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Solera Rums


Bill Poster
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Santa Teresa 1796 and Bacardi 1873 are using the Solera method; Is this a cognac method and how does it work exactly?

Also, the dates on Solera rums; what does this indicate??

Good questions. I bought a bottle of Bacardi 1873 in San Juan in 2000 and the label said nothing about Solera (label stated it was produced in Puerto Rico). Now, as you stated, the 1873 is labeled as Solera, and is also produced in Mexico.

I'm also curious to see replies to your questions.

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Well the answer isn't exactly clear. It really depends on who is doing the aging or in some cases the labeling.

The Solera method of aging comes from Spain and is a process of topping off barrels of spirits with spirits which have aged a year or so less. In the end you are left with a blend of spirit which is composed of many different vintages.

In reality a lot of bottlers don't actually refill their aging barrels but simply blend spirits from different vintages and call it solera. Do you think Bacardi has a separate warehouse for their solera aged rum?

In another example I've seen a 10 Solera Blender and a 15 Solera Blender from the same company which were the same color but packaged in different colored bottles.

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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Rum seems to have more misleading and/or intentionally deceptive labelling than any other spirit I can think of. Is this just because people don't pay attention, don't care, or is the rum industry just not as accountable as the rest regarding labels?

Maybe this post simply illustrates what I need to learn about rum, or do others feel the same?

Please enlighten me.

Sean

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Snowy, until there is an Internationally recognised system/mark with set criteria, Rum will never be fully accepted as a premium spirit. Rum has an image problem. a large proportion of of drinkers still think Captain Morgan and Bacardi are as good as rum gets.

Until a group of top distilleries get together and start a recognised mark of quality then this will continue, though I believe Santa Teresa rums to be accurate in their descriptions and methods, and a good ambassador for Rum.

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Rum seems to have more misleading and/or intentionally deceptive labelling than any other spirit I can think of.  I this just because people don't pay attention, don't care, or is the rum industry just not as accountable as the rest regarding labels?

Maybe this post simply illustrates what I need to learn about rum, or do others feel the same?

Please enlighten me.

Sean

Sean,

I just started concentrating on learning about R(h)ums this year, and find it a pretty daunting field of study.

I think the confusing thing about R(h)um is the number and spectrum of products which can be called by that name. The different countries and their varying laws about labelling also make it a bit more confusing than other spirits.

It's easy to get a handle on spirits like Bourbon, because most of the product under that name taste fairly similar to one another and come from a relatively limited geographic area. Even easier with a spirit like Rye, where there are literally only a handful of brands.

There are a variety of tequilas; but, they mostly come from Mexico and have relatively consistent labelling controlled by one goverment.

There are dozens of countries which produce rums and hundreds of individual varieties and methods of production, from Austria's Stroh to Venezuela's Santa Teresa.

Erik

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Rum will never be fully accepted as a premium spirit.

I have to disagree. There are a number of rums produced by reputable distillers and marketed by reputable people which I would put up against any of the other spirits in terms of quality. In Martinique, the AOC mark is a pretty good mark of quality standards for production and labeling. These rums differ but the AOC works tirelessly to maintain the integrity of their mark and I for one consider some rums to be premium spirits.

Yes there are rums marketed by people that will put anything on a label or website in order to sell their product, but there are also rums being produced and marketed by honest professionals.

I often equate the quality of a product by the lack of glossy ads. Quality sells and I'd rather pay for quality than expensive ads.

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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It's easy to get a handle on spirits like Bourbon, because most of the product under that name taste fairly similar to one another and come from a relatively limited geographic area.  Even easier with a spirit like Rye, where there are literally only a handful of brands.

There are a variety of tequilas; but, they mostly come from Mexico and have relatively consistent labelling controlled by one goverment.

There are dozens of countries which produce rums and hundreds of individual varieties and methods of production, from Austria's Stroh to Venezuela's Santa Teresa.

Erik

The fact that the word Tequila has been registered in Mexico, like Cognac, Champagne and the Bordeaux, doesn't tell half the story. There are few enforced regulations that really mean much. Would you believe a lot of the tequila on the store shelves in the US is actually almost half molasses based spirits?

The wine industry is full of lawsuits over appelations in both California and overseas. And then there is a growing dispute over vodka with some EU countries claiming that vodka can't be made from such things as grapes or molasses, a position that is strongly opposed by English distillers.

Certainly the rum industry has it's share of pirates, but there are plenty of others in the wine, tequila, whisky, vodka and other spirits segments that make Captain Morgan look like a saint.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

I think it is a real threat. We are looking for the "rum police" for ages, wether in Europe or somewhere else, but Im afraid no police there. As far as we are concerned the priority with the law enforcing bodies is just too low. We see many many "gray" areas, which is harmfull for the business. But quality will prevale.

EU law says that its illegal to add anithing but caramel for the colour, and I see many many spanish and Italian bottlers adding vanillin, sugar, glycerin and caldo or bonificateur. In Holland companies just buy sugar cane alcohol and blend it with high ester Jamaican Rum and call it rum, they even add artificial esters, and they get away with it!! It is NOT a level playing field here, its illegal and its harming the Rum business.

I do see however the Scotch Whisky Association bringing companies to court if they violate the Scotch Whisky rules. I do see the consejo the regulador for tequila trying to get tequila in its grip and its true that Scotland is not as big as the world.

there is a beautifull job for the CEPS, WIRSPA, DISCUSS and other representative bodies world wide to regulate rum, but Im afraid Im not there anymore when this is reality.

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I couldn't agree more, but as you say Quality Will Prevail. The closest thing I know of to the rum police is the Martinique AOC, which only governs a few drops in the whole bucket of the industry.

The biggest problem is that the biggest companies have the most to loose and they control the established lobbying groups, so there will not be any credible policing done until they see a threat to their bottom line.

The good news is that with the internet and forums like this, I see more and more factual information being disseminated and more fiction being debunked. From my experience, drinkers of finer spirits are spending more time finding out about the actual products and not just spending silly money on things which just aren't what they are represented to be.

In the US, the TTB and other police agencies don't have the time or inclination to address what many would consider to be small problems. In a recent NY Sun article some of the other problems with availability to quality products are addressed. Business as usual seems to be the status quo, but all of the stores mentioned in this article do go out of their way to find and stock better quality products that aren't colored with fictional hype.

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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It 'only' takes a small group of regarded producers to join together to introduce an association. this will increase sales for those Brands and attract more to come on board at the detriment of those who give rum a bad name for the aim of profit gain.

Maybe someone v. respected in the field needs to implement the plan.. Ed?

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I talk all the time to producers about how I think the rum industry might be able to raise their reputation, but sadly, distillers as a very small part of the equation, many of the biggest money brands are marketed by people who are much more motivated by money than quality or the reputation of the rum industry.

And there is the proposition of getting a bunch of distillers to agree on anything, until it's too late. On my first serious research trip in the Eastern Caribbean I heard of plans to produce and market a Caribbean rum of high quality blended from a number of different rums from different islands, that plan is probably further from the bottle than it was more than a decade ago.

Another problem is that all of the rum distillers see each other as competitors rather than partners in the rum industry. And then most distillers think they make the best rum, they just haven't been discovered yet, so the thought of cooperating with anyone else is as foreign as drinking spirits made from anything but sugar cane.

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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Ed,

The Solera system is not quite how you described. It does come from Spain (sherry) and it is also used extensively in Madeira.

Basically you can draw off about 25% of the aged wines each year and top them up with young/current vintage wines and the wine will always taste the same. ie the older wines will assimilate the young ones and you will have a constant taste year on year.

To be totally honest I am not sure if this would work with spirits or not.

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Ed,

The Solera system is not quite how you described. It does come from Spain (sherry) and it is also used extensively in Madeira.

Basically you can draw off about 25% of the aged wines each year and top them up with young/current vintage wines and the wine will always taste the same. ie the older wines will assimilate the young ones and you will have a constant taste year on year.

To be totally honest I am not sure if this would work with spirits or not.

It most definitely works with spirits. That's how Brandy de Jerez is made.

http://www.egullet.com/tdg.cgi?pg=ARTICLE-perlowbrandy

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I definitely disagree that if you take 25% new rum and add it to 75% aged rum you won't get the same taste as the old rum, or even anything close.

Distilled spirits take much more of their taste and flavor from aging. Look at the difference between aged rum and unaged rum. The higher alcohol content of the distilled spirits works as a much more effective solvent is dissolving the esters and tannins in the wood, to a point. If you age neutral spirits you will end up with something that has a nice color but no body, just a nice aroma and a smoother finish.

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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