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Ed Hamilton

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ed Hamilton

  1. Until last year I didn't spend much time looking at the other forums. When I'm going to a new city I frequently find myself looking at their forums for recommendations, good and bad, on restaurants. Or when a new restaurant opens in Chicago, where I spend some time when I'm not on my boat, I look at the reviews and often find them more honest than many of the local press reviews. This isn't any formal survey from the egullet staff, they don't even know I'm asking, but I would like to hear your feedback on whether you look at the other forums. Post comments here or just send me a PM from 'My Controls' at the top of the page, there are a lot of features here at egullet that I don't use but are certainly worth exploring.
  2. Cider is the ingredient that really makes this drink come to life. As for dipping a red hot poker in my glass, it would evaporate the precious alcohol and would probably leave ash in the glass. Try heating a piece of iron and then putting it in water, there is usually some residual ash left behind.
  3. Glad you found the picture you were looking for.
  4. From the Miami Herald Mon, Sep. 27, 2004 with permission from the author. Rum company jazzing up its image Venezuela's Ron Santa Teresa is making a renewed bid to conquer the U.S. market for 'sipping rums.' BY CHRISTINA HOAG choag@herald.com It's no easy feat to crack the U.S. market with a new liquor brand. Just ask Henrique Vollmer, vice president of Venezuela's Ron Santa Teresa, which has long had its eye on American rum aficionados.''We made a couple attempts,'' Vollmer said. ``Then two years ago, we formally set up an importing company and got a distributor to introduce the brand in 11 states. But sales never really moved. So I decided to move here [to Miami] myself.''From a Brickell Avenue office, Vollmer is now renewing the push to win a niche for his high-end dark rums, long recognized by connoisseurs in Europe but virtually unknown in the United States.Armed with a new distributor, a jazzier marketing plan and the benefit of hindsight, Vollmer is finally starting to gain a smidgen of traction.U.S. sales are expected to reach 5,000 cases this year, quadruple last year's volume, he said. Next year's goal: at least 8,000 cases. The company, which has revenue of $40 million, produces a total of 1.2 million, nine-liter cases annually.THIRD RUM ARRIVINGVollmer acknowledges that his U.S. sales are barely a drop in the $4.3 billion rum market, which moves 18 million-plus cases a year. But he's encouraged enough to bring a third member of the Santa Teresa portfolio, Gran Reserva, stateside.The brand, which retails for $14, follows on the heels of the top-of-the-line, 15-year-old aged rum, 1796 Antiguo de Solera ($30), and an orange rum liqueur Rhum Orange ($15). Next up will be Arakú, a coffee liqueur, by year's end.COGNAC COMPETITOR''We're not battling Bacardi or Captain Morgan,'' Vollmer said. ``We're aiming at the higher shelf, with the cognacs and brandies.''Santa Teresa is not the only foreign liquor company that has struggled to break into the U.S. market, according to Edward Hamilton, author of The Complete Guide to Rum and Rums of the Eastern Caribbean. Although their products have been good, other brands from the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Venezuela have had uphill battles, too.The hitch is the three-tier distribution system mandated by law for foreigners: distillers must sell to an importer, who must sell to a distributor, who sells to retailers.Lining up a distributor isn't that hard. Getting a distributor to push the product is.''It's difficult because you're competing with other brands the distributor sells,'' said Hamilton, who has been studying the subject for the past eight years.``And the distributor is most interested in the big brands. They're not interested in making an investment in your product, so small brands don't get the marketing support they need.''That's why Vollmer decided last spring to start overseeing the portfolio's marketing himself.He hired a public relations company and lined up promotions such as tastings, charity events, fashion shows and arts exhibitions to plug the brand.And he doesn't hesitate to call on Venezuelan connections in the United States, including family and countrymen doing business here, to lend a hand. He even hosts a weekly travel segment on Miami's WKAT-AM (1360), the classical radio station.Vollmer, who runs the company with his older brother Alberto, is also scaling down the company's initial distribution ambitions. Previously, the brand was trying to break into 11 markets across the country. Now he's looking at just three: Florida, Texas and New York.That's daunting enough, said Vollmer. ''The Florida market is three times the size of Venezuela's,'' he noted.Santa Teresa is one of Venezuela's oldest family-owned companies, dating from 1896 when the Vollmers started producing rum at the family's sugar farm west of Caracas, Hacienda Santa Teresa.OLD PLANTATIONThe plantation, which still yields the sugar crop for the rums, was founded in 1796 by a Spanish count, Tovar y Blanco. The Vollmers have maintained the picturesque colonial-era house as a museum and keep its cellars packed with 100,000 oak barrels filled with aging rum. The company employs 300 people.The brand was largely unknown outside of Venezuela until the company started exporting to other Latin American countries, Europe and Japan in the '90s. It has been a particular hit in Spain, where it's now selling 40,000 cases a year. Earlier this year it also launched in Britain.Santa Teresa's export strategy aims to capitalize on the growing ''sipping rum'' trend, where the amber beverage is served neat or on the rocks similar to cognac, brandy and scotch, as opposed to a mixed cocktail.The Vollmers are also enthusiastic about the United States as Americans are proving fond of imported rum, especially the high-end type.According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, rum imports ballooned 22.8 percent from March 2003 to March 2004, second only to growth in foreign vodka, up 23.2 percent.Sales of premium and super-premium rum are up by 4 percent; cheaper brands are down by 2 percent.Rum fans say Santa Teresa certainly has the quality to make a splash in the United States but success will come down to promotion.''Worldwide, they're considered one of the best. They are considered to be one of the most lovely sipping rums out there,'' said Kristen Wolfe Bieler, managing editor of Beverage Network Publications.``But branding is extremely important at all price points. Packaging is huge, too. People want to be told what to drink.''Vollmer knows the U.S. liquor store shelf is a crowded one, but this time around he's hoping to firmly wedge in Santa Teresa.''We used to see the U.S. as a huge monster that you didn't know quite how to go about getting into it,'' he said. ``But we've got very aggressive goals.''
  5. At the risk of talking about winter already, hot buttered rum can be made by pouring some hot water in a mug, so you don't burn your hands, add some dark rum. Put a small amount of butter on top and stir with a cinnamon stick. The rum can be spiced rum, which can be made by adding cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. to a bottle and placing it on the mantle a month or so before the new year. By the time you're ready to burn the Christmas trees, you're rum will be ready.
  6. I'm not sure about decanter's, how about a bottle of Rhum Vieux? Is this for publication?
  7. I like the Liberacion 15 but haven't had the opportunity to taste the Malecon 15. I completely agree about paying premiums for rum that is sometimes just not worth the price. I have a couple of small casks on my boat and fill them with rum and it continues to age, and much faster than if it was in a larger cask on the order of the 168 liter casks used to age most Cuban rum. If you have the opportunity to buy a small, 5 liter cask, don't hesitate. One of my casks contains the last of my 25 year old Guatemalan Zacapa. But when it's gone, that cask will be filled with other rum.
  8. From another thread I read This is very true. Remember the cheap wines that had the warning on the label, serve very cold? Our taste buds don't function as well when subjected to cold stimulus. When I taste a fine rum, I like to hold a small glass in my hands to warm the liquid a little. Warming the liquid releases more of the aroma, which is also an important part of the tasting experience. But, some drinks are best cold. Especially those that are lighter in character such as white rums mixed with fruit juices. There is nothing as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot day. But alcohol also dehydrates your body, so I always start with a large glass of cool water, then enjoy my favorite drink, rum.
  9. LaMauny white rhum agricole is very different from other white rums distilled from molasses. It is very flavorful and full of aroma. Distillled to only 72% alcohol by volume, rhum agricole captures much more of the flavor of the rhum than that distilled to 95% alcohol after being distilled from fermented molasses.
  10. Pyrat White rum is a new blend to complement their other rums. Light and dry and a pretty good mixer with tonic and a little lime. There are a number of bottlers that are offering white rums to complement their other more expensive rums, seems the number of white rums is growing with the market.
  11. I'll have to consult my email, but there is a man in Europe who was raised in Trinidad and has done quite a bit with chocolate and rum. I love to have some old rum with a bit of chocolate and coffee after dinner. I'm not hung up on the name of the chocolate, or the rum, because I like a variety of different flavors. And I like to experiment instead of being burdened with recipes. The previous owner of my boat ate his first pancakes with blue cheese and yogurt on them, don't knock it until you've tried it.
  12. I'm not crazy about the cherry taste but if you are looking for a spiced rum, you'll get all kinds of things mixed with the rum. I prefer to add real fruit juice to my rum, but as far as they go Sailor Jerry spiced did a pretty good job blending that one. 92 proof is only slightly higher than what you normally drink and with the added sweeteners, it doesn't seem to be so alcoholic.
  13. If you have too much lime juice it freezes well in ice cube trays then store the cubes in plastic bags. You've be glad you did after the storm and your lime trees are bare. You won't see any more limes for a while.
  14. I can only comment on the Barbados rum and I would recommend it, as for the Trini rum being a mistake check with the seller first. Trinidad has bottled a lot of special rums.
  15. Clasico is nice rum, but the label says something 10 Solera Blend and though you might think it is ten years old, it isn't. If you don't like Flor de Cana, and prefer Captain Morgan Private Stock for mixing you probably shouldn't be spending more than $20 on a bottle of rum. I would definitely try the Cruzan Estate Diamond, but if you aren't inclined to drink rum neat or with a little ice or water you might not like that either.
  16. Barbancourt three star isn't white, but for a white sipping rum, though challenging as you put it, I would definitely try these Brugal white, Barcelo Gran Blanc and Flor de Cana white. These won't be easy to find, but worth it.
  17. If you can find the Barbancourt White, try it. It is very different compared to Bacardi. While I don't drink it straight, it is a nice addition to the bar, but since you'll be the only one with it, either buy two bottles or stash it away.
  18. Barbancourt does bottle a white rum but it is hard to find. As for the colored bottle, it is often difficult to discern the color of the spirit since bottles are colored. For the distillery this serves two purposes. One, it makes the spirit look darker and Second, it reduces the problem of color changes over time. Every barrel does not yield the same color after aging so unless the distiller adds a little caramel there will be differences from in color from batch to batch. White rums are generally considered sipping rums, but instead of Coke, I mix them with a little lime and soda, or a little ginger ale. Coke seems to mask the taste of almost everything since it is much more acidic than other mixers. Fresh fruit juice is the best. Has anyone tried fresh mango juice and white rum?
  19. There is a Velvet Falernum website. Unfortunately there aren't any links to distributors at this time. In Barbados, Falernum is mixed with an equal amount of rum to make what is locally known as corn 'n oil. A pretty sweet drink.
  20. I don't have a copy of the Rum Diaries in front of me, I left mine on my boat in the islands, but as for the type of rum gonzo himself would have been drinking in 1950s San Juan, I can say with a high degree of confidence that it would have been white rum. In the 50s, Puerto Rico was working hard to improve the image of their rums from a rough coarse spirit to a lighter more acceptable drink. Even today the drink of Puerto Rico is white rum, with Coke - as gonzo was probably consuming, mixed with fruit juice, or just shots chased with whatever is in your left hand - the an even more probable scenario.
  21. From the little information I have, Cruzan Single-Barrel will be highlighted in the new promotion, and hopefully more of the Cruzan family of rums will get recognized in other provinces. I'm never surprised that when the government takes a step back from the table and deregulates liquor sales, prices move a little lower and find a more realistic level.
  22. Good to see you're back, Kristian. I am optomistic that your rum shelf will improve in the coming months, in spite of some of the archaic laws you'll encounter, on both sides of the border.
  23. I just got the news that Cruzan is coming to Canada and the PR company is going to do somethings in Toronto and Halifax. More as this develops. I understand that Single Barrel and others are on their way north.
  24. Pimms, the cocktail, as I recall is usually made from ingredients which are already bottled. Whenever you deal with real lime juice and live mint leaves it just isn't going to stay fresh. These are living, growing plants that we are drinking. This is only one of the reasons flavored rums are usually so far from the mark. Some aren't bad for mixing in cocktails, but the only place I see real fruit rums on the shelf is in the French Islands. And yes, they look bad if they sit on the shelf too long. But there is nothing like real fruit and once you drink that, well, nothing else compares. I've tried a number of bottled ti punches and none quite make it. Something about pasteurizing real lime doesn't quite translate into a good drink. Nature can't be fooled, fresh is best.
  25. Check the website above for rerun info. I never thought of gin being made in pot stills. You learn something new everyday.
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