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Rum Lovers Assemble!

*Press Release*

rum experience no date

CALLING ALL RUM LOVERS!

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR RUMFEST
THE UK’S BIGGEST CELEBRATION OF RUM

Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th October 2015 
London’s ILEC, Earl’s Court

rumfest.co.uk

Ian BurrellRumFest is set to return to the capital this year, with its most comprehensive offering to date. Rum aficionados and newcomers are invited to immerse themselves in one of the world’s best-loved spirits with masterclasses, seminars, cocktail making and quality tastings. Over 400 of the rarest and most diverse rums in the market will be showcased at the event, which has become the one-stop resource for rum lovers up and down the country for the past nine years. The Golden Tot returns in 2015 providing access to the ultra-premium rum offerings and new private and intimate tastings will give discerning drinkers the chance to discover the rarest rums from around the world. The jam-packed programme will also feature cocktail making competitions, a Christie’s rum auction, incredible food and the party atmosphere of Carnival Hour. Tickets are now on sale from £49.95, including a new VIP package priced at £75 that allows for exclusive early entry, a two course Caribbean lunch and goody bag. Tickets and more information are available now from the RumFest website.

JET_2654CThe ninth annual RumFest is already on course for its best year yet, taking rum lovers on a voyage of discovery through the glorious world of rum. Launched by Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell, the The Rum Experience’s RumFest has become one of the biggest events on the rum calendar and caters for everyone who enjoys a tipple, from novices to fully fledged rum connoisseurs. 2015 will see RumFest soar to new heights thanks to a refined, rum-fuelled programme set to both educate and entertain. Whether a keen rum enthusiast, all-round spirit lover or new to the category, RumFest is the one-stop shop for all to embrace rum as a lifestyle choice.

A day ticket to RumFest gives attendees unrivaled access to try and buy over 400 different blends from around the world. Following the success of last year the Golden Tot tokens return. Available on the day for just £5, the Golden Tots open the doors to rum’s elite and allows the more serious rum enthusiast to try rums that usually retail for over £200 a bottle.

Seminars and workshops take place across the two days where brands, ambassadors and leading industry figures give an in-depth insight into the world of rum including rum and food pairing and the making of rums. Top blenders, mixologists and distillers will also be on hand to teach ticket holders the art of cocktail making as well as more ways to enjoy their favourite rums. In a new move for 2015 RumFest’s trade sister show Boutique RumFest will make an appearance across the two days, giving the rum super fan unprecedented access to selected rums with private tastings that have previously been reserved only for those who work in the industry.

JET_2281COther highlights for 2015 include the return of RumFest’s Auction in partnership with Christie’s auction house. A must see for this year, RumFest is hoping to smash last year’s grand total where over 20 precious and rare rum were sold off for charity. The RumFest’s famous food offering will deliver mouth-watering cuisine from exotic rum making locations and temperatures are set to rise with live stage demos showcasing rum pairings, cooking demos, cocktail competitions and more. Carnival Hour rounds off the RumFest experience each day in the ultimate party finale, featuring live bands and dancers that embrace the fun and social spirit of rum.

RumFest Founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell is the leading name in rum. Dedicating his life to promoting rum and rum culture around the world, over the years Burrell has been recognised with a number of industry awards as well as regularly appearing as a rum expert at events and on television shows like Sunday Brunch, the Alan Titchmarsh Show and more.

Speaking about the return of RumFest Burrell says, “We’ve refined RumFest this year into something very special. We’ll be taking rum lovers on the UK’s biggest celebration of rum, showing them the fun side of the culture, while at the same time giving an insight into the spirit so they can take home what they’ve learnt, armed with a better understanding of the spirit.”

The RumFest takes place in London at the ILEC, 17th to 18th October 2015. Standard day tickets are now on sale at £49.95, which includes access to all areas of the event and tastings from all exhibitors. VIP tickets are on sale from £75 and allow for early access of one hour ahead of standard ticket buyers along with a two course Caribbean lunch and RumFest goodie bag. Golden Tot Tokens are £5 each and allow for additional access to the more premium rums on offer. One token can be exchanged for rum retailing £80 – £100 and more expensive rums will be available for additional tokens. Tickets to the new private rum tastings will be announced soon. For full information on RumFest and to buy tickets head to rumfest.co.uk.

*End*

This years RumFest already sounds like its set to be quite a spectacle……we can’t wait! Keep checking these pages for further updates!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Press Release, Rum

 

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Rhum St Barth

rstbarth-©debeauchene_tonneauxSaint-Barthélemy, or St Barths as it is more commonly known in English is around 22 miles southeast of St Martin and north of St Kitts. For many years St Barths was a French commune forming a part of Guadeloupe. In 2003 St Barths voted in favour of secession from Guadeloupe so as to form a separate overseas collectivity of France. This makes it one of the four territories amongst the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean that comprise the French West Indies. The other three are Saint Martin, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

With St Barths not really being really suitable for the growth of sugarcane, accompanied by the fact that there are no distilleries on the Island, Rhum St Barth turns to Guadeloupe for assistance in the realisation of its St Barths inspired dream. On Guadeloupe the sugarcane season runs from February to July with the cane being at its richest and finest between the months of March and April….this is when the cane is harvested as it is at its most mature just before flowering. This procedure is mostly a manual one and once cut the cane is transported in preparation for the first part of the process….crushing. This crushing is the vital first stage in the process as it breaks open the cane fibres to aid juice extraction. The second stage is pressing. This releases the juice or ‘vesou’ which is then filtered before being placed into open fermentation vats.

Fermentation is an open air process and it begins within 60 minutes of the cane being pressed. The open air environment encourages the natural yeasts already present to begin the conversion of the sugars into alcohol. The fermentation period last for around 24-48 hours dependent upon the temperature. Following fermentation the wine which is around 4 to 6% abv is column distilled. Around 10 litres of wine are required to produce 1 litre of rhum. The Rhum is taken off the still at an abv of between 60 to 70%.

Rhum St Barth Cool – 50% abv

This Rhum is immediately transferred into stainless steel vats post distillation. Its abv is gradually reduced to 50% with the addition of water over a 12 month period. Around 23,000 bottles of this Rhum are produced per year.

RSB Cool

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The first thing that grabs you are the oily citrus peel aromas that leap out of the glass. There is also a creamy, vegetal aroma. Fresh sugarcane is also present and the one thing that astonishes is the lack of any real sting from the alcohol. It’s all very calm. Maybe that’s the resting time, I’m not sure. There is no doubt that it is a bit of a heavy hitter in the punchy aroma department but it also displays pleasant floral notes, a little olive brine and right at the end, a little plasticine aroma. Pungent is a word that I’d definitely use. So far so good.

In the mouth: Right away there is a little peppery bite though I had braced myself for a smack in the face that never materialised. There is the slightest touch of sweetness coming from the citrus peel hints and the mouthfeel is very creamy. Next to show up to the party in my mouth is the olive brine along with a strange flavour, one that I sat and contemplated for a while and one that may sound silly….but on our recent trip to Paris we brought back some white asparagus…..I’m getting hints of that in this Rhum! The finish on this one is very fresh and green, is on the shortish side but is resplendent with notes of liquorice and celery.

Clearly a ‘Ti Punch (or several) was (were) made…in fact on the morning of compiling this article I enjoyed a slightly belated ‘take off’. The lack of real sweetness in the Rhum allows it to take a little more sugar but the citrus peel really encourages the best from the added lime. I always (though it may be frowned upon) drop an ice-cube into the drink to help chill and dilute if the abv is 50% or above. It makes a splendid drink. I’ve also tried it in a daiquiri and its punch works well. Orange bitters also add a another dimension to a Cool Daiquiri.

Rhum St Barth Chic – 40% abv

Following on from the same process as the Cool, this Rhum is aged for a period of four years in small (200-600 litre) re-charred ex-bourbon barrels prior to reduction to its bottling strength of 40% abv. The production of this Rhum is limited to 5000 bottles per year.

RSB Chic

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rhum is a beautiful dark copper and its sugarcane aroma is immediately detectable but it dulled somewhat by vanilla. There is also a little astringency up front on the nose that is a little sherry or wine like. Oak is apparent and it represents a calmer proposition than its unaged relative. Whilst I think that there is less going on in the glass as far as aromas are concerned there is a little cocoa powder and also strangely something that resembles Cola Cube sweets. It bodes well for tasting.

In the mouth: There is no real sweetness to speak of on entry but it displays that warming agricole character, albeit wrapped up in oak and vanilla. There is a cheek tingling fruit reminiscent of plums and raisins, so much so that it feels like I wouldn’t be surprised if it had received a different cask finish at some point. It gradually turns into something very bourbon like with cherry and vanilla beginning to come to the fore as you take further sips. The finish is of a medium length and is full of cherry like bourbon notes, drying oak and liquorice torpedo sweets. Impressive stuff.

I have to say that besides an Old Fashioned, my preference for this expression is neat. I dares bet that in the right hands, this would be a killer addition to a cocktail.

It is clear that presentation plays a big part in Rhum St Barths existence. The cork (synthetic in the Cool) is wax dipped and a wax seal is applied to the front of the bottle displaying the logo and the word Gustavia which is the capital of St Barths. Talking of the bottle, the Cool is presented in a short and beautiful frosted glass number with metallic gold wax dipped cork and seal. The Chic is presented in the same bottle but in this instance the glass is clear and the wax dipped cork and seal are burgundy…very classy. Pricing in the past has maybe been problematic as it did exist a long way out of my price bracket for unaged and four-year old products. I was fortunate enough that a mistake on an online site enabled me to pick up my first bottle of Chic for £37 which was a steal. Currently the price sits at around £47 for the Cool and £66 for the Chic due to their limited quantity runs which is still quite a hefty outlay though I have seen both expressions cheaper in the past. Personally I feel that the Cool represents the more interesting expression of the two tried thus far and its character really shines through. It is a hell of a price tag for an unaged product and an agricole hater will not find anything here to change their minds but it is a really well balance expression that is perfectly happy neat and mixed and really does seem to carry with it the essence of its origins. I don’t know of your individual financial situations and only you will be able to know whether a bottle of one or of each sits well with your perception of value.

I wanted to leave this element to the end as I feel that the product shouldn’t be judged on this aspect as it is more than capable of standing up on its own, and there will be a lot of people who wouldn’t have made it this far if I’d led with this. Rhum St Barth is a luxury brand aiming at a luxury side of the market and its founder is the ex-footballer Mikael Silvestre. He wanted to release a product that reflects the richness, diversity and opulence of the French Caribbean. A product that reminds him of childhood memories of Caribbean holidays. Following his retirement he spent a decade on St Barths with his family and he feels that the Rhum St Barth range is a perfect representation of both of these differing periods of his life. I genuinely feel that his intentions are good and that he has a quality product with excellent presentation…..the Rhum drinker in me loves the product and presentation…..I only wish that the pricing could make it more accessible……but then is that not the point of luxury?

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in Rhum Agricole, Rum

 

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Rum Nation Jamaica 8 Year

Rum Nation Logo

I’m quite excited about this post as it represents two stages of the same product. You see I had previously written about the Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still which is an unaged 100% pot distilled Rum. This expression is also from the same distillery (Worthy Park) in St. Catherine, Jamaica but unlike its younger sibling, this Rum has been matured……twice.

You can read up about the younger sibling and also get a little background on Rum Nation and Fabio Rossi by clicking here

Rum Nation Jamaica 8 Year Old Pot Still – 50% abv

Rum Nation Jamaica 8The Rum was distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2015. It was aged in ex-bourbon barrels in Jamaica for a period of 7 years before being shipped over to Piedmont, Italy, for a second maturation period of 1 year in first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels. The Rum belongs to batch number L 15/020 with 5436 bottles being produced from this batch. I have a lab report in my possession that lists a figure of 1.67 g/l of ‘inverted’ sugar in the Rum. This bottling is not the biggest offender by a long shot and this specific topic in relation to this Rum has been discussed to death on other sites. Rum Nation have been honest enough to share the lab information with me and others and that displays a level of honesty in relation to this Rum……so I’m going to leave this information as just that…..information. Information allows you to make your own informed choices. Back then to the Rum…..

Rum Nation Jamaica 8 StampThe Rum is presented in the same stumpy bottle which all of the latest releases have been. I love the bottle size and shape as my shelves are governed by headroom not width therefore a shorter and wider bottle helps me greatly! That chunky timber topped cork is present along with the postage stamp that has become a sign of a Rum Nation bottling. The same label style as the unaged expression but this time it is presented in a striking gold to compliment the black which also works against the burnished red / mahogany of the liquid in the bottle. As presentation goes its pretty classy stuff. I’ve also been told that the Rum will come in at around £40 a bottle.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a dark gold with burnished orange flashes. A swirl of the rum in the glass shows an oily slab of liquid that releases reluctant droplets. A pot still character is immediately evident but it is slightly masked by tropical fruits and a subtle oaky undertone. There is a slight sting of astringency initially and a little of the heat from that 50% gives your nose a little bite. Raisins are definitely in there alongside a kind of solvent aroma reminiscent of glue. Once the alcohol dissipates and the Rum warms you are left with a very pleasant fruity and oaky aroma with the slightest whiff of cigar tobacco. Not the beast that I expected, more of a refined prospect than its younger sibling.

In the mouth: Straight out of the gate this Rum is very warming with a pepperiness at the front on your tongue and a slight but not dominant sweetness helps temper this. The pepper is accompanied by a clove like taste before raisins and prunes start to make you salivate………then the oak comes into play and starts to dry the Rum out. It’s not heavy oak but it is apparent. There is also a little burnt sugar in there and you can really sense dark stone fruits. The finish starts with cheek tingling raisins and soon dries into a medium length finish resplendent with pepper, cloves, dried prunes and oak. There is still that feeling of cigar tobacco but not overly so. The whole experience is very pleasant and very approachable given its 50% abv. It in no way feels like it is this strong and can catch you unawares after a few glasses (dependent upon how heavy-handed your pours are). Right at the back of the finish there is a really pleasing liquorice taste that clings on for dear life. It really is a flavourful Rum that always carries with it that strong pot still backbone to which all of the other character traits cling to.

I put this Rum into the obligatory Mai Tai along with its younger counterpart. I had never previously used a sherry finished Rum in this drink but it made for a tasty proposition. Again, the abv of 50% along with the 57% of the unaged expression is apparent but never too dominant….very powerful and very tasty as you’d expect. Very moreish! I would also bet that the facets of this Rum would pair well with a cigar as it carries just a hint of cigar tobacco on the nose. Versatile in cocktails, not overly dominated by the Oloroso finish and more than pleasant to sip neat, this Rum should be a big hit…..if only it were more readily available here in the UK. France is our nearest option for purchase.

As with all of these matters, feel free to pop in if you’re passing by and share a glass with us…

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Rum

 

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RumFest and Boutique RumFest Return!

*Press Release*

BOUTIQUE RUMFEST WELCOMES RON TIBURON, LE DOM TOM, NINE LEAVES, PANAMONTE, PANAMA RED, JUAN SANTOS & RON ESCLAVO TO SIXTH ANNUAL EVENT

rum experience no date

FOUNDER & GLOBAL RUM AMBASSADOR IAN BURRELL ALSO UNVEILS 
THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE RUMFEST EVER

Boutique RumFest – Friday 16th October, 2015, 3PM-9PM
RumFest – Saturday 17th – 18th October, 2015, 12PM-6PM


London’s Earl’s Court, ILEC Conference Centre
rumfest.co.uk

Boutique RumFest, the UK’s leading trade event for new and independent rums and Cachaças, is back for its sixth year after overwhelming support last year on October 16th 2015 at the ILEC in London.  Boasting a mixture of first-look access to some of the most exciting new brands on the market and unmissable talks covering a wide range of issues affecting the industry, Boutique RumFest is the place for industry figures to stay ahead of the curve.  Already confirmed to appear at Boutique RumFest are Ron Tiburon, Le Dom Tom, Japanese distiller, bottler and distributor Nine Leaves and more. For consumers, RumFest has also confirmed its biggest programme to-date, featuring tastings with over 400 rums from around the world, masterclasses, brand experiences, seminars, along with entertainment and mouth-watering cuisine. Registration for those interested in attending Boutique RumFest is open now and can be submitted online here. Tickets for RumFest are on sale and priced at £49.95, available from the RumFest website.

RumfestFounded by Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell and The Rum ExperienceBoutique RumFest has gone from strength to strength each year thanks in part to the to the meteoric rise of the rum category and limited opportunities for young and independent brands to showcase their products to those that matter. The trade and press only event attracts wholesalers, distributors, buyers, bar professionals and importers from all over Europe to discover new and exciting rums from around the world. There will also be seminars on current topics such as the controversial levels of sugar that has recently been discovered in certain rums and whether brands should be made to disclose this information.

JET_2763CAlready confirmed for this year’s Boutique RumFest is premium Belizian rum brand Ron TiburonLe Dom Tom, which launched only last year in France and Japanese distiller, bottler and distributor Nine Leaves. From Panama, Panamonte and Panama Red will be appearing along with Juan Santos from Columbia and Ron Esclavo from the Dominican Republic.

For rum-loving consumers, RumFest will be returning this year on the Saturday and Sunday after Boutique RumFest with extended opening times and a new VIP ticket option that allows for earlier entry, two course meal and special RumFest souvenirs. Now in its ninth year the world’s premier rum festival will showcase rums from around the world including over 400 of the rarest and most diverse available on the market. Following last year’s success the Golden Tot is back to give rum lovers the chance to try ultra-premium blends, some of which are not available to buy or drink anywhere else in the world. As well as exhibiting, brands will now have the opportunity to takeover intimate experience rooms to promote new releases and more to RumFest ticket holders. Sampling sessions will also allow small groups of discerning rum enthusiasts to sample handpicked rums from brands around the globe, guided by their representatives. Brands set to feature at RumFest this year include some old favourites and some exciting new additions, all to be announced soon. Better than ever RumFest is set to feature masterclasses, seminars, cocktail making and tastings for both rum newcomers and aficionados, along with the food, music and culture of one of the world’s best-loved spirits.

JET_3588CSpeaking about the return, Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell said: “Last year the new ILEC venue provided the perfect setting for rum lovers to delve deeper into the world of rum and we’re excited to be heading back there this year with an even more exciting programme. Expect undiscovered new rums from around the world at Boutique RumFest as well as discussions on key issues affecting the industry, while at RumFest we’ll be taking rum lovers on the UK’s biggest celebration of rum with masterclasses, talks, amazing food and of course – rum!”

Ian Burrell is proud to be bringing The Rum Experience University to RumFest for the second year and the 2015 programme and tickets will be announced soon.

Registration for The Boutique RumFest is now open for members of trade/press and form submissions can be found HERE. Exhibitors looking to get involved in the event can apply by emailing emma@rumfest.co.uk.

The RumFest takes place in London at the ILEC, 17th to 18th October 2015. Standard day tickets are now on sale at £49.95, which includes access to all areas of the event and tastings from all of the exhibitors. VIP tickets are on sale from £75 and allow for an extra hour at the event along with a two course Caribbean lunch and RumFest goodie bag.

*End*

Some really exciting brands on display this year it seems. We at Rum Diaries Blog are massively keen to get to try a good selection including the much fabled Nine Leaves Rum having had our eye on it for a while! We also can’t wait to see which guest speakers and seminars will be announced so keep an eye on these pages for further updates as and when we get them…..Maybe we’ll even get to attend the Rum University this year! Hopefully we’ll get to see you there!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Press Release, Rum

 

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SWIG Hip Flask

SWIG logoA new one on these pages…..its not Rum but it is something that most of us at one time or another will or have used to carry our precious beloved liquid……but what is the story behind the carrying of a hip flask?

Dating back from medieval times, initially ‘personal flasks’ were made of glass or leather with the ‘pilgrim bottle’ being associated with religious pilgrimages….flat on one side and rounded on the other, they often had rings attached to the base of the neck through which you could thread a chain, rope or leather to attach it to your person or to your horse’s saddle. The idea of a hip flask or pocket flask appeared in Georgian times (1714 to 1837) but rose in popularity during the Victorian era (1837 to 1901). Solid silver or pewter were the materials of choice in combination with other materials such as glass (to enable you to see the fill level) or leather. Occasionally they had a screw top that could be used as a vessel. Popular for pursuits such as hunting or fishing, a gentleman would require a flask of his favourite spirit to keep him warm during these pursuits. Ladies of the 18th Century would board docked British warships to smuggle gin in a makeshift flask made of a pigs bladder hidden inside their petticoats. I’d also imagine that flasks have made many trips to see in-laws more bearable…..I know that have improved similar weekends for me! Though they are not to be confused with the tools of alcoholism (such as a bottle in a brown paper bag) as they generally hold only 6-8oz of liquid and in my experience, that liquid is made for sharing.

IMAG1947_1As far as my own experiences go, I am an avid user of hip flasks. I have purchased hip flasks as gifts and have been given hip flasks as gifts. My gifts to my two best men on my wedding day were hip flasks and the gift that I received for my 21st Birthday from my employer at the time was a hip flask….in fact it is this hip flask that has served me so well for the 17 years that I have been using it! It’s a little tatty now but the most important fact is that I has never leaked. Rounds of golf are always better with a warming drop of something on a chilly Sunday morning and I always attend a wedding with a flask of good Rum in my jacket pocket! It’s the most important part of your attire for the day…..along with a cigar of course.

IMAG0437_1I had first encountered SWIG flasks when my friend Scott, the writer of The Whisky Moose posted an image of his new flask via Twitter. Fast forward several months and I was contacted and asked if I would like to trial a SWIG flask, as an avid user of hip flasks, of course I said yes!

SWIG are a fast growing London-based start-up, who produce high-quality hip flasks and pouches.

SWIG as a company is the brainchild of David Galbraith who in 2013 sold up and moved from Northern Ireland to follow his vision of making ‘the worlds most reliable hip flask brand’. SWIG flasks are of a seamless stainless steel construction which can be supplied with a wide range of accessories.

IMAG0432_1I was asked to choose which version I’d like to trial and so to keep personal tastes out of the equation for the purposes of writing, I chose to trial the naked flask in a gift box with the accompanying stainless steel funnel to fill up the flask. The flask itself arrived in a flat two-part red and black box, adorned with a black ribbon and brandishing the SWIG logo in the bottom corner. Once open, the beautiful seamless stainless steel 170ml flask lies upon a patterned black cushion and has a card set on top. This card holds the web address required to access the ‘SWIG Society’. This is a global membership club for owners of SWIG flasks with your status corresponding to your flask number….a little like the hierarchy in The Stonecutters from The Simpsons! Speaking of flask numbers, beautifully engraved on the flask that I am trialing is #03475. You receive a monthly email containing pictures from the community, information, articles and each month a SWIG Society member can win the prize of a bottle of whisky based upon their flask number!

IMAG0424_1The first thing that strikes you is the absence of any seam lines, save for the neck joint and one thing unfamiliar to me is the fact that the screw cap is not connected to the flask by any means. Something that I have never encountered previously. There is the ever-present fear that you could lose the screw cap….a fear that is further confirmed when you notice that spare caps are available for purchase on the SWIG website. There is also that familiar curved shape that enables it to sit comfortably in your jacket / trouser pocket. Everything is suitably chunky and solid feeling with no light metal on metal noise when screwing the cap open or closed. The biggest challenge of any hip flask is the desire to never have the liquid leak. So far in the five weeks that I have trialled the flask it has accompanied me to work, on various trips to visit friends and relatives and it has also made the short hop over to Paris. No leaks as yet and long may this continue. I would definitely advise you to buy a pouch as the flask does mark easily, especially if you intend to carry the flask in a bag of some sort. That said there is no flex in the body of the flask indicating that a suitably robust material thickness has been used. You also don’t get the feeling that this is a brittle piece of kit which is good as it commands a hefty price tag. The funnel which sadly does not fit in the gift box is the most impressive flask filling device that I’ve encountered. A large bowl means that there are no hesitations required when pouring as is the case usually which means that there are no spillages as a result of having to constantly slow pour the bottle. There is a real sense of occasion when receiving and opening the package and as far as gifts go, flasks in particular, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better one. One thing to add is that engraving is also possible so that the flask arrives suitably labelled up with whatever message you choose. Aside from this, I may have found the replacement for my soon to be decommissioned 21st Birthday present. I of course reserve the right to revisit this article based on the performance of the flask and rest assured I will feed back any further observations.

The ‘Naked’ Flask is currently available for £41 with the ‘Naked’ Flask gift set that I have trialled currently available for £61.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In the interests of clarity, I was provided with a flask by SWIG to trial for the purposes of this article

Historical us sources: Wikipedia and Hersey

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Other

 

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Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve

Rum_Sixty_Six_LabelRum66 Bottle SideThe main thing to get out of the way first is that this Rum is a product of Foursquare Distillery…..I’m a big fan of the Rums produced there and you can read a little about the distillery itself and the Rums produced therein here, here and here. Now that you’re all refreshed we can talk about Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve. So, the Sixty Six of Rum Sixty Six refers to the 30th November 1966 which was a date that saw the Barbados Independence Act 1966 come into effect. The Act also presented the ability for a new constitution to take effect upon independence and this was actioned through the Barbados Independence Order 1966. This effectively made Barbados the fourth English speaking country in the West Indies to achieve full independence from the UK. A coat of arms adorns the bottle with the motto ‘Pride and Industry’. This coat of arms was adopted on the 14th February 1966 by decree of Queen Elizabeth II. The Family Reserve aspect refers to the fact that due to production costs and the effects of evaporation on long aging of Rum in Barbados, the quantities of Rum aged for this time period are reduced and their allocation reserved for family. With an allocation given the the British branch of the family which emigrated in the 1960’s. Up until the launch of Rum Sixty Six, it was only ever exported when members of the family returned home with unmarked bottles after visits to Barbados. That then is the marketing tale behind the Rum….there is a part truth though as Foursquare Distillery do not sell bulk 12-year-old Rum.

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve – 40% ABV

Rum66 Bottle and GlassThe bottle is tall, quite thin and has straight sides. It has a plastic topped cork stopper. Presentation wise its a unique bottle with memorable look. As stated on these pages before though, there are no prizes for presentation. Rum Sixty Six is a blend of molasses based distillates from both a Pot Still and a Coffey (Column) Still. This is where things become quite unique as I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to ask Richard Seale a few questions about the Rum and the methods used. I was previously only aware of aged Rums being blended to create the final Rum with the blending taking place prior to bottling. Richard revealed that the distillates are matured as a blend of pot and column, not as individual components. Very unique with the only other Rum that I had heard of using this technique being an experimental Velier release, which is why I had asked the question. Moving on, the distillates are reduced to 65% abv prior to barreling. Richard revealed that this is to get better extraction from the wood contact and also to reduce the losses to evaporation. The barrels still lose around 6% of their contents per year though to evaporation. He also stated that it would be his preference to mature at a lower abv but there is a trade-off due to the number of barrels required and also the space for storage during maturation. The blend of distillates are matured for a period of 8 to 10 years before the barrels are pulled and the most ‘suitable’ barrels are chosen for additional maturation for the final 2 to 4 years. These chosen barrels are then blended, reduced to around 56% abv and re barreled until a minimum maturation time of 12 years has been achieved for each barrel. Richard has been quoted previously as believing that for a relatively light Rum such as Rum Sixty Six, maturation beyond a 12 year period gives diminishing returns. At this point the Rum is reduced to its bottling strength of 40% abv, lightly filtered and bottled. But you’ll now be interested in how the Rum tastes….

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a dark coppery bronze in the glass. A swirl releases long, thin droplets. It is an extremely fragrant Rum. Up front there is a little alcohol that disappears quickly enough to leave a light sweetness and a few oaky aromas. Fruit is also present in the form of apricots, raisins, prunes and dried cranberries. Following on there is a whiff of dark treacle and as the Rum warms in the glass, there are nutty aromas released followed by the lightest hint of coconut and vanilla.

In the mouth: Wow. The entry is almost bitter and sweet in equal measures. The bitterness being akin to treacle and the sweetness being like dried mango. The nose did not prepare me for the oily and all-encompassing mouthfeel of this Rum either. Nowhere is spared in this Rums pursuit to coat every millimetre of your mouth. It is amazingly warming with oak being very apparent but not dominant as it is kept in check by the fruit and the lightest vanilla. At times it can taste like a chewy treacle toffee before you’re left with a beautiful oaky dryness. Further sips reveal apricots working well alongside coconut. To refer back to an earlier point, the mouthfeel is amazing and the Rum has a great medium body to it. It is a very bold Rum. Oaky and fruity yet it retains light coconut and treacle to keep your interest. It has a medium length drying finish with a little warmth from the oak and treacle but right at the end the apricot and coconut come back into play.

In conclusion then, this is my second bottle of Rum Sixty Six. Like most Foursquare bottlings, I rarely wind up not repurchasing. I have only tried this Rum neat….no ice, no cola, just Rum. It just works for me that way. It is another example of why Foursquare Distillery is highly regarded by the vast majority of people. Amazing value mixed with good but not over the top presentation and sublime liquid that sits firmly on the dry end of the spectrum but works so well. You also have an unwritten guarantee that it has not been ‘adjusted’ in any way. It has a bold mouthfeel, a natural sweetness and a warming oaky profile that hits the spot for me every time. It makes me long for the other 12-year-old Foursquare Rum, Doorly’s 12…..hopefully coming to these shores this year…fingers crossed. I picked up my first bottle of Rum Sixty Six for less than £30, my second cost £32 and that is roughly the cost of the cheapest bottle that I can find online. I have no hesitation in recommending this Rum to you….there is nothing not to like!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Rum

 

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Mezan Jamaica XO

mezan-2This will be the first of quite a few posts covering the Mezan bottlings that I own. Mezan Rums are vintage unblended (apart from the XO) Rums from individual islands and countries in the West Indies and South or Central America. They are produced from a single vintage years distillation, are aged in oak Barrique* and are bottled one cask at a time when considered mature enough. The claims / promises made by Mezan are that their Rums are: Unblended (XO aside), Unsweetened, Uncoloured, Filtered through a light gauze with no chill filtration. There has been a statement put out on another site whereby these claims have been confirmed. So what you should have here are bottlings that will vary from barrel to barrel in colour, aroma and taste. The Rums have not been aged in wine casks or finished in casks that have previously held another spirit. They are an expression of each distillery and country of origin.

*A Barrique is also known as a Bordeaux Barrel and is a small but relatively tall 225 litre oak barrel

The range has seen many releases of which I have several. The release list so far comprises: Jamaica XO, Jamaica Monymusk 2003, Jamaica Hampden 2000, Trinidad Caroni 1991, Trinidad Caroni 1999, Guyana Uitvlugt 1998, Guyana Enmore 1990, Panama Don Jose 1995, Panama Don Jose 1999 and Guyana Westerhall 1998. All Rums are reduced to a bottling strength of 40% abv apart from the Panama Don Jose 1999 which has a sticker over the 40% on the label informing you that it is bottled at 42.2% abv.

Mezan Jamaica XO – 40% ABV

This Rum is aged as individual components, then blended and returned back to the barrel to marry prior to bottling. It is a medium ester blend based on a supply of 2 to 3 Rums from the same source with differing ester profiles (I’ve read that the youngest Rum in the blend is 4 years old) and the addition of older Rums dating back to 1983 to allow the blend to really shine. I have two bottles of the Jamaica XO and they are from different batches / release so this will allow me to compare notes on both bottlings to see how / if the blend has changed and I for one find this quite interesting and I hope that you do too. I have also read that the old release was made up of Rums solely from the Hampden Distillery but the new release hints that different distilleries are used in the blend. I will update the article when the information has been received.

Tasting Notes – Earlier Release

XO OLD FRONT

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a very pale straw and a swirl of the glass shows that the Rum appears quite oily. A halo of Rum forms on the glass with small reluctant droplets forming and eventually falling. Aromas of ripe banana appear right away along with a prominent acetone aroma. Plastic aromas are also present and are quite aggressive. Through the plastic comes a pear drop acidity on the nose along with raisins. There are no real oak influences on the nose but very light molasses and citrus aromas are there rounded out with some white wine characteristics.

XO OLD REAR

In the mouth: There is a light oily mouthfeel to the Rum on its very calm entry. Raisins up front give way to a slight sweetness and a spicy tingle. I expected a little more fruit. The oiliness really helps disperse the light flavours throughout the mouth. The finish is relatively short and quite heated, maybe hinting that the split of older and younger Rums favours the younger components. Ripe banana is present on the finish as is that acetone in the vapours and the whole thing is over way too soon.

Tasting Notes – Later Release

XO NEW FRONT

In the glass: The Rum is a light straw gold and is perhaps a shade darker than the other release. A swirl of the glass leaves a ring of very lazy and reluctant droplets that take upwards of 3 minutes to move. Very oily and very dense are words that I’d use to describe my initial observations of this Rum. Bananas, dried tropical fruit, raisins and a nice oily citrus peel show up and hint at what could appear when tasted. There is also a more prominent molasses aroma and the plastic and acetone notes are really dialled down making it far more pleasant to sit and smell. It is really well-balanced with just enough astringency to keep things interesting. There are also light caramel and creamy chocolate aromas rounding things out.

XO NEW REAR

In the mouth: The Rum shows itself as being a lot more oily and dense. It really disperses well and completely coats every bit of your mouth. There is a really good balance of sweet and spicy components on entry. There is a peppery tingle up front with citrus oil and a little oak influence showing itself. Overripe bananas, tropical fruit leathers and pleasant molasses play nicely alongside raisins, oak and light smoke. The finish is of a medium length, not too hot and is full of creamy chocolate, warming pepper and ripe banana with what feels like banana skin and citrus peel within the vapours.

So these Rums appear to make good on their promise of no additives, even caramel for colour, and there is a natural variation within the blend to keep things interesting. These are both Rums that were picked up for around the £28 mark and both represent a decent investment and show how blends can differ but still be the same product. Each offers something different with what I believe is the addition of a greater portion of older Rum in the newer release. It just feels more rounded and complete with the spikiness of the young Rums being kept in check by the older component and it benefits from this. The younger Rums are not dulled and they are still spiky but they’ve just had their nails clipped which enables other components to shine through. That pot still funk and ripe banana work so well with cola and they play nicely in a daiquiri, especially the newer release whose oiliness and citrus peel really combine well. The colour is also light enough to not ruin the appearance in the glass. The older release is a little rougher and childlike and distracts somewhat with its heightened plastic and acetone notes. When tried alone it is not as noticeable but don’t take my word for it, feel free to pop in and we’ll taste them side by side.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Rum

 

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