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Kent Wang

Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum

64 posts in this topic

Briefly discussed in Cocktailian Ingredient Trends, Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum (Haus Alpenz profile) is now available at the Spec's in Houston. I had a chance to taste it at Anvil (a bar in Houston) and I can say it is indeed very funky, and has a strong vegetal, sugar cane aspect like a rhum agricole. Really, it's even funkier than any rhum agricole I've tasted like Barbancourt and St. James.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to stop by Spec's while I was in Houston to pick up a bottle and it's only available at their headquarters store for now. I imagine you lucky folks in New York and California already have access to it? What do you think?

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I tasted this thanks to Eric Seed (Society member eas) and the gang at Drink in Boston last week, and it's fantastic. The website description is spot-on.


Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I tried it at the Ministry of Rum festival in New York last week. I realize tastes differ widely, but this one strikes me as a mixer. I was told by the rep that it was crafted under the guidance of Dave Wondrich for use in classic cocktails that call for Jamaican rum.

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From the Haus Alpenz site:

Recognition Where Due

As the Smith & Cross production lines have been dormant for many years, its revival owes tremendous gratitide to the encouragement, insights and guidance of spirits historian David Wondrich. Our special thanks as well to the numerous others who contributed in so many ways.


 

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Here I'll write in response with the upfront disclosure as the US importer and representative for Smith & Cross.

The general goal was to revive the style of Jamaica Rum prevalent into the early 20th century, which is measurably different than what is on offer today.

Most all Jamaica rum now uses pot-still distillate as a top note to column still product, and is very much focused on delivering an easy drinking, delicious sippable experience, with the oak/vanillas and sugary flavors we love and see across the spectrum of better product today.

Jamaica Rum historically was once considerably different. I'll summarize here - more at the alpenz website (http://www.alpenz.com/images/poftfolio/smithcross114rum.htm) and for a wonderful in-depth reading I'd suggest the chapter on Jamaica Rum in Hugh Barty King & Anton Massel's "Rum: Yesterday and Today". Until the arrival of the first column stills in the 1960's, Jamaica Rum was all pot-still. The old style Jamaica rum was famous for a "heavy" full flavor and aromatic style with great tropical fruit and spice notes. The funky, agricole and even bread like notes are very much a function of the old Jamaica style of production - using the skimmings, dunder, cane juice (though minimal relative to the molasses) and yeasts unique to each sugar estate and their sugar production. While not a sipping rum by contemporary standards, this style of rum imparts an extraordinary depth of classic rum flavors to mixed drinks. And after letting it open up, you may find yourself sipping it too. Be careful if you really like it - its the origin of of the term 'dunderhead.'

A few other things to note in summary that have come up in discussion: Navy strength (114pf) is not the same as navy rum (which was mostly Guyana with Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad). Jamaica pot-still rum was classified by ester content / flavor intensity, of which the Plummer and Wedderburn were the "Home Trade" qualities. The UK angle was integral to not just the old brand mark but more importantly the history of this style and of rum in general. Lasty, this isn't a re-creation brought to market for wall decoration and collectors - its intended for use in service as a base spirit in seriously delicious drinks calling for Jamaica rum. If not to your liking, please do explore the other lovely Jamaica rums in market.

David had initially suggested the revival of this style almost three years ago and sipped through a number of iterations along the way. Audrey and her team weighed in mightily on the proof decision. Numerous others voiced in on many facets of the project. We hope you enjoy it!

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As someone who has bought, afaik, the entire existing supply of IC green in the state, I was deeply relieved to taste the S&B and know it was on the way. Similar styles, excellent for mixing -- though I haven't had the pleasure of a side-by-side.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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As someone who has bought, afaik, the entire existing supply of IC green in the state, I was deeply relieved to taste the S&B and know it was on the way. Similar styles, excellent for mixing -- though I haven't had the pleasure of a side-by-side.

Unless you've bought it up in the past couple weeks, there is still some on the shelves at Joyal's. If I had been checking luggage on my way home, it would have been coming with me.


 

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As someone who has bought, afaik, the entire existing supply of IC green in the state, I was deeply relieved to taste the S&B and know it was on the way. Similar styles, excellent for mixing -- though I haven't had the pleasure of a side-by-side.

Awesome! Do you by any chance know how the Red, Green and Black compare to each other? Being in Australia we have no short supply of Inner Circle, and I have a bottle of the red spot on my shelf :). So IC is also made in the old pot-still style then?

(Funnily enough the Smith and Cross packaging doesn't not remind me of the old Inner Circle bottles)


Edited by FireAarro (log)

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While the Inner Circle Green was suggested as a substitute in the absence of pot-still Jamaica Rum, it wasn't and isn't traditional Jamaica Rum. The IC has its own merits, story and virtues apart from its role as a substitute. If you nose and taste the Smith & Cross side-by-side with either IC Green (114) or IC Black (151), you'll likely find the S&C far more aromatic and flavor intensive. It's not something so unique to S&C - this is typical of the grade of pure pot-still Jamaica Rum at 114 proof.

I'd suggest tasting and mixing side by side with Plantation Jamaica 1998, Appleton 12, Wray & Nephew 151. Yes there are differences of proof and production style, but all are different takes on Jamaica Rum.

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What cocktails traditionally call for Jamaica rum? The Alpenz website lists some recipes, including the daiquiri and planter's punch, but did those recipes specifically call for Jamaica rum?

Or more importantly, what cocktails benefit most from the S&C? Certainly, the daiquiri is so flexible a recipe it can showcase any type of rum. Any others?

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What cocktails traditionally call for Jamaica rum? The Alpenz website lists some recipes, including the daiquiri and planter's punch, but did those recipes specifically call for Jamaica rum?

Or more importantly, what cocktails benefit most from the S&C? Certainly, the daiquiri is so flexible a recipe it can showcase any type of rum. Any others?

'Proper' cocktails less so but punches definitely, including the Planters you mention.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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What cocktails traditionally call for Jamaica rum? The Alpenz website lists some recipes, including the daiquiri and planter's punch, but did those recipes specifically call for Jamaica rum?

Or more importantly, what cocktails benefit most from the S&C? Certainly, the daiquiri is so flexible a recipe it can showcase any type of rum. Any others?

The "Jamaica Rum Daquiri" calls for Jamaica Rum, the standard "Daquiri" is a different drink, typically calling for a lighter rum. It is indeed a great formula to open up a rum's characteristics, as was pointed, 'the Daquiri doesn't lie".

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"the Daquiri doesn't lie".

Funny, I just heard that story last night when I asked a favorite bartender if he'd be open to making me something with Batavia Arrack.


True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Of all of the great bottles that Eric has brought to the market, this is the greatest. Hands down.


It's just cold booze in a glass. Drink it, dammit.

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I'd suggest tasting and mixing side by side with Plantation Jamaica 1998, Appleton 12, Wray & Nephew 151. Yes there are differences of proof and production style, but all are different takes on Jamaica Rum.

I've not had the other two, but the S&C blows Appleton 12 out of the water.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I've not had the other two, but the S&C blows Appleton 12 out of the water.

I wouldn't say "blows it out of the water" so much as "complements it beautifully"... try 1/2 oz of each in a Mai Tai with 1 oz of Clement VSOP or your preferred Saint James variant (or El Dorado 15, for that matter). I'm really liking S&C as a way to augment modern Jamaican rums in tiki recipes.


Edited by John Rosevear (log)

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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I like them both, but mostly, I don't think they're comparable. I like Smith & Cross in some drinks, but in others, I think Appleton 12 works better. The S&C is just too funky for me in more delicate drinks.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
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Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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Call me odd -- I've been called worse -- but so far my favorite use of S&C has been in a Manhattan derivative: 2:1 with CAF, dashes of orange, cherry and aromatic bitters, lemon twist -- practically a dessert. It's a worthy sub for Inner Circle Green in Dave's Two Indies -- not the same, but more than serviceable, from which I deduce that it will require adjustments (or perhaps undoing adjustments) in other tiki-like drinks.

I'm also thinking of something that combines it with a bitter component and a bubbly float. I haven't figured that out yet -- seems like the cocktail equivalent of 80s new wave music: assertive top and bottom, with whiny stuff in the middle.


Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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Flatiron Lounge has (or had) a great drink on the menu called "Old Ironsides" that had both Smith & Cross and Batavia Arrack.

I think S&C is a shoe-in for any Old Fashioned type of drink.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Sam, do you know the recipe of that? We just got S&C, the arrack, and a bunch more Haus Alpenz stuff at work, and I'm having a grand old time. Love to know.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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