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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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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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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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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.

 

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Cardiff Rum Festival Preview

On Saturday 1st October, the Cardiff Rum Festival returns for its 4th year to host Wales’ largest celebration of rum. The RumCask family will be heading West along the M4 early that morning in search of rum-based delights from across the Severn!

Located in the heart of the Welsh capital and a stones throw from the Millenium Stadium, exhibitors from far and wide are putting their ranges on show for the discerning British public. Pussers (official sponsors), Angostura, Botran, Ron Cubay, Doorls, Mezan, Westerhall, Matugga, Revolver, Woods, Santa Teresa, Blackwell, Skipper, Rum Bar Rum and Salopian Spirits will all feature amongst others. We cannot wait to get our rum tasting glasses ready!

There will be several seminars over the course of the day including an introduction to rum by Peter Holland from TheFloatingRumShack.com (also official sponsor) but alas most seminars are now sold out.

Duo Flex Steel Drum band will elevate the atmosphere on the day whilst Irie Shack will provide the Caribbean culinary cuisine. The cocktail bar will be run by RumCask’s dear friend Sergio Murath, the head bar tender at Trailer Happiness, Portobello Road (Click here for our review). The Cardiff crowd will eat & drink very well that is for sure!

The team behind the Cardiff Rum Festival are very excited by the upcoming event and have even bigger plans for next year. General admission tickets are still available so you really have no excuses! http://www.cardiffrumfest.co.uk/index.php 

RumCask will be happily sipping and sampling what’s on offer on the day so please say hi.

Lechyd da!

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Don Papa Master Class

The final part of Young’s and Geronimo’s ‘Summer of Rum’ event that we attended this year was the Don Papa Master Class. This was in Lancaster Gate in the Mitre pub. Hidden beneath the Mitre is a secret speakeasy called Old Mary’s which was the venue for this master class. It’s a lovely intimate setting and was part of the servants’ quarters of the original house. A very cool back-story and their website can be found here. I would recommend checking it out for future events.

Everybody was greeted with a ‘Darker Don’ cocktail. This is the Don Papa take on the ‘Dark n Stormy’ cocktail with added lime and mint to differentiate it. A refreshing start to the evening which led me to have high hopes for the master class. Unfortunately, we were informed that the brand ambassador wasn’t going to make this evening. The amazing ladies who were making the cocktails were then forced to improvise a master class on the spot with 5 minutes preparation.

The ladies had some knowledge on the history of the brand including the specific island where the sugar cane is grown (Negros Occidental known as  ‘sugarlandia’). However this was a bit sketchy due to the preparation time available to them. Have a read of our review on the Don Papa 10 Year for some history on the Don and our opinions on that offering.

After this, the ladies decided to move the session along to tasting the Don Papa neat. This was done in heavy glass bottomed whiskey tumblers. I found notes of vanilla which come from the American Oak barrels in which it is aged and some sweeter notes of honey. It was a bit tough to get some of the more subtle notes due to the lingering ginger beer from the Darker Don cocktail which was overpowering the finish of the neat rum.

From here we moved to our second cocktail of the evening which was the Don Papa Negroni which they have named; ‘Summer is Coming.’ For this they used equal parts of Martini, Campari and Don Papa. This was stirred with ice and then poured into a new glass and garnished with rosemary and grapefruit. The difference in this master class was the fact they invited some of the guests to come up to make the cocktail in front of the crowd. This was a nice touch, which added to the very fun and enjoyable atmosphere that was emanating from the room. After a few of these were created, we were all treated to our own cocktail. I found this a bit too sweet for my liking and quite far removed from the classic Negroni. I felt it also lacked the punch I prefer in cocktails, but it was generally well received by the audience.

I was looking forward to meeting the brand ambassador and asking about their production process especially. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be. The lack of communication between the team left the onus on the ladies to try to deliver some sort of information to the crowd. I think they did very well in changing the session into more of a cocktail experience rather than a master class on the brand itself.

The event attracted couples, groups of friends and yours truly. A diverse mix, but everybody seemed to be having fun and enjoyed the Master Class together, being friendly and integrating well. This is very much a compliment to the chosen setting (Old Mary’s) and the lovely ladies presenting whose hard work helped to salvage the evening.

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Ron Zacapa Masterclass – #SummerofRum

As part of Youngs Pub’s ‘Summer of Rum’ I visited the Shaftesbury Pub in Richmond on Thursday 4th for Ron Zacapa’s masterclass session. Young’s are running these rum events throughout the summer so have a search for one that interests you and there could be one next door!

The masterclass was led by Charlie who throughout the evening demonstrated not only his knowledge of Ron Zacapa, but his knowledge of the spirit world especially barrel aging, be it spirits or cocktails.

The session began with an El Presidente cocktail made in front of us with the Zacapa 23. As we sat down for the masterclass Charlie dove straight into rum, explaining its history, how it’s created and a general overview for those who knew little to nothing about it. Well broken down and simple to understand.

From here the depth of the masterclass moved to the Zacapa 23 in particular. The name itself comes from a town in Guatemala which is where the rum originates from in Central America. We were given an insight into how the sugar cane is grown in Guatemala around 200 meters above sea level. Zacapa takes the concentrated first pressing of the sugar cane juice, called the “virgin sugar cane honey” and distils this once before maturation.

However one of the main selling points of Zacapa is that their rum is matured 2300 meters above sea level, in the clouds no less! At this height, the temperature and the humidity do not fluctuate as wildly as expected in that region of the world. This helps to give consistency to the environment in which the Zacapa is aged.

We were then treated to a neat sample of the Ron Zacapa 23 Solera. Here Charlie explained the difference between the two main barrels that rum is aged in; European and American Oak. He explained the different characteristics taken on by the rum when sat in these casks and then mentioned Zacapa also uses a third barrel which has been used to age Pedro Ximenez Sherry. The entire process is overseen by Lorena Vazquez who is the brands master blender.

As explained eloquently by Charlie, Ron Zacapa has a ‘Sistema Solera’ process when it comes to maturation. Each year, rum has an amount lost during the aging process through evaporation; this is known as the Angel’s Share. Once aged for a year the barrel is no longer full to capacity with rum. Zacapa will take unaged rum to top up this shortfall in the one year barrel. The rest will sit to age once all the one year barrels are topped up. This process is repeated each year with the rum from the younger barrel used to top-up the older barrel. The two year barrel’s contents are topped up by the one year barrel and then the shortfall in the one year barrel is filled by unaged barrel. This solera process is used all the way down to rum that has been aged for 23 years. As a result the barrel which has been sat for 23 years will contain rum that has been aged for a minimum of 6 years up to a maximum of 23 years. Hence the term ‘Sistema Solera.’

We were then treated to a rare portion of Zacapa 23 which had been barrel aged in a small cask for one month. The small cask interacts with the rum at a faster rate than a larger one, and in my opinion helps to soften and blend together the flavours.

Finally to wrap up, we were treated to one of my favourite cocktails, the rum based Old Fashioned. Charlie masterfully produced them with great flair, showing off how even a simple cocktail can taste amazing, to the delight of the crowd who were present. Bravo!

Overall, this was a very informative masterclass from a very well known premium rum brand. They had great cocktails to show off the versatility of the rum, but were clear that Zacapa 23 is a great spirit which is enjoyable neat as well. If you can get a ticket, grab it with both hands and enjoy a fun evening of rum and great cocktails.

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Review 13 – The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum

The Duppy Share Caribbean Rum has been around for just over a couple of years and was founded by Jessica Swinfen and George Frost. George fell in love with rum during his many family holidays to the Caribbean. He teamed up with Jessica and between them they embarked on the journey which lead to the creation of The Duppy Share.

After doing their research by tasting a wide variety of rums from different islands in the Caribbean (sounds a tough job) the co-founders decided on a blend of a 3 year rum from Worthy Park in Jamaica and a 5 year rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados. They decided on this mix to get the punch and fruitiness of Jamaica and then balance it out with the sweeter and more rounded elements found in Barbados. These rums are then sent to be blended in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, before bringing it to the UK to be bottled to become the final product.

The name comes from Caribbean folklore and has an enjoyable story behind it. According to their website:

“Caribbean legend has it that the dark Duppy spirits swoop
between the islands stealing the best share of the rum. Spirit masters, skilled
in the fine art of blending, the dupes take only the best.

This is the Duppy Share.”

This is also known as the Angel’s Share which I have written about previously here.

The Duppy Share have decided to celebrate a Summer of Rum by running a rum blending masterclass which is led by Jessica Swinfen. I was very kindly invited to this event in a Young’s pub to sample their rum and be transported away from a cloudy Wednesday evening in London to a beautiful Caribbean beach, if only for a couple of hours

I was greeted with a delicious Rum Punch made from The Duppy Share which they then shaved fresh nutmeg and added bitters to, to add that little extra touch which I definitely appreciated (Thanks Rosie Little). I was then introduced to the co-founders that were in attendance. They were both very friendly and very personable, exactly the right recipe for this type of event I feel.

After a second (or was that third?) helping of the Rum Punch we were ushered to the masterclass area to begin. Without ruining the experience for anybody who will go to this event in the future, you are given a short history of rum and then taken on a journey throughout some very important areas in the rum world. You are then given the opportunity to take what you have learnt and blend your own rum to take home. The whole masterclass is delivered exceptionally well and is very informative yet interactive and most importantly, fun. I think it’s an event diverse enough to be it a learning experience into rum, a wacky date, or a fun evening with a couple of friends.

I managed to get a few words with George Frost as well on the night with his plans and how he prefers to drink The Duppy Share. He’s very passionate about his rum and both he and Jessica agreed they didn’t like some of the sweetened offerings that are available today and much prefer the rums with a kick which is what they have tried to maintain. As for cocktail of choice, George said he prefers it in an old fashioned whereas Jessica says she loves it in a simple daiquiri, two very different cocktails which goes to show the diversity of their creation. A few more examples can be found here.

But let’s move onto the review of The Duppy Share. The bottle is a unique shape with a long thin neck which makes it easier to pour out. It is topped with a cork which helps keep an authentic feel to the rum. This is affirmed with the beautifully designed label which reminds me of a post card or a poster from the first half of the 20th century. All of their marketing lends itself to transporting you away from wherever you maybe to a Caribbean Island, to warmth, summer, and a beach. Not a bad thing at all.

In the glass the rum is a light golden colour. Slightly lighter than in the bottle. On the nose the first notes that are noticeable are oak and vanilla. Then we get some fruits mainly banana and a hint of pineapple. There are traces of sweetness which seem to be brown sugar. An interesting mix here on the nose. On my first sip the rum tastes a lot older than it smells. There is a fair depth to this rum. I can taste the oak and fruits I smelt on the nose but the Jamaican side of the rum does pack a punch and you get this when you swallow. However, the end of the rum leaves a spicy finish which helps to take the edge off the rum. Further investigation and I can taste vanilla and nuts as well. A nice mix, but one which needs to be taken with caution, too big of a sip and this rum would burn. But give it the attention it needs and you are treated with a solid rum which is decent value for money.

Unfortunately, other than the delicious rum punch I was handed at the start of the masterclass, I haven’t had a chance to mix this rum into a cocktail, which is where it seems the target audience is. That will be a step I take in the future but if the rum punch was anything to go by, I am in for a treat.

Overall although primarily a high end mixing rum which is diverse enough to be used in a variety of cocktails I think it has been aged and blended well enough to be drunk neat as well, or maybe with a touch of water. Their marketing approach has been to step towards rum as a drink when sat on a beach in paradise which is how I view my rum, be it neat or in a cocktail. Well played Duppy Share and I look forward to what the future holds.

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Review 12: Matugga Rum – Spiced & Original

Rum can be created anywhere that sugar cane grows. As I mentioned in an earlier post about Rum from Asia although the bulk comes from the Caribbean and Latin America, there are other countries which produce a lot of the world’s supply of rum. We know that the climate in parts of the continent of Africa must be suitable for sugarcane and yet we can’t think of any premium rum brands hailing from there. Until now; introducing Matugga Rum, a British Rum with an African Soul.

Matugga (the name of a town in Uganda) source their sugar cane from the rich, red soils of East Africa. Other ingredients added are also sourced from the Easterly region of Africa and then together they are shipped to be distilled and aged in Cambridgeshire in the UK. Matugga is triple distilled before finishing off the maturation phase in English Oak casks.

Matugga Rum is owned and run by Paul and Jacine Rutasikwa and their Master Distiller is Dr John Walters. The story of the ingredients of the rum are just as important to Paul and Jacine as the creation of the rum itself. They source only the best molasses they can from their high quality sugar cane harvest in Uganda. For more insight into Matugga please visit the following article here.

Last month I went to an “Indulgence Session” put on by the team behind Matugga Rum. A very polished and professional presentation that kept the fun and excitement that goes hand-in-hand with rum. After a brief foray into the history of the brand and the team behind it, we moved swiftly into the tasting of the two offerings from Matugga followed by the participants creating a couple of cocktails. All four were also paired with different munchies (grapes, cheese, crackers, chocolate, home made rum cake etc) to help to illustrate the versatility not only of Matugga, but of the spirit in general. The two cocktails they showcased were the Golden Apple which used their Golden Rum and the Spiced Pineapple which used their Spiced Rum. I personally preferred the Golden Apple cocktail which used cloudy red apple juice to great affect to enhance the flavour of the rum. I was in the minority however as the bulk of people who attended found the Spiced Pineapple to be the better of the two. The team came across very friendly and personable and their session was a resounding success by the opinions I heard from other attendees, most of whom knew next to nothing about rum in general beforehand and left the session with the remaining bottles they had for sale. If you get a chance to experience one of these sessions yourself I would definitely recommend it.

After the session the lovely couple behind Matugga sent me a sample of both the Golden and the Spiced Rum as I mentioned I would like to review them properly. I will start with their Golden offering before moving to the spiced variety.

As mentioned earlier, both of Matugga’s Rum’s are 100% pot still distilled. This is quite rare these days as column stills are used more and more. Pot stills are where the distillation process began with rum and this takes us back to the essence. In the glass the rum is a light golden colour. It pours lighter than it looks in the bottle. I think this shows a sign of its age and length of time in the barrel. I do know there is some caramel colouring added to the rum which has helped to give the rum a more appealing look so I cant really judge anything by the colour of the rum. The rum is more viscous than expected in the glass. It has some legs on it when swirled.

On my first sniff I get an immediate sweet hit of treacle. This gives way to some dry raisins and a small hint of allspice. An interesting mix that once allowed to rest brings out a hint of vanilla and oak. On my first sip I get a fresh clean taste which is reminiscent of a young rum. There are notes of vanilla at the start and a sweet treacle taste. This makes way to a spicy finish which leaves a pepper note which seems to add to the slight burn that you feel in the finish.

I am surprised with how smooth this rum is because it hasn’t been aged for very long so the casks haven’t had a chance to help to take some of the edge off the rum. However, having spoken to the team behind Matugga, I was informed that their aging process is at a small enough scale that they can actually keep the rum moving throughout its maturation phase. To try to explain this think of the difference a tea bag makes in your tea. If you move the tea bag around and keep stirring and moving, the flavour of the tea is stronger and fuller compared to just leaving the tea bag static in the mug. Accordingly, the flavours enhance and its  interaction with the casks occurs at what seems like a much faster rate. As a result, the rum tastes like it is much older than it is.

Moving onto the Spiced, in the glass this rum is darker than the golden offering from Matugga and remains similar in thickness. On the nose I get notes of orange peel, grass, a slight appearance of treacle and raisins. I was expecting a spicier nose, but that’s not a bad thing. On my first taste I get vanilla and liquorish at the start. It is very warming and again very smooth. It is smoother than the golden rum variety of Matugga. The end of the rum leaves a spicy feeling around the tongue and the throat which could be mistaken for a burn, but on closer inspection and multiple tastes, I can confirm it’s a peppery and cinnamon finish rather than a burn in my opinion. The orange peel smelt on the nose comes in once the rum has sat for a short period, as does the treacle. The liquorish taste also dulls having sat for a few minutes and yet the spicy and sweet flavours remain at the finish.

From the indulgence session I know that these rums make excellent bases for cocktails. Matugga’s website gives a list of different cocktails they recommend which can be found here. Fruity concoctions definitely work well in bringing out the flavours of this rum. I haven’t yet but I would like to try this rum in a more citrus type cocktail to see how the flavours interact with those more citrus elements. I think the spiced rum may thrive here.

Overall these rums are surprising for what they are. Both are relatively young and yet seem to be smooth enough to sip. I personally wouldn’t sip the golden as it’s a bit too harsh for my taste but I can see how many people would. The spiced on the other hand I feel has less of a punch to it, making it easier to sip. But I am very excited to see what a few more years of aging leads to with Matugga but this must be done ‘slowly slowly’ which in Swahili is ‘Pole Pole Ndio Mwendo.’ As always, good things come to those who wait!