Rumnaissance…..Rum Diaries Blog at Manchester Science Festival

msf-logoThis one is a little bit of a personal post asking (pleading) for your support as I take my first steps into talking to members of the public about the Rum in their glass.

It is worthwhile pointing out that the evening will be in its most basic form, a Rum tasting, but with added information about production and categorization. The event title is Rumnaissance and I have pieced together a little look at the breakdown of how I plan to structure the night:

Rums classifications have become somewhat outdated. Location based style classification is difficult as many rums straddle a line between styles. Colour based classification along with such horrific terms such as ‘Premium’ and ‘Super Premium’ give no indicators of true intrinsic value.  A new classification system proposed by Velier’s Luca Gargano and backed by Foursquare Distillery’s Richard Seale highlights a category of identification based upon the method of distillation employed in the Rums production.

During the evening we will discuss the proposed categorisation which from the top down is split into the distillation categories of batch and continuous, and then into further categories. We will look at the basic principles behind each distillation method, how they are used in Rum production and further explore how this relates to the proposed categories. We will also look at the effects that contact with wood has on a new spirit and also how Tropical age delivers a different result to European age.

To help you along during all of this we will be tasting Rums that demonstrate these categories as we discuss them. You’ll get to try Rum-Bar Aged and unaged “Pure Single Rum” from Worthy Park in Jamaica, Doorly’s “Single Blended Rum” from Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, Admiral Rodney “Traditional Rum” from St Lucia Distillers, “Agricole Rhum” from Martinique, and Ron Cubay “Rum” from Cuba. You’ll also get to try Glorious Revolution, an Unaged 100% Pot Distilled Rum made here in the UK by Spirit Masters. A few nibbles will be provided during the break, but even then, you’ll be tasting at least 6 or 7 Rums so it is advisable to fill up before you arrive.

The link to purchase tickets is here and it would be great to have your support if you can make it.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. 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.



Glorious Revolution – Evolution #1

glorious-revolution-graphicThe eagle-eyed among you will have already spotted and read my article on the rather excellent Glorious Revolution Rum….for those that haven’t you can refresh yourselves by looking here

Now that you’re back, I can tell you that I was contacted by the producers of Glorious Revolution Rum, Alan and Amanda Collins from Spirit Masters about whether I’d like the opportunity to try a little sneak peek at their work in progress. A 1 year barrel aged version of their Rum. Of course I jumped at the chance! So on a rainy day just before Christmas I made the journey to the office to collect a package that had been delivered for me.

Glorious Revolution Evolution #1 – 45% abv (estimated)


Now as you will have already read, I was a big fan of the original unaged version of Glorious Revolution so this had me more than a little excited. It must also be noted that this is only a ‘test version’ and will not be on general sale. A 50 litre virgin American Oak barrel was the vessel that received the base Rum and it was maintained at a constant temperature for the 12 month period. No caramel or additives have been used. This is purely the base Rum and the effects of the barrel. Massively interesting stuff. I’ve read that using virgin oak can be extremely powerful and make huge changes to a Rums profile in a very short space of time. Previously I had only ever tried the Nine Leaves Angels Half Virgin American Oak, which whilst very tasty, was really affected by the barrel and was quite spicy, so I was unsure what to expect here….especially as the barrel used is so small.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a vibrant golden straw colour. Immediately that familiar herbaceous and vegetal aroma billowed out of the glass. Happy to report that the pot distilled funk is still present and accounted for. Not as up front but still right there providing the backbone of the Rum. Very slight vanilla is there along with the really apparent hint of a warm buttery digestive biscuit base for a homemade cheesecake. Sticky brown sugar and overripe banana are starting to appear…I knew that I was smelling something familiar but it couldn’t be….could it? I went to the shelves and picked up a few reference bottles. Hampden Gold and Mezan XO. Taking the screw caps off it was immediately confirmed. In a blind tasting I would’ve pegged this as a young Jamaican Rum….very much along the lines of Hampden Gold…but with the influence of a very apparent lightly charred wood aroma reminiscent of the splints used for lighting Bunsen burners back at school…..5….10….15….20….alright…22 years ago….

In the mouth: That familiar sweet entry is still there happily, more so than the unaged version. The lightest custardy vanilla carries the sweetness before that vegetal, grassy note muscles in…..but it is controlled and less dominant this time around…..but don’t read that as dulled…it is still really vibrant. Further sips reveal that familiar liquorice and black olive taste that seems to accompany all young pot distilled Rums that I’ve tried. Once your mouth becomes accustomed to that savoury aspect of the Rum, the honeyed ripe banana and the merest hint of rubber sweep across your tongue. The finish, whilst not overly long is all sticky brown sugar and a little liquorice.

There is no doubt in my mind that due to the abilities of Alan and Amanda and their desire to do things the right way, this little insight into what is to eventually come is complete proof that a well made base Rum is paramount to a great end product…..when you have no desire to indulge in the manipulation of that end product. I cannot wait to see what next stage of the Glorious Revolutions evolutionary journey is!


© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. 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.

Glorious Revolution

glorious-revolution-graphicOur visit to RumFest this year, our first, was an introduction to the levels of palate fatigue that can blight extended tasting sessions. It is therefore, a real testament to the stand out quality of one particular product that almost everyone that we spoke to asked, ‘Have you visited the Glorious Revolution stand yet?’ The answer was of course a resounding YES!

A lot of interest surrounded this Rum and it’s producers with tales of it being distilled in a shed at the bottom of their garden. Such interest can be sparked for multiple reasons though. You can say that it’s because of the novelty factor, the Rum is both fermented and distilled here in the UK. You can say that it’s because of the flavour factor, the levels of flavour within the rum were astounding. Or you can say it’s because Spirit Masters, made up of Alan and Amanda, were such nice people. Personally I think that it is a touch of all of the above, but the interest of Rum Diaries Blog hovers longingly over the flavour aspect. Before all of that though, a little background.

spiri-tmasters-logo-headerAlan and Amanda Collins own and run Spirit Masters, an English micro-distillery. It is an unbelievably small, family concern based on the Cambridgeshire-Suffolk border near Newmarket. Alan and Amanda are Scientists by trade with Alan having a PhD in Biochemistry and Amanda being qualified in Biomedical Science. Amanda also holds a WSET Level 2 qualification in Spirits, a WSET Level 2 qualification in Wines and Spirits and is also trained in food safety for manufacturing and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).

Glorious Revolution was launched at RumFest 2014 and created a bit of a stir and excitement. I received a sample bottle a week or so ago and it’s rarely been far from my glass. I also got the opportunity to ask a few questions of Alan and Amanda to inform this article which allowed me a little more insight into their process.

IMAG1318A food grade molasses is sourced from their chosen supplier. The key for them is consistency therefore the quality controls necessary to ensure that the supply contains a consistent level of fermentable sugars need to be carried out by their supplier to ensure that the raw material is as unchanged as possible from batch to batch. Alan and Amanda experimented with numerous yeast strains to enable them to utilise their desired technique which is to attain a slow and steady fermentation period until settling on their preferred (undisclosed) yeast . This period lasts for several weeks and I queried whether the UK climate is more beneficial when it comes to controlling the heat levels associated with fermentation as if not monitored and controlled correctly,the yeast will become dormant prior to the completion of the fermentation process. Apparently this is the case as a more consistent ambient temperature assists the process although careful monitoring is still required to control excesses of heat to ensure batch to batch consistency. This slow and long period enables more complex flavours to build which is vital as during the seminar given by Richard Seale at RumFest, the point was hammered home that fermentation is your chance to build flavour within a spirit as the distillation process strips it. As this Rum is unaged and will therefore not be allowed to develop in maturity, it makes total sense to control the fermentation process to provide you with ample opportunity to add complexity and flavour.

Distillation takes place over a period of 10 to 12 hours dependent upon the volume being distilled amongst other things. It takes place in a 200 litre copper pot still built in Portugal that has been tweaked to include ‘lentils’, special copper plates made for the top of the still to fractionate the alcohol into much higher levels of purity. The custom heating device employed by Spirit Masters enables them to control the temperature to within 1 degree. This enables careful separation of fractions to enable control over the Rum. The exact time period for distillation that they employ is not completely fixed however. Careful monitoring at several parts of the still, time of distillation, flow rate, volume, aroma and taste of the Rum as it comes off the still, all ensure the consistency of the final product. I queried the abv of the spirit as it comes off the still but was told that although their still has the ability to produce a spirit of up to 91.5% abv, the exact cut is something that they wish to keep as a secret. The Rum itself is not chill filtered either which adds to the mouthfeel….but you’re all interested in what it tastes like……..

Glorious Revolution – 40% ABV


Tasting Notes

In the glass: As you’d expect, the Rum is crystal clear and the immediate thing that hits you are the sugarcane notes. Very vegetal and grassy and it has that Wray and Nephew Overproof funkiness but dialed down….a lot. It is pungent, smells a little creamy with a hint of sweetness tickling my nose. It’s quite intriguing and builds up a lot of anticipation of what to expect….

In the mouth: It certainly delivers on flavour! There is an initial and very short-lived sweetness on entry which fades very rapidly leaving salty black olives which succeed in drying my mouth out . A creamy liquorice follows, like chewing a sweet. The vegetal, grassy agricole is present by the bucket-load but it carries less sugarcane notes than any of the agricoles that I’ve tried. There is something fruity on the back of my tongue, like pineapple that is on the verge of turning. There is also a really savoury edge to the Rum and a black pepper bite. It has so much flavour for an unaged spirit which is testament to the fermentation process employed and distillation method used. They combine to produce something really worthwhile. The finish is all molasses and black pepper and is not too long, which means that you have to sip again a lot sooner. It also feels a lot thicker in my mouth than I expected, it has real body to it.

As is usually the case, I want to try it in a Daiquiri, but given the agricole notes, I opted for more of a ‘Ti Punch style drink. Same ingredients I know but it kind of felt like a better fit……and fit it does. The fruity element in the Rum works with the lime and the sweetness is a welcome addition. It was a different experience as the only agricoles that I’ve used for a ‘Ti Punch have been at 50% so it had less kick but was kind of like a ‘Ti Punch for those who maybe aren’t sold on agricole. It reminds me slightly of the St Georges Agricole. I’d love to hear of any suggestions from those that are more well versed in cocktail creation as to what else to mix this Rum with.

This is a proper 100% pot still, unaged, heavy spirit. Pot distillation reveals all of the character of the spirit, including any character flaws and is therefore way less forgiving than column distillation. Alan and Amanda, by releasing this Rum are taking a risk on a general public that may not be ready for it and that may not appreciate it but that’s where the honesty aspect comes into play as it possesses far more character and integrity as a result of its origins than numerous big selling brands. It is full of flavour, challenges perceptions of what an unaged spirit can be and carries with it a complexity and a brutal honesty that is massively endearing to me. If you see it, buy it, and be part of the start of something wonderful. I hear that there may be an aged product in the early stages of contemplation which if true, makes Spirit Masters ones to watch for the future.

Again, many thanks to Alan and Amanda who provided a sample for this article.

Glorious Revolution should be available as we speak from Gerry’s in Soho… can find their website here and if you fancy reading about Alan and Amanda, you can find the Spirit Masters website here. They also have a blog on their site which is more than worth a read.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. 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