Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013 – Pure Single Rum

Whats that you say? Another Foursquare Rum review…..another piece of the jigsaw. This time its a follow-up to its rarer and younger relative the Habitation Velier Foursquare 2015 Pure Single Rum.

You can read about that Rum here…..and just do a search for Foursquare in the search box to find out plenty more about the distillery and its Rums.

Forsyths Twin Retort Pot Still

This Rum was distilled at Foursquare on their twin retort Forsyths (with added Green Engineering whistles and bells) pot still and then matured for 2 years in ex-cognac barrels. As is usual with the Habitation Velier bottles, the information on there is amazingly comprehensive as we’ve been informed that the loss to evaporation in that 2 year period has been >15%, that the rum has not been chill filtered, is natural colour and is released at barrel proof with no dilution. Obviously, it is sugar-free.

Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013 – Pure Single Rum – 64% abv

Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a pale gold apple juice in colour. Initially there is quite a bit of white pepper. It’s very punchy and up front….its definitely not shy. Immediately I get Rhubarb and Ginger crumble. Oaty and nutty aromas. Mild olives and salty brine. Preserved lemons and a hint of acetone. There is surprisingly not a huge alcohol attack, just a heavy delivery of aromas. Lotus biscuits, vanilla. The Rum is full and very oily….maybe even waxy. A hint of raisins and dried guava pieces. Doing my usual blowing into the glass reveals a beautiful marzipan quality to the vapour. This has only been matured for two years remember…..crazy stuff.

Mouth: A powerful, oily entry wrapped in warmth and sweetness. It is initially quite biting and that brings black pepper and salted liquorice…..maybe even a hint of liquorice root. A little bitterness but some real grip on the tongue, quite a fruity and grassy mid-palate. That oily citrus returns to tease your saliva glands before the anticipated brine and olives bathe your entire mouth. It takes on a savoury quality that sits at the back of your throat with a vegetal note before the vapours give way to peach and dried tropical fruit. The shortish finish is salty sweet caramel, liquorice and even has a mild amount of smoke. Very enjoyable.

After the initial punch you have to keep reminding yourself that this Rum is so young (though with tropical age probably hitting 5 years if it were a whisky) and at such a high abv as once acclimatised it’s even more approachable. It brings the sweetness of a young well crafted Rum, the weight that you expect from batch distillation and the level of flavour that a Rum of this maturity just shouldn’t have…..a nod perhaps to the choice of ex-cognac barrels. Quality french oak used not to gain anything from that famous cognac heritage, but to gain all from the quality of wood. Punchy? Yes. Powerful? Of Course. Approachable? Surprisingly so. Flavourful? Like you wouldn’t believe. Just the remaining taste in my mouth is taking me back to the aromas around the still and that tap that was turned to allow us to experience freshly distilled Rum at Foursquare. I would love to experience this Rum with a few more years on it as it has world domination stamped all over it. Another hit……like we expected anything else.

4.5 / 5

An example of Pure Single Rum that can trade punches with some tasty Jamaicans. Buy this while you can as there is still availability…even in the UK. £85 for a two-year old Rum? It’s so much more than the sum of its years….it offers development, aroma and flavour that some can spend a lifetime failing to achieve. Judge it on its merits and pick it up. It warrants your attention.

© 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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West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants – Asia Pacific XO

A relatively new one to me, I happened upon a series of releases from West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants on one of my usual online Rum haunts. Intrigued first by the unusual bottle shape, I spotted their French Overseas XO which blends distillates from both Martinique and Réunion….unfortunately this was sold out. I then happened upon the Asia-Pacific XO which blends Rums from Indonesia and Fiji. When I heard Indonesia I immediately thought Arrack! Intrigued. Then with Fiji I’m immediately drawn to the pot still out put of South Pacific Distillery which can be pungent as hell….and all the more enjoyable for it. I immediately added it to my collection. Only upon tasting the Rum did I request information, and the website seems to be the best location although that is severely lacking.

The website says:

“Asia-Pacific XO Rum is a blend of rum produced in Indonesia & Fiji, crafted from molasses and distilled using column stills then aged in ex-bourbon casks. A very limited release of 2,000 bottles worldwide”

There is mention of Indonesian Rum which I have assumed to be Arrack which is a sugarcane (molasses) distillate that is fermented with red rice cake but of course I could be wrong. I’ve found information online about the Indonesian component being only from molasses and distilled on a direct fired tin still prior to maturation / resting in large vats made of Jati (Teak) wood. There is also mention of column stills…..South Pacific Distillery (owned by Coca-Cola) operates two pot stills and a 3 column continuous still for Rum production along with a 4 column continuous still for the production of neutral spirits. I’d assume that this has been blended to order from E&A Scheer so hopefully there may be other information available out there.

Not much else exists information wise so we’ll go straight into it….the information that I do have tells me that it is all natural colour and does not have additions….I’ve tasted nothing here that would tell me otherwise.

West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants – Asia-Pacific XO – 43% abv

Tasting Notes

Glass: Reluctant is the key word here. You need a lot of patience to uncover anything. The Rum is quite sharp and noses like a young whisky. Powdered sugar sweetness. It becomes quite earthy. Wet cardboard. A light rosemary herbal note. Light olive and salty brine. White pepper. A very fresh alcohol nose. I’d be surprised if there is anything older than 3 to 5 years in here and with continental age. Not a bad thing, just lacking that something. Freshly cut green peppers and firelighters round things out.

Mouth: This is much better than the nose. Quite a ‘full’ mouth-feel. Sweetness leads with a very mild fruity guava and banana, though this is very much a savoury rum. It dries (or should that be dies) relatively quickly and is very sulphury. Soft liquorice. Brine. Black olives. A freshly opened bag of charcoal. If this were a whisky it’d be deemed not ready. The finish is short and confused. All of the palate disappears and leaves alcohol, freshly struck matches and pepper. No obvious oak influence of note. The empty glass aroma is tutti-frutti sweets.

I really wanted to enjoy this Rum….and for brief moments I do. On paper this should be an exciting proposition but it’s so unfocused, haphazard and pulling in entirely opposite directions that it just falls apart. I feel as though the components are of good quality but they have been used before they’re ready. Given more maturation this could be a real winner. It’s just very reluctant to shine. Not bad, just a little boring at the moment.

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

Don Q Signature Release Single Barrel 2007

I’ve written about the core Don Q range including the Single Barrel 2005 but minus the recent Spiced addition (which I still need to grab) previously and you can refresh yourselves  by clicking here if you wish.

Now the Don Q stand at the 2017 UK RumFest gave us a little insight into two great things…Firstly the Rum that I’ll be looking at today…Don Q Single Barrel 2007….and the quite frankly mind-blowing Don Q Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish which is a 5 to 8-year-old Rum finished for 4 to 6 weeks in 600 litre Mancino Vecchio Vermouth casks and its pretty crazy stuff with the fact that it is a multi-column distillate playing in its favour. This will be released in the UK hopefully before summer.

Alexx kindly displaying the Vermouth Cask – UK RumFest 2017

Don Q Signature Release Single Barrel 2007 – 40% abv

This is very similar in principle to the Single Barrel 2005. The explanation behind use of the ‘single barrel’ term is that all of the Rum in this limited release was from the same 2007 distillation which would then be split between the pre-requisite number of ‘similar’ barrels to carry the volume. Each barrel would then bottled individually so rather than each bottle containing the vatted blend of all barrels from the 2007 distillation, technically each barrel has its own series of bottles. There is again no way to know which barrel the bottle that you have is from. Mine is bottle 47, 823….so not too limited. Bottled in 2016 makes this a 9-year-old Rum. The same distillation process is employed as the majority of the range but this time there is a component from the Vendome Single Copper Column (taken off the still at 75%) and given the discussions recently regarding congener levels, potentially quite high in congeners. It is again bottled at 40%.

Multi-column set up and Vendome Single Column at Destilería Serrallés

Tasting Notes

For reference I carried out the tasting process with a glass of 2005….it quickly became apparent that this was a different animal and the 2005 as not my reference…

Glass: Immediately different to the nose on the 2005. The 2007 feels a lot heavier. It’s actually, as far as column rum goes, quite the bruiser. A lot of heavy astringent oak up front. The light whiff of freshly burnt wood. A hint of tropical fruit is carried on the vanilla notes, though the vanilla notes are subdued by a little sulphury note. There is even a slight unleaded petrol aroma to the nose. This all gives way to powdery cocoa and coconut chips along with a very obvious hazelnut. I’m not aware of the ratio of single column to multi column in the Rum but its clear that the single column has a real influence….and its a good move.

Mouth: Lip-smacking entry. Peppery and dry. The oak has real teeth and it shows them straight away. This gives way to a light, floral sweetness followed up by burnt brown sugar. The mid-palate is all drying oak and spice. Nutmeg, cloves and an ‘earthy’ turmeric root. It has the pepper and spice of a rye whiskey. There is also a slight soapy note. The medium length finish brings a spicy, throat tingling heavy oak, dark stone fruit and freshly cut vanilla pods. Right at the end there are poached pears studded with cloves.

4.5 / 5

This is clearly a step up in experimentation from the 2005 and is all the better for it…though the 2005 was no slouch. This even surpasses the Gran Anejo for me which was my previous benchmark…..its a real treat. Maybe a touch higher abv would be welcome….a bump up to 43 or 46% for a special release would be ideal. That said, this is £35 a bottle and very well priced for the enjoyment within.

© 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

Foursquare Principia Single Blended Rum – Early Thoughts

Now I’ve not been fortunate enough to obtain a bottle of Principia yet…..I do however have a generous friend that visited an even more generous distillery owner in late December and I now have about 25-30ml of Principia to bring you my initial thoughts. We were fortunate enough to first try Principia when we visited Foursquare Distillery in March 2017 and were instantly blown away. We then had another chance to try it over two days at the UK RumFest in October 2017 and were further impressed. Now it has been bottled and I assume shipped over to Velier in Italy, we can hopefully look to obtain a few of the available 5400 bottles.

Principia Sample – Foursquare Distillery, March 2017

Foursquare Principia Single Blended Rum – 62% abv

Luca and Richard…You can clearly see the amazement in Luca’s eyes – UK RumFest 2017

Principia is another result of Foursquares ‘double maturation’. It is a Single Blended Rum that has seen 3 years in ex-bourbon barrels and then 6 years in very old Oloroso barrels. No ‘finishes’ here. It’s quite standard for Foursquare to use Oloroso barrels but its their double maturation technique and the length of time that they are left to mature in those differing barrels that Foursquare do so well. It’s all just so well judged and must have taken a hell of a lot of foresight given the list of upcoming releases from the distillery. So without further ado…..

Tasting Notes

Glass: The colour is dark burnt amber. Oily citrus bursts out of the glass. A very apparent oak. Pencil shavings. Spice and black pepper. The oak is the backbone dragging with it deep dark stone fruit. As noted on my very first tasting back in March 2017, this is very full but so soft and approachable. A bag of mixed fruit and hazelnuts. Burnt toffee and the mildest hint of milk chocolate.

Mouth: It sings on initial entry. Its all that you want it to be. A classically crafted Foursquare sweetness gently wraps itself around your tongue bringing with it its robust but surprisingly soft sherried wood. Don’t think sherry as in the massive taste of sherry….its no hybrid abomination…far from it. Very old Oloroso barrels have been used and its the seasoned quality of the wood that is being sought, not necessarily heavy sherry influence. A jar of homemade blackberry and raspberry jam and the tartness of Ikea Lingonberry preserve. It has real grip as the oak begins to dominate the mid-palate….but its never aggressive…in fact quite the opposite. Its moisture sapping yet fruity and the alcohol is so well-integrated in the grand scheme of things that you would never guess this was 62%…2006 shows its heft way more than this. Tannic and peppery with plums, dried prunes and hazelnuts. It has a persistent oak led finish that grows in heat and dryness. Dried fruit and nuts abound. Even the empty glass is a delight to smell.

To be revisited, initial impression score………..

Yep….Its maybe the best, most complete Single Blended Rum that I’ve tried to date…though I think that Destino may offer up some resistance.

To be honest, Richard has taken Single Blended Rum production and innovation to a point now where he’s only competing with himself. It’s a competition between Foursquare Distillery releases to see which can be the best one…..and that changes with every subsequent raising of the bar. For now, that mantle falls to Principia…its the real deal.

© 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

Worthy Park Estate Signature Range

“How the hell has it taken me so long to write something about Worthy Park” is what I asked myself when I looked at the collection of Rums from the distillery that I have on the shelves. Ever present at Rum Festivals globally since around 2015, which is incidentally where I first met Zan Kong and Gordon Clarke. Boutique Rumfest London in 2015. It’s also where I got my first taste of Rum-Bar Gold, Overproof and their amazing Rum Cream. That was their ‘core range’ at the time and kind of has been for a while. Teased with development samples both at home and at subsequent Rum Festivals, we finally got to see what Worthy Park had been working on behind the scenes at last years UK RumFest. But before we get into this……maybe a little background on Worthy Park and their history.

A Brief History of the Worthy Park Estate

The Worthy Park Estate is located at the geographical centre of Jamaica in the Parish of St. Catherine which is in a valley known as Vale of Lluidas (previously it sat in the Parish of St. Thomas but this was later folded into St. Catherine)

Founded in 1670, the Worthy Park Estate was gifted to Lieutenant Francis Price for his services to Oliver Cromwell during the English invasion and capture of the island of Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. Since 1670, Worthy Park Estate has only been owned by three families. The Clarke Family have owned the Estate for 100 years. Henry Clarke emigrated to Jamaica in 1846 aged just 18 years old. He became an Anglican Minister and founded the Westmoreland Building Society which is now known as the Jamaican National Building Society. Henry was Father to five sons, one of which was Frederick Clarke.

Frederick Clarke

Frederick (current owner Gordon Clarke’s Great Grandfather) purchased the Worthy Park Estate from J.V Calder in 1918 for £44,000. During his period of ownership he took production levels from 250 tonnes p/a to at its peak 1800 tonnes p/a at the time of his death in 1932. Upon his death his three sons, Clement, Owen and George took over the running of the estate. The company has continued to be operated by successive generations of the Clarke and McConnell families who are all descendants of Frederick Clarke’s children. They have seen that continual re-investment has been made in the estate, expanding cane production and improving the efficiency of the sugar factory.

Commercial cultivation of sugarcane began in 1720 and has continued unabated to this day. Rum production at Worthy Park has been recorded from as early as 1741, which makes it the oldest producer still in existence in Jamaica.

Post World War 2 there was an over-supply of Jamaican Rum in the marketplace and as you would imagine, this drove prices down. Because of this reduced value, the Spirits Pool of Jamaica met with the islands distillers and between them an agreement was made to stop Rum production at the facility in the 1960’s. So, some 40 years after it was last in operation, in 2004 a decision was made by Gordon Clarke to begin Worthy Park Rum production again. Rather than attempting to attach the defibrillator and revive the abandoned distillery set-up, Gordon took on the decision to build a modern facility which would have the capability to produce a wide range of marques. Upon their re-entry to the Rum market in 2005, the decision was made to begin selling bulk rum to brokers who would then sell to bottlers. This would give a steady income whilst allowing Worthy Park to focus on building the Worthy Park brand. Rum-Bar White Overproof was the first product to be unleashed upon the Jamaican market. This was then followed by Rum-Bar Gold and Rum Cream. Having credibility at home was a key driver in delaying the presentation of Worthy Park Rums to the masses.

Copyright Nikos Arvanitis – Rum Traveller

Cane, Yeast, Fermentation and Production

Production wise, Worthy Park uses four sites. They own the Worthy Park and Enfield sites, lease Caymanas from the Jamaican Government and lease Tulloch from a private farmer. The main operations which include the Distillery, Sugar Factory and Bottling Facility are all on the main Worthy Park Estate site with the three other locations being solely used for sugarcane cultivation which encourages efficiency and the consolidation of the operational side allows for reduced logistical costs.

Copyright Nikos Arvanitis – Rum Traveller

Worthy Park have in excess of 20 varieties of sugarcane that are harvested with the majority of the fields being dedicated to 3 varieties. They also utilise 3 different yeasts within their fermentation. An activated dry yeast, an isolated proprietary yeast ( taken from one of their sugarcane varieties) and a wild yeast. This wild yeast is cultivated in 4 american white oak pre-fermentation vats. This yeast is developed in a 3 month process which involves molasses, crushed cane stalks, cane juice and ‘special’ ingredients. The yeast is then allowed to develop on its own in these open tanks which are devoid of any temperature control. Worthy Park have 6 fermentation tanks, of which 4 are temperature controlled via a heat exchanger in order to create the ideal temperature for fermentation. The 2 non-temperature controlled tanks are dedicated to the wild yeast fermentation for their high ester distillate and this is a process that can last for between 2 to 3 weeks. So, these various yeast strains and fermentation methods allow Worthy Park to produce a varying number of marques that each has its own code based upon ester count with the most commonly aged marque being WPL.

WPEL – <60 gr/laa

WPL – 60-119 gr/laa

WPM- 120-239 gr/laa

WPH – 240-360 gr/laa

WPE – Up to 800 gr/laa

You’ll note that these levels have been indicated on some of the Habitation Velier bottlings and in certain instances (the 2006) the marque was used on the bottle (WPM)

Production takes place on a Forsyths Double Retort Pot Still…..and what a magnificent beast it is.

I would personally say that bulk Rum sales have mostly been a blessing for Worthy Park. Without releases by bottlers such as Mezan, Kill Devil, Bristol Spirits, Habitation Velier, Kintra, Cadenheads, Ultimatum and Compagnie des Indes the Worthy Park name would not be as well-known as it is. But for every good and honest representation of a very well produced and honest product, there are some that were allowed to use the name that really didn’t treat it with the respect that it deserved….and I’m specifically looking at the Single Cane Estate Worthy Park which was unfortunately released with ‘additions’ by the brand owner Bacardi. This is the downside of bulk rum sales…..you have no controls over what people do and how they present your Rum. A double-edged sword really as additions are the last thing that a pure single rum producer such as Worthy Park would consider.

Anyhow, let’s get back into what we’re here for……the Rum.

Worthy Park Estate Signature Range

We had been waiting a while for Worthy Park to release their own product with the Worthy Park name proudly up front and centre of the bottle. Now we know what they have been busy working on. At the UK Rumfest in 2017 we were lucky enough to try the two main releases that will see their way into the UK Rum market….and also one that wont…but thats why we order online. At the date of publication, none of the Rums are UK available but if you look hard enough they are available online from elsewhere *cough* France *cough*. Within the range there are two cask strength cask finished Rums and one without additional finishing and presented at a more approachable abv. The bottles are heavy, curved, tapered wide shouldered things of beauty with wooden topped synthetic cork closures and its so good to see Worthy Park Estate so prominent on the bottle. It’s almost reflective of a puffed out chest bursting with pride. So without further ado…..

Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve – 45% abv

The Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve is a blend of Rums tropically aged between 6 and 10 years. It is 100% WPL Marque and is aged in ex-bourbon American white oak . It has added caramel colour for batch consistency given that it is the mainstay in the range but it is not chill filtered. It obviously has no other additions. Pure Single Rum. This Rum will see a UK release.

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a vibrant gold in the glass and is immediately identifiable as Worthy Park. Banana. Spice Bun. Savoury brine and Olives. Time and a little blow into the glass gives freshly cut fennel. Heavy molasses. Whiffs of English Breakfast Tea. Baking apples filled with mincemeat. Bonfire Toffee. Rich Vanilla and an oily citrus. All rounded out with a pleasing acetone note. Glorious.

Mouth: A beautifully sweet entry is accompanied by a peppery bite. That trademark overripe banana is there along with a little funk. Tropical fruit like Guava and Mango. Brine and salty liquorice by the boat load. A little sticky buttered Soreen malt loaf is a very enticing addition. Nutmeg and Allspice chime in. There is a growing heat and peppery kick. Quite a lot of really pleasant heat on the mid palate as the oak begins to take hold and dry things out. It is nice and oily. Quite chewy. Pancakes with mashed banana and golden syrup with a little vegetal bite too. Sticky dates and treacle toffee. The medium length finish is all oak and black pepper initially with just a trace of sweetness. Salty brine and raisins develop and though I don’t say this a lot about Jamaican rum….there is a leathery and almost tobacco quality in the finish. Burnt cigar leaves and Malt loaf round things out. An amazingly pleasurable experience that has totally been worth the wait. The abv probably sits about right too.

Worthy Park Single Cask Selection Series #1 –  Marsala Finish – 60% abv

Worthy Park Single Cask Selection Series #1 – Marsala Finish is again 100% WPL Marque but this time tropically aged for 4 years in ex-bourbon American white oak. It is then shipped (undiluted and unblended) to their partners in Denmark. The Rum is then put into ‘dry’ Marsala casks that were shipped with some liquid in them prior to being emptied and checked for leaks before the Rum was added. No caramel colour and it is not chill filtered. Pure Single Rum. This Rum will not see a UK release.

Tasting Notes

Glass: A slightly darker gold in the glass, the nose is quite astringent up front. The alcohol really shows itself and needs a few minutes to disperse. Prunes. Apricots. Blackberries. Raisins. Quite an apparent oak and a fair bit of smoke. Caramelised BBQ banana and fudge. A pomegranate molasses sourness. Clearly pungent pot still with the brine and saltiness that it brings but this is subdued. It is still unmistakably Worthy Park but with another layer.

Mouth: There is an initial astringent and peppery bite with moisture sapping oak that gives way to a growing sweetness. Overripe banana. Apricots. Blackberries. Red currant jelly. Not quite as oily and all-encompassing as the Reserve. There is some real heat in the mid-palate as the astringent oak makes a welcome reappearance. It’s quite tannic and a little reminiscent of hedgerow fruits. There is a sweet and sour interplay on the sides of my tongue with the sweetness of woody berries being offset by sour tamarind. It invites further sips. The medium length finish is initially led by the alcohol vapours. Once the heat that they bring subsides you are left with a warm, tannic and peppery oak that calmly drifts into berries and a hint of red liquorice. The cask finish is really well-integrated, but I can’t help but wonder what more time would’ve done.

Worthy Park Single Cask Selection Series #2 –  Oloroso Finish – 59% abv

Worthy Park Single Cask Selection Series #2 – Oloroso Finish is again 100% WPL Marque but this time tropically aged for 4 years in ex-bourbon American white oak. It is then shipped (undiluted and unblended) to their partners in Denmark. The Rum is then put into ‘dry’ Oloroso casks that were shipped with some liquid in them prior to being emptied and checked for leaks before the Rum was added. No caramel colour and it is not chill filtered. Pure Single Rum. This Rum will see a UK release.

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a darkish straw gold in the glass and there is a huge dollop of molasses up front backed up with creamy Caramac bar. A hint of mashed banana and caramelised brown sugar. Rhubarb. There are developing savoury notes with brine and black olives and it appears to be quite salty and reminiscent of crumbled Oxo cubes. It is also a little rubbery and sulphury on the nose……like someone is lighting matches in the next room whilst a car is doing burnouts outside an open window. A growing white pepper and nutty character develops before leaving you with date and walnut cake.

Mouth: This has by far the hottest entry of the three. It opens with quite a distracting heat which gives way to a freshly opened bag of dried raisins and mixed peel. Plump ripe greengages. A really apparent powdery white pepper and burnt paper. Speculoos spread. It has a really astringent mid-palate resplendent with white pepper and a grating of fresh nutmeg atop an egg custard. Hidden within the vapours that play at the back of your throat is a block of pipe tobacco similar to the one that my Grandad used to shred and cut with his penknife. Tannin’s aplenty lead what is the longest and most pleasing finish of all three. Its simplicity and enjoyment at its best. Peppery oak and a real heat are carried through to a tobacco and nut laden finish. If I had to add anything, it would be that I think the Rum needs longer in the Oloroso barrels. It’s almost like a layer on top of the Rum and even though its seen the same time in the barrel as the Marsala, it’s not as well-integrated.

So there we go. The new range has been worth the wait. What makes writing about the Rums from Worthy Park even more enjoyable is that having met Gordon once and Zan numerous times, they’re such nice people that you cant help but wish them every success. If this is their first run at a signature range worthy of the Worthy Park Estate name, the future looks very bright.

I’ve maybe copped out a little with scoring the Marsala and Reserve equally. In my own mind I know that the Reserve is the better product. It’s an amazing representation of what for me Worthy Park is, but with so much more depth than we’ve seen in their own releases thus far. But I was and am so taken with the Marsala Cask with its extra abv and all that it offered, I struggled with the score for a while.

Huge thanks to Nikos Arvanitis and Zan Kong for their help compiling this article.

I hope to one day bring you first hand experience of visiting the distillery……but in the meantime if you would like to read more about Worthy Park and see a few images of the things mentioned above, click on this link.

If you would like to really get deep into the history of Worthy Park then I would suggest purchasing A Jamaican Plantation: A History of Worthy Park 1670-1970

© 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

Manchester Rum Festival Returns For Its Second Year

*Press Release*

MANCHESTER RUM FESTIVAL RETURNS FOR ITS SECOND YEAR

Manchester Rum Festival to host round two at Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Rum Festival, the cities only official festival of its kind for the rum category, is returning Friday 1st June 2018, heading to the iconic Manchester Cathedral.

With the 2017 launch of Manchester’s first dedicated rum festival turning out to be a sell-out success, organizer and owner Dave Marsland of Drinks Enthusiast has turned to the historic venue to house over 75 brands of rum from all over the world, a dedicated cocktail bar for classic signature serves, and the chance to purchase via local independent retailer Riddles Emporium’s on-site shop.

Tickets for the festival go on sale Tuesday 28th November at 9am, priced at £20 for the full session, and will be available via the official Manchester Rum Festival website.

The festival will be a weekend long affair, with the main festival positioned on the Friday 1st, whilst the Saturday and Sunday will offer up a host of rum focused events, tastings and cocktail specials. The return of the rum brunches will see city centre venues collaborate with the likes of Chairman’s Reserve from St Lucia, whilst the cities tiki bars and cocktail haunts will work their Caribbean magic by putting on festival special menus for the weekend.

New Polynesian venue Mahiki will be hosting the official Manchester Rum Festival after-party on the Friday evening, kick-starting what Dave hopes to be a weekend of rum interaction between novices and enthusiasts across the city.

For more information on the current exhibitors and extra events, please visit www.manchesterumfestival.com

Manchester Rum Festival can be followed on Twitter @McrRumFestival

Facebook and Instagram at ManchesterRumFestival / ManchesterRumFestival

*End*

Having attended and enjoyed this years event immensely, we can’t wait to see what Dave and helpers have lined up for 2018……The Rum brunches are also well worth checking out! Keep an eye out and with last years event selling out in a matter of hours, grab your tickets quickly!

© 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

 

An Interview with Nikos Arvanitis – Rum Traveller

Copyright Nikos Arvanitis

Nikos Arvanitis will be familiar to most of my Facebook Rum forum frequenting audience. He’ll also be more than familiar to Rum Festival attendees throughout Europe. In fact his biography reads very well:

Nikos Arvanitis has been working as a bartender since 2006. Rum is his passion and his desire to understand it led him to the Caribbean. Living in Barbados and using this island as his base, he has visited 30 islands of the tropical zone of the “West Indies” and over 45 distilleries and sugarcane fields, both active and inactive. His journey is still on, it will soon be reflected on paper and he has named it “From the West Indies to the World”.

Nikos Arvanitis through his travels and speeches is trying to spread the traditional production process of Rum and the culture of the Caribbean people.

He is a member in the jury panel and an instructor in rum presentation, in several European Rum Festivals (Berlin, Paris, Poland, Greece, Spain etc.) and bar shows.

Instructor of Rum in Bar Academy Hellas

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On a personal level, I have known Nikos for around three years and during that time we have conversed a lot about life, Rum and everything in between. During our period of friendship I have seen Nikos grow into a very well-respected spokesman for Rum and an evangelist for the history and tradition that exists within the Caribbean. More recently he has become a very active independent spokesperson for the Gargano / Seale Classification and a campaigner and activist for Pure Rum and raising the category in general.

I was fortunate enough to meet Nikos earlier this year in his natural habitat….a Rum distillery. The distillery in question was Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados and it was also my first Rum Distillery visit. We chatted for a while, walked through the distillery with Richard and sampled untold delights in the Foursquare Tasting Room. We also shared a pretty eventful taxi ride with him.

Open and honest is all that I have known from Nikos and I’m giving his full, unedited responses to my questions. No cutting, snipping or leaving out of any detail. Hopefully you’ll see that his responses relay the passion that he has and the high regard in which he holds Rum as the true essence of the Caribbean and its people.

1 – For those that may not already be familiar with you and your work, explain to them what your project “From the West Indies to the World” is about.

From the West Indies to the World

It’s a personal project including photos, thoughts and notes for the real side of Caribbean islands and the connection between the locals and the Rum, through the eyes of the unknown reality.

Sugar cane fields, unknown dead estates, Rum Distilleries and traditional Rums.

In short, it’s my lonely trip-wandering in the tropic zone of the West Indies. Personal experiences, emotionally charged stories, culture, people. I don’t travel the easy way. I’m visiting places that they are really inaccessible to many white people and also I organized the 95% from all these trips myself, without sponsors, companies etc. The final collection of these experiences is the reason that this project is born, and due to that, I don’t focus only the to rum and the production process..

I’m not an author / writer and I do not even want to be. I just have the feeling and the belief that the experiences created to share. This project is an extension of me and the opposite.

The ultimate goal of my project is to make as many people as possible respect and fall in love with the Caribbean, the local culture, the people and finally the distilleries that are keeping alive and  unchanged the traditional production process of the spirit we love the most.

2 – Your travels are followed by and envied by many people….including me. One thing that often gets said to people like me is that to truly understand Rum and all that it is, you have to visit distilleries. Just how many countries and distilleries have you visited?

I would like to speak on a personal level without meaning that it’s either wrong or right. Yes, I clearly believe that if you don’t visit the Caribbean by yourself and the distilleries as well, it’s really difficult to understand rum. There’s a huge difference between the word ‘knowledge‘ and the word ‘understanding‘. Countless sites on the Internet with completely different opinions and misleading information, distributors, companies and ambassadors talk about rum and they’ve never touched sugarcane in their life. So there is misinformation and false information about rum. When I visited the distilleries I acquired a complete image, totally different to the one I had before. And yes, I was reading and attending seminars. But I figured that it wasn’t enough. It was like I was going inside the glass and becoming one with rum. Of course, it is important that the people of the distilleries are also honest with you. I was lucky (and a pain in the ass for them)

I have visited in total 30 islands of the Caribbean tropic zone. The number of distilleries is 45 out of 50. My last trip was in Haiti and trust me, Haiti is a unique situation. It’s a category by itself.

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3 – I personally see you as a direct link to Rum producers that are not active on social media and have little to no online presence. Do you think that your relationship with these Rum producers is vital in bringing the plight of forgotten and overlooked distilleries such as the Callwood Distillery in the BVI and River Antoine in Grenada into the spotlight?

The first time I saw distilleries like the ones you mentioned, I said to myself, “I will spread all over the world about these distilleries-Caribbean’s heritage”.
I saw this subject in a very romantic tone. It is truly a shame that 90% of the whole world does not even know the existence of wonderful rums like these. But the most important thing is that they do not know the passion, the love and respect that the people who surround distilleries have for their rums. Their existence is the link between the past and the present. And if you do forget the past, the heritage and the history, the future is cloudy and uncertain…

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4 – Apart from your project and the Rum, what continues to drive you to travel to these places?

People. Certainly people. The human relationships that I created there are by far the most important school of my life. They changed my worldview. I’m not the same person as I used to be before. At least I do not act and think the same way.

I adore the warm climate. I don’ really like the cold and I am freezing really quick and easy. I am not really sure if I will survive this winter in Paris. Hahahaha. Yeah, Paris is going to be my base for the following year(s)…

Finally, the word “vibe“. I can’t explain this feeling in a few words. It’s something much deeper. The vibe in the tropic zone makes me happy and above all, I’m 100% myself. Something I have never experienced before in the big European countries even in my own country, where the friendship and human relationships are in the second or even third fate. Unfortunately…

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5 – You’re a firm advocate of the proposed Gargano / Seale Classification. Explain the classification for those that may not be aware of it. Why you feel that it is so important?

Usually, my presentations for this matter last like 4 hours…..So I believe it’s a little bit difficult to explain in a few words.

Yes, I am a 100% supporter of this wonderful classification. It was the middle of 2014 I think when Richard (Seale) firstly introduced me to this classification in one of my weekly visits to Foursquare distillery. When I saw the classification I told to myself: “Yes, this is the only way to have a better and promised future for the category of Rum, to put things in a row and first of all to give Rum the respect it deserves”. Two years later I found Luca (Gargano) in one of his trips in Barbados. He also helped me understand the classification. So, my communication with the two most influential persons of the Rum world plus my personal research was the common link for the final result…..to spread this classification all over the world.

This Classification focuses to the type of the producer, the type of the still and of course at the distillery statement. I believe that this last thing is the biggest problem in Rum. The 70% of rums of the global market haven’t got a distillery statement. This is really bad.

This classification it’s not about what’s good and what’s bad. Tasty or not. Originally, it’s a chronological order of the history of distillation and is based on facts. There is a separation between the traditional production process and the modern.  This doesn’t mean that tradition overtakes modern methods, but we surely have to have a different approach to an original artisanal Rum from an industrial one.

Finally, some people say that this classification is a copy of the Whisky’s classification. This is not true, not at all and please if you don’t understand the role of the classification, don’t judge. Open your mind and be more Caribbean…I am always open for conversations about this subject, contact me and it would be my pleasure to help you have better understanding about the classification.

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6 – Your time spent with Rum producers has seen you spearheading the important job of communicating the classification through your interactions on social media and your presentations to industry and consumers. Do you see knowledge of the classification spreading throughout the community to the point that there is a basic understanding already when you talk to the industry and consumers?

First of all I really need to share with you that NONE of the producers ever told me what to say in my presentations or to promote specific Rums (I am not a f****n promoter or brand ambassador and I will never be). I was In Berlin some weeks ago and someone came to me and said that: “You promote the rums of your friends distilleries”. This is not true. I love to promote the Rums I love and the distilleries who still respect the Caribbean’s heritage and tradition. It’s true that I have a personal connection with many distilleries like Worthy Park, Foursquare and others but this connection is more a friendship and match to our beliefs than a business. The people out there who know me personally, know this much better than anyone. The situation with the association is something new but all of us used to fight about the traditional production process of the Rum many years ago, but our voice is heard by a lot of people only in the last 2-3 years. The customers really want to know more about the Rum and this is wonderful. The promise I am giving is that I will always act 100% as Nick and I will do the best to raise the category of the Rum.

7 – A large proportion of the Rum producers appear to fear the classification. Why do you think that is?

From my point of view, the main reason is that they initially believe that if they accept this sort of classification, it is like neglecting what they say so many years about their products on the market. I think that they are only interested in the rise of their own label and not rum as a spirit. We all have to understand that sales cannot go up in a particular bottle if the category is not developed in general. You cannot deny that tradition, not least the complicated production process of rum, should not go into the same sink as modern industrial products. They cannot have the same prices and above all the word “artisanal” on their bottle. So yes, I think they initially think of their sales which is not true because if the rum is classified and developed in general, this will be a good thing for everyone. Speaking so much time for the world market, I will give a personal example from my own country that reflects what I have said. See it as a miniature of the market.

Ambassadors who have never touched a still, have not bitten sugar cane, have never walked in the Caribbean, have not spoken to locals and have not understood the rum, continue to promote products that are in the company’s portfolio, for which you do not know the existence of the distillery (which of course does not exist), so-called spiced easy rums and pure alcohol full of flavors and sweeteners, industrial products that have nothing to do with the history of the island are being produced. How do you orient yourself in the market by telling lies and having the main goal of selling your own only products and at the same time looking for the good for the future of rum? It can not be done. Quite simply because there is no love for rum and the Caribbean but love for your dominance in the market and the word “monopoly“.

The shawls have no pockets. What is the essence if you are not faithful to your values ​​and your beliefs as a person and you adapt to what the system imposes on you…?

8 – Do you think that the Classification will ever become industry standard?

I am very optimistic and positive as a human and yeah man, I believe that it will. Already you can see a great rise of the artisanal Rum in the global market and this is wonderful and makes me very happy. But I don’t like to use the world “industry” next to the word “Rum“. Let’s use another term: “The World of Rum” is much better I think.

From me and my team, there is a promise that we will do all we can to build strong foundations in this classification and we will fight for it through presentations, seminars, articles etc. What is the essence of human being as if you haven’t got something to fight for??

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9 – Do you think that having a Geographical Indication for Rum production will become the natural progression?

Yes, I believe that this is the path. Jamaica for example, is fighting about this. But I would like to make a general statement on this really important subject.

In Jamaica we have distilleries that make completely different rum in a totally different way. In particular, it’s not possible to consider a pure single rum from Worthy Park or Hampden with that of Clarendon. Yes, these three distilleries take place in the same island, they are all Jamaican, but the Rums are completely different. The production process as well. In Clarendon they use a small amount of Rum from Batch distillation. The majority of the final blend is coming from distillation in Multi column ethyl alcohol plant. This does not happen in the first two distilleries I mentioned earlier. So, I say that simply saying Jamaican Rum is not enough because there is diversity within Jamaican Rum.

They all rely on some common elements in the production process, but at the end of the day the final products are completely different. So, just the world Jamaican Rum I don’t feel that it’s enough.

There must be also control to the independent bottlers with no distillery statement. I’m tasting very often rums like these, let’s say a Barbadian Rum, and this rum has nothing to do with the traditional rums of the island. The same happens also with other bottlings. Personally, I find it unacceptable to add sweeteners, aromas and other extras that literally do not respect the distillery, the history and the heritage of the island, and also the tradition, except some special situations. Of course, the majority of these independent bottles haven’t got distillery statement on the labels and at the same time they say that they choose personally the best barrels from the distilleries. They didn’t .They just bought these rums from other companies. Be careful with the false marketing terms. I really would like to see better control and balance between the distilleries and the independent bottlers in future. If the rum is not even close to the character of the distillery and the distillery bottlings, don’t give the permission to the independent companies to make the bottling. The master distiller has to taste the rum and if he agrees, enter the name of the distillery and his signature. So everyone cannot bottle whatever they want. Quite honestly, I believe this.

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So there we have it…..an amazing amount of passion and a completely open forum for Nikos to give his true, unedited opinions.

I’d like to personally take this opportunity to thank Nikos again for his agreement to undertake this interview and I hope that I have given him the platform which he deserves.

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