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Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum


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#1 Kent Wang

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 05:59 AM

Briefly discussed in Cocktailian Ingredient Trends, Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum (Haus Alpenz profile) is now available at the Spec's in Houston. I had a chance to taste it at Anvil (a bar in Houston) and I can say it is indeed very funky, and has a strong vegetal, sugar cane aspect like a rhum agricole. Really, it's even funkier than any rhum agricole I've tasted like Barbancourt and St. James.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to stop by Spec's while I was in Houston to pick up a bottle and it's only available at their headquarters store for now. I imagine you lucky folks in New York and California already have access to it? What do you think?

#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 06:12 AM

I tasted this thanks to Eric Seed (Society member eas) and the gang at Drink in Boston last week, and it's fantastic. The website description is spot-on.
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#3 lperry

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 06:19 AM

I tried it at the Ministry of Rum festival in New York last week. I realize tastes differ widely, but this one strikes me as a mixer. I was told by the rep that it was crafted under the guidance of Dave Wondrich for use in classic cocktails that call for Jamaican rum.

#4 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 06:57 AM

Yes, I believe that's correct. Perhaps Dave or Eric can weigh in.
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#5 vice

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 07:04 AM

From the Haus Alpenz site:

Recognition Where Due
As the Smith & Cross production lines have been dormant for many years, its revival owes tremendous gratitide to the encouragement, insights and guidance of spirits historian David Wondrich. Our special thanks as well to the numerous others who contributed in so many ways.


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#6 eas

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 08:38 AM

Here I'll write in response with the upfront disclosure as the US importer and representative for Smith & Cross.

The general goal was to revive the style of Jamaica Rum prevalent into the early 20th century, which is measurably different than what is on offer today.

Most all Jamaica rum now uses pot-still distillate as a top note to column still product, and is very much focused on delivering an easy drinking, delicious sippable experience, with the oak/vanillas and sugary flavors we love and see across the spectrum of better product today.

Jamaica Rum historically was once considerably different. I'll summarize here - more at the alpenz website (http://www.alpenz.co...cross114rum.htm) and for a wonderful in-depth reading I'd suggest the chapter on Jamaica Rum in Hugh Barty King & Anton Massel's "Rum: Yesterday and Today". Until the arrival of the first column stills in the 1960's, Jamaica Rum was all pot-still. The old style Jamaica rum was famous for a "heavy" full flavor and aromatic style with great tropical fruit and spice notes. The funky, agricole and even bread like notes are very much a function of the old Jamaica style of production - using the skimmings, dunder, cane juice (though minimal relative to the molasses) and yeasts unique to each sugar estate and their sugar production. While not a sipping rum by contemporary standards, this style of rum imparts an extraordinary depth of classic rum flavors to mixed drinks. And after letting it open up, you may find yourself sipping it too. Be careful if you really like it - its the origin of of the term 'dunderhead.'

A few other things to note in summary that have come up in discussion: Navy strength (114pf) is not the same as navy rum (which was mostly Guyana with Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad). Jamaica pot-still rum was classified by ester content / flavor intensity, of which the Plummer and Wedderburn were the "Home Trade" qualities. The UK angle was integral to not just the old brand mark but more importantly the history of this style and of rum in general. Lasty, this isn't a re-creation brought to market for wall decoration and collectors - its intended for use in service as a base spirit in seriously delicious drinks calling for Jamaica rum. If not to your liking, please do explore the other lovely Jamaica rums in market.

David had initially suggested the revival of this style almost three years ago and sipped through a number of iterations along the way. Audrey and her team weighed in mightily on the proof decision. Numerous others voiced in on many facets of the project. We hope you enjoy it!

#7 Dave the Cook

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 10:34 AM

Those who have sampled the Smith & Cross: how does it compare to Inner Circle green?

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#8 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 06:21 PM

As someone who has bought, afaik, the entire existing supply of IC green in the state, I was deeply relieved to taste the S&B and know it was on the way. Similar styles, excellent for mixing -- though I haven't had the pleasure of a side-by-side.
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#9 Dave the Cook

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 07:22 PM

At one time, I had a similar stash of ICG. But now it's gone. Hence my inquiry -- and anticipation.

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#10 vice

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 11:10 PM

As someone who has bought, afaik, the entire existing supply of IC green in the state, I was deeply relieved to taste the S&B and know it was on the way. Similar styles, excellent for mixing -- though I haven't had the pleasure of a side-by-side.

Unless you've bought it up in the past couple weeks, there is still some on the shelves at Joyal's. If I had been checking luggage on my way home, it would have been coming with me.
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#11 FireAarro

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 12:51 AM

As someone who has bought, afaik, the entire existing supply of IC green in the state, I was deeply relieved to taste the S&B and know it was on the way. Similar styles, excellent for mixing -- though I haven't had the pleasure of a side-by-side.



Awesome! Do you by any chance know how the Red, Green and Black compare to each other? Being in Australia we have no short supply of Inner Circle, and I have a bottle of the red spot on my shelf :). So IC is also made in the old pot-still style then?

(Funnily enough the Smith and Cross packaging doesn't not remind me of the old Inner Circle bottles)

Edited by FireAarro, 13 October 2009 - 12:58 AM.


#12 eas

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 07:27 AM

While the Inner Circle Green was suggested as a substitute in the absence of pot-still Jamaica Rum, it wasn't and isn't traditional Jamaica Rum. The IC has its own merits, story and virtues apart from its role as a substitute. If you nose and taste the Smith & Cross side-by-side with either IC Green (114) or IC Black (151), you'll likely find the S&C far more aromatic and flavor intensive. It's not something so unique to S&C - this is typical of the grade of pure pot-still Jamaica Rum at 114 proof.

I'd suggest tasting and mixing side by side with Plantation Jamaica 1998, Appleton 12, Wray & Nephew 151. Yes there are differences of proof and production style, but all are different takes on Jamaica Rum.

#13 Kent Wang

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 09:22 AM

What cocktails traditionally call for Jamaica rum? The Alpenz website lists some recipes, including the daiquiri and planter's punch, but did those recipes specifically call for Jamaica rum?

Or more importantly, what cocktails benefit most from the S&C? Certainly, the daiquiri is so flexible a recipe it can showcase any type of rum. Any others?

#14 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 09:34 AM

What cocktails traditionally call for Jamaica rum? The Alpenz website lists some recipes, including the daiquiri and planter's punch, but did those recipes specifically call for Jamaica rum?

Or more importantly, what cocktails benefit most from the S&C? Certainly, the daiquiri is so flexible a recipe it can showcase any type of rum. Any others?


'Proper' cocktails less so but punches definitely, including the Planters you mention.
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#15 eas

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 01:52 PM

What cocktails traditionally call for Jamaica rum? The Alpenz website lists some recipes, including the daiquiri and planter's punch, but did those recipes specifically call for Jamaica rum?

Or more importantly, what cocktails benefit most from the S&C? Certainly, the daiquiri is so flexible a recipe it can showcase any type of rum. Any others?


The "Jamaica Rum Daquiri" calls for Jamaica Rum, the standard "Daquiri" is a different drink, typically calling for a lighter rum. It is indeed a great formula to open up a rum's characteristics, as was pointed, 'the Daquiri doesn't lie".

#16 KD1191

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 02:01 PM

"the Daquiri doesn't lie".

Funny, I just heard that story last night when I asked a favorite bartender if he'd be open to making me something with Batavia Arrack.
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#17 misterdyer

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:51 PM

Of all of the great bottles that Eric has brought to the market, this is the greatest. Hands down.
It's just cold booze in a glass. Drink it, dammit.

#18 Chris Amirault

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 07:19 PM

I'd suggest tasting and mixing side by side with Plantation Jamaica 1998, Appleton 12, Wray & Nephew 151. Yes there are differences of proof and production style, but all are different takes on Jamaica Rum.


I've not had the other two, but the S&C blows Appleton 12 out of the water.
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#19 John Rosevear

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 05:18 PM

I've not had the other two, but the S&C blows Appleton 12 out of the water.


I wouldn't say "blows it out of the water" so much as "complements it beautifully"... try 1/2 oz of each in a Mai Tai with 1 oz of Clement VSOP or your preferred Saint James variant (or El Dorado 15, for that matter). I'm really liking S&C as a way to augment modern Jamaican rums in tiki recipes.

Edited by John Rosevear, 19 April 2010 - 05:20 PM.

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#20 Chris Amirault

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 06:05 PM

I likes me the Appleton -- don't get me wrong. But I think that the S&C is a far superior product.
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#21 JAZ

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 06:33 PM

I like them both, but mostly, I don't think they're comparable. I like Smith & Cross in some drinks, but in others, I think Appleton 12 works better. The S&C is just too funky for me in more delicate drinks.

#22 Chris Amirault

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 06:50 PM

Fair enough.
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#23 Dave the Cook

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 07:13 PM

Call me odd -- I've been called worse -- but so far my favorite use of S&C has been in a Manhattan derivative: 2:1 with CAF, dashes of orange, cherry and aromatic bitters, lemon twist -- practically a dessert. It's a worthy sub for Inner Circle Green in Dave's Two Indies -- not the same, but more than serviceable, from which I deduce that it will require adjustments (or perhaps undoing adjustments) in other tiki-like drinks.

I'm also thinking of something that combines it with a bitter component and a bubbly float. I haven't figured that out yet -- seems like the cocktail equivalent of 80s new wave music: assertive top and bottom, with whiny stuff in the middle.

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#24 slkinsey

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 07:30 PM

Flatiron Lounge has (or had) a great drink on the menu called "Old Ironsides" that had both Smith & Cross and Batavia Arrack.

I think S&C is a shoe-in for any Old Fashioned type of drink.
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#25 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 05:48 PM

Sam, do you know the recipe of that? We just got S&C, the arrack, and a bunch more Haus Alpenz stuff at work, and I'm having a grand old time. Love to know.
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#26 JAZ

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 06:20 PM

I like them both, but mostly, I don't think they're comparable. I like Smith & Cross in some drinks, but in others, I think Appleton 12 works better. The S&C is just too funky for me in more delicate drinks.

At the risk of sounding like a wimp, I'm going to revise this statement. I've really been trying to like Smith & Cross, but I just don't. To me, it tastes like rum infused with dust balls and sweat socks. It's okay as a sub for the now unavailable Inner Circle in a Both Indies, but otherwise, I'm just not getting it.

#27 John Rosevear

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 06:32 PM

Try it in a mai tai with El Dorado 12 or 15. Wow.
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#28 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 06:54 PM

I've really been trying to like Smith & Cross, but I just don't. To me, it tastes like rum infused with dust balls and sweat socks.


Are you speaking metaphorically? Or do you really mean you think it tastes like dust and sweat socks? Can you be more specific?
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#29 JAZ

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 07:10 PM

Okay, I'll try to be more specific. I get a hit of sweetness first, but quickly followed by a sort of mustiness (aka dust balls) and something acrid (aka sweat socks). Yes, I know it's high proof, and yes, it's funky, but to me not in a good way. I like a lot of strong flavors and funkiness in other products (Islay Scotches or Maraschino for instance), so I'm not sure why this strikes me as off. Maybe I'm just not mixing it right.

#30 slkinsey

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 07:50 PM

Real traditional Jamaica rum is intense stuff and definitely not for everyone. I hope I can be forgiven for posting this quotation from Doc Baker:

WORDS to the WISE No. V, on the MODIFICATION of JAMAICA RUM when LADY GUESTS ARE PRESENT

Never forget, please, that only 1 lady in 12 really likes the Jamaica rum taste. Therefore dilute the rum this way: 3 parts Cuban type to 1 of Jamaica. The aroma will be there and the full round Jamaica flavor too, but in a tempo inoffensive to the most rabid Jamaicaphobes.



I like it 50/50 with Bonal Gentiane Quina stirred/strained.
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