Drinks By The Dram Advent Calendars for 2017

*Press Release*

DRINKS BY THE DRAM UNVEILS 2017 ADVENT CALENDAR SELECTION

  • A collection of 25 different calendars packed with an extraordinary range of outstanding spirits, giving drinks enthusiasts the chance to try something new every day during Advent. Behind each window lies a 30ml handmade, wax-sealed dram!
  • New for 2017: Drinks by the Dram has expanded its Advent Calendar range through collaborations with Douglas Laing and That Boutique-y Gin Company
  • Returning favourites include The Whisky Advent Calendar, featuring whiskies aged for up to 50 years; The Gin Advent Calendar; and The Very Old & Rare Whisky Advent Calendar which boasts exceptionally hard-to-find whiskies from closed distilleries
  • All calendars available for pre-order now with RRPs ranging from £99.95 to £9,999.95

Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendars are back for the sixth year running with an award-winning range to ensure every drinks enthusiast can count down to Christmas in the company of their favourite spirit.

For 2017, classic favourites including Whisky, Gin and Rum are joined by exciting new additions, including a Calendar packed with whiskies from renowned independent bottler Douglas Laing, and another filled to the brim with incredible gins from the world’s best distillers, bottled by That Boutique-y Gin Company.

Highlights include the Premium Whisky Calendar, which showcases remarkable expressions from top distilleries, and the Gin Advent Calendar, packed with unconventional, horizon-expanding gins.

The Very Old & Rare Calendar, featuring incredible treats aged for up to 60 years from the likes of Karuizawa, Port Ellen, and The Macallan, is presented in a bespoke wooden box handcrafted by Kent-based cabinet-maker Simon Jewell Designs and available in Walnut and Macassar Ebony finishes.

“As proven with excellent growth over the last few years, these calendars are the perfect gift for the spirit geek or serious imbiber in your life,” said Adam Wyartt, global brand manager, Drinks by the Dram.

“We are thrilled to see how consumers want to trial more, exploring categories and price points – and these Advent Calendars are the ideal way of bringing that opportunity to family and friends.”

Drinks by the Dram first launched its line of handsome Advent calendars in 2012, starting with The Whisky Advent Calendar. Since then the range has grown year-on-year, always showcasing the most exciting liquid across each category and price bracket.

This year the full Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar range includes Whisky, Premium Whisky, Old & Rare Whisky, Very Old & Rare Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Bourbon, American Whiskey, Japanese Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Single Cask Whisky, Gin, Vodka, Rum, Cognac, Tequila, Armagnac, Mezcal and Absinthe.

Drinks by the Dram has also teamed up with a number of brands to offer Advent Calendars filled with expressions from That Boutique-y Whiskey Company, Glenfarclas Scotch whisky, The ‘Hot Enough’ Vodka Co., Gin Foundry, Origin Single Botanical Gin, That Boutique-y Gin Company and Douglas Laing whisky.

The Drinks by the Dram 2017 Advent Calendars are available to pre-order from 31 Dover, Amazon and Master of Malt, and will be available from all good drinks retailers shortly. RRPs range from £99.95 to £9,999.95.

*End*

Clearly I have huge interest in the Rum Advent Calendar and if the last few years are anything to go by, there can be a few real stunners in amongst the ones that I will have inevitably tried in the past. The new Douglas Laing Calendar looks interesting too as I’m rather fond of independent bottlings! I’m not wanting to wish the next few months away, but roll on December!

 

© 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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Elements Eight Republica

Last week I published a little information on the upcoming release of Elements Eight Republica and you can refresh yourself with a little background on the Rum by clicking here. So essentially the Rum is a blend of two individual marques, each from a different distillery….one in Panama and one in Cuba. Each is a 100% multi-column distilled, non-chill filtered distillate, aged for a minimum of 5 years in the country of origin. The distilleries in question being  Varela Hermanos in Panama and Distilleria Cubay in Cuba. Now if you’re like the rest of us in the Rum world and have experienced the doctored offerings of Panama and the ‘historical processes’ of some Cuban offerings, you’ll instantly call out this blend as being doctored. Well Wes over at TheFatRumPirate has checked via his hydrometer and this blend comes up clean which is firstly reassuring for us as we may get an un-doctored Rum and secondly reassuring for Carl as he hasn’t fallen foul of the pre-doctored Rums of Panama as other independent brands have. Anyway….you’ve read the raison d’être behind the Rums introduction in the link above, so now its time to give my thoughts.

Elements Eight Republica – 40% abv

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum presents itself as a dark straw like gold. The nose is initially quite light and possesses an almost metallic aroma. Fortunately this dissipates quickly and is replaced by a faint sweetness and a light fruity quality. Mild honeyed vanilla and a little peppery spikiness back this up. There is a modest hint of smoke that is more akin to charred pineapple as it carries a touch of sweetness. The nose is pleasant without being groundbreaking. It is however refreshingly uncomplicated and straightforward. A little astringent alcohol rounds it out.

Mouth: This is where things become more interesting. Its more of a straight up Cuban on the palate. A light body with a mild sweetness gives way to a really firm peppery entry that soon displays the intensely dry mid-palate that some of my favourite Cubans display. A light nuttiness and the merest hint of dried pineapple follow before being pushed away by a dominating dryness and light whiff of smoke that plays out to a longer than expected finish. The finish is dry and just allows the smallest hint of tinned pears to appear. Repeated visits to the glass are a must.

As mentioned in the linked article, this Rum is said to excel in and Old Cuban and an El Presidente. So rather than just assume that it does, and because I don’t tend to have champagne at home, the El Presidente was my only choice…..

I’m very happy to report (not only because it’s a pretty booze laden concoction) that Republica plays really well in this drink. It’s also pretty good in a Rum and Coke providing you go heavy on the Rum.

As mentioned elsewhere, I seem to be moving away from the Rums of Panama and Cuba as my tastes crave something a little more in your face, but there is no arguing that at £25…and if it was able to find good availability…I would buy more in a heartbeat. It’s also not a ‘mood’ Rum. I’ve tried it at various times of the day….sometimes before lunch too and it always works. I think that it’d be killer in a Pina Colada and would also make a tasty Daiquiri. With all of this in mind, I’ve hovered over which score to give this Rum…..I’ve attached a 4 and a 3 to the end of this article and repeatedly switched them both around. There is a lot to love in this bottle and it stands up to repeated visits. I’ve mixed as much as I’ve has straight, and it really does stand up against a lot of the Rum on my shelf. If it were on a supermarket shelf with some of the similarly priced (and also more expensive) Cubans, it would outdo all of them. Priced fairly and the bottle contents aren’t half bad at all….Get yourself some….

 

© 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.

Elements Eight Rum launch Republica

Elements Eight Rum launch Republica

Elements Eight will be a familiar name to most of the readers of this site. Over the course of the past 10 years it has always been their ethos to source pure, unadulterated rums. Known and extensively used by bartender’s, Elements Eight is continually looking at new areas to express their passion to deliver unique rums with outstanding quality and product integrity.

Following on from their welcome 2016 re-launch into a new, shelf friendly smaller bottle with foiled label packaging; the brand announces an intriguing proposition with the launch of the next instalment of Elements Eight.

Elements Eight Republica

Elements Eight Republica Rum is released at 40% and is a break from the other releases in the Elements Eight portfolio as it is a blend of two individual marques, each from a different distillery….one in Panama and one in Cuba. Each is a 100% multi-column distilled, non-chill filtered distillate, aged and authenticated for a minimum of 5 years in the country of origin. By sourcing column distillates from the two distilleries, Varela Hermanos in Panama and Distilleria Cubay in Cuba, Republica is said to debunk the myth that ‘quality’ rum can only be made as a blend of pot and column distillates. The character of the blend attests to the harmonious balance of two individual rums from two historically important rum making Caribbean Republics.

Carl Stephenson, Founder of Elements Eight Rums and creator of Republica, comments “Elements Eight is a framework, a step by step process to apply a handcrafted, balanced approach to creating rums with artisans.  I hold product integrity dear and consult heavily on the liquid with distilleries, bartenders and rum writers.  Cuba has always fascinated me and this respects the spiritual home of rum for its rich, romantic and unorthodox roots”.

Signature Drinks include the Old Cuban and El Presidente and the Rum will be priced at £24.99.

Additional information can be found on the re-vamped Elements Eight website.

Fortunately I’ve been one of the lucky few to get an early sight of this release and have been trying an early release of it for over a month now and have been in contact with Carl offering feedback and input. You will be able to read my thoughts shortly when the article is published……Watch this space.

© 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.

La Confrérie Du Rhum – La Mauny Millésime 2005

La Confrérie du Rhum began as a Facebook group created in March 2013 that developed into a platform to enable spirit professionals, bartenders, producers and everyday enthusiasts like you and me to come together and talk about their shared interest: Rhum. Since the beginning of 2015, a number of special vintages have been chosen for release by the guys heading up the group La Confrérie Du Rhum and this time it is the turn of Maison La Mauny to provide the liquid. They do so in the form of a 2005 vintage Extra Vieux Rhum Agricole that has seen a full 11 years in French Oak that proudly carries the Martinique A.O.C (appellation d’origine controlee) marque. It is released at 49.7% abv and the release is limited to just 1000 bottles priced at €90.

La Confrérie Du Rhum La Mauny Millésime 2005 – 49.7% abv

Tasting Notes

Glass: A deep, dark coppery red greets you when you pour the Rhum into the glass. It has the unmistakable aroma of a well aged spirit. Given that it’s almost 50% abv, there is nothing particularly aggressive jumping out of the glass. On the contrary, this Rhum has a well-rounded fruity nose. There is a hint of marzipan combining with ripe dark berry fruits and this combination is reminiscent of a jammy Bakewell tart. The nose develops into stewed dark fruits and begins to allow nutty and leathery notes to come to the fore. Further time sees the development of a light cocoa and an ever developing oak influence. Time in the glass uncovers layers of complexity in this Rhum which lets not forget, has seen 11 years of age in the tropical climate of Martinique. This is an island that I have read has a climate that leads to one of the greatest losses to evaporation. There was potentially the chance that this length of time could have been too excessive, but to my surprise the years have been very kind.

Mouth: An intensely dry entry sucks that moisture from every corner of your mouth. There is a lightly acidic quality and a very prominent bittersweet tang that reminds me of the bottle of Umeshu Plum Sake that I have chilling in the fridge. A second wave of stone fruits and a chewy homemade blackberry jam follows. The oak influence starts to creep back into the experience with a charred, almost toasted note coming to the fore. The long finish begins with a growing menthol eucalyptus note and further develops into drying oak shavings and a peppery, celery quality.

There are layers upon layers of complexity within this Rhum and it deserves time and patience far in excess of what this small taster allows. Benoît and Jerry really know how to pick their special releases as for me, they have delivered on all of the previous releases that I’ve purchased. This one will be no exception…..when it comes back into stock that is….

© 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.

Velier UF30E 1985

This write-up will be relatively small….to match the amount of liquid I have available to talk about. Thanks need to go to Helena over at A Mountain of Crushed Ice (link on the side of this page) for sending me the sample from her own sample….There really is that little of this stuff around.

Image Copyright of Lance Surujbally

Image Copyright of Lance Surujbally

So this is a weird one. On the bottle (that I’ve only seen photographs of), the name of this Rum is UF30E 1985……So we gather that distillation was in 1985. It’s a Demerara Rum from Guyana so we can deduce by the U that it could perhaps be from the Uitvlugt Distillery that was on the West Coast of the Demerara River in Guyana. Now there is a whole host of information over at Barrel Aged Mind that I would be plagiarising if I were to regurgitate here so I suggest that you give this long and detailed article a go. The research that went into it is astounding. The basics however are that the Uitvlugt Plantation (Uitvlugt as a translation from Dutch means ‘Flowing Out’ or ‘Out Flow’) was founded sometime between 1759 and 1776 and the Distillery was said to have been established in 1798 at the earliest as there was a shift in quantities of Coffee and Sugarcane production leading to reduced Coffee production and increased Sugarcane production with the sole crop being Sugarcane from around 1838. The Uitvlught Distillery was active until December 1999. Stills wise, only the Four Column French Savalle Stills were original to Uitvlugt and taken from the distillery upon its closure although in its time the distillery saw the Double Wooden Pot Still from Port Mourant (moved to Diamond in 2000) and also the Single Wooden Pot Still from Versailles (via Enmore). There is mention in the article linked to that the 4 Column French Savalle Still was initially two 2 Column Stills that were joined together in their current guise at DDL…..and on the DDL website there is a note that this 4 Column Still can produce 9 marques ranging from light to heavy body so its pretty versatile kit.

Image Copyright of Lance Surujbally

Image Copyright of Lance Surujbally

The F30E part is however a bit of a unique one. This actually relates to the field in which the sugarcane that went into this Rum was grown! Essentially the full title is Uitvlugt Field #30 East. This Rum distilled in 1985 as stated and it was bottled in 2012. It saw a full 27 years of tropical age and lost over 90% of the barrel contents (barrel numbers #10548, #10552 and #10553) to the Angels Share. Not a great return for your patience as only 814 bottles were produced at an eye watering 60.7%.

Velier UF30E 1985 – 60.7% abv

uf30e-glass

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a dark mahogany and gold in the glass….reminiscent of golden syrup. Initial aromas are punchy alcohol that has a stinging astringency to it….it is also brimming with Muscovado sugar aromas. There is that familiar nose of burnt syrupy sugar and warming liquorice. Prunes, raisins and medjool dates coated in milk chocolate. There is also a salty character to the nose. Oak is clearly present but nowhere near as dominating as I had anticipated. Its well-tempered and sat a few layers down. It plays off the sweeter dark fruit and syrup notes by combining with the liquorice to give a light bitterness that perfectly offsets the former. I have such a small sample of this Rum, I’ve been sitting with it for half an hour or so and have carefully added one drop of water, given it a swirl and awoken sticky ginger cake, star anise, cinnamon and the lightest whiff of window putty.

Mouth: This Rum has a bitter entry on the palate. It’s all liquorice and Pontefract cakes with light oak. There is a growing warmth that brings a black pepper spike to the mid palate and a moisture sapping astringent oak to the cheeks. Further careful sips reveal crystalized orange wheels, raisins, glace cherries, star anise and ginger. Sticky date and walnut cake also comes to mind along withe the fruit loaf that my Auntie Hazel used to make when I was a child…..She would ALWAYS burn the top….first time was probably a mistake, but I’m pretty sure that my reaction to my first taste of that bittersweet loaf meant that she deliberately burnt it on subsequent bakes. The finish, whilst not as long as I had anticipated runs the gamut of the flavours that preceded it with added lighter floral notes and drying charred oak. It is so unbelievably well integrated and balanced that even at its hefty 60+% its an absolute delight  to enjoy.

I only wish that I owned a bottle of this stuff. My sample will have been decanted, split, decanted and then kindly forwarded to me and I can only imagine the delights that would await you as you pop the cork on an unopened bottle of this. I’d expect a bigger more aggressive alcohol and oak astringency from a new bottle, but maybe I haven’t had to work as hard to find the good stuff as it has had plenty of time to stretch its legs and it performed with such class from the word go.

This UF30E represents a true piece of Rum making history in a glass and a testament to the art of Rum making and the value of extreme patience. I doubt that we’ll see the likes of this Rum again.

I turn 40 soon so if anyone is feeling generous…..this is what I’d like.

© 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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Habitation Velier Foursquare 2015 Pure Single Rum

*Edit- 4 months in Ex-Cognac Barrel information added*

Yes you read that correctly….2015. This is unlike the 2013 that saw 2 years age in ex-cognac barrels. This Rum was produced using 100% Barbadian molasses and distilled at Foursquare on their twin retort pot still. This is your only chance to get to try such a lightly aged (4 months in ex-cognac barrels) 100% pot distillate from Foursquare. In fact it is the only one that has been bottled and released commercially…..I’m also quite hesitant to say that it is commercially available as I’ve not seen this bottle for sale…..anywhere. It was obtained as an open bottle from Luca Gargano (who also signed the bottle label for me) in the final Velier seminar at the 2016 UK RumFest….and I feel immensely lucky to have it. Now I have written previously about Foursquare releases and you can read more into their other releases here, here, here and here. The bottle was open with a small amount gone when I was gifted it and my subsequent tastings have taken it past the shoulders and I’ve put some time in with this Rum…..so I suppose it’s on with the tasting notes…
Habitation Velier Foursquare 2015 Pure Single Rum – 59% abv

foursquare-2015-bottle

 

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum as stated has been aged for 4 months in ex-cognac barrels. It presents itself as a light straw gold in the glass. Initial aromas are fresh, clean and acetone in nature. It is salty and ever so lightly floral. Brine and salty black olives are present and accounted for. It is everything I expect from a pot distillate. It is very pungent but extremely approachable. As the glass warms it brings a warming, creamy biscuity aroma. There is also a light smoke….almost burnt splints that we used to use to light Bunsen burners back in school. With water the acetone attack is dialed down a notch and the florals come to the fore, along with more of the creamy biscuity aromas.

Mouth: The entry is hot and peppery. Black olives and salty brine are very apparent. As the heat subsides a sweetness grows that is almost salty / sweet liquorice. It is a very oily proposition and is all-encompassing in the mouth with, for me, clearly defined effects on my palate. Oily citrus zips your cheeks whilst the peppery bite nips at your lips. All the while your tongue is bathed in salty liquorice with the slightest bitterness of treacle. With water the citrus is dulled but the black olives and liquorice remain on the growingly creamy and textured mouthfeel. The finish is of a short to medium length and is resplendent with liquorice, brine and the lightest bitter note.

This was another Rum that I had expected to be a ‘reference rum’ much like the Habitation Velier Port Mourant. However, I found the Rum to be such a flavourful proposition that I decided to put it to work in a few drinks. It excels in a Daiquiri and I also built an Old Fashioned. Tasting the drink as it diluted I felt that it needed a little help so added a drop of Doorlys 12 which added balance to the drink. A drop of Peychauds and Angostura Bitters also worked well.

foursquare-2015-old-fashioned

I think that Josh over at Inu A Kena summed it up earlier this week when he observed that ‘Being a Rum Nerd means that you reach a point where white Rums really excite you’. This was further commented on by Peter Holland from TFRS who said that ‘If a new make Rum has no taste interest, its highly unlikely that time in a barrel is going to significantly improve things’.

Both good observations. This Pure Single Rum is a massively exciting proposition. It contains insane levels of both flavour and aroma, the likes of which some longer aged products could only dream of containing. Can you just imagine how much complexity could be added to this Rum with time in the barrel? Well I have the 2 year old Foursquare 2013 still to come to these pages so I guess we’ll find out!

4-0-star

© 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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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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