There is something to be said for the ability to weave cocktail -driven memories through the liberal application of exceptionally flavorful and highly intoxicating liquors.
The rums that I enjoy the most are at the mid to high end of the equation. These are more akin to fine spirits like Cognac or Scotch Whiskies. Rums at this part of the scale are serious after dinner drinks, not at all like the industrially -made casual, “get out the soda” type quick “day” drinks. Unless you want to waste your hard earned money please follow my easy to understand steps to these great rums, one sip at a time.
1. Murray McDavid Guyana Rum. They find used Bourbon casks that utilized for the production of Laphroig Scotch. These twice used Bourbon and Scotch casks are then filled with hand made, pot-still Uitvlught-Port Morant Guyana Rum. This ancient rum which was made by men long gone is allowed to rest within the charred walls of the used casks for another thirteen years or so- soaking up the salubrious flavors from the twice seasoned oak. Then if this is not enough barrel aging, the rum is enhanced for a certain period of time in casks that formerly held Grand Cru Classe Sauternes. The aromatic nose of this spirit is pure smoke and earthy peat. There is a saline bite and a chewy-bitter chocolate finish. I’ve never tasted anything like this rum; it’s elegant and quite sophisticated. If you even try you mix it with common, sugary soda, the plank is over there. Walk it! Source: Scotland and Guyana. 46% alcohol.
2. Rum Angostura 1824-further enhanced by myself with a whole organic vanilla bean. The Angostura Rum is pure lust in your snifter. I learned years ago to add a split vanilla bean to the bottle; seal it up and forget about it for a few months. This rum takes on flavors of a spicy rum cake, dripping with more of the Angostura rum. Then the flavors of tobacco smoke show themselves. This rum is anything but sweet, but the sheer power of the spirit belies the twelve years it has rested in used American Bourbon oak barrels. The rum reveals itself with a slow burn. The savory characteristics of tropical fruits charred over an open charcoal fire burst forward on the tongue with a five minute long finish. Utterly delicious in a snifter. This is a gorgeous slurp of historic rum made in the old style. Keep your candy soda away from this rum at all cost otherwise it’s the lash for you! Source- Trinidad, WI. 40% alcohol
3. Vizcaya Cuban Formula Rum, Cask 21. The Vizcaya is a trip to Cuba via a sailboat on a dog day. It’s noticeably thicker on the tongue with a carrot cake and Virginia tobacco nose. This rum finishes sweet on the palate- it is similar to the rums that are produced in Cuba, hence the name Cuban Formula. I imagine that this rum is drawn from the bottom of the cask. I wouldn’t add anything other than a cube of coconut water ice and maybe in a pinch a slapped piece of Kentucky Colonel Spearmint. Vizcaya VXOP rum should be served in a snifter. Used American Bourbon casks are used to age this rum. I envision this rum soaking a slice of bread pudding, with another glass on the side to wash down the rich ingredients. Thinking about making a rum and tonic? Does a keel haul through the coral heads interest you? Source: Dominican Republic 40% alcohol.
4. Ron (Rum) Abuelo Aged Twelve Years Gran Riserva. Sipping little mouthfuls of this rum brings to mind that specific flavor that you get from drinking a glass of the very rare and expensive, Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Whisky. Research on the Ministry of Rum website reveals that this rum is made from estate grown sugar cane juice then aged in used Scotch Whisky and Bourbon casks for just over a decade. It is most elegant in a snifter as an aromatic digestif after a fine meal. Flavors of white flowers, bittersweet chocolate cake, tropical nuts and fruits reveal themselves- leading to a massive five minute finish that just goes on and on. Thinking of mixing this rum with cola? Like heights? Get to the top of the mast in a storm! Source: Panama 40% alcohol.
5. Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva Familiar. Noticeably drier in nose than the other offerings in this tasting. This rum is more akin to the flavors that reveal themselves when drinking Woodford’s Bourbon. The finish is aromatic yet pungent with banana esters and a creamy finish. The initial nose reminds me of the Vietnamese Sugar Cane. A cognac nose gives way to a Tempranillo nose from the use of used Spanish oak casks that formerly held this powerful Spanish wine. The initial aging takes place in used American Bourbon oak casks. The label reads Edicion Limitada which simply means limited edition. You should never even consider adding corn syrup soda to a glass of this sophisticated liquor. If you insist on adding that soda to your rum a swim with the sharks is ahead of ye! Source: Dominican Republic 40% alcohol.
In conclusion, this is an easily acquired list of rums that almost anyone can buy in America. These rums should never touch corn syrup. If you must chill it down, please use an ice cube made with unsweetened coconut water instead of tap water.
Food parings are very simple. Think about desserts that include sharp, hard cheeses, dried fruits like mango, cherry, apricots and candied nuts. In a pinch you can use a frozen confection like Ciao Bella Coconut Sorbet that mimics many of the tropical coconut notes found in these rums.
Apothecary Cocktails, Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today
by Warren Bobrow
Warren’s first book, Apothecary Cocktails, Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today is the perfect Father’s Day Gift. For ordering information go here.