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Ed Hamilton

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ed Hamilton

  1. Aeneas Coffey patented the Coffey still in 1832 after Robert Stein introduced a two-column continuous still in 1826. While a number of rum marketers claim to be selling rum made in pot stills several of the distilleries where these spirits are born don't even have a pot still. Much more important than the type of still are the raw ingredients and the skill and experience of the distiller. When making rum from molasses, pot still rums are generally too high in congeners to be pleasant to drink so distillers blend these flavorful rums with more highly distilled continuous column still rum. Where rums are being made from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, distillers don't have to distill their spirit to such a high proof and many prefer to distill to only about 72% alcohol, about the same as many pot still distillers in other industries. When properly distilled, the distillate from a single-column continuous still can be even better than the distillate from a pot still. On the other hand, it is possible to redistill the distillate several times in a pot still and end up with something that is very similar to that obtained from a continuous column still. The two biggest misconceptions I've discovered in the rum industry are that the older the better and that pot still rum is better than rum made in column stills. Don't get hung up on the age of your rum, or the still. Much more important than age is maturity and much more important than the type of still is the raw material and the skill of the distiller.
  2. Does the label say it is made in Martinique or does it say product of France on the label? If it was made in Martinique and is aged 4 years it wouldn't be white as none of the French distillers age and then carbon filter their rums. But if the product is bottled in France there's no telling where it came from or what is actually in the bottle. I've seen some rums that have the word Martinique in the label name with a Appelation Rum Controllee designation which doesn't exist in France.
  3. Appleton white is another of those rums which is aged and then carbon filtered to remove the coloring gained from aging which makes it so much better.
  4. I would suggest trying both of these rums straight before you mix them. Pour an equal measure in two similar glasses and assess the aroma. After about five minutes smell them again and note any differences. Then I'd start making cocktails and evaluating the fruit of your labors.
  5. There are six Plantation Rums from Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados and Nicaragua. None of these rums are distilled from fermented fresh sugar cane juice but rather molasses. The rum from Babados for exampmle is made at the Black Rock distillery which is also known as the West Indies Rum Refinery where Cockspur and Malibu rum are distilled. I don't want to cast any doubt as the quality of Plantation rums, I like their Barbados rum, but to call any of these rums agricole is a bit of a stretch. The parent company, Cognac Ferrand, is a French company and is a private bottler of fine spirits.
  6. Bambu is produced by the Antigua Distillery. It is a very light bodied white rum bottled in a sculptured glass bottle. The label proclaims that this rum is four times distilled which accounts for the very light taste.
  7. As rum marketers begin to recognize that some of the best rums are made from sugar cane juice, there will be more confusion but if you are looking for real rum from Martinique, look for the AOC or Appelation d'origine Controllee. I've also seen Appelation Rum Controllee in the US, but nothing like that in the islands which makes me very suspicious about the motives behind such marks.
  8. I thoroughly scoured Atlantic City last November and didn't find a single place that I would call a rum bar in that town. But things are changing. In Alameda, not far from another city where I can always get a good rum drink, a new bar has recently opened called the Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge I look forward to going there in a few weeks. In the meantime, if anyone has any experience there please let us know about it. Scroll down for some pics. Looks like this may be much more than another bar.
  9. There are a number of other white rums coming to the market. Some are better than others, but until they are actually released I don't like to comment on them since rum companies commonly tweak things a bit before they launch a product in a new market.
  10. Of the rums you list, Neisson Reserve is very different compared to the others, it has one of the fullest flavor profiles in your list. Although all of these rums deserve to be tried, I would say that the Barrilito 3 Star has the strongest oak flavor, Cruzan Single Barrel is the lightest of these rums with much less oak flavor with Zaya, Zacapa and Santa Teresa coming in on the slightly sweet side of the line. Pampero certainly has an oaky flavor but it isn't overwhelming. Matusalem Gran Reserve is also good but your comment about sherry influenced would move that rum down the list. Happy hunting.
  11. Occasionally, I run across some real deals on spirits, but there are deals and then there are DEALS. The latter are sometimes the result of a product being discontinued by a distributor. As a general guide, if you see a spiriit on sale for about half of the usual price, the special price isn't going to be repeated once the available stock is exhausted.
  12. I'm not sure if you're referring to the Platation rums packaged in a loosely woven package. If that is the case, the Barbados is one of the best I've tasted. Some of the others didn't quite make the grade. To my knowledge, none of the Plantatio rums are rum agricole.
  13. Prichard's Cranberry Rum and Sweet Georgia Belle were in the International Sugar Cane Spirits Competition in Ybor City a couple of weeks ago. Sweet Lucy is a bourbon-based spirit that wasn't in the competition but it is popular in Tennessee. Prichard's Distillery also makes a great White Rum that took a gold medal in that competition.
  14. If your consideration is solely price, there are some Bally rums of oldest vintage I've seen was, I believe 1929, which was valued at $3500 for 700ml. But like most of the readers of this forum know, that is a rum that is spent a long time in a bottle and only a few years in a barrel.
  15. We've all looked around for rum bars and more often than not have been disappointed in either the selection, staff knowledge or the cocktails. Last night I was fortunate enough to find Rhumba in Boulder, Colorado. There wasn't a bottle of Bacardi in sight, not that that's a bad thing, they had a bottle of Bacardi 8 under the counter. Their mojitos caught my eye when the bartender used Cruzan white rum, but their Passport to their Rum selection wasn't just another cute marketing piece, it presented several flights of rum which were selected by a knowlegable spirits manager. There were several bottles including a 30 year old Cadenhead cask-strength that I haven't seen for many years. I'm sure there are other bars that take this much pride in their rum presentation, is there one in your city?
  16. It is hard to find but there are some Old Brigand rums blended and bottled by RL Seale, who also does the Doorly's brand that are worth looking for.
  17. I wouldn't exactly say Zacapa killed it. Zacapa did enter some very good rums and was rewarded, but like I told the guests at the reception following the competition, I don't want to drink any rum to the exclusion of all others. Oronoco wasn't in the competition, but there were a number of excellent white rums in that category as well. There were a number of new rums that aren't even in the US market yet. And as important as the rums was the company of so many rum lovers and friends from around the world, several of whom I've corresponded with for many years. Ybor City proved to be a great venue with a number of restaurants within walking distance of hotels and the old cigar factory building where the tasting took place.
  18. Gosling's Very Old Rum is a complex, slightly dry, smoky rum with lots of oak flavors running all the way through the finish. To me it is very different compared to Black Seal, though they do have similarities, but the Very Old Rum doesn't have the dark caramel coloring that has made Black Seal so popular.
  19. The Trois Rivieres distillery didn't burn down. But the distillation columns and production were moved to LaMauny, I can't confirm that there is now a greater commitment to quality as LaMauny is one of the biggest distilleries on the island. Some of the old rhums from Trois Rivieres are quite good, others lack depth. They tend to be dry, but pleasant. Try adding a little water as most of these are bottled at 45% alcohol.
  20. When mixing these rhums you need to consider the proof. La Favorite Blanc is 100 proof compared to about the 90 proof St James Amber. St James Amber is also aged so you're really comparing two very different spirits.
  21. When we discuss rum, we have to realize that rum is the most varied of all distilled spirits ranging from a white spirit straight from the still to an aged dark spirit that will rival a good whisky or cognac, depending on whether the rum was made from sugar cane syrup or molasses and how long it was aged. In my view, the biggest obstacle in introducing imbiders to rum, again, is to overcome their prejudice for the cheap rum they've drunk in the past. For a soft drink? I encourage you to have a good ti punch and you'll never look at rum the same way.
  22. Angostura 1919 is a fairly light rum as is typical of the rums of Trinidad. The slight sharpness in the aroma is a little unbalanced from the other pleasant wood and smoky flavors in the finish.
  23. I like a glass that doens't concentrate the aroma. Good rums have plenty of aroma and by holding the glass at about 45degrees, and moving your nose from the top edge to the bottom edge you can pick out some of the aromas in complex rums. If you're just drinking mixed drinks it doesn't matter.
  24. I would start with what is available in your locale. Most cocktails are made with what I call general market rums. You wouldn't mix the best cognac, unless you have money to burn, nor would you drink the cheapest rot gut from your local store. With that in mind here are a few suggestions. - Puerto Rico Go for the white rums, they are very similar to the colored ones, and in Puerto Rico to serve a dark rum is an insult to your guests. Bacardi, Don Q. - Barbados Doorly's Five Year Old used to be the standard, but Mount Gay is getting better in the last ten years. Go for Mount Gay Sugar Cane Rum, which is actually made from molasses and marketed as sugar cane brandy in some markets. - Virgin Islands Cruzan Dark is the rum of choice in the Virgin Islands, use it. - Jamaican Appleton Dark if the recipe calls for dark Jamaican, otherwise use their white rum. - Cuban If you can find Havan Club Blanco, go for it, if you can't find it use a light bodied white rum. If the recipe calls for a dark Cuban rum, look for something from the Dominican Republic, not all the Cubans went to Miami or Puerto Rico and since the Dominican Republic is close to Cuba there are a lot of family connections. - Martinique If the recipe calls for white, use it. If the recipe calls for a dark Martinique rum use a rhum vieux. La Favorite and Neisson are two that are available in the US. - Haitian Barbancourt is about all you'll find. - Guyana Look for El Dorado, it's good, heavy and has a lot of character. It is also worth noting that Trader Vic wrote his book about 50 years ago and rum styles have changed. Experiment and you'll find something you like.
  25. Thanks, you are absolutely right. Some distillers age their rums a few years before selling the aged distillate to bottlers and blenders in other countries.
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