Monday, 1 June 2009

This is a Rum One!

Well folks, I have a new drinks interest but don't worry, I'm not cheating on beer altogether just having a serious flirtation with the fantastically diverse drink of rum.

I've just been privileged enough to spend a week in Barbados learning all about the Caribbean's rums with the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Assocation for the body's True Rum campaign and, wow, I've discovered some corkers!

Now, I don't know about you but my previous experiences of rum have all been bad, I don't like Bacardi and Malibu makes me feel ill just smelling it, but the rums I've been sampling are a totally different kettle of flying fish altogether.

This absolutely amazing, informative and, at most times, side-splittingly hilarious press trip has opened my eyes up to the quality coming out of the Caribbean- and even if they aren't the slickest marketeers in the world don't be put off, because the authenticity of these products are what set them apart.

With the company of my new partners in crime - the legend that is Ben Illis, master mimic Graeme Jackson, the ever-giggling Sara, the truly gorgeous David 'Laslohoff' Laso Tabliega and puffer fish-footed Paddy (who has the most infectious laugh in the world) - I've not only discovered the absolute passion with which rum is produced in the Caribbean but its astonishing diversity too.

I'll be writing more extensively on the subject for a number of titles, including Times Online which I'll post the link to when I've done it, but here are some to look out for:

El Dorado 15 Year Old
Pretty much my favourite find was the El Dorado 15-year-old,with a slightly tropical fruit nose, backed by lightly toasted hazelnuts and demerara sugar it moves on in taste to leather, pear and sandalwood flavours that resonate through the mouth with silky ease.

Rhum Barbancourt Estate Réserve
A 15 year-old rum, made entirely from sugar cane juice in Haiti, which presents some red apple skin & caramel to the nose, with a hint of oak from the Limousin oak barrels, and a lovely leather tobacco finish.

Cockspur VSOR
Cockspur rum may be a familiar name but there's nothing run-of-the-mill about this rich & delicious number, with the VSOR standing for Very Special Old Reserve.

Recommended to me by the equally delicious Daniele Biondi, the WIRSPA Italian rum expert & founder of Rum Club Italiano all the spirits in the bottle are a minimum of 12-years-old and its rich impression starts with an intense autumnal colour in the glass and just doesn't quit from there.

With its slightly caramel orange and sweet biscuit nose, with a touch of sandalwood, it opens on the palate to a rich earthy spiciness that ends with a pleasant touch of astringence from the wood aging.

R.L. Seale's Sixty Six
Available in the UK in July, this is a really complex sipping drink with touches of raisin, charred oak, vanilla and a finish that's feels like you've been sitting in an old leather couch smoking a damn fine cigar (minus the bad breath of course!).


nate said...

I am not a rum connoisseur by any means, but think it is not a huge deviation from beer. In fact, I think many bigger more alcoholic beers have rum flavors. I recently picked up a dark rum note in Goose Island's Matilda.

I'd love to try some of the varieties you reviewed!

Melissa Cole said...

I completely agree with you there Nate, going and tasting these rums has also opened up a whole new lexicon for me to describe beer tastes, particularly those that are rum aged.

Really do keep an eye out in bars for some of these, they are such a bargain by comparison to congac and the like too.

surfadelic23 said...

"Rhum Barbancourt Estate Réserve"
One of my all time favorite rums. Was turned on to it by my buddies from Haiti...

Melissa Cole said...

I was an absolute eye-opener being out there and trying these incredible sipping rums.

Sid Boggle said...

Hey Rick, were your buddies from Haiti zombies, by any chance? 8-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being as delicious as VSOR darling..

surfadelic23 said...

"Hey Rick, were your buddies from Haiti zombies, by any chance? 8-)"

LOL! After a few drams of that rum, more than likely...