Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Today is National Rum Day

     Today is National Rum Day, so I decided to stick my neck out a little bit and let you know a little about some of my favorite rums that are available in America.  I get the opportunity to enjoy so many rums, but many of them are just not available here in the United states.  I thought for National Rum Day, I’d try to pick my top ten.  These are not in any particular order, but they are the ten that I tend to gravitate toward and enjoy on a regular basis.


Doorly’s XO is a blend of six to ten year old rums created and aged by Richard Seale at the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, Doorly's XO gets its final finishing in an Oloroso Sherry cask.   The rum has a deep copper bronze color with golden highlights.  In the mouth, the viscosity is somewhat light, This rum contains no additives of any kind.   There is an initial spiciness that dies down quickly revealing a fruitiness, that is coupled with oaky tannins that coat the palate and a hint of sweetness.  The long finish is primarily spice and oak, and finishes with just a slight bitterness.  Wonderful in a glass or mixed in premium cocktails.

Mount Gay Black Barrel is a small batch, handcrafted rum recently created by master distiller Allen Smith. It is a blend of both matured double pot distillates and aged column distillates which are finished in Bourbon oak barrels. This blend has a bold and balanced flavor, that is not to sweet as what the nose would have you think.  The flavor of the oak comes to the front over the palate, there are notes of orange, banana peel, almonds, baking spices and vanilla.  This is a good sipper or mixing expression

Abuelo Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish is their wonderful 12 year-old rum that has been rebarrelled in Oloroso Sherry casks for another 5 years.  This process adds to the already wonderful flavors of the original rum, yielding a brilliant copper color with complex aromas and flavors of polished wood, leather, sherry raisin cake, and dark roasted nuts.  This is a vibrant, fruity full bodied rum with a warm distinctive notes of fruit cake, spiced prunes and figs with some tea and tobacco in the finish.
This  one is a pure sipping rum.

Afrohead Premium Aged Dark Rum is born in the West Indies and authentically aged, sporting a silky smooth spirit with notes of toasty oak and a hint of honey. The rum has notes of molasses and Bourbon wood accents with a hint of vanilla with a smooth, warming, long finish. It is authentically crafted with blends of rum aged 7 years or older in once-used Bourbon barrels.  Also a rum that can be sipped or used in premium cocktails.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva has a heavy, rich, toasted sugar flavor, with a rich and buttery hint of spice.  Revealing a medley of flavors that include caramel, allspice, almonds and molasses, vanilla and leather that come together ins such a wonderful manner. It is a very viscous medium-bodied rum that the flavor seems like it will never end.   This is definitely a rum that is worth spending time with as a sipper especially great with a fine cigar.
Cartavio XO has a brilliant mahogany color with woody aromas furniture shop.  There are notes of tropical fruit, leather, cinnamon, tannins, crisp, caramelized nuts, mango, orange caramel with a vanilla bean and nutmeg finish.  This is a very rich aged rum that suits palates that prefer sweets rums.  Another that can be used as a sipper or for mixing premium cocktails.
Dzama Cuvee Noire is one of a very few that can boast such a balance of flavors that are achieved by this rum.  You will find the notes of orange, vanilla, coffee liqueur, citrus and bananas as you sniff and taste this unique rum from Madagascar.   This oak barrel aged rum is filled with character and flavor that are unique to this rum.  Sip it or mix it you will enjoy this one.

Damoiseau XO has a golden amber color, with a rich, complex, oaky aromas, with flavors of chocolate, dried banana and mango, and some notes of spices and fruitiness.  This Agricole Rhum has a light-medium body with a smooth, subtle, medium-length satisfying finish.   A very smooth and elegant sipping rum that is absolutely my favorite Agricole..

Plantation Barbados 5 Year Grande Reserve has a light sweetness in the mouth with hints of butterscotch, caramel and molasses initially across the palate with some sweetness followed by a sharp orange peel and baking spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla along with a leathery mustiness.  Other flavors like banana and marmalade, toasted almond, charred coconut and notes of marzipan.  This is a unique rum that can be enjoyed across the spectrum, it works well in anywhere.

Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum has an aroma of molasses, baking spices and hints of caramel.  The flavor is sweet initially, with lots of vanilla, caramel, and citrus that melt away to a pepperiness at the back of the tongue.  It finishes on the dry side, medium-long, and slightly astringent, with the influence of the Oloroso sherry finish coming to the forefront.   This is unique in that gets its flavors not only from the selection of fine rums, but also what is gained from the solera blending method.   Papa’s Pilar is bold and works well as a sipper or a a replacement for bourbon in many of the classic cocktails. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bahaama Bob's August Cooler

     These are the hot days here in Key West with temperatures in the 90's and the humidity right up there as well.  What these afternoons call for is a refreshing and tasty cocktail to put the chill on you.
Here is an idea with a few unusual suspects that I have brought together just for the occasion.  Enjoy this one soon, I know it really fills the bill on the aft deck this time of year.

Bahama Bob's August Cooler

1 1/2 oz. Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Agave Nectar

Place all ingredients in a shake filled with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled and strain into tumbler filled with fresh ice and garnish as you see fit.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Big Things Happening at the Hemingway Rum Company in Key West

Carlton Grooms Making Final Inspection
     After nearly four years of construction and planning rum production has begun at the Hemingway
Rum Company in Key West, Florida.  The dropping of the yeast into the first batch of molasses in the fermentation tank last Saturday rum making is underway.  Carlton Grooms, Shawn Martin and the rest of the crew ceremoniously dropped the yeast in the first batch Saturday the 12th of August and 2:00 pm to get the first batch started.

Shawn Martin Dropping the Yeast
   If the fermentation goes as planned the distillation will begin on Tuesday afternoon.  the wine will be pumped from the fermentation tank into the still to begin the extraction of the fresh rum.   At this point there should be approximately 10% of the by volume of the original of the distillation come out as rum.

     The ceremonial tasting of the first batch will follow and hopefully it will bring smiles to the faces of all of us that are involved.  The rum will then pass through the solera and mixed with the other components of the sourced  blend of aged rums and bottle.  This is a huge event that has been in the making for nearly four years and I'm so glad to see it finally getting underway for everyone in the company.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Santiago de Cuba

The City of Santiago de Cuba houses some of the most interesting history in Cuba.  There Spanish American war history with San Juan Hill and Daiquiri Beach to the spirits history of the Bacardi Family there, you can not begin to see all of the things here even in a week.  Don't overlook this wonderful city when you plan your Cuban trips.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

New Rum Offered in the United Kingdom Inspired by Cornwall’s Book Jamaica Inn

     Jamaica Inn Black Ginger Rum has recently been quietly launched into its Cornwall heartlands, by Mangrove, the UK-based premium spirits distributor.  Recently and quietly launched into its Cornwall heartlands, by Mangrove, the UK-based premium spirits distributor.  This premium rum is a blend of Jamaican pot and column distillations that is infused with ginger, accompanied by subtle hints of lemongrass and citrus.  Ginger is a primary botanical infusion with a quality Jamaican rum, this offers fuller taste for classic cocktails that can be made with cola, tonic or any other mixer. The rum is aged for three years and has an ABV of 40%.

      “The brand is inspired by the Cornwall coaching inn built in 1750 and made famous in Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name. Jamaica Inn first derived its name from the local landowning Trelawney family. Edward Trelawney was born in Trelawney, Cornwall in 1699 and appointed Governor of Jamaica at the age of 39. Located on the bleak Bodmin Moor, the inn originally provided a watering hole to hide smuggler’s plundered Caribbean contraband of Jamaican rum and botanicals, including ginger.”  The expression is based upon the style of rum the patrons and malcontents would have been imbibing during the era.
Cornwell's Jamaica Inn

    Nick Gillett, managing director of Mangrove, comments: “More than anything else, this is an authentic Jamaican, flavored rum”.   It has that unique Jamaican ‘funk’ flavor with the presence of a well-balanced quality, ginger flavor throughout.  The name Jamaica Inn conjures up all the right images of dark rums and the historical richness with the cross over between Cornwall and Jamaica’s rumbustious past.”

     Unfortunately, like so many other interesting rums, Jamaica Inn Rum is not available in the United States.  If you happen to be visiting the United Kingdom, this is one of those rums with a unique story and mystique that you might want to search out.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Copper Cocktail Mugs Can be Poisonous According to Iowa Health Officials and the FDA

Banned Pure Copper Cup
     The Magic of the Copper mugs commonly used in trendy cocktails like Moscow Mules or Dark and Stormy’s has the potential of poisoning drinkers, according to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.   The body have examined the copper and food reactions and concluded that serving any food or liquid with a pH balance below 6, which include vinegar, wine and fruit juice.  These and other ingredients can cause copper poisoning with the result in the body causing diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice and low blood pressure.  According to the Food and Drug Administration's Moral Food Code, copper is prohibited from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0.  The warning comes as the Mule has risen in popularity with social media users, who enjoy posting pictures of the attractive mugs.

Approved Plated Interior Copper Cup
     A statement from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division reads: “The pH of a traditional Moscow Mule is well below 6.0. This means that copper mugs that have a copper interior may not be used with this beverage.”   “However, copper mugs lined on the interior with another metal, such as nickel or stainless steel” are allowable for use and are widely available.

     “High concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused foodborne illness. When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food.”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sailor Jerry Reveals a Special New Bottle Design

     William Grant & Sons has launched a new limited-edition bottle that was introduced to reinforce the Sailor Jerry’s “premium” credentials.   The new bottle was introduced to emphasize the brand’s extensive tattoo personality and to jump off the shelf in retail and bar exposure.   The new design sports a glossy black concealed wrap that offers tribute to the tattoo designs of the late Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins.
     The bottle image features an iconic hula girl, much like many of Collins’ early tattoo artist days, inking fellow soldiers and sailors at his tattoo parlor in World War II-era Hawaii.   It also features the brand’s famous anchor, a traditional symbol of stability, which takes us back to Collins’ professional sailor roots.   The limited-edition bottle is available in major markets at an suggested price of $26.50 while inventory is available.
     The Spirits Business named Sailor Jerry the 2017 Rum Brand Champion along with hitting the million-case sales plateau for the first time along with continued success in the US.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Rum Java in the Morning?

     Just tired of trying to wake up on one of these very warm tropical summer mornings with "Hot Coffee"?   I had an idea this morning, I grabbed my bottle of RumJava and added a little Licor 43 and sweet vermouth and you have a cool summer wake up cocktail.   I really like the idea of waking up in a much cooler way these summer days.

Bahama Bob's RumJava Wake Me Up

2 oz.  RumJava
1 oz.  Licor 43
1/2 oz.  Sweet Vermouth

Place all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until chilled.  Strain into a tulip glass filled with ice and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Rum Sixty-Six Expands with Two New Expressions

    Rum Sixty-Six has two new expressions, Extra Old and Cask Strength, bringing the Rum Sixty Six’s total range to three. These to new expressions will be joining the 12 year-old Family Reserve.   Extra Old and Cask Strength are aged for six years and 12 years respectively and aim to “tap into the premiumization surge within the dark rum category”.

     Halewood acquired a stake in the Rum Sixty-Six parent company, Bajan Trading Company, through this new joint venture.   H.J. Neill Ltd. firm also got the import and distribution rights of Barbados-made Rum Sixty-Six.  Bajan Trading Company has a family connection to the Seale family, with Richard Seale currently acting as master distiller of Rum Sixty-Six. The liquid, which is distilled in small batches, is aged and bottled at RL Seale’s historic Foursquare Rum Distillery in St Philip, Barbados. The process uses a blend of continuous still and copper pot productions.   Rum Sixty-Six is recommended for drinking straight like a fine scotch or cognac for sipping and savoring or as a base for cocktails.

      “Consumers are placing increasing emphasis on provenance and authenticity of their rum choices.  Rum Sixty-Six’s legacy is one skilled and honest rum making that comes from the historic Foursquare Distillery.  This provides a genuine strength of character to the rum, whether you’re new to the category or looking for the ultimate cask strength rum.”

     The Extra Old variant is a six year-old variant bottled at 40% ABV.  This expression is targeting the “new rum explorers”.  The Cask Strength expression is bottled at 59% ABV, is looking to attract the more sophisticated palate of the rum connoisseurs.   The two new additions also introduce Rum Sixty Six’s new bottle design, that is available in a 700 ml format.   Extra Old has a recommended price of £30 while Cask Strength is £55.

     These wonderful Rums unfortunately are only going to be available in Great Britain, but if you happen to be going there, don’t miss out on any of these classic Richard Seale rums.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Mystery of the Mermaid House Floating in the Gulf of Mexico

     The mystery of the floating mermaid house in the Gulf of Mexico has been solved, the Coast Guard said on Thursday morning.  The floating dock that was originally located behind the Parrot Key Hotel in Key West, Florida.  The dock reportedly broke free from its mooring during a storm.  No one was on board, but the tiny mermaid house drifting in the Gulf of Mexico had the Coast Guard wondering where it had come from.

     A report of the mermaid house first came in at 1 p.m. Wednesday, located approximately 180 miles south of Grand Isle according to the Coast Guard.   An airplane crew from the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala., went out to look and search for signs of distress.   Having found no one aboard, the Guard issued an alert to other vessels working in the area of the drifting object.   A provided picture shows a quaint little building with a painting of a mermaid frolicking with marine life on its side.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Beauty is All Around You

     Wandering around Key West I run across some of the most beautiful places.  Here is a picture of the way from the parking lot at the Pier House looking toward the waterfront.  There are so many of these places that make such beautiful photographs.  All you have to do is o open your eyes where ever you wander and you can find the beauty all around you.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Home is Really Where the Heart is.

     I was thinking about how things have changed over the years in my life.  I was thinking on the
idea that "Home is Where the Heart is", a concept that sort of just goes in one ear and out of the other, until you spend a few minutes thinking about it.

   When I lived in California, my passions were in the mountains, skiing in the winter and water skiing in the summer, but always in the mountains.   At that time I had mementos from the mountains and my decor was that of a mountain cabin.  Later when I moved to the Carolina's I fell in love with the Caribbean and my house was decorated with the souvenirs of the islands.  Today living on the island of Key West, where my heart really lives I spend my time doing things that keep me close to the water and nature of this place.

     The thing that I've found it really doesn't matter where you are,
as long as your passions are living
there with you, you're in a really good place.  It doesn't mean that you never want to go anywhere else, but it is the place that you want to be most of your time.  Today, living where I really want to be and living on a boat, all is great with the world.   When I get up til I spend my evenings on the aft deck watching the sun rise and set, my days are very rewarding.  I love to travel out, visiting as many Caribbean islands as I can, but after a week or so, I can't wait to get back to my home, because it is truly where my heart is.

This is Where my Heart is Today

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ohio State Liquor Law Change Will Helps Craft Distilleries Expand Their Customer Base

     Ohio is considering a change in the laws that might make it easier for Ohio's micro distilleries to get their vodkas, gins, rums and whiskeys on barroom shelves thanks to a change in state rules that will allow small-time distillers to sell products directly to pubs and restaurants.   That may not sound groundbreaking, but the process to get booze in the hands of a bartender is so ponderous that many producers didn't even bother trying.   Under the Ohio's strict liquor control rules, all distillers - no matter if they make 100 bottles a year or 100 bottles a minute - first had to ship their products to one of two state warehouses. The warehouse would send the bottles to a state liquor agency, where restaurateurs then could buy it wholesale.

     "If we have a micro distillery in Cincinnati, they would have to deliver product to the Columbus warehouse just to have it come back to the Cincinnati market," said Kerry Francis, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Commerce. "This will eliminate that step."  Georgia has very similar laws that are also causing a rum maker in Richland, Georgia has to send his rum to Atlanta and then it has to be brought back by a distributor to the bar and liquor store that is right across the street.  All these laws do is to send the cost of the product through the roof, mostly  because of unnecessary shipping.   Sales still will be tracked and regulated by liquor control agents, but officials say the eased rules recognize Ohio's growing craft distilling industry and are viewed as a way to help support those businesses.

     The changes likely will boost distillers like Toledo Spirits Co., a four-year-old craft distillery on North Summit Street in Toledo.   Toledo Spirits still is awaiting final details on how new the process will work, but partner and co-founder Dustin Wade is excited by the potential.   "It becomes more of a volume game for us," Mr. Wade said. "It'll be great to be able to engage directly with those local proprietors."    Mr. Wade noted that it was never their intention to put their spirits through the state system because the batches are very small and unique to Northwest Ohio.  This new law will allow them new sales opportunity in their specific region.

     As an employee of a small distillery in Florida, I see this issue effecting many of the craft distillers here as well.  Because all spirits must go through a distributor  in  order to get to the market, it is very hard for the small distilleries to sell outside of their distillery showrooms.  Most of the worthwhile distributors aren’t really interested in these small distilleries products because there isn’t enough volume to be worth their time.

      Craft distilleries are nowhere nearly as common as craft breweries, the numbers are growing significantly every year.  Ohio State officials say in May of 2011, there were two. Today, 57 producers are licensed to make up to 100,000 gallons of spirits a year.   Ryan Lang, president of the Ohio Distiller's Guild and co-owner of Middle West Distilling in Columbus, said the industry continues to gain traction and the state's upcoming changes should help with growing pains.

"This is a big change for Ohio craft distillers. This is definitely going to help people get to their customers better," I hope that more of the states will take what Ohio has done and look at doing the same for the craft distillers in other states.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bahama Bob's Papa Pilar Dark Bramble and Creme de Mure

     I had an idea for a cocktail, but I came across Creme de Mure, and I stared to play with it.  Creme de Mure is a Blackberry Liqueur, that is a frank and powerful olfactory attack, with impressions of puree of fresh fruit and jam.  Round and pleasant mouth brought by the freshness of the fruit.  Aromatic power of the blackberry. Bitterness of seeds at the end.  This is a wonderful liqueur that adds a dynamic flavor to so many cocktail possibilities.  Below is a twist on the classic Bramble.

Bahama Bob’s Pilar Dark Bramble

  • 2 Oz. Pilar Dark Rum
  • ¾ Oz. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • ½ Oz. Simple Syrup
  • ½ Oz. Bahama Bob’s Blackberry Liqueur

Place all ingredients except Bahama Bob’s Blackberry Liqueur into a shaker filled with ice.  Shake until chilled and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.  Drizzle Bahama Bob’s Blackberry Liqueur over the drink and garnish with a lemon zest.

Bahama Bob’s Creme de Mure
  • 12 Oz.  Blackberries freshor frozen
  • 14 Oz. Good Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
  • 12 Oz.  Sugar in the Raw
  • 10 Oz. Doorly’s White Rum

Pick over the blackberries and remove any stalks or leaves. Tip into a large ceramic or glass bowl and pour over the wine. Use a potato masher to crush the fruit into the wine. Cover with a tea towel and leave to macerate in a cool place for 2 days, mashing occasionally.

Pour the mixture through a plastic sieve, then pass again through the sieve or a colander lined with a square of muslin to remove any bits.  Tip the juice into a pan and add the sugar. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 5 mins. Leave to cool, then stir in the vodka or gin. Using a small jug, pour into bottles, then seal and label. It’s ready to use straight away. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for up to 1 year.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

NB Gin Distillery in Scotland Decides to Make Rum

     The company will launch three new rums that will be all made using a retort still and British molasses.  The new expressions have been produced after months of research and experimentation and will feature the same contemporary branding as its flagship NB gin and vodka brands that were launched in late 2013.  NB Gin is also increasing its production of its base Gin and Vodka because of an “overwhelming” demand from United Kingdom and other global markets.
      “We anticipate rum in the future becoming more popular, particularly craft rum.  “It is likely the number of rum bars across the world will also increase.”   Vivienne Muir, CEO of NB Gin, says that the work on the distillery is “progressing well”.   Mrs Muir outlined her plans at a meeting of East Lothian Council’s planning committee earlier this month, where they were granted permission to open a distillery at Halfland Barns, near North Berwick, which will be able to operate around the clock to meet international orders, she told the Courier: “We plan to launch two rums – a clear and a spiced rum.   An official launch is expected in November, but Mrs Muir is hopeful the new spirit will continue the success of the brand, launched in 2013.

Steve and Vivian Muir Founders of NB Gin
  The firm also recently secured a deal with Instil Drinks Company, which is handling the distribution of NB Gin, NB Gin Navy Strength and NB London Dry Citrus Vodka, in England and Wales.   The deal will see the spirits being supplied to all sectors of the business, including wholesalers, other distributors.   The award-winning NB Gin – previously named the world’s best London dry gin – and NB Vodka, launched last year, are the brainchild of husband-and-wife couple Steve and Viv Muir.   Now, the couple want to branch out further, with plans for NB Rum to be launched before the end of the year.   “These products have been exceptionally difficult to develop and have taken months of perfecting so far.   “Our experimentation and refining of the recipes is nearing the end of the process and recent blind tasting committees are placing the products ahead already of other major brands.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Luca Gargano is Releasing a Rare 12 Year Old Caroni Rum

The Now Closed Caroni Distillery
    Caroni Distillery has an interesting history, especially concerning Caroni Rum from the island of Trinidad.   At one point in time, there were 50 distilleries on Trinidad, but by 1950 there were just eight.   Today there is only one, the House of Angostura.    From 1923 till 2003 were the golden ages of the Caroni Rum distillery, founded in the heart of the Caroni plain's sugarcane plantations, this famed Trinidad distillery was renowned throughout the world for producing some of the best heavy rums.  They received high praise from the British Navy for whom they had produced rums.    In 2003, a disaster struck, with the closing of the nearby state owned sugar refinery resulted in a slow decline of Trinidad's sugarcane production.  It was a short time later that the Caroni distillery was also shut down.
     It’s not too far from here that Italian Luca Gargano found something on a trip to the island in 2004.  He located the last of some legendary Caribbean rum.   A little more than a year after the Caroni Rum Distillery had closed, Gargano discovered that inside the old facility were hundreds of barrels of Caroni’s “heavy” rum aging, some of which dated back nearly three decades.   Gargano, a spirits importer that has made an art form of locating rare and sometimes thought to be lost old spirits, was able to acquire the rums and eventually bottle them.  This is a treasure trove of rum archaeology.
     The Caroni 12 Year Old bottling contains rum from the 2000 vintage, the last available barrels of 100% Trinidad Rum made from local molasses, distilled and matured for 12 years on the island.  The hot tropical weather resulted in an angels share of 60% loss of distilled spirit due to evaporation.   To perfectly capture the unique heavy rum character of this closed distillery, Gargano has bottled the Caroni 12 Year Old at 50% ABV.   To add to the mystique, the label reflects a 1940 label to commemorate Trinidad’s golden age of rum.  This is a very limited supply, it should be a must own expression even for one that is not a regular rum drinker.

     This expression is a deep gold rum with the aroma of charred molasses, a barbaque in your neighbor's garden, vanilla and caramelized ripe bananas. On the palate it is velvety, with hints of toasted nuts, smoked licorice, vanilla, honey, marzipan and delicate spices.   It is a heavy bodied rum that is well balanced with a long dry oaked finish.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Watching as the Sunsets on July

     Today brings the sunset on July.  It has been an interesting month with a lot of really good things that have taken place.  The month is going out with a beautiful sinking of the sun into the waters to the west of us.  I hope that you have had just as nice of a month as mine was.

     The aft deck seems to have been the site  of so many wonderful evenings where mother nature has creates some of her most beautiful art works for us.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What is Happening in the Barrel: Part 3

Barrels Stacked in a Aging Bodega
      Jordan Bushell from Hennessy speaks about the meticulously planned aging process of Cognac.  "The first flavor concentration is through distillation. The second concentration is through the angel's share".   Hennessy uses two types of aging warehouses to manipulate brandy in different ways. The company's dry cellars have an annual angel's share 4% on new barrels, while the angel's share in its humid cellars can be as little as 0.5%. The humid cellars, therefore, are where the very old Cognacs are kept, maturing at a slow rate without too much of the precious liquid evaporating away.  

Classic Aging Bodega
Filling the Barrels
     Hennessy also groups its barrels into categories depending on how long they've held maturing brandy and how much impact they'll have on spirits aging in them.  Barrels used for up to one year are in Category A, while Category E indicates barrels that have already been in use for 20 to 35 years. Different marques of Cognac will age through different combinations of barrel categories and placement in different cellars. Furthermore, Hennessy does not simply age a VSOP Cognac a little longer to get the XO marque; it ages the spirit in a different combination of barrels and cellars for each blend.

Good Labeling of the Barrels

     Overall, these three articles give you an idea of how complicated the chemistry of aging spirits can be, how advanced the scientific understanding of it is, and how much data can contribute to the decision-making in spirits production. But at the end of the day, someone with a trained palate rather than someone trained in chemistry will make the final decision on which products make it to market. Like I said at the end of yesterday’s edition, people will be buying these spirits, people looking for sensory experiences and not real interested in scientific data.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

What is Happening in the Barrel: Part 2

Stave Replacement to adjust aging
     Dr. Matthew Crow spoke on three ways in which spirits change during barrel aging: subtractive, taking away the less desirable flavors, additive, color and flavors taken from the barrel, and interactive, the distillate reacting with the wood, with oxygen, and with the barrel char.   The choice of a new versus many times reused barrels for a spirit is based on how much and which type of wood influence is desired.  The spirit had lost its characteristic immature notes of young Scotch, yet had picked up very little color or caramel flavor from the barrels.   A barrel with heavily charred new ends, the flat top and bottom of an old barrel.  Crow said they initially found the spirit to be too woody and spice dominant, masking the "distillery character" from the spirit itself. But after another eight to nine years of additional maturation, the distillery character resurfaced as the spirit matured.  To bring it all together, a spirit matured in a variety of barrels, then blended and rested in "low activity barrels," Crow said made a significant positive impact on the character of final spirit.

The Good Stuff Coming out of the Barrel
     How much do spirit makers rely on chemical analyses as opposed to human taste buds in creating spirits?   Crow said: "The chemical analysis supports the sensory," to the mutual agreement of all the panelists.  Bushell of Hennessy, added that in producing Cognac the distillers are forced to make decisions on how to distill the wines before lab analyses could be completed. If they waited for test results, the wine would have changed enough that said results would no longer be useful. 

     The more the industry relies on the scientific portion to make its decisions, the more they seem to need the sensory.  I understand the need for both, but the final products are not sold to scientific equipment, but rather to people.  People buy spirits for their sensory enjoyment, not mental knowledge.

Friday, July 28, 2017

What is Happening in the Barrel: Part 1

Lignin: The Molecule
     Dr. Don Livermore of Wiser's/Hiram Walker, spoke on "the most underappreciated molecule", lignin.  Lignin is a complex organic compound that binds to cellulose fibers that hardens and strengthens the cell walls of plants.  Lignin is a polymer consisting of various aromatic alcohols, and is the chief noncarbohydrate constituent of wood. The lignin is broken down and transformed via cooking and distillation into compounds producing the flavor notes of clove and smoke, as well as the particularly distinctive spicy note we associate spirits, from 4-ethyl guaiacol.  Following through to distillation, Livermore discussed how the yeast-derived flavors of a spirit, fruity, floral, green grass, soapy, and sulfur are separated through pot distillation: the sulfur removed by the copper of the still; the green grass notes in the head cuts of distillation; the soapy notes in the tails cut.

Where the Flavors Come From
     In maturation inside an oak barrel, that magical lignin comes up again, in a role Livermore calls the "mortar to the bricks" of cellulose and hemicellulose that make up most of the wood. When burned in the barrel charring process, the broken down lignin products add to many of the smoky, phenolic components to the aging spirit, while the cellulose and hemicellulose impart many of the caramel-type flavors.

     Livermore finished with some counter-intuitive experimental data showing that more char on a barrel doesn't necessarily lead to more wood extractives in the spirit aging inside of it. He found that a new barrel charred to two millimeters depth gives more wood extractives than one charred to a four millimeters depth.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Angostura Will Announce Rum Range Changes

     Angostura is facing some “difficult decisions” in rationalizing its rum range, and is set to announce some “additions or deletions” next year according to the group’s new CEO.  Speaking to The Spirits Business last month, Genevieve Jodhan, who was made the permanent CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago-based rum and bitters producer in February 2017, we are “looking at the range now to see what we want to consistently grow, and whether there are any of the rums that we would like to drop”.  “It’s all about looking at the change in consumption patterns, and looking at the younger consumers,” said Jodhan.
     “Angostura 1919, for example, started off with an age statement and five years ago we removed it because we ran out of all eight-year-old stock – we changed the blend.   “I think this eventually happens with all companies, we are now looking at our 10-year ageing plan and we are going to cement what that range should be, so that by January we should be announcing either some additions or deletions. But it’s not anything that we are scared off.”
     Jodhan also revealed to The Spirits Business that Angostura has “no capacity constraints” for production of rum, particularly since the company made a "strategic decision" to vastly reduce it third party supply contracts.   Angostura’s rum portfolio is divided into ‘international rums’ – its premium heritage-­driven expressions – and ‘Trinidadian jewels’ – rums not branded as ‘Angostura’ that dominate the domestic market.
As part of a three-­year strategy that started with the redesign of the international rum portfolio, Jodhan says Angostura may consider expanding international distribution of its ‘Trinidadian jewels’.

To read Genevieve Jodhan’s interview in full, see the July 2017 issues of The Spirits Business magazine, out now.

     This is an issue within the entire rum industry.  The same expressions year after year are no longer holding up in this rapidly changing spirits market.  Many of the older traditional expressions have disappeared in the past few years.   I expect to see more of this with other companies in the very near future.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fidel Castro’s Personal Rum Arrives in the United Kingdom

      Cuban rum brand Isla del Tesoro, once produced for revolutionary Fidel Castro, has been made available in the UK through distributor Spirit Cartel, priced at $650.00.  For 50 years Isla del Tesoro, or ‘treasure island’, was distilled for Castro’s personal consumption; gifted to visiting international dignitaries and senior members of Cuban government. Until recently the rum was not commercially available, and even now production is limited.
     The original recipe for Isla del Tesoro was created from a collection of rums appropriated by the Cuban State from rum-producing families fleeing the Revolution. They were discovered in 1959 ageing in a cellar nicknamed the ‘Cathedral of Light Rum’.  The expression is presented in an individually-numbered ceramic decanter encased in a handmade wooden chest.   A map accompanies the bottle, depicting the location of Isla del Tesoro, now called Isla de la Juventud.
    Charles Marshall, Spirit Cartel, said: “Isla del Tesoro is truly the stuff legends are made of.  We feel it’s our own little revolution and certainly a piece of history, just being granted the UK distribution for the this very special rum.  

     The romance surrounding this rum, contributes to the myth that it has come to represent the Cuban people’s soul: pure and full of spirit, whilst maintaining a real sense of dignity and elegance.  “It’s a rum for connoisseurs and aficionados. In my opinion, no rum collection is complete without a bottle of ‘El Caballo’s’ personal rum.  No matter of what you think about Fidel Castro, this is one of those rare and unusual rums that would be a cornerstone for any collector.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

RumChata has introduced the first Alcoholic Iced Coffee FrappaChata

      RumChata has launched FrappaChata, the first and only premium ready-to-drink alcoholic iced coffee on the market.   FrappaChata is a custom blend of Arabica and Robusta coffees blended with award-winning RumChata cream liqueur. The result is the flavor of rich, dark roast coffee highlighted by the sweet smooth taste of RumChata.
     Iced coffee has become a year-round drink enjoyed by almost forty percent of adults in the United States. Ready-to-drink coffee is currently a $2.4 billion business at retail and continues to grow. Pre-orders have been extremely strong for FrappaChata, leading to projections of 100,000 cases being sold through the end of 2017.   While delicious straight, on the rocks, or blended with ice, the versatility of FrappaChata also makes it a great mixer with coffee liqueurs, bourbons, espresso vodka and aged and spiced rums.

     FrappaChata at 25-proof is shelf stable, requiring no refrigeration and available in 1.75L bottles for a suggested retail price of $19.99 and 100ml bottles for a suggested retail price of $1.99. FrappaChata can be located on the shelf with RumChata or next to other premium, ready-to-drink cocktails in the ready-to-drink section, or in the cold box.
For more information, visit

Monday, July 24, 2017

Rums Dominate the Top 10 Spirits Brands on Social Media

     The use of the social media is a must, it provides a very precise way to target your specific audience.  It is probably the best way to connect with the largest number of people and get back quick response as to how effective your posting was.  I find it as a great encouragement to see that rums have dominated this top ten group. 
     Historically, mastering social media has been far from easy for the drinks industry, but when executed well, social media provides unparalleled opportunities for brands to engage with their target audience.  Thanks to increasingly sophisticated age targeting, several spirit brands have honed their online presence, recognizing its intrinsic value within a wider marketing strategy. Some have even opted to eliminate traditional advertising altogether and are leveraging the likes of YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat and more to engage with fans, share content and generate brand awareness.
     The Business Spirits Team has evaluated brands’ presence, engagement, creativity and consistency on what are considered to be the most integral online platforms in 2017: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Brands were individually assessed on each platform, with a focus on global accounts rather than regional, where possible, with a final score awarded.   While regulatory challenges will always exist, by maximizing online presence, alcoholic drinks companies can best serve their customers, their brands and perhaps most importantly, their profits.
     Even though rum has four of the top ten, it does show that the group it is reaching for the most part is interested in the productions expressions. There were 4 runs, 2 gins, 1 scotch, 1 Cognac, and 1 apertif in the top ten spirits.
  • 10.   Malibu
  • 8.     Captain Morgan
  • 5.     Havana Club (Cuban)
  • 1.     Sailor Jerry

     These are the rums that are targeting the younger and less sophisticated palates, there are no premium spirits in the list.  I see this as an indication that the media people don’t believe that the older and more sophisticated palates don’t spend much time on social media.  I feel that this will change as more and more of us “old farts” use the social media regularly.