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Ed Hamilton

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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  1. If you don't know by now, Rhum's the Word. Paul Pacult's latest edition of The Spirit Journal discusses the world of Martinique Rhum.
  2. Flor de Cana has some very good rums. Their white rum is amazing, but that's not surprising since it's aged four years and then carbon-filtered to remove the color. The coconut and citrus flavors come through nicely in this balanced white rum. Though I don't generally drink white rum neat, I do enjoy sipping samples of this rum. The older dark rums from FdC do have some similarities to the Havana Club style, but I enjoy FdC more than the HC white.
  3. It is telling that the blender doesn't identify the rum. The sisserou is the national bird of Dominica, but I'd guess that if this rum cream is bottled in the UK that the rum is from Barbados or Trinidad, both of which are West Indian rum producers with strong trading ties to the UK.
  4. Your story is so typical of the Caribbean rum industry, someone trying to show several distillers how to make a rum that be more marketable. The story has been repeated so many times it isn't funny. First, you have to consider that every distiller thinks he makes the best rum in the world, "If other rums are better why aren't they selling in my market. My customers tell me all the time that my rum is the best." Nest you have to appreciate that we are dealing with distillers from different counties. More than ten years ago, there was a plan to market a rum blended from a number of distillers. But even before the project got to the serious discussion stage there was enough disagreement to table ruin the new rum. Who was going to bottle it? How much of each rum was going to go into the new blend? Who was going to pay for the marketing, not to mention where was it going to be marketed. And this was before the petty jealousies began to surface. As for the future, I don't expect to see any serious blends from several distillers. In the long run, I see rums produced and bottled at the distilleries are the ones that are going to survive. Even in today's market, quality control is a huge issue and when you drink a rum in the islands and then find a different blend in another country it certainly hurts their credibility, at least for the serious consumer. Rum distillers aren't going to work together anytime in the near future to market their rums, there is just too much competition, and too much near-sightedness. But in their defense, most distillers are used to working in a domestic market where competition, and not cooperation, are part of the business from the beginning. Rums of Puerto Rico is an exception to this island phenomenom. When Rums of Puerto Rico was founded there were dozens of Puerto Rican rum labels, how many can you name in 15 seconds? While talking to distillers about exporting rum from the islands, most distillers told me that if I handled another distiller's rum, I couldn't export theirs. But when I asked if they only wanted me to sell to retailers who only sold their rum, they looked at me like I was from another planet. The ironic thing, to me, is that every island distiller sells to shops that handle a number of rums and without offering consumers a choice the shops will soon close.
  5. Fajou from Guadeloupe sticks in my mind as one of the worst. But one of the biggest disappointments was Captain Morgan's Private Stock. Great packaging, great name, but I've tasted better cough syrup. A few years ago I did an article about the worst rums for a Caribbean magazine. I'll see if I can find it.
  6. Depending on where you look, you'll see that 10Cane is perfect for a cuba libre, mojito and other drinks. As for research, most of that was done in the marketing department. 10Cane is on the right track, sugar cane juice makes better rum than molasses, but the raw material is only part of the story, fermentation and distillation proof are also huge factors in making good rum. Just as there are some good molasses rums there are also some agricole rums which I prefer not to drink.
  7. Most sugar cane syrups aren't nearlyas sweet as that found in the islands. As for not being a big fan of agricole, it is very different from other rums. I would, however, suggest making a ti punch and after adding ice, letting the drink chill while the flavors evolve. The first sip is strong, the authentic rhum agricole is bottled at 100 or 110 proof, but after a few minutes the flavor changes. One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was using too much lime and sugar and covering the flavor of the spirit. The strong spirit also tends to leech too much of the oils from the lime while I take the time to drink the cocktail. Here's a picture of the lime slice I use. Another drink that I love with rhum agricole is passionfruit juice, I use Trader Joe's, and a squeeze of lime.
  8. I'm not sure why the Coke goes flat, though it is probably a chemical reaction that I haven't spent two seconds worrying about. Havana Club 7 and Coke, definitely a waste of rum. Have you tried that rum with passionfruit juice or even orange juice so you can taste the rum?
  9. Most commercially bottled sugar cane spirits that are flavored are flavored with fruit and the like. On the other hand, a lot of locals 'spice' their spirits with all manner of herbs and roots, the most popular of which is bois bande, which according to tradition is good for the wood.
  10. Depending on which country you are talking about, yes, yes, and probably yes. But the rules are slightly different, or interpreted differently, for spiced rums. Bacardi Limon is another example of a flavored rum that is bottled at 35% alcohol and most people swear that it is rum.
  11. At the risk of offending anyone whom I haven't already offended, I don't care what rum you're drinking, if you're drinking rum and coke you're wasting rum. The question of blended rums using BOTH molasses and cane, however, is one of those questions that should be in the rum trivia game. I've had two rums which were made from a wash of fresh cane juice and molasses and I finished neither bottle. The first, Fajou, was from the Simmonet distillery in Guadeloupe which has since closed. The second was from a sugar factory on Martinique and wasn't much better, the name escapes me at the moment. Their main product was a molasses based rhum, but they were trying to improve the quality of that horrid spirit by adding some cane juice to the wash, without success.
  12. I'll agree with that, except that I have some very high quality, high proof rums and I prefer to drink them warm with a little water on the side.
  13. I love cold drinks as well, and with high humidity, the ice melts even faster than it does in the dessert. But when I'm tasting spirits, I try to taste them at room temperature so I can taste more of the flavors since our taste buds don't work as well at cold temps.
  14. Next to the ti punch, which can't be beat for simplicity, one of my favorite rhum agricole drinks is passionfruit juice, rhum agricole and a wedge of lime squeezed into the passionfruit and rhum over ice.
  15. Martinique is a department of France, as is Guadeloupe. So technically, the label is correct, but since Chauvet is bottled in France it says "Product of France" instead of "Product of Martinique, French West Indies." Happy sipping, but don't mix it with Coke.
  16. And there is another article that also came out Wednesday in the New York Times. Rum Flirts With Bachelorhood but Still Mixes Well With Others Although many people look to the aged rums as being the best, and they arguably are, don't overlook the white rums, especially the unaged white rums from Martinique. But be warned, these are not rums with which to mix Coke. I'm sorry the good people of Pennsylvania don't have a better selection of spirits but these hard to find rums are worth looking for when you travel outside the keystone state. But before you feel too sorry for yourself, remember that these rums have only been in the US a few months but they have been around in the Caribbean for centuries. If you want to help your situation, ask your state store to order some of these rums and if a few people ask they will go the short step of actually ordering some.
  17. I haven't seen Chauvet claim to be AOC before, and that brand isn't sold in Martinique, so it seems suspicious. Is this bottled at 50% abv.? I'll have to find this one. There will be a number of new rhums claiming to be from Martinique in the coming months.
  18. Rhum Chauvet "Special Cocktail" white rum, that's a new one on me. The other Chauvet rums I've seen aren't rhum agricole though they claim to be from Martinique. From what I've seen these are bottled in France from unknown origins. A lot of molasses-based rum is shipped to France and bottled in liqueurs and other things. I hope you aren't disappointed but let us know.
  19. There are fairly accurate solubility coefficients chemists use to predict the absorbtion rates of chemicals in solvents. Both water and alcohol are solvents but some chemicals are more soluble in water than alcohol, and vice versa. To calculate the absorption rate of the flavors you need to identity the chemicals in the flavors in the infusions but suffice it to summarize that the heavier oils will take longer to absorb than the lighter oils and that the heavier oils are responsible for the cloudy color of the infusion. While it is possible to predict all these things empirically, it is faster and more accurate to do several simutaneous experiments. Sounds like you're on the right track. Start with alcohol of about the strength with which you want to finish, test often and enjoy the experimenting. That is how the solubility coefficients were derived. Try googling solubility coefficient alcohol and you will get an idea of the complexity of the equations involved. Personally, I'd rather spend my spare time drinking experiments than hurting my brain solving logarithm equations which have to be verified anyway.
  20. Temperature does affect chemical reactions, but it is more complicated than that. It hurts my head to deal with these things again after many years out of the classroom enjoying the fresh air, but here's a discussion in fairly simple? terms. You have to remember that the temperature scale referred to is Kelvin, but more important than temperature are the relative chemical activation engeries. Hydrogen and oxygen won't form water unless there is a high enough temperature, but above that temperature the reaction does not occur at a rate equal to the square of the temperature. Having written that, and taking a long sip of rum, rum does mature much faster in the tropics than in colder climates, which is one reason that Ron Zacapa can be aged 23 years and not suffer from the long time in the barrel. It is aged at about 6,000 feet, and the day I was there in February, it was cold enough that you didn't want to hang around comtemplating the reaction times of chemical reagents. Some things are better understood by tasting them, which is the ultimate test of any of my favorite spirits.
  21. I was really trying to refrain from commenting on that variety of Pusser's rum. I don't know if it is different since I haven't tried it but I can tell you with confidence that there are no wooden-pot stills. There was a wooden-column still operating about fifteen years ago in Guyana. In various communications I've read from the brand owners, Pusser's has been described as pot still rum, so this is a departure, or they got a new marketing person, or maybe it's just a simple editorial error. Additionally, they aren't claiming that any of the rum in this blend is from the British Virgin Islands, which doesn't produce enough rum to export. If I had to make a guess, I'd think the rum was very similar to the blue label Pusser's Rum in an expensive decanter. The Antigua 5 year old rum is good if you can find it. I was also not going to comment on the rancio character of Zacapa, as I've not found it. But we aren't talking about Dewar's Scotch, which never varies.
  22. Martinique sugar cane syrup is really nothing like fresh sugar cane juice. Since it is made after some of the impurities from the juice have been removed by adding lime and simmering the fresh juice. There is only a hint of molasses in the finish but the golden color is much lighter than any of the simple syrups or sugar cane syrups I've found in the US. There is a discussion of (not so) simple syrup on the Cocktails and Fine Spirits forum here at egullet. Martinique sugar cane syrup is more than 2/3 sugar, just slightly below saturation at room temperature, it will crystallize is kept in the refrigerator. The biggest difference in this syrup and the others I've found is in the taste. There is a prominent sugar cane taste and it makes a much better ti punch than anything else I've found, outside the French islands. If you'd like a 50ml sample send me a pm with a mailing address where you can recieve a small package in the mail.
  23. Nick Passmore, Forbes.com's spirits editor has another online article titled "Ten Amazing Rums"
  24. After a week in Martinique I'm back in the US and happy to report that Martinique sugar cane syrup is coming to the US next month. This syrup is quite different to the simple syrups used in most bars.
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