Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’

Plantation as a brand will be familiar to pretty much everyone reading this. No real explanation is required. Xaymaca however will need a little explanation. It is the name given to the island of Jamaica by its first inhabitants, the Arawaks. With their purchase of the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D) in Barbados, Maison Ferrand also gained a third share in National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ). This gives them a share of Long Pond and Clarendon Distilleries. There are pot stills available at those distilleries. Long Pond has a John Dore Pot Still and Clarendon has a Vendome Pot Still. With access to the distilleries came improved access to stock. Hence, the Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ was born.

The release of the new Plantation Xaymaca has been accompanied by much fanfare in Rum circles. It speaks of a revival! Their own website marketing information states that the Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ will:

“revive the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary « Rum Funk » : aromas and flavours of black banana and flambéed pineapple, locally called “Hogo,” an Anglicization of the French term “Haut Goût” (high taste).”

Quite the claim.

Information provided by Plantation is as follows:

  • Alc./Vol. : 43%
  • Origin : Jamaica
  • Distilleries : Clarendon and Long Pond
  • Raw material : Molasses
  • Fermentation : 1 and 3 weeks
  • Distillation : Pot Still (Vendome) from Clarendon Distillery / Pot Still (John Dore) from Long Pond Distillery
  • Tropical ageing : 1 to 3 y.o. in ex-Bourbon casks
  • Continental ageing, elevage : 1 year in ex-Cognac casks
  • Volatile Substances : 312 g/hL AA
  • Esters : 156g/hL AA
  • Marques : Clarendon EMB & MLC marks / Long Pond VRW & STC^E marks
  • Classification : Plummer
  • Dosage : 0 g/L

Digging deeper, as Matt over at Cocktail Wonk has, more information can be gained from those marques. I urge you to view his article but I will also break it down further below utilising the detailed information that Matt obtained on his trip to Maison Ferrand.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ – 43% abv – Pot Still Rum

As mentioned above, the marques used in the Xaymaca are as follows:

  • Long Pond – VRW (Vale Royal Wedderburn) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 150-250 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Long Pond – STC^E (Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 550-650 g/hL AA. 8 years Tropical maturation & 1 year Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – EMB from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 125-175 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – MLC (Monymusk Light Continental) from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 500-600 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks

Now there is way more information including specific distillate fermentation periods and abv prior to blending in the linked article.

The article linked to will also tell you that this initial release has another marque in the blend that could be permanent, may not be permanent, may be replaced or may be replaced repeatedly. It’s currently an unknown, but given the age of the marque,its doubtful that it will be available in enough quantities to be permanent.

Missing Marque:

  • Long Pond – ITP from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester level of 280 g/hL AA. 17 years predominantly Tropical maturation

The final Xaymaca noted ester level of 156 g/hL AA, putting it at the bottom end of the Plummer range of 150-200 g/hL AA lets you know that the VRW and the EMB marques are the predominant components of the blend. But, as with Hampdens DOK marque, a little higher ester goes a long way. So let’s have a look at how it tastes.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Candied fruit sweetness. Bright acidic fruit as I would expect with a Long Pond component. Orange peel. Warm Pineapple chunks. Overripe banana. The nip of young alcohol. Light oak. Quite subdued.

Mouth: Sweet warming entry. Thinner mouthfeel than I was expecting but it’s not overly watery. Quite a bit of spice and a more apparent wood influence that wasn’t present on the nose. Fresh ginger. Mild raisin. Faint milk chocolate. The mildest note of pear drop sweets is present if you really concentrate. Mid palate is warming and has hints of toffee. It’s very much Jamaica-lite….but too lite for me. More multi island blend. The finish is surprisingly short with watery wood and weak butterscotch. Pretty dull on the palate, especially when considering how promising the nose was. I would also note that it feels as if it may have an element of column Rum in the blend, even though not noted as such.

For a product that makes a big deal about “hogo”, “Rum Funk”, and “reviving the quintessential Jamaican style 100% pot still rums of the 19th Century”……even getting so geeky as to give a list of the marques used in the blend and giving Ester and Volatile Compound levels, I find that the message being pushed runs at odds with the liquid in the bottle. I’m also not sure who it is aimed at. It can’t be current Plantation fans as they have no issue with the additions anyway. It’s not aimed at geeks as although it has the info, it’s just not interesting enough. It seems to be tagged as a good “beginners” Jamaican Rum in a lot of reviews that I have seen post note writing. If I was new to Jamaican Rum and this was my first bottle, it wouldn’t excite me enough to make me want to know more. Beginners want approachable, not uninteresting. Much has also been made of the lack of ’dosage’. In fact, the lack of ‘dosage’ is stated on the label. Great move, but it only has meaning if you also state on the bottle label when you HAVE added something. Please correct me if this happens with the bottles that have high levels of “dosage” as I’ve not seen it. Website data, Bacardi and Diplomatico do it too, but it means nothing if you’re choosing when to disclose on the label and when not to. Small step, and one to be noted….but we’re not in the promised land yet.

I wanted to enjoy this Rum. It should be a winner on paper. 100% pot. Proper marques being used. Loads of label clarity. But it’s like a jigsaw, with all of the right pieces arranged to make the wrong picture. With those marques, it should be impossible to make a boring blend….but thats what I believe the Xaymaca is. Maybe the secondary age dulled it’s vibrancy. It would’ve maybe been better presented as the distillates blended without the “elevage”, as it has definitely not added value. Could’ve and should’ve been so much more.

2 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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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Manchester Rum Festival

*Press Release*

RUM AT THE READY FOR MANCHESTER’S FIRST

mrfl

Manchester’s first ever rum festival is coming to town this year, thanks to freelance drinks curator Dave Marsland, aka the Drinks Enthusiast.

Located at Revolución De Cuba, the festival will be held on Saturday 3rd June, and will boast over 40 types of rum including Bacardi, Chairman’s Reserve, Diplomático, Sailor Jerry and Mezan. Brunches, afterparties and shenanigans galore will mean it’ll be a Caribbean affair from dusk ’til dawn.

Tickets cost £15 for the festival (brunches and afterparties not included) which runs from 12pm-5pm, and include a welcome drink by sponsor Coco Re’al, along with a taster from each of the 15 stalls as you work your way round exploring the top brands.

And if that’s not enough booze for you, a team of mixologists and brand ambassadors will be on hand at the cocktail bar serving up a selection of rum cocktail favourites.*

Dave Marsland said “Rum is a staple within the Manchester bar scene, especially with the popularity of venues such as Revolución De Cuba, so I wanted to celebrate it! There’s so many incredible rum brands I felt the best way to celebrate them would be with a festival.

The festival will host entertainment, themed food and drinks offers and gifts, so we really are going all out, plus there’ll be events running throughout the day to get everyone in Manchester involved. I’m just looking forward to meeting guests on the day and seeing how popular the already much-loved brands become.”

Details for brunches and after parties and further rum promotions will be announced soon, but here’s how to purchase your ticket to the main festival – http://www.manchesterrumfestival.com/whats-on

I’ve also been able to get a few images of the cocktails on offer at the festival….these include a Bacardi Mojito, Banks Swedish Rum Punch, Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai and Pusser’s & Re’al Painkiller.

Mojito using Bacardi

Mojito using Bacardi

Swedish Rum Punch using Banks 5 Island

Swedish Rum Punch using Banks 5 Island

Mai Tai using Chairmans Reserve

Mai Tai using Chairmans Reserve

Painkiller using Pussers

Painkiller using Pussers

*End*

So there we are…the venue has been announced. The list of exhibitors is growing and there is something in the line up for those new to the category and for those growing tired of the additive laden side of the market seeking something pure and refined. This coupled with cocktails and a host of other events in the city, it looks set to be pretty amazing. Being so close to us, we’d be foolish not to attend. See you there?

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2017. 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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A Potted History of the Rockley Still

This will represent the first guest post to appear on the site and in this instance it will be written by my friend Nikos Arvanitis. I am very eager for it to appear here on this site given that I am a huge fan of the medicinal elements within the Rockley Still style of Rum and I have really enjoyed communicating with Nikos on this subject during his recent Caribbean adventure. Thus far am only aware of two years of distillation for Rums purporting to be from this mythical still. The year 1986 saw a couple of Samaroli Blackrock and Bristol Classic Rockley Still Rums and the year 2000 has seen a Rum Swedes, a La Confrerie du Rhum and an Our Rum and Spirits release in the Rockley Still ‘style’ (though the latter two do not state it in the label). Both years of distillation point towards W.I.R.D (Blackrock) as a point of origin but the following potted history may expose the fact that these Rums are not actually from the Rockley Still at all, but are merely a Rockley Still ‘Style’. Delving further into it, that also may be a misleading statement as there is a high likelihood that no-one actually knows what the Rockley Still distillate tastes like, and therefore we are simply unable to replicate it truly as it could be a lost style. Anyway, without further delay I shall leave it to Nikos, who after touring the Caribbean living like a local and not a tourist is best placed to speak with some authority on the subject.

A Potted History of the Rockley Still

Rockley DocumentI always thought that in order to understand Rum, I ought to follow the path of sugarcane in the Caribbean, the history of the plantations, the habits of the slaves and others not so technically aware of the production process issues. That was basically the reason that I moved to the Caribbean for a while. By communicating with the locals and by undertaking personal research, I was able to hearken to the personality of this mythical distillate, gaining experience through peoples’ stories. I would like to share with you a short and turbulent history of Rockley Still. The Rockley Estate is located on the Southwest coast on the island of Barbados in the Christ Church Parish. Its existence stems from the early to mid-18th century. The island of Barbados was rich in sugarcane plantations, and most of these plantations distilled. This was also the case on the Rockley Plantation.

BatsonsThe nationalization of the plantations of Barbados started, and this resulted in a slowdown in sugar production. A natural extension of this slowdown spread to molasses production and therefore Rum production. A company by the name of Batson’s started collecting the machinery and stills from the plantations that were beginning to close. All of these closures took place during the late 19th and early 20th century, and the truth is that they built up a very good collection of Pot Stills. Within their collection, there were two small-capacity Pot Stills which we believe date back to 1850 that were built in London. We are still not sure if one of the two (the smallest) came from Rockley Plantation, and simply sought a new ‘home’ because it was probably well-known that the plantation would be transformed into a golf course for rich tourists.

The continuity of its existence finds it relocated to the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D), where it was purchased in order to allow W.I.R.D to possess a Pot Still and reduce the competition with Batson’s. This happened somewhere between 1905 and 1920. After conversations with members of the distilleries where the stills were originally located, we received confirmation that they were actually used for distillation. However, it is certain that they have both been inactive for at least 50-60 years, as no member of the company, even the oldest ones, have ever seen them active. They are well maintained and are located somewhere at the W.IR.D. So if we assume that actually the smaller of the two IS the legendary Rockley Still, it is apparent that Rum distilled from this has not yet been released to the market, since it has simply been inactive for so many years. We shouldn’t forget though that the name of a dead plantation and a lot of years without distillation make a Rum a lot more interesting to the market because it is all Smart Marketing. However, this is far from true, as the history is history and we are not able to change it…

Rockley Still
My love from Greece and the Port Cask finish Foursquare Rum which accompanies me whilst I write these few words about the Rockley Still.

Cheers

May the Angels Share Return to the locals…Save the Caribbean….Bless

Bio

Nikos Arvanitis has been working as a bartender since 2006. Rum is his passion and his desire to understand it lead him to the Caribbean. Using the Island of Barbados as his base, he has visited 15 Islands in the tropical zone of the ‘West Indies’ and over 30 Rum distilleries and sugarcane fields, both active and inactive. His journey is still on and he has named it “From The West Indies to the World”

email: nikos.arvanitis.rum@gmail.com

facebook : https://www.facebook.com/nikos.arvanitis.7

© 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.