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Rums classifications have become somewhat outdated.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.

cropped-business-card-2016-front.jpg

St Lucia Distillers 1931

We are back on the subject of St Lucia Distillers again for the third post in my mini series on the distillery. Again, to refresh yourselves on the background of St Lucia Distillers, Chairman’s Reserve and Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum please click on the links.

IMAG1558_1Now you’re all refreshed and in possession of the history of the distillery, we can talk about not one, not two, but three expressions of this celebratory Rum. 1931 by St Lucia Distillers. As you will have noted the first post on St Lucia Distillers, the Dennery Distillery in the Mabouya Valley was commissioned in 1931 by Denis Barnard on the site of his family plantation and Rum was produced there until the merger of the Dennery and Roseau Distilleries and subsequent formation of St Lucia Distillers in 1972. The St Lucia Distillers 1931 Limited Editions are produced using some of the finest aged stock at the distillery in commemoration of this date. Currently there are three editions. 1931 Edition 1 was released in 2011 to celebrate the 80 year anniversary and was the first Rum to qualify for the Deluxe Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque. 1931 Edition 2 was released in 2012 to celebrate the 81 year anniversary and also possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. 1931 Edition 3 was released in 2013 to celebrate the 82 year anniversary and again, possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. Quite unique in their own right being blends of varying ages, cask finishes and if rumour is to be believed with the imminent Edition 4, varying styles!

It makes sense then that a little information should follow about each edition, so here goes.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 5330, is from Batch 01 and was bottled on 17th May 2011.

This release celebrates the 80th Anniversary and is a blend of 9 casks containing distillates from their three Pot Stills (John Dore 1, John Dore 2 and Vendome) and their two column Coffey Still. These casks were judged to contain some of St Lucia Distillers finest Rums and their ages varied from casks laid down in 2004 to older distillates laid down in 1999. Of the 9 casks used, 7 were American White Oak (ex-bourbon) and two were Port Casks. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. To echo the methods in use in 1931, only light filtering was used prior to being bottled to preserve the blends integrity. No chill filtering took place. This Rum also has the honour of being the first Rum to qualify for the ACR Deluxe Marque.

IMAG1567_1

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a beautiful burnished gold with hints of deep mahogany. Straight away the pot still element is massively evident, even before pouring. There is also a touch of smoke billowing out of the glass as the Rum settles. Raisins and dates are apparent as is a real nose tingling astringency. Molasses, toffee and vanilla also fight for your attention. That pear drop element from previous St Lucia Distillers releases is there too and it is rounded out by more smoke and the time that components of this Rum have spent in oak is very prominent as this accompanies the smoke. That astringent tingle is still there too.

In the mouth: Straight away you are struck by the medium / heavy body of the Rum. Again the pot still component hits you like a truck. There is nothing gentle about that element. Oak, those raisins and vanilla are very prominent. Further sips, especially when held in the mouth for slightly lengthy periods reveal grapes, orange oils and chocolate. The Rum is sweet initially, not overly so, and dries out nicely but not excessively. It is a warming Rum with peach, banana and smoke staying with you in the form of the vapours left in your mouth. The pot still really carries this Rum and introduces honey roast nuts too. The finish is medium / long and starts with pot still but it then runs the gamut of peach, vanilla, banana and finally finishes with a smoky leather. The oak is not as dominant as it is in the Admiral Rodney, but it is there.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 2 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 9652, is from Batch 02 and was bottled on 23rd July 2012.

This release celebrates the 81st Anniversary and is a blend of distillates laid down in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and includes casks containing 100% Coffey Still distillates matured in a combination of American White Oak and Port Casks, 100% Pot Still distillates from their three Pot Stills and 50/50 blends of Pot and Coffey Still distillates matured in American White Oak. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Again, only light filtration was used.

IMAG1566_1

Tasting Notes

In the glass: Again the Rum is a gold with mahogany. Maybe a shade lighter than the first edition. Straight away it is the pot still that hits you with a toffee and butterscotch sweetness. There is none of the astringency of the first edition. Oak is also a factor though again, not as prominent. Dried banana chips, apple pieces and the smallest wisps of smoke are holding it all together. Hazelnuts, the slightest hint of raisins and a light bourbon cherry are present. This is a better experience on the nose than the first edition as that astringency doesn’t limit your time with your nose in the glass. Molasses and a light chocolate round the experience out along with that pot still component.

In the mouth: Pot still again leads from the front like a battle hardened bruiser of a man! The port effects are way more prominent on this Rum along with that drying oak taking the edge off the sweetness. This has a heavier body than the first edition (for me) and there is a big hit of molasses accompanied by a touch of chocolate. Vanilla and a touch of smoky oak are in there and the dried bananas are also in the mix, but I can’t find the apples that I had in the glass. The finish on this one is very long. It is all caramel, oak, pot still, a little chocolate, grape and vanilla and it dries to an oaky, tobacco and leather finish.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 3 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 11416, is from Batch 03A and was bottled on 28th July 2014.

This release celebrates the 82nd Anniversary and is a blend of distillates from the three Pot Stills and the two column Coffey Still. The casks that were chosen were judged to contain some of the finer Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers. The Coffey Still distillates were matured for 6 and 11 years and the John Dore Pot Still distillates were matured for 14 and 15 years. A blend of Vendome and John Dore Pot Still distillates aged for 10 years is also utilised. Additionally, a 7-year-old Port Cask matured Coffey Still distillate and a 7-year-old Port Cask matured John Dore Pot Still Distillate are used. Quite a collection which just displays the sheer amount of distillates available at the distillery. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Once again as with the previous two editions, only light filtration was used.

IMAG1565_1

 

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark gold with amber flashes. As is the common theme, that pot still punches you straight away but this time there is also something medicinal! It is very much like the flavour found in the Rockley Still Rums from Barbados. It sets it apart from the first two editions for me. Oak, vanilla, honey and more of that apparent port astringency from the first edition is back. The Rum feels creamy and has a tobacco and warming chocolate edge to it with that pot still underlining all of the other flavours.

In the mouth: The sweetness is the first thing that hits me on this one along with that medicinal Rockley Still element. Pear drops are back alongside some milk chocolate. There is something savoury on the back of my tongue when the Rum has gone. Almost buttery and salty. Red apples accompany the astringency along with grapes, red wine, oak and a little tart note. Again the finish is long and wrapped in port, vanilla and oak and it doesn’t dry as much as the others. The aftertaste is smoky oak and that medicinal note.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 and 2 blend – 43% abv. 25ml of each in a bottle and left to marry for a period of one week.

This is my own silliness and has been done to satisfy my own curiosity as a conversation with a nameless person at a nameless expo may (or may not) have revealed that a blend of the first two editions may (or may not) be the components of an exclusive release.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The astringency of the first edition has been calmed. This is very mellow and has vanilla, molasses, bourbon cherry, chocolate and hazelnuts. It is also very creamy though somewhat dulled.

In the mouth: This is ridiculously smooth. None of the slight roughness of the individual components. Pot still is there but strangely it is not the dominant factor. Raisins, honey and oak are in there and the finish is a medium / long one full of oak, vanilla and pot still. Some of the individual stand out components of each of the two editions as individuals have been lost by blending. It is however smooth, warming and quite decadent. It will go down very easily and be a bit of a crowd pleaser but it’s just not as interesting as the individual Rums and therefore doesn’t hold your attention for as long.

Conclusion

As this is a comparison tasting of all three editions, unfortunately you clearly need all three of these Rums in your collection. They each represent how good St Lucia Distillers are at making the most of their individual components. They are all flavourful, interesting Rums in their own right and they offer a solid experience, especially when tasted together as you really do then appreciate how different they are but also how they have a shared heritage.

If I were to buy only one of the three editions though (or recommend a bottle to you), it just has to be the 1931 Edition 2. It has all of the good, but none of the astringency. To choose a runner-up is more difficult. I really like both of the other editions but I’m a sucker for that little bit of a medicinal note in a Rum so I’d put 1931 Edition 3 in second place but that is purely personal preference as I also love 1931 Edition 1. But of course, 1931 Edition 4 is due for a release, and that is rumoured to contain agricole from St Lucia Distillers own grown sugarcane so that will add a further element into the mix! Just know that whichever edition you pick up, you will have made an excellent choice and have a lot of enjoyment from the bottle. If you have experience of any of these releases, please share your opinions.

For the purposes of full disclosure, throughout the whole of this series, which is not sponsored in ANY way, I have personally purchased the entire Chairman’s Reserve Range (multiple times), Admiral Rodney (multiple times), 1931 Edition 1 and 1931 Edition 3. I was supplied with a third of an opened bottle by Emporia Brands (shared with Simon Difford I believe) of 1931 Edition 2. Each of the three Editions of 1931 will set you back between £55 and £65 each dependent upon where you pick them up from. 1931 Edition 1 is all but gone n the UK with no further supplies expected. What is on sale is all that there is. Supplies are still there of Edition 2 and 3. I seemingly purchased all but my favourite, so I guess I’ll have to go online shopping again!

© 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.

Admiral Rodney

As a continuation of the mini-series of posts centering around the Rums produced at St Lucia Distillers, this article is all about Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum. I would suggest a quick read of the earlier article on Chairman’s Reserve Rums to give you an insight into the range of Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers

Now you’re back, we need to find our exactly who this Admiral Rodney chap is. Born on 13th February 1718 in Walton-on-Thames, George Brydges Rodney was a British Naval Officer. He is known for his commands in the American War of Independence and in particular, his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saints in 1782. He is also thought to have pioneered the tactic of ‘breaking the line’ which sees the British Navy with its superior firepower concentrate on specific parts of the enemy fleet, preferably the rear, to break down the enemy line as the centre will lose time by turning to support the rear. Moving on, in 1761, Admiral Rodney was elected MP for Penryn. Lord Anson then selected him to command the naval element on a planned amphibious attack on the lucrative and strategically important French colony of Martinique following a similar failed attack in 1759. The land forces were to be a combination of troops from numerous locations including Europe and additional reinforcements were sent from New York who were available following the Conquest of Canada in 1760. During 1761, Martinique was blockaded by Sir James Douglas to prevent supplies and reinforcements from reaching it. Within the first three months of 1762 Rodney had made serious movements towards capturing Martinique whilst both St Lucia and Grenada had surrendered to him and his squadron. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, part of the peace terms saw Martinique returned to the French. By the spring of 1782, the French fleet had its eyes fixed on the Caribbean sugar islands. Admiral Rodney was aware of their intentions as from his vantage point on St Lucia he saw the French fleet depart for Jamaica. He pursued and confronted the fleet on 12th April, beginning the Battle of the Saints. The two fleets were in line on opposing courses when a change in wind direction confused the French and gaps began to appear within their line. Spotting his opportunity, Admiral Rodney ordered his ships to turn 90 degrees and break the French line allowing the English guns on both sides to bombard the French with little chance of reprisal. As the French line could not be reformed, Admiral Rodney was victorious. Anyhow, that’s it for the history lesson…..

Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum – 40% abv

Admiral RodneyAdmiral Rodney is a blend of 100% column still Rums that have been aged in used bourbon barrels for an average of 12 years. The blend itself utilises Rums taken from a number of plate levels on the two column Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers and will include RS 203 (Roseau Spirit 203) and RS 204 (Roseau Spirit 204) with their medium and high levels of congeners as mentioned in the previous article, but all Rums within the blend will have been chosen specifically to add to the complexity of Admiral Rodney. Apparently it is also the intention of St Lucia Distillers, as they gain more aged stock, to increase the average age of the blend to 15 years.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark coppery bronze in the glass and the initial aromas are of deep vanilla, oak, cherry and toffee. There is also a dryness to the aromas coming from the oak. Dried fruits like raisins, banana chips and apple pieces are also apparent and there is a spice tingle to the Rum. I can also smell pear spirit and bourbon. Longer time in the glass reveals leather and peanuts. I’m expecting a meaty, deep Rum….

In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness but that dries quite rapidly. The mouthfeel is not as thick as expected when comparing it to the nose as it has a medium body. There is a light caramel and plenty of oak followed with nutmeg on the tip of my tongue there is a peppery bite to the Rum. That dried banana, apple and those raisins and peanuts come back into play alongside light vanilla. The oak is really dominant on this Rum but it does allow a good balance between the sweet and dry. It just needs a little more punch. I think that I expected a little more from the flavours given the intensity of the aromas so my initial thoughts were slightly subdued due to what I found. (Note: I revisited my initial three nights with further visits to the bottle over week later). Given time, the pear spirit is more apparent along with a touch of smoke. The Rum feels sweeter, calmer, woodier and I am enjoying it a lot more on this occasion. The spices and wood are well-tempered by the spirit and it feels more complete and well-rounded. The finish is of a medium length and starts spicy but ends with oak and lots of banana. This is my second bottle (I inhaled the first a few year back prior to deciding to write about Rum) and I still believe that the aromas promise something really deep and heavy but the flavours lack some meat on their bones that maybe a little addition of a pot distilled Rum would add, but that may just be me. It is however one of the best examples out there of a very flavourful column spirit that offers a lot, gets better with repeated visits and continues the award-winning performance of Rums from St Lucia Distillers.

I’ve never tried this Rum in any way other than neat, no ice, no mixers. That’s just how I enjoy it, but the extent to which I enjoy it does seem to be mood dependent. It sits at around £43 a bottle (I paid slightly more for both of mine as I picked them up from a local independent shop) and it is in a crowded price bracket with some amazing Rums…..what should give you a level of comfort though is the fact that I’ve not tasted a bad Rum from St Lucia Distillers yet on my Rum journey…..and long may that continue. Again, I’d love to hear your experience with this Rum.

© 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.

Chairman’s Reserve Cocktail Competition Winners Announced

Press Release

Chairmans Reserve LogoWednesday the 19th March saw the final of the Chairman’s Reserve Cocktail Competition, staged at the Drinks Live Theatre in the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show in Manchester which, with over 250 exhibitors and 50 tastings and events, has become the largest food and drink trade exhibition in the North.

With an expert judging panel in Mark Ludmon, Editor of Bar Magazine, Lyndon Higginson of The Liars Club, Manchester and Scott Wallace of Emporia Brands, each judge looked for knowledge on the Chairman’s Reserve brand, the appearance and presentation of the drink, the aromas of the cocktail and finally how it tasted.

Six bartenders were invited down to the main stage to recreate their drink, after being selected from the initial entries by Peter Holland of The Floating Rum Shack, and Steven James of Rum Diaries.

Adam, Brodie and JamesImpressing the three judges, and winning himself a trip to St Lucia as the guest of St Lucia Distillers, was Adam Binnersley of Corridor #UnderNewManagement, Salford. His recipe, ‘Chairman’s Moo’, utilising Chairman’s Reserve Finest, Briottet fig, honey and pistachio syrup, Angostura Bitters and buttermilk fought off stiff competition from his fellow competitors. His presentation also made headlines, utilising a ‘cow’ to help serve his drink.

Thom Hetherington, MD of Northern Restaurant & Bar, said “This show is all about celebrating the best of the Northern food and drink world, and in Adam I think we have an absolute star. I don’t doubt he’ll hold his own in St Lucia!” Hetherington added “Needless to say I’ll be in to see him at Corridor #UnderNewManagement and put the Chairman’s Moo to the test for myself very soon”.

Despite only advertising the one opportunity to win a trip to St Lucia, the judges mentioned that it was an incredibly close call between first and second, so it was decided by James Rackham, Chairman of Emporia Brands, the UK Distributor of St Lucia Distillers, that second placed Tom Higham of Kosmonaut would also be joining Adam to St Lucia. His ‘Luciana Helena’ had a mix of Chairman’s Reserve Finest, pineapple and sage syrup, smoked paprika syrup, lime, egg white and Peychaud bitters.

Host and organiser of the competition Dave Marsland, aka Drinks Enthusiast and Northern Representative of Emporia Brands, mentioned “It’s great to see that the entries were so close that we are able to take two winners to St Lucia. They both join me for what will be an incredible experience, and we look forward to representing Manchester!”

A huge congratulations to both Adam and Tom, who will be visiting St Lucia later in the year and experience rum training at the distinguished distillery, and the chance to share expertise with the island’s enthusiastic bartenders, as well as plenty of opportunity to find out why the beautiful island of St Lucia is one of the world’s favourite Caribbean destinations.

The Winning Entries

Chairman’s Moo – created by Adam Binnersley, Corridor #UnderNewManagment

40 ml Chairman’s Reserve

10 ml Briottet Fig

15 ml Honey and Pistachio Syrup

Angostura Bitters

50 ml Buttermilk

Luciana Helena – created by Tom Higham, Kosmonaut

50 ml Chairman’s Reserve Finest

30 ml Pineapple and sage shrub

15 ml Smoked paprika syrup

25 ml Lime

Dash of Egg white

Dash Peychauds Bitters

From a personal perspective, it was great to be asked to whittle down a quite astonishing list of entries. It was even better to find out that I was doing so alongside Peter Holland of The Floating Rum Shack who is a well-respected member of the ‘Rum Community’ with both him and his wife Pauline (the other 50% of The Floating Rum Shack) being involved with Rum XP (The International Rum Expert Panel). I’d like to thank Dave Marsland for giving me the opportunity to be involved in the process. Also, as a brief aside, the first and second place entries made it onto my shortlist with the winning entry being the first choice to be added……I can only imagine how good it tasted.

© 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.