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Capn Jimbo

Understanding Rum

266 posts in this topic

Having now tried the Lost Spirits rum, I don't get any agricole notes from it. What I get is molasses, caramel, savory-sweet sherry (raisins, salted pork), surprising amounts of rancio, dunder funk, and leather. Basically the same tasting notes as tanstaafl2. It's incredible.

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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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I am purposefully quite ignorant about the making of rum (whiskey does enough damage to my wallet, thank you much), so forgive me if this is out of left field, but seeing as molasses is listed as an ingredient, couldn't it also be used after distillation without being considered a 'coloring additive'? The extremely precise, yet non-definitive nature of the distiller's comments reminds me a lot of what I hear from the lawyers I work with all day. That said, the proof is in the tasting, and I look forward to the opportunity to sample this particular quandary.

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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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If added after distillation, that'd be both a coloring and flavoring additive - think Cruzan Blackstrap, the most extreme example

I'm with KD1191 on this one: from a legal standpoint, would it be an "additive" or just an "ingredient"?


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

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I'm with KD1191 on this one: from a legal standpoint, would it be an "additive" or just an "ingredient"?

 

Yeah, that was my thought. Ingredients listed on the label of a distilled spirit is somewhat rare, no? It makes me wonder why one might do that...and, if calling those items out and defining them as 'ingredients' would allow someone (semantically/legally) to then claim they are not 'additives'.


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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Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Lost Spirits do this for all of its products?


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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Lost Spirits do this for all of its products?

 

I dunno, but several beer producers do it in spirit of the 16th century reinheitsgebot

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So, I want to rekindle this was the subject of unaltered rums. Most rums available to us at a normal shop have added flavor/color, etc, which makes for a boring and same-y sort of drink across several brands.  Independent bottlers have stashes of great old barrels of rum, to which they add nothing, but each bottle costs an arm and a leg.

 

Are there any, say, <$40 rums that are not sweetened/colored/flavored/chill filtered besides the ones I'm about to list? I can count WN overproof, S&C, Scarlet Ibis, and maybe Pusser's and Sea Wynde. Maybe also Seale's 10. What about the others? Mount Gay? Appleton? Flor de Caña? El Dorado almost certainly has caramel and sugar...with the exception of Wray and Nephew, none of the others in the first category are major producers.

 

Ron 2300 from Ecuador fits this bill, but I'm not sure about the <$40 price tag anywhere but here in EC.  It's aged in former whiskey barrels and has a really intriguing flavour that's closer in profile to good rye than it is to good rum.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Lost Spirits do this for all of its products?

 

This is the first bottle from Lost Spirits I have had in my own hands so I can't say for sure. Pictures from the Coopered Tot blog from 2012 would seem to suggest he does although it is a bit difficult to read. It also contains some links to other blogs that might be of interest.

 

I asked in my email exchange with him about whether anything, to include molasses, molasses extract, sugar, or E150a/caramel was added after distillation. Bryan can say what ever he wants in an email I suppose but the answer was no.

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If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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The colour could be coming from added dunder after distillation.  It could also be produced in part from accelerated aging via microwave or ultrasonic treatments.  

 

He may well be making his dunder by infecting backset with Clostridium sacchrobutyricum which can be purchased lyphylized and cultures maintained for future generations.  

 

If you read the Arroyo Patent it explains the symbiotic fermentation of yeast and bacteria that produces very dunder rich rum.

 

If one were to take some dunder - boil or freeze it to kill the bacteria - strain and add it back into the distilled rum you could get a very rich dark colour independent of the oak aging.  

 

And I don't think that you would have to call that an additive.  

 

 

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The colour could be coming from added dunder after distillation.  It could also be produced in part from accelerated aging via microwave or ultrasonic treatments.  

 

He may well be making his dunder by infecting backset with Clostridium sacchrobutyricum which can be purchased lyphylized and cultures maintained for future generations.  

 

If you read the Arroyo Patent it explains the symbiotic fermentation of yeast and bacteria that produces very dunder rich rum.

 

If one were to take some dunder - boil or freeze it to kill the bacteria - strain and add it back into the distilled rum you could get a very rich dark colour independent of the oak aging.  

 

And I don't think that you would have to call that an additive.  

 

Well now, that is certainly some dense reading!

 

But I get the sense that, as I would expect, the dunder is always employed in the fermentation process and that post distillation he is mixing different fractions of distillate and redistilling portions of it and not redistilling other portions. But he is not using dunder post distillation as best I can decipher. At least I don't think so. Hard to be sure!

 

Bryan noted in our email exchange that he also adds anerobic bacteria (that he specifically cultures) as part of his banana "dunder" to his stressed fermentation to create "volatile acids" that will eventually lead to esterification in a method that sounds like it might be at least similar to this process. He notes the use of Lactobacillus and "other bacteria" but doesn't specifically mention using a Clostridium sp. in his process.

 

I would think that adding "killed" dunder post distillation would be an "additive" but as you say maybe that is not how a distiller looks at it and that is his "short cut" to color. His says the color is more a "byproduct" of his special techniques in the aging process he developed to extract the catalytic acids from the wood that lead to esterification. But those techniques are what he prefers not to provide details on becasue I presume he considers them to be "proprietary".

 

He did not go into much detail about the cuts he uses on his distillate or additional rounds of distillation. Then again I didn't think to ask that.


Edited by tanstaafl2 (log)

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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Perhaps the silliest thread on eGullet.    Anyone who believes the ADI's pitch that a spirit can be "fast aged" using micro-barrels, or special light, underwater aging, loud rock music, barrels sealed with plastic wrap, pulsating pressure/temperature, specially treated wooden staves or Lost Spirits "fast seasoning", "fast dunder" or "secret aging" (combination of small barrels, staves and air pressure)?     I've got some prime Everglades acreage to sell.

 

Lost Spirits first failed technique was using a steam heated oak pot to produce his "Leviathan" Peated Malt Whisky.   He used oak in the boiler on the untested theory that this would provide additional oak-based flavor elements to the distillate, for yet increased "fast aging"  he believed would shorten the need for time in wood.    What he ultimately seemed to achieve instead was the flavor of a steam induced fungus that contaminated his whisky to the extent that he had to destroy the still and start over.   Think hot, sweaty sneakers.

 

As far as his "peated malt whisky" no less than Serge of Whiskyfun stated that this "whisky"  tasted nothing remotely like a peated whisky.    While some extractives like excessive color (and God only knows what else) can be accelerated, the time dependent chemical processes of oxidation, esterifcation and other interactive processes - that can only occur over years of true aging - cannot be duplicated.     I won't waste your time discussing his bizarre banana-in-the-ferment "fast dunder" and pressure pulsing "fast seasoning" with sherry but these likewise should cause you pause.

 

As spirits author Chuck Cowdery has pointed out, so called fast aging - particularly with small barrels - can only produce an excess of early extractives at the cost of subtractives and interactives, thus which - at best - may produce a spirit which may be palatable but is not remotely the equivalent of 6 to 12 year old aged spirits.  Indeed, as his whisky, may not even be recognizable as one.   Think about it - if any of these crackpot schemes - however well intended - actually worked, don't you think the majors would be using them to save literally hundreds of millions of dollars in aging time?  

 

All of these are simply financially driven efforts by dollar and time limited small distiller who cannot afford to set aside large amounts of distillate for proper aging, for up to 10 years, before selling a drop.    Sad but true.   The only thing sadder are those who believe these claims and rejoice over mere palatability...


Edited by Capn Jimbo (log)

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Took a few moments to get reacquainted with the Lost Spirits rum last night with a "fresh" palate. I had been tasting a variety of things last time to include heavily port finished Devil's Bit, several cask strength unpeated Caol Ila's and the standard CI 12 as well as a couple of other rums before we got to the Lost Spirits rum. 

 

attachicon.gifLost Spirits 1.JPG

 

Best attempt to try to illustrate the color. A headless selfie reflected in the lovely deep reddish brown spirit...

 

attachicon.gifLost spirits 2.JPG

 

Don't think it gets much clearer than this.

 

attachicon.gifLost Spirits 3.JPG

 

The color is what it is. Certainly surprising but I will take the distillers word on the bottle and in emails to me for it until I can be convinced otherwise.

 

The nose is still a strong and pleasant scent of baked molasses/caramel. The palate picks up on the molasses at the start but this is definitely drier than even what I remembered from before. Nothing cloyingly sweet about the one. The light plummy red fruits came in quickly but are not intense like a PX sherry finish (the barrels were reportedly virgin oak treated with oloroso sherry so that certainly fits). The light funkiness is also still present but perhaps not as strongly as I recall from the last time. Certainly a bit of heat from the proof but not excessively so (then again I have gotten rather accustomed to higher proof spirits! YMMV). The finish is moderately long and pleasant with the fruit notes and that bit of funkiness carrying through the palate for me to the end. Not particularly tannic and the bit of bitterness seems well balanced and pleasant. A touch of water helps it open a bit further but too much water, in trying to bring it down to around 100 proof, results in a much too thin flavor for me. 115-120 proof minimum seems about right. 

 

I have since learned that he uses new American oak staves or slabs in the barrel that are what have been treated with his "photocatalytically charred" processed (I think I did that in my youth with a magnifying glass! Although I do apologize for the ants that might have gotten in the way... :shock:). He also appears to re-barrel (and possibly re-char?) his spirit in new or "new-ish" barrels one or more times. In addition he indicated to me he keeps his own anaerobic bacteria cultures on site to develop his "dunder" (which he referred to in quotes). He says he uses quotes deliberately to indicate he knows his process is not going to be the same as the dunder produced in long standing pits in Jamaica and elsewhere. For one thing dunder pits in the ground will pick up soil bacteria from the ground with their own unique set of acids they produce as compared to the Lactobacillus and other strains he uses. 

 

Idiosyncratic indeed! This kind of info tickles a research scientist like me to the core even if I don't always follow every detail. I don't know exactly how or what the distiller did to create what he did but I certainly like it as much now as several days ago and that counts most of all to me.

 

And if I get back out to the Left Coast anytime soon this place is high on my list for a tour and tasting!

 

sheisty, adulterated, impure or not, this rum sounds like fun.

 

one reason I think they color some of these rums is because otherwise they are cloudy due to congener solubility issues and a lack of new enough barrels to provide any color. aroma perception, we must remember, is dependent on a lot of recollection, and thus has to be primed which is why color is so important. if the producer does not properly color his spirit, one way or the other, then he is not honoring all those finely crafted aroma compounds. I suspect this producer turns the wood into some sort of sponge for sherry. it is pretty much the same thing as simply pouring sherry in the rum which I suspect would be illegal. the reason I don't complain about that is there is a limit on how much sherry gets in there due to the round about technique. he can't get sheisty and create "grape drink" like if it were legal to simply dump in the sherry and overload the spirit. but I am just speculating on how it gets so dark.

 

I don't fear added sugar anymore because of a concept I've dubbed the "gustatory latch". for spirits to be harmonic at room temperature, they need some significant gustatory feature for us to latch onto. acidity, prominent to fairly new oaked spirits like Bourbon, could be considered the most noble latch but its not the only way to skin the cat as seen in Cognac which adds sugar. if the wood adds no significant acidity you have to fall back on sugar. other spirits categories pretty much end up using only one type of latch while rum being the broadest category explores every option. so again producers must honor & flatter those crafted aroma compounds so they don't get stuck paired with a flabby experience where your only option is to chill the spirit. in some cultures there isn't wide access to ice and cold drinks are even dissonant so those imbibers prefer warm beer. and of course the sugar latch can be abused to produce grape drink.

 

I've really enjoyed some of the fruit adulterated rums like the Blackwell Jamaican rum. to me they are not worth a lot of money but I enjoy drinking them. the fruit often provides the acidity needed to enjoy sipping at room temp. in the early 20th century survey of rum from the IRS, it is noted that lots of rums had small percentages of fruit juice and subtle spices like bay leaf. these early rum tactics are profound and show serious intuitive knowledge of sensory science long before anyone could articulate it. none of these products should be ousted from the market rather they just shouldn't be worth that much money.

 

a big hole in our understanding of rum is what the high ester concentrates are really like. I suspect some are undrinkable because they contain above recognition threshold values of certain congeners and they are probably also cloudy. blend them down and they are beautiful but no academic papers really explain the specifics of what they are like. I don't think dunder pits have to be too old. I bet they could even get too old and spoil but no research papers explore all the whatifs to my knowledge. people used to give Kentucky all this exclusivity for making Bourbon but it turns out upstate New York can do a pretty good job as well.

 

one thing that is cool to see in this spirit as mentioned by Rafa is an auto-didactic team on a journey of discovery. they are pretty much rehashing old experiments that supposedly aren't worth repeating but that's not true I've always wanted to drink those experiments! hell, the thing I'm most curious about now is whiskey aged in plywood barrels by the IRS in the 1950's. there is a reason plywood didn't catch on but I still would shell out $50 in a heart beat for shitty rum aged like that. 


Edited by bostonapothecary (log)
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A good and honest read, bravo!    I can now add "gustatory latch" to "fast seasoning", "fast dunder" and "fast aging".    If the major producers - and some of the small distiller too (who like "annuals", appear, bloom and experience a "fast death" - if all these had their way and could convince more people like this poster, who would "...shell out $50 in a heart beat for shitty rum", then their wet dream would finally come true.

 

It's a race to the bottom, as the producers slowly dial down their blends (think MGXO), and add sugar (but not for acidity) for American sugar cereal, "fast food" fatties (think Plantation, El Dorado, Zacapa, Diplomatico, etc).  While the valuable stocks of fine and well aged rums are reserved for some of the new invented classes beyond the "aged" class - like "Premium Aged", "Super Premium Ages" and "Extra Premium Reserved".  

 

Of course these latter categories are invented, much as Zacapa "23", and are nothing more than decent blends delivered in crystal bottles and wooden cases for those short on brains but heavy on ego and cash.    The recent Miami "awards" are proof positive of this trend toward the SOS, shitty and shittier for those who'd gladly pay $50 for these calculated concoctions.

 

BTW - anyone care to comment on the "gustatory latch" for a good Islay?

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BTW - anyone care to comment on the "gustatory latch" for a good Islay?

 

Accepting for the moment the concept of a gustatory latch, then I'd say it's umami.

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BTW - anyone care to comment on the "gustatory latch" for a good Islay?

 

the Islay's might not have enough of a latch which is why people often drink them on the rocks or even with soda more often than other types of scotches. the gustatory latch idea is only for enjoying things at room temperature. being cold or being carbonated are other types of latches. I've seen papers that compare Scotch pH to Bourbon but I cannot quote any though I suspect that the extra aging single malts get relative to other spirits drops the pH despite the barrels not being first fill.

 

umami is an interesting concept and some unaged spirits are far easier to enjoy at room temp than others, particularly tequila and the rhum agricoles. these spirits can be seen as dominated by olfactory-umami aromas and we might be able to say they get perceptual privileges due to nutritional reward hinted at in their aromas. the hyphenated olfactory-umami term categorizes one sense in terms of another like warm & cool colors and is grounded in co-experience. umami is often also called the fatty-acid taste and esters may elicit umami sensations.


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People drink islay whisky with ice or soda? I wouldn't dream of it.

 

Times 2.   Times 3.   Islay's are the whisky of real afficianados who would sooner shoot themselves then add ice and/or soda.   Good grief.    Isn't this gentleman an advocate of dehydrated, instant Pixie dust aging powder?   Call me old fashioned, but when it comes to art, scientists get lost in their own fractals while Picasso made millions and got beautifully and frequently laid, lol...


Edited by Capn Jimbo (log)

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People drink islay whisky with ice or soda? I wouldn't dream of it.

 

 

Not an Islay, but Talisker and Soda [Highball] is banging.  Those bubbles of smoke and pepper popping under your nose is quite something.

 

Oh and since we're putting our cards on the table, Plantation 3Star is possibly my favourite white rum, Barbados 5 is very sippable for a decent price (And I don't find it sweet) and their Overproof is fantastic also.

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The overproof is great. I never see it for retail but it's one of my favorite of its style.


DrunkLab.tumblr.com

”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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The colour could be coming from added dunder after distillation.  It could also be produced in part from accelerated aging via microwave or ultrasonic treatments.  

 

He may well be making his dunder by infecting backset with Clostridium sacchrobutyricum which can be purchased lyphylized and cultures maintained for future generations.  

 

If you read the Arroyo Patent it explains the symbiotic fermentation of yeast and bacteria that produces very dunder rich rum.

 

If one were to take some dunder - boil or freeze it to kill the bacteria - strain and add it back into the distilled rum you could get a very rich dark colour independent of the oak aging.  

 

And I don't think that you would have to call that an additive.  

 

Also wanted to note that it was pointed out to me that dunder is generally not likely to be a pleasant smelling or tasting thing to add to a spirit after distillation! And even if one wanted to do that it would be extremely important to insure that the bacteria was definitely thoroughly killed as you note before doing so as some and perhaps even most of the bacteria in dunder can be quite toxic.

 

That whole decomposing bat thing don't ya know... :wacko:


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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"Dunder" and "funk" may be two of the most misused terms in rum, and I'm afraid we have years to go before these are understood.    It's like "rhum agricole" which is nothing more than rum made from cane juice, and which should properly be referred to as "cane juice rum".    For all practical purposes "cane juice rum" was born in Haiti nearly 200 years ago.   Back then the rest of the French Islands - including Martinique - made rum just like everyone else, from molasses.

 

It was not until sugar beets killed the cash cow of Caribbean sugar, that Martinique - very reluctantly - turned to cane juice out of financial pressure - an act which had nothing to do with quality or artistry.   And it wasn't until the early 1990's - little more than 20 years ago that they cooked up the marketing ploy of creating the term "Rhum Agricole AOC Martinique" under the pretense that sugar cane actually had a terroir, and secondly that rum made by voluminous regulations was somehow superior to all others.  

 

The truth?   "Rhum Agricole" is a marketing invention, and a recent one at that.  Back to "dunder".

 

Regardless of the this term being thrown around like a frisbee at a dog park, the real, honest and historical term emanates from the style of rum pioneered in Jamaica and which used "dunder".   The real stuff.   And just what is that "stuff"?   It's the leftovers from distilling that were dumped in large open pits called "dunder pits" and left there for many years.   These dunder pits were often over 30 years old, and over that long time and exposure to the elements became very, very nasty - but - also incredibly rich in flavor compounds and precursors as the contents combined and recombined.     The magic?

 

The magic was that the Jamaicans uniquely decided to dip out some dunder to be added to new ferments, and thus introduce hundreds upon hundreds of new and potential esters to their rums.   How many?   Most of what you think is rum may have between 30 to 50 esters.    A Jamaican rum?   Think a thousand.   In fact this whole process of dunder produced esters was so important that Jamaica legally classified their rums by the number of esters, another subject.  

 

No other country or producers did this.    And "this" is dunder from the dunder pits.    Kindly ignore any other frisbees that fall nearby.    This is the real dunder, and this is what you should be thinking when you use the term.   What "dunder" is not, is Lost Spirits tossing an overripe banana into their ferment for 2 days.    That my friends, is a very bad and misleading joke.   Now - a quick word about "funk".     

 

What is funk?   Some mistake it for an extension of the word "funky" - like taking a whiff of yesterday's jock strap.   Funky!  But before you think I'm kidding, I've seen the word used by any number of sweet bomb loving rum drinkers who run across a rare unaltered rum that lacks added sugar and vanilla.   To them such a rum is dry, leathery, perhaps with a bit must or tar that then gets described as "funk".    If not true then just what is real "funk".

 

Dunder-produced Jamaican rums.    What "funk" really describes is the tremendous complexity of a dunder-based rum, with not just 30 esters, but perhaps a thousand.     Because of their number, age, and unexpected qualities these rums exhibit what is called "funk", but which would better be called "dunder".    In fact, this complex aroma is so distinctive that its presence is easily noted, and indeed almost defines Jamaican style.   

 

Carry on.

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