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Ed Hamilton

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ed Hamilton

  1. I just ran across Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky made in Virginia. At a retail of about $40 a bottle I was impressed with the continuity of the flavor profile. Wasmund's doesn't even try to be a Scottish style single malt, it lacks the smoky peat flavors of some whiskies but the apple and cherry woods used in the maturation process yield a very drinkable whisky. According to their website Wasmund's doesn't have very wide distribution but I'm sure that isn't up to date since I found it at Binny's in Chicago.
  2. The Thirsty Traveler contacted me a few years ago and wanted me to appear when they did rum. But their whole rum story was going to be Jamaica and they wanted me to sail from the Eastern Caribbean to Jamaica so they could film me on my boat. But as any sailor will tell you, it's a long way from Jamaica back to the Eastern Caribbean, besides there's plenty rum in the other isands, and it varies more than the rum in Jamaica. Yes, there is another book in the works, but like good rum patience is rewarded. Research is tough business and I won't repeat a bunch of press releases.
  3. I just went to Matchbox, just south of Chicago on Milwaukee and I'd have to add Matchbox to the list of bars that take real pride in their cocktails. The first bottle I saw when I walked in the door was Germain Robin brandy. Yeah, they have too many Stoli flavors but that's the standard in this city. But if you're looking for good gin, whisky, rum or real vodka you won't be disappointed.
  4. I was just having this conversation with industry friends yesterday. Unfortunately, the cocktail culture in Chicago isn't nearly as mature as it is in New York, San Francisco or even Atlanta. However, there are a few places where the bartenders recognize that customers want more than a glass of flavored vodka. Though better known for their beers, Clark Street Ale House, just south of Chicago on Clark St is one of my first stops. They're one of the few places where you can get a real ti punch. The Peninsula Hotel is on the other end of the spectrum, the surroundings are very impressive and the bar staff is knowledgable. If you're looking for the best selection of whisky, and other spirits, as well as the best selection of beers in the area you need to go to Delilah's on Lincoln Ave. In addition to the assortment of spirits behind the bar, the clientele is almost as entertaining. And if you smoke you'll feel right at home at Delilah's. The Intercontintental Hotel is also recommended, the Beverage Manager could be considered a spirits geek, if you know what I mean. There are other places to enjoy good cocktails just north of the downtown area and I'm sure the next post will be even more enlightening.
  5. Shows like Conan generally contact guests. Rum isn't as popular as beer and wine at this time, but that's changing. But I'm afraid I wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as Michael Jackson was on the rerun last week, did he forget to zip his fly after he got rid of the last of the beer he'd been drinking while he was waiting in the green room. But after meeting the beer hunter on a couple of occasions, I can tell you that you saw the real Michael Jackson. Maybe when my next book comes out there will be enough interest in rum to warrant a TV appearance in the US. I've made several appearances on TV in France, the islands and Germany but not much here in the US.
  6. I had a few drinks at Enrico's Monday night and feel lucky to have been there on their last night. I sure hope that they are able to reopen but the cost of real estate in San Francisco has forced more than a few places to close. Maybe I'll be going to Bourbon and Branch sooner than I thought.
  7. Sorry about that. If it isn't being produced it definitely isn't being exported.
  8. I'm a little taken back by Bourbon and Branch's House Rules. If the bartenders are always right, how do they learn anything new? I learn the most when I make mistakes. There are some big egos in the food and drink business but there aren't many who would be so bold as to declare that they are always right. As a frequent visitor to San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the country, I think I'll wait a few months before I jump through the hoops to meet the people who are ALWAYS RIGHT.
  9. In my experience buying liquor online is best for hard to find items, not things which are sold in 1.75s, which are generally available in every market and regularly go on sale. It is also worthwhile to get on the mailing lists as more than a few internet stores have specials which they don't advertise on their websites. For some reason only a few online stores are able to keep everything updated so sale prices are sometimes much less than the prices you see on the internet page.
  10. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the US, in 2005 vodka accounted for 27% of all the distilled spirits sold in the US, followed by rum with about half that amount, then bourbon with about 9% of the market followed by gin and scotch and then tequila with about 5% of the market. But don't let these numbers decieve you, there are a lot of ways to interpret the numbers.
  11. I haven't seen Matusalem from Cuba in a few years. But I can definitely tell you that if it isn't being produced.
  12. Then you owe it to yourself to find some Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, it has the most blackstrap molasses taste of any rum I've tasted. And Appleton VX is one of their best rums when you consider availability, cost and taste.
  13. First, Canadian liquor laws don't even try to reflect EU wine labeling regulations. These are two very different arenas. Rum sales in Canada are made under a monopoly system controlled by the provincial governments. Labels don't say 100% 'country of origin' in Canada, but then I've never seen a wine label which claims that the contents are 100% from a particular country, though 100% of the consumers believe what they want to believe. In Canada, liquor bottlers are given tax incentives if a portion of the product is from Canada. But liquor isn't the only consumable item which benefits from complicated tax incentives. In the US, 100% of an $81,000 BMW certainly isn't made in Germany, or even from German made parts. But not every bottle of rum sold in Canada is blended with Canadian spirits. If you're willing to take the time to read the label you can see where the spirit was bottled and that will give you some clues to the contents. Certainly a bottle of Guyanese rum, bottled in Guyana, doesn't have any Canadian spirit blended in it. On the other hand, a bottle of Jamaican rum bottled by a company in Canada probably has some Canadian spirit in the blend.
  14. That was Edward Hamilton. There should have a been a comma after the initials and a question mark at the end of the sentence.
  15. Nearly every large distiller in the islands also produces some cane spirit vodka complete with a Russian sounding name and a rendering of the Kremlin on the label. Vodka, in the US, can be made from any raw material. A few of my friends in the islands who get a headache from most vodkas can drink molasses-based vodka without any undue problems. There are a few rums which are closer to vodka than rum. Bambou claims to be four times distilled, which would border on being distilled to 95% alcohol by volume. In the US, rum is defined as a spirit distilled from any cane derivative to less than 95% abv. The bottom line is that outside the US no one actually checks the distillate to check the distillation proof. The bulk of most molasses-based rums are distilled to nearly 95% abv. Most vodka is filtered after distillation.
  16. I agree with you jlo mein. Life's too short to spend time with women (or men) who don't appreciate good rum.
  17. Don't overlook the fact that there is more white rum sold than all others combined. For my taste the color has to look natural. As soon as I see a very dark spirit I immediately think that someone has decided to darken it for commercial purposes which aren't necessarily in my best interest. All of this really depends on what market you're looking to sell to. I personally like the El Dorado bottle even though it has a definite green tint. But I tend to steer clear of the very dark bottles unless I know the spirit within.
  18. Almost every writer who interviews me tries to get me to talk about the terrior of the sugar cane countries, and to date I haven't been quoted to my knowledge of saying that it is the particular soil that makes a difference. But, having said that, in Martinique only cane grown in certain areas, where their is good drainage for example, can the cane used to make AOC rhum agricole. But how the spirit is fermented, distilled, aged and diluted for bottling is much more important than what field it came from.
  19. I was tasting the 3 year old Blanco rum from Havana Club, which is the most popular rum in the Cuban bars and the rum for which they are most famous. This is a white rum which has been aged and then filtered to remove most of the color gained from aging.
  20. Ed, are you trying to discredit yourself? ← I'm not trying to discredit myself, but everyone has their own taste. Don't take what I, or anyone else writes or says as the only truth. Read what I write, try some of my recommendations and see if you agree. And if you agree with what I write, your taste is comparable to mine. I also look for recommendations, pro and con, when it comes to new spirits to try. It saves a lot of time and money.
  21. In the US, an age statement is supposed to reflect the youngest rum in the bottle, not the oldest. Bacardi doesn't claim anything other than that the 8 is a trade name and it has no relevancy to the age of the spirit. And the 8 isn't meant to confuse you, that would be illegal.
  22. If you like the Barbancourt 3 Star, definitely try the 5 Star but I can't recommend the much more expensive 15 year old, unless you've got a lot of extra money to spend. And almost everyone I know who drinks Barbancourt agrees with me.
  23. I'm not sure what Terrior would be in Spanish. But I don't buy much of the terrior claims in distilled spirits. It has much more to do with the style of spirits being produced in a geographic region. Especially considering those rums made from molasses, the source of the molasses is much more important. Sugar content of the molasses is directly dependent on the state of the sugar factory where the molasses is made. Ash content is also important but making rum according to the local taste is the only way for a distillery to survive.
  24. My experience for what it's worth is that JP will buy a label with a higher number on it because he doesn't know what an age statement is. Bacardi 8 is a very good example. Matusalem 10 and 15 Solera Blender are others. These aren't age statements but they do help sell rum. I completely agree with the Old Brigand bottle being so far over the top that it doesn't work, but the truth is that it's a decent rum in that bottle. It is interesting to look at the Single Malt Whisky industry where some of the best and most expensive spirits are bottled in some very plain bottles and with labels that wouldn't have any credibility in other spirits sectors. Industry expert endorsements do help, but like fancy bottles they have to taken in small measures. Personally, I hate to pay for fancy bottles or fancy ad campaigns. I'd much rather pay for what's in the bottle rather than what the company spent to get me to buy it.
  25. Oct 8, 2006 the Chicago Tribune published an article by Gary Marx about the Havana Club controversy. Despite the fact that I was quoted for the article, this is probably the most concise presentation of the Bacardi vs Pernod Ricard dispute I've read. You'll have to register on the Chicago Tribune site to read the article, but it's free and you can unsubscribe after you read the article.
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