoned Agricole drinkers will be able to relate to. Now just as the EU (ooo errr) has its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) to ensure things like Feta Cheese, Champagne and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies all come from where they say they do (and thus avoiding frauds) the French created the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). A rhum that is labelled “Martinique Rhum Agricole AOC” must meet strict guidelines as to how it is produced pertaining to its terroir, distillation process and ageing. The three categories are Rhum Blanc Martinique, Rhum Martinique Élevé Sous Bois (cask aged) and Rhum Martinique Vieux (extra aged). For more information click here.

HSE’s ESB has been aged from between 12 and 18 months in French Oak barrels on the island and is bottled at 42% ABV (all Martinique rhums must be a minimum of 40%). On the nose we get vanilla, under-ripe fruits and some dried herbs.  The nose is subtle and welcoming and does not suggest caution is necessary! On the tongue, the sensation is quite different. That “undergrowth” in its etymology comes to the fore and we taste grassy notes alongside the herbs.  The rhum is pleasant and light on the tongue and quickly slides to the back of the throat but the flavour is all at the front and does not linger. Here we get the white grape juice mentioned in the official tasting notes alongside pear, raisins and vanilla. The rhum is young and full of character but wildly different to an equivalent aged rum from molasses.

The looks around the room are inquisitive and quite honestly, dubious! The masterclass was purposely designed to throw some curveballs at people and the HSE ESB followed quick on the heels of a (genuine) 12 year from Trinidad. Predictably a crowd pleaser (and rightly so) the HSE ESB was sent up next as an abrasive affront to everything our class had just learned to love! However, as people took their second and third sips (our classes had pretty generous pours) you could sense a shift in the tide and as eyebrows raised, the rhum went down. The HSE ESB had opened the eyes to a new room of r(h)um drinkers as to the wonders of Agricole and its steep history and culture.

As you know, we don’t rate rums on our platform but we would like to tell you how to drink them if you’d let us kindly! If you were to get yourself a bottle of HSE ESB (and we highly suggest you do) then perhaps the way to best cultivate it to your drinking repertoire is by creating a Ti’ Punch cocktail. Check out our write up here on that particular favourite of ours.

A votre santé!

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RumCask Events

At the present time, the RumCask family are delighted to be able to offer a variety of events. Please see below for our selection:

Rum Masterclass

A Rum Masterclass is more of a classroom setting for those serious in learning more about the noble spirit. Our audience receives an introduction to rum (including a delicious rum based cocktail) from the origins of the name, to its long history, how it is created and much more. From here we move onto tasting a variety of unique rums each showcasing the diversity of the category. Our aim is to help the enthusiastic amateurs and those more acquainted with the spirit, to understand more about rum, and hopefully come away from the evening with a new found love.

Rum Tasting

A Rum Tasting is a more social gathering for those who may have more of a casual interest in rum. Those who wish to learn more can speak to the team as they taste the rum. It’s a more informal and interactive setting. Spend as little or as long as you like with the team, it’s up to you! Our aim here is to provide a fun and yet educational evening and hopefully leave our audience wanting to know more about rum, having hopefully found a few variants they enjoyed.

Cocktail Night

A Cocktail Night is a fun event where we can turn up and make cocktails for you and guests. We have a variety of different rum based cocktails in our arsenal, rest assured they will mainly use fresh ingredients and be prepared for you on the spot. These will always showcase the creativity of rum and how it can really bring life and essence to cocktails whatever your flavour profile maybe. Our recent requests have been Rum Punch, Mojito, Daiquiri (13 different flavours), painkillers, zombies and many more. Our aim is to provide a fun evening, and hopefully prove that rum is a spirit which is useful in all aspects of the alcohol world, be in sipping, with a basic mixer or in a cocktail.

As well as these events, we offer them in a variety of locations as well. Please see below for some examples:

Home

Yes you read correctly. We will come to your home to provide any of our three events listed above. Invite your friends round for a Rum Masterclass at your home. Throwing a party? Why not have us round to make professional cocktails that your guests will all enjoy. The possibilities are endless.

Bar/Pub

If you own a bar or a pub and would like to run a rum based event, we are available to bring you some expertise. We also do menu consultations to help you with a potential rum list. Why not help with the launch of a new rum menu by having us do a fun tasting event. Showcasing the rum to your regulars and hopefully driving new business to your venue from local rum drinkers.

Office

Sometimes team building events need a change. Why not contact us for something bespoke and unique to help bond your colleagues together. We can tailor the packages to your company as required and leave your team in high spirits after a unique and fun event.

Final Thoughts

We are an adaptable team here at RumCask. Most of our events are customisable. You can have as much or as little input into your events. If you have particular rum you would like included, or a particular cocktail we will do our best to accommodate you, please ask!

If you are interested in any of the events, please fill in the form below with as many details as possible and we will get back to you to discuss your event.

Contact Us

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Manchester Rum Festival

On Saturday 3rd June this year, Manchester ran its first Rum Festival at the Revolution de Cuba run by Dave Marsland of Drinks Enthusiast. Being the dedicated rum drinkers we are, we were invited down (or should that be up?) to experience the event, sample the rum and enjoy the festivities.

Before the festival itself though, we were invited to a brunch held by Pusser’s and Peter Thornton which included a very special “Build Your Own” Pusser’s Bloody Mary Bar with all of the options you could want in your personalised variant. Alongside the rum, there were also a couple of delicious brunch options at the Home Sweet Home bar. The sweet option looked tempting but the savoury rum runner breakfast took our fancy. Food was a good idea, there was lots of rum ahead.

Entrance to the Rum Festival itself was very easy, and we were greeted by Dave with a goody bag and a lovely glass rum snifter to taste the rum in. Walking into the room there was an air of excitement and wonder as this was one of the first Rum festivals that had been accessible to many people in the north of England.

The layout utilised the space really well. I overheard a couple of people mention how the venue looked smaller than they expected. I quickly quelled any negativity and told them I would be stunned if they managed to try every rum in the room by the end and sure enough, when I caught them later on they were actually delighted they had managed to do about 75% of the stands before the end.

The list of exhibitors ranged from the historic Mount Gay, to the well known Bacardi and Havana Club, to some enthusiasts’ favourites in Mezan, Habitation Velier and Doorly’s alongside many, many others. A fantastic array of rum (and some cachaca) on display the attendees were in for a treat. For a full list of the exhibitors, check out the link here.

Most of the rum on display were great refreshers. However, there were a few which we had not tried. The main ones we enjoyed were Clairin and Atlantico Rum. Clarin is a Rhum Agricole from Haiti which was one of the best we had ever tasted. Flavourful and not too grassy like most seem to be. Definite vegetal notes but not overpowering. Atlantico was special in the fact it was 100% pot still rum. The flavour from the still was evident in the rum and in all 3 varieties we tried.

I found most of the crowd were there to actually learn about the noble spirit rather than drink for drinking’s sake. This is a testament to the area and the exhibitors who were able to impart their knowledge to the crowd and help them understand there is a rum for everybody, they just haven’t found it yet.

Top work from Dave Marsland in putting together a smoothly run, well received rum event and we look forward to returning in 2018!

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Review 15 – Alnwick Rum

Much has been written over the past few years about Alnwick Rum and the “Spirit of Northumberland” but no review of the drinks on offer would be complete without discussing the origins of this fine producer from the North East of England.

Alnwick Rum was founded in 1914 and the original recipe was a closely guarded secret blend of funky Jamaican and Guyanese rums (loving the sound of this already right?). Associated with the Alnwick Brewery Company, both entities ceased trading in the 1980s and the recipe was lost for more than 20 years.

After the death of his father, John Bernard Linsley in 2001, Ian Linsley discovered the secrets of the Alnwick Rum in his paperwork. Ian’s father was the managing director and chairman of Alnwick Brewery when it closed in 1986. In 2003 he re-registered Alnwick Rum Ltd and relaunched the long enjoyed dark spirit.

The Spirt of Northumberland was setup as a new operating company incorporating Alnwick Rum Company Ltd and the Alnwick Brewery Company Ltd (Ian also produces meads and ale). Harry Hotspur Holdings was established as the new holding company to “manage the traditional recipes, trademarks and intellectual property of the business”. For more business drill-down please check out The Journal.

Harry Hotspur (real name Henry Percy) was the 1st Earl of Northumberland’s son and the most famous knight of Alnwick Castle. He was immortalised in Shakespeare’s Henry IV and is the reason a certain North London football club have their name! (one of the founders of Tottenham played near Percy House and made the suggestion). However perhaps his greatest achievement to date is that he now proudly adorns the Alnwick Rum bottles.

So, what do we know about the rum? Very little to be honest. There is no age statement (which makes a lot of sense given the various blends) and one can only hazard a guess at additives such as sugar and colourant. The recipe and the distillers are all a secret too. Our best reading and research suggests powerful, pungent, pot-still rums from Guyana and Jamaica (Alnwick are upfront about the origin of their rums) combined with continuous-still rums as suggested by the official literature: “the introduction of other selectively aged rums during the marrying process…” Given the pricing point of Alnwick Rum it would make perfect sense for the entire blend not to be completely from a pot-still.

Our friends at Alnwick, kindly sent us three different samples to get accustomed with and here is what we found:

Description – Guyanese rum reduced from Cask Strength with water from Northumberland (37.5% ABV).

Sight – Crystal clear, no sediment (suggests chill filtration).

Nose – Initially we get vanilla, raisins and a buttery sweetness. Very light and inoffensive.

Taste – At first, we get a warm, smooth, light and buttery flavour. All the flavour is focused at the front and middle of the tongue. The White Knight is subtle and has floral notes.

Thoughts – A young rum but pleasant. The lack of oak gives clear indication to its youthfulness and most likely from a column still. We think it would work wonderfully in a daiquiri or an espresso martini!

Description – The very rum from the original WWI era recipe (43% ABV). Guyana and Jamaica rums, blended in Holland, bottled in Scotland (for now).

Sight – Very treacly with big caramel colouring.

Nose – Over-ripe bananas and mango, some classic pot stilled funk!

Taste – The rum runs over the back of your mouth but doesn’t linger. It is quite dry yet not overpowering. There is almost a burnt, bitter finish with some deep spice. It is bold yet balanced.

Thoughts – The Legendary has the look and notes of dark rums of years gone by. There is more aging and power here than the White Knight and we’d guess an average age of 4 years. We think it would work well in a rum punch or a MaiTai to cut through those fruity flavours.

Description – All we are told is Caribbean rums (fingers crossed still Guyanese and Jamaican for consistency alone!) mixed with spices and exotic fruits (40% ABV).

Sight – Golden/Amber and less treacly than The Legendary

Nose – Cinnamon, star anise, all spice and small citrus hint. Very pleasant!

Taste – Not overpowering and buttery. Medium-dry and all the flavour is in the spice.

Thoughts – A lovely spiced rum that reminds us of a good rum cake! We tried it with ice and ginger beer and it worked perfectly!

Overall, we feel that these three releases from Alnwick are meant to make great additions to some classic rum based cocktails to help you distinguish from the pack!

 

 

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The Spirit Show London Preview

With over 200 different spirits on offer and each ticket giving you unlimited tasting of all of them, you shouldn’t need any convincing to head down to “One of the ultimate tasting events in London:” The Spirit Show. Held in the Business Design Centre in Islington, N1 on the weekend of the 9th/10th December 2016, this event seems to be one for anybody with a thirst for not only alcohol, but knowledge too!

Alongside the various different spirits which include rum (of course), whisk(e)y, gin and vodka, The Spirit Show will also have other exciting features. The major one will be masterclasses for all of the spirits which include “The History of Rum in 4 Cocktails” held by Peter Holland of the Floating Rum Shack and “Vodka from Around the World.” A full list of them are available on their website here. You can learn enough to win at Trivial Pursuit if any booze related questions come up after Christmas dinner!

There will also be a Winter Wonderland Bar run by the legendary London Cocktail Club. Lots of wintry goodness awaits the patrons of The Spirit Show. There will also be a “Street Food Village” where you can grab some delicious food to help you keep a level head. Together with a central bar where you can purchase some other drinks like wine and champagne there will also be a spirit show shop run by Barton’s Wines & Spirits. Here you can purchase all of the spirits you have sampled as well as exclusive, limited edition blends made for this event. A Deliveroo “Roo-Fuel Zone” area where you can play games, chill out and recharge before heading out to sample some more from the show will be accessible to all.

The standard ticket package includes unlimited tasting of all of the spirits, a meal voucher and a limited edition Glencairn tasting glass, a must have to get the full experience of the aroma of the spirits. There is a premium package as well which includes all of the above and fast track entry, a complimentary cocktail at the VIP Speakeasy bar, a mixology class and a few other useful perks. Check out the ticket package page for full details.

We wouldn’t be Rumcask without focusing on the Rum and thankfully along with the masterclass there will also be the aptly named “Rum Row” showcasing the sugar cane spirit. There will be around 20 different offerings from around the globe including Westerhall, Rum Sixty Six, Revolver, Matugga and many more which can be found here. We would encourage everybody to visit Rum Row and sample the wide range of rum on offer. We guarantee you will find something you love!

Rumcask will be happily sipping and sampling what’s on offer on Friday evening so please say hi.