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Allow me to introduce myself...


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I’m new to this forum and the rum world. I might be assuming too much about your interest in my personal experience with rum by posting this lengthy essay. I wanted to post my personal story because I thought some of you veterans would take interest in how a college age person begins to take interest in developing an appreciation for rum. I just turned 23 and hopefully still have many years ahead of me to enjoy the spirit. This is how it all began…

My first taste of rum was a mixture of Coca-Cola and McCormick brand rum at a friends birthday party in an early year of college. I was used to vodka and gin so naturally, I hated the rum & Coke. The next time I dared buy a bottle (or bottles) of rum was a couple years later in order to make Hurricanes for a Mardigras(sp?) party. The Hurricane recipe called for equal parts light rum, Jamaican rum, and 151 over proof rum. Therefore, the first three bottles of rum I ever bought were Malibu, Myers, and Bacardi 151.

Shortly after the “Hurricane” party, I started showing interest in music from the Tiki culture of the 1950’s. One thing led to another and I discovered a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai while dining at the restaurant in Chicago. For weeks I couldn’t get that memorable drink out of my head and was craving more! My quest to re-create a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai led me to gather up all the required ingredients (orange curacao, almond syrup, lime, sugar, and rum). The ingredients were easy enough to find but my lack of knowledge in the rum department left me bewildered at the wide selection of rums available. Just like any rum newbie, I consulted the labels and ended up buying Whalers Rare Reserve Dark. Once I had all my shopping done I returned home to try my hand at a true classic. I used Trader Vic’s original recipe and felt like jumping for joy once I tasted my concoction.

Once I ran out of Whalers, I decided to try something else. I noticed that the Traders recipe called for 17 y/o Wray & Nephew Jamaican rum. I did some research and found out that Appleton Estate used to be Wray and Nephew. The 17 y/o rum didn’t exist so I was left with 3 choices at the liquor store; V/X, Extra, and 21 y/o. Being a poor college kid I opted for the V/X which wasn’t bad at all in my Mai Tai’s. As my Mai Tai’s grew in popularity with my friends, I found that making them from scratch became quite a chore. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Mix was my answer. All I had to do now was add fresh squeezed lime and rum. Once out of V/X, I went back to the liquor store. To my surprise and amazement I found myself staring at a bottle of Trader Vic’s Dark Rum (recommended for use on the Mai Tai mix label) which tasted very nice with the mix. In my quest to re-create the Mai Tai I had at Trader Vic’s, I ended up placing a call to the bar manager at the Chicago restaurant. The bar manager informed me that they use a blend of Mt. Gay (Eclipse or Extra Old I can’t remember) and Negrita. Negrita wasn’t available in Kansas so I never tried the blend. At this point the only thing I knew about dark rums were how they affected the overall taste of my Mai Tai’s as I wouldn’t yet find it enjoyable to sip the rums neat.

My interest was sparked when James Bond ordered a mojito in Die Another Day. I looked up the recipe online and decided I would like to try one. My mojito craving was put on the back-burner until it came up in conversation with a couple friends during happy hour at the Hereford House restaurant in Lawrence Kansas. We all decided to try one and signaled the waitress. I was not very impressed with my first taste of mojito, the bartender served it up in a martini glass with no trace of club soda. I decided to give the mojito a shot on my own and set out to the liquor store in search of white rum. I’ll give you one guess at which rum I brought home. I mixed the Bacardi with the rest of the ingredients and had a very enjoyable experience with my first authentic mojito.

One of the first things I did after moving to Puerto Rico in November, was to check out the Bacardi distillery. The bartending exhibit introduced me to the Cuba Libre (Rum Coke and Lime). Interesting, throw a little lime in and it’s a Cuba Libre? I remembered my first harrowing experience with rum and coke in my college days and was reluctant before walking out of the Bacardi gift shop with a bottle of Bacardi Gold. My wife and I picked up some limes and made a couple Cuba Libre’s when we returned home. Perhaps it was the strength of my first rum and Coke, perhaps it was the McCormic rum, perhaps it was lack of lime juice, perhaps it was the training of my palate by Mai Tai’s, but I really enjoyed my second try at rum and Coke, my first Cuba Libre. Bacardi Gold, Coke, and lime were always in supply at our residence during the first couple months in Puerto Rico.

Once I got tired of Cuba Libre’s I turned back to the Mai Tai. I wanted to find a great rum for Mai Tai’s but I settled for a bottle of Myers before searching the Internet for suggestions. I was very surprised by rum tasting notes I found; the flavors that were being described peaked my interest. I always thought rum tasted like rum, which is to say, very unpleasant unless mixed. “How could someone detect all these flavors from all that harsh, burning, brown alcohol?” I wanted to learn more and I found the perfect place to do it; The Rum University (www.therumuniversity.com).

I ordered my rum essence kit and finished all the lessons in a week. The lessons called for comparisons between different dark rums; the only two that I had were Bacardi Gold and Myers. I set out to the liquor store and picked up one bottle each of Bacardi 8 and Flor de Cana 12. When I returned home, my wife and I were amazed at how smooth and mellow the aged rums were, compared to the harsh burning of the Bacardi and Myers. This, my friends, is what started it all; the evolution of my love for rums today.

I’m still relatively new to the rum world, considering that my purchase of my first aged rums was only 3 months ago (May 2004). Since my new mindset toward rum and my introduction to smooth sipping rums, I’ve been continuing my quest for knowledge and experience in the rum world. The rums I’ve bought in the last 3 months since my first purchase of Bacardi 8 and Flor de Cana 12 are as follows:

Riserva Aneja – Puerto Rico

Flor de Cana 7

Ron Zacapa Centenario

Cruzan Single Barrel

Ron del Barrilito 3 star

Bacardi Riserva Limitada

I’ve enjoyed all these rums and hope to enjoy many more. This concludes the story so far of the epic journey of my mouths’ maturation to rum appreciation.

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Thanks for the introduction. Sounds like you are enjoying my favorite spirit and are off to a good start in Puerto Rico. You listed Barillito's Three Star, but don't overlook the Two Star. I got a big start to my rum career on Culebra in the early 90s, sampling rums I'd bring back from sailing trips to St Thomas.

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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Good start. I am trying to be an afficionado but my bottles empty too quickly. I have tried the Matusalem Platino that I liked in Mojitos but am finding myself a dark rum fan moreso than light. Appleton is great. I have yet to make a Mojito myself like my first one at Elephant Bar. Maybe the sugarcane stick made the drink. Mine seems too weak and not sweet. I have taken an affinity to the basic daiquiri. Lime Juice,Dark Rum,and Sugar mixed up. A drink you may want to try that I have taken up is Coco Rum,Light Rum,juice of one lime,and a shot of pineapple juice shaken with ice. Its pretty good stuff. I have been unsuccessful for the most part with the bigtime rums seem and mentioned here. Looks like I will have to go online to shop.

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Yeah,

I barely even drank before I went to Cuba...I made Cuba Libres with some Cap'n that my g/f bought me (yuk!), but that was it. After having mojitos (first at the Miami airport...good, but expensive), then I spent 10 days in Cuba. Suffice it to say that when I wasn't drinking a "Bucanero" lager, I had a little glass of Havana Club 7 Anos in my hand. I mean, when it's just $3 a double shot, why not sip it????

Glad you've enjoyed rum...I could give up almost all other alcohol (except for maybe red wine), but a fine rum is the BEST!!!!!

Cheers!

Bruce

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