Jump to content

Ed Hamilton

eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Ed Hamilton

  1. Cohiba rums are distilled and aged in the Dominican Republic. Over the years, I've noticed some variations in the character of these rums but the white and gold were consistently good for mixing. If you like Brugal rums, you should give these a try if they're priced right. I've seen prices vary widely across the US for Cohiba rums.
  2. A few weeks ago, I ran out of sugar cane syrup and tried without much success to duplicate what I get bottled in Martinique, though sklinsey's dehydrated sugar cane juice was the best I could make from sugar and water. I'm still trying to figure out the difference between expensive sugar and dehydrated sugar cane juice. After a lot of frustration which I won't go into here, yesterday I got the first bottles of Martinique sugar cane syrup for export to the USBut the FDA, being what it is, can't say when this syrup will be available in the US because the entry procedure is ambiguous at best. If the FDA decides to take samples, at their whim, the shipment could be held for months while I pay for storage, etc., but they could decide not to bother with something produced in a sanitary food factory on a French Caribbean island. The good news is that I've been able to convince the factory to send me back to the states with some 5cl samples that have to be hand filled, a very time consuming process. Some of these samples will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to egullet society members by sending me a pm and giving me an address where you can recieve a small package.
  3. When rum, or any spirit, has been aged past maturity, there is little that can be done. Despite claims about average ages, when you blend young rum with rum that is past maturity, you get a lot of bad tasting rum. It is important to note that the flavors don't know anything averages and adding a little bad flavoring spoils the whole batch. Remeber the old story about one bad apple?
  4. The rate of deterioration of alcohol in a bottle is a function of several factors: original proof, temperature, height of vapor space between liquid level and the opening at the top of the bottle, velocity of the air above the opening (is the air-conditioning on, or is there an open window nearby?) and the shape of the bottle. Less predictable factors include the daily, weekly or seasonal temperature variations (effecting expansion and contraction of the vapors above the liquid) which are in part a function of the color of the spirit if there is any variable light source. An open bottle subjected to sunlight can be destroyed very quickly, in a matter of days. But the least predictable factor in the deterioration of spirits is the effect of unwanted air borne contaminants that can enter the open bottle including smoke and flying insects. If all this sounds a bit analytical, it is. After spending considerable time establishing an empirical formula for the variation of the alcohol in an open bottle as an excercise in a college class, including several sample bottles placed in our apartments, the only thing we conclusively determined was that we couldn't precisely predict the results outside the laboratory where conditions were controlled. There was, however, a great party at the end of the course, with unopened control bottles.
  5. Thanks the queneau for the clarification on the translation of the name 'ti punch.' While it is certainly unfair for me to say that Guadeloupe or Martinique rhums are better than those from Reunion, the rhum agricole from the Caribbean is slightly more refined than that from Reunion. But the morale of the story is that people tend to drink what they are used to. I like to encourage people to expand their experience and palates by trying different spirits while looking for new flavors, aromas and characters. It is also important to note that distilled spirits, like wines, do change from year to year though usually not as dramatically as their lower alcohol cousins. The people from Reunion are as attached to their rhums as those of the French Caribbean, just as there is a rivalry between Guadeloupe and Martinique. Cheers!
  6. After more time in the US than I deserve, I'm heading back to Martinique on Friday and will return Aug 2. With sugar cane syrup. Hopefully in a few weeks this wonderful syrup will be available in the US. I won't have much internet time while I'm gone, so I'll catch up in a couple of weeks. Cheers for now.
  7. Originally overproof rums were clear, raw spirits, straight from the still. The aged, or colored, varieties are a relatively new. The first overproof rums were marketed they were demanded by consumers. On the Caribbean island of Culebra, aged overproof rum, which is used on other islands as part of their blend, is called Jack Iron and is about all you'll be served when you go to a rum shot and order rum. This 80% alcohol is aged one to three years in Trinidad but Carriacou is the only island where you can buy it straight from the barrel.
  8. Going to be? The profusion of drinks named 'fill-in-the-blank-ito' speaks for itself.
  9. Paul Pacult has written an unprecdented article on the virtues of white rum in the August 2005 edition of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Their website doesn't yet reflect the lastes edition so you'll have to go to Barnes and Noble to find the article. You probably won't be able to find all the white rums mentioned in the article, I haven't even heard of at least one of these, but Paul brings his usual informative style to this much ignored spirit. Yes there are some very good white rums, and yes, there are some bad ones as well.
  10. To my knowledge no one is using cedar barrels to age rum. However, hints of cedar can be found in a number of rums, though generally in the more complex spirits and are not as prominent in the lighter rums like Bacardi 151. Having said that, it is also possible that some flavoring has been added to that overproof rum.
  11. After enjoying the Bastille Day fair from another angle, I only wish I had been able to try more of the food. It was great to meet Pan and some other egulleteers. I should note, however, that Marie and Natalie aren't distributors but work for the Martinique Promtion Board when they aren't working other jobs. I wish they were distributing my rhums as they are both very knowledgable and lovely ladies, not to mention that they enjoy both the rhum blanc and the older rhums from Martinique. This was my first year at the Bastille Day on 60th St but it won't be my last. Great party, music, food and drink in spite of a little rain.
  12. The most prominent difference between La Favorite and Neisson is that Neisson has more fresh sugar cane grass in the aroma and finish while the coconut and pear flavors in the La Favorite are more pronounced. When ordering liquor from any of the online stores, if you don't see what you want, it is usually worth the time to send an email and ask if other products are available. Most stores are quick to respond and often have many products which aren't always on the website due to inventory updates which don't always accurately reflect what is at the store.
  13. As much as some people try, you can't add old rum to young rum and end up with a good rum. We're talking about congeners in small concentrations that will adversely affect the taste of the finished product. I've tasted a few rums which were blends of over-the-hill rums blended with younger rums and the results were much less than I hoped for. What's a distiller to do? When a distiller finds some barrels that had been neglected in the warehouse for an extra decade and the rum isn't really good enough to drink straight there is a real temptation to blend it into other blends. Unfortunately, no one wants to admit that their rum is over-the-hill. Bad barrels are another problem due to lack of maintenance. When a barrel leaks or the bung is loose, all kinds of contaminants can really make a mess of what was good rum. Just as leaving the top off a bottle for a few weeks will destroy a bottle of spirits, poorly maintained barrels are another problem in any aged spirits industry. Fortunately, the problem can be prevented by carefully inspecting the contents of each barrel of rum in a warehouse on a regular basis. Maybe that will be the job I apply for next.
  14. Two years isn't the number I have been given at the Bacardi plant near San Juan. Two years is age of most of the Cruzan rums so it would follow that Puerto Rico would jump on the two year wagon. By Puerto Rican law, rums must be aged at least one year before being exported.
  15. Unfortunately at this time, it's hard to say. Brugal Gold shipped to the US is not the same rum as you'll find in the Dominican Republic. The age statements you found are probably like you suspect, the oldest rum in the blend. It should be noted that US law requires age statements to reflect the youngest rums in the blend and not the oldest. But don't get hung up on the age of your rum. You owe it to yourself to taste the rum and decide for yourself if you like it enough to buy another bottle.
  16. Cruzan is the only distillery left in the US Virgin Islands, there is a small distillery in the British Virgin Islands but they don't export anything. Depending on the customer for their bulk rum, the fresh distillate may undergo other processes such as filtering, oxygenation, etc. As you can imagine, customers want a variety of other qualities of bulk rums.
  17. Most molasses-based rums are aged at about 80% alcohol by volume. I'm surprised that Bacardi claims their 151 to be aged two years but that rum was probably aged at an even higher proof.
  18. You're right Ajl92, the French don't often include ice in a ti punch, unless you ask. Some French West Indians consider the addition of ice to be sacrilege but ice is becoming more accepted, especially as ice is becoming more available in the islands, though even traditionalists will add a little water to this strong drink, or have a glass of water on the side. It should also be noted that in Martinique, many people drink rhum which is 110 proof, 55% abv. I add ice to a ti punch on my boat in the islands, until my daily supply runs out, and invariably my French friends will ask for ice when visiting my bar at the end of another day in paradise. It is easy to dilute this drink too much with ice, but since we are starting with a 100 proof spirit and not adding a lot of other dilutants, a little ice certainly will allow you to enjoy a ti punch a little longer. Sunday I'll be at Bistro 60 in New York where ti punches made with La Favorite will be offered. If you are in the area, stop by and introduce yourself.
  19. We are pleased to announce that the eGullet Society has launched an eG Forums Calendar Service to inform our members about culinary events all over the world. Here's this month's calendar then click on any entry in the Calendar for more detailed information on the event. We want to support spirit and food-themed charity events, ethnic food festivals, wine and food festivals, professional conferences and such by posting them in the eG Forums Calendar. For example, Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, Aug 18 - 21. At the moment, we're looking for events that fulfill some or all of the following requirements: *Charity events based on food *Large cook-offs *Events may be combined with music, art, dance *Annual or very special dates *Professional conferences *no recurring classes or hosted seminars *Current website and contact information *Contribution to culinary knowledge or culinary fun! Let's fill the Calendar with your favorite food and spirit special events. If you have an event to suggest, contact Ed Hamilton or any of the other Forum Hosts by PM or email. To PM or email, just click on the blue highlighted names next to any post and then look for the Send PM button.
  20. Depending on where you are in the islands you will be served rum in anything from a sample listerine bottle to a fancy cocktail glass. I've rarely seen rum served in snifters, actually rum has enough character that you don't need to concentrate the aromas by using a small opening glass. My friends, who live ashore, most commony use short glasses because they stay put when you set them down on a coaster. The same is true for boats. I believe the quote was referring to the punch houses of the 1800s where rum was served in large mugs.
  21. The origin of black rum doesn't seem to be too far from the truth, rum was probably being stored in barrels which had held molasses and the color of the rum was affected and the taste was smoother than the hot distillate. Today black rum is made by adding caramel, burnt sugar, to the clear distillate. But this isn't just any burnt sugar, it has been carefully burnt in order to preserve the color, texture and character that makes it good. Just burning some sugar in a frying pan will make the rum taste, well, burnt.
  22. It is my experience that rum, like all spirits, reaches a peak of maturity after which the attributes for which we love the spirit decline. While molasses-based rums are typically aged at about 80% alcohol by volume, sugar cane-based rums are typically aged at about 70% alcohol by volume or less. I tend to like molasses-based rums which have aged from 5 to 12 years, but then if aging is done at a higher altitude, hence lower temperature the peak of maturity may be extended to something more like 30 years. In Martinique it is generally agreed, as much as anything is agreed, that ten years is about the peak of maturity given the temperature and aging proof. As for the alcohol content changing with time. I've seen barrels that have increased and other which have decreased in alcohol content in the same aging warehouse. Temperature seems to be the biggest factor assuming that both barrels are properly bunged.
  23. Good question mbanu. Unfortunately, only a few distillers use the words, "distilled and bottled at xyz distillery, city, country. Clues that the spirit in the bottle is a private label include words like "distilled or bottled for, under license of," and "product of" without a distillery name. But there are a number of rums where the rum isn't distilled at the distillery that the label claims. With some practice, you will be able to spot rums that are what I call private labels, rums produced by a distillery for some one else's label. It has been my experience that unless the label tells you where the spirit was distilled, aged and bottled, they don't want you to know.
  24. I have rebottled a few bottles of rum in smaller bottles with very good results. Since the biggest factor in the deterioration of spirits is air, by bottling in smaller bottles you eliminate some of the oxidation factor. But don't forget to label your bottles well, or you may find some unpleasant surprises. Look for bottles with good caps, plastic work well. As nice as cork appears, it rarely lasts more than a few years.
  25. Goya is the coconut milk I mix with rum in the islands, but the little chunks of coconut detract from the experience. A few years ago some food producers in Trinidad were trying to pasteurize coconut juice so it could be canned, but to date, I haven't tasted anything that I would say replaces green coconut milk, which also very considerably. As for the rum, I use a light clear rum like Angostura Premium white, Palo Viejo from Puerto Rico or Cruzan White from Saint Croix.
  • Create New...