The Rum Lab most recent industry news. Enjoy! 
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Hello, Rum Aficionado.

Here we share our program called "Industry Interviews & Notes" where we will host key people that support and promote the Rum Industry, plus below we will continue sharing  the most recent "Rum Industry News" we consider to be interesting. Enjoy!  

Industry Interviews & Notes

Lance Surujbally
He is "The Lone Caner".
Founder & sole contributor to 'The Lone Caner'.
A world traveler and lover of Rum

1) Who is Lance Surujbally

Short question with a long answer. Let’s just say I’m not a judge, bartender, promoter, evangelist, cocktail guru, distiller, producer or in any way commercially involved with the industry. My day job is actually quite prosaic and far removed from the subject. I’ve called eight countries home, have been fortunate enough to have traveled the world, speak several languages, and love reading and writing – especially about rum. 

2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

I've been sniffing the odd tot since I was a teen and began drinking the local hooch as far back as the mid-1980s when I lived in Guyana.  But after a long hiatus where I moved countries several times, changed jobs a lot, started a family and ended up in Calgary, I began to take the whole subject of writing reviews more seriously.  This was directly related to a book club a friend of mine created in 2009 which morphed into a book-and-whisky-and-rum club (guess who was the lone cane loving enthusiast?).  He suggested we start a blog that year, and the rum reviews began - I wrote frantically for three months straight to get the initial population. Now it has become a habit, and the more rums I try and write about, the more I realize there is so much more still undiscovered and unwritten about.

3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.

That might be overstating my influence. Let’s say that I take some pride in being among the first to write about Velier, Rum Nation, Nine Leaves and Compagnie des Indes; of being a resource to those with questions on particular rums; of raising the bar (however infinitesimally) for writing that is enjoyable as well as informative; and of encouraging others to start or continue their writing of reviews or essays.

4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?

Three things: [1] the interaction with readers, other writers, and producers of rum.  Just about everyone is courteous, helpful and cheerful to a fault, great people with a combined knowledge base they are eager to share. [2] the immense and global varieties of rums out there, of which I have only scratched the surface…so many countries make rum and each has something unique to offer [3] the developments over the last five years in the field as a whole.

5) Favorite Rum Drink?

Depends on mood. When I'm tired, irritable and don't want complexity, a simple Cuba Libre does me just fine. After a good dinner, something softer and sweeter, so maybe a solera rum.  But in the main, I still prefer to drink rums neat, and like them strong and growly and distinct.

6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?

I believe the trends we have witnessed over the last years will continue: [1] More independent bottlers will emerge, issuing interesting variations on old favourites [2] many more new small distilleries will continue to open up shop, especially in the USA [3] the gradual development of a global series of standards that impact not only what is in the rum (i.e., additives) and from what it is made (source material, and the still), but also how to classify rum itself, into categories that are clear and unambiguous, and are understood (and accepted) globally [4] The divergence of rums into two distinct strands will continue – spiced/flavoured versus unadulterated rums, and standard strength versus full proof rums.

7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.

That’s not a short list….much of what I’ve learned on this long and sometimes expensive journey of rum appreciation has come from many people in the field who have been generous with their time and advice and corrections.  In no order: Curt Robinson of AllThingsWhisky who started the ball rolling and encouraged me to set up my own site, while always trying to convince me to switch to that obscure Scottish drink; Henrik of RumCorner, Cyril of DuRhum, Marco of Barrel-Aged-Mind; Steve James of Rum Diaries – generous to a fault with samples and background and general conversation on conceptual matters; Dave Russell of Rum Gallery; Matt Pietrek of The CocktailWonk whose essays I devour and reread; Josh Miller of InuaKena, who I always needle about not writing enough; and I can never ignore rum lovers in general, who comprise the readership – they are curious, opinionated, interested, talkative, and share a genuine passion for the spirit.  And I have to mention the producers, who provide the raw material for our discourse – without them, there would be no ‘Caner.

8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 months?

Sample more from obscure points of the compass; write more about the histories of distilleries and producers and independent bottlers; continue to take part in the discourse on classification. And yeah, to find the next Velier before anyone else does.

9) Any last words?

Without encouraging any kind of rampant boozing or indiscriminate drinking, I think that those persons who are interested in the drink and the subject should sample as many rums as they can.  On reddit and facebook, there are so many wistful posts that ask “what do I start with?”  My advice is, everything you can until you find that profile that’s yours. It’s a great drink of enormous breadth and variety, with something for everyone.  And that's also what makes me want - always! - to try the next one from the next distillery in the next estate, just past that hill over there.

10) Where can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?




Matt Pietrek - 11/3/2016 -

Crappy cocktail recipes are an occupational hazard of using the internet. I do my best to roll my eyes and move on. Until I came across this horror show on Thrillist This one simply needed to be addressed.

Titled the Dead Man’s Mai Tai, the text breathlessly describes it as “… an autumnal take on a familiar tropical classic. So basically just as good! Coconut rum? Check. Dark rum? Check.”

Now, I totally get improvising on a classic Tiki recipe. Swapping a few ingredients to make something new? Great idea! Mezcal in your Mai Tai? Why not? The classic 1944 recipe (rum, lime, orgeat, orange curacao, simple syrup) is ripe for improvisation.

But with coconut rum and dark rum, the Dead Man’s Mai Tai starts out shaky before abruptly plummeting off the cliff:

  • 1½ ounces coconut rum
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces cinnamon simple syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 5 broken cinnamon sticks)
  • 2 ounces apple juice concentrate
  • 12 ounces sparkling water or seltzer
  • ½ ounce dark rum, to float
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Apple slices, to garnish

<Raises hand> Uhm… Hello? Where’s the curacao? Where’s the orgeat?

A Mai Tai without orgeat. W.T.F?  Ponder that, editors at Thrillist.

And good lord, how sweet is this atrocity? Two ounces of cinnamon syrup and two ounces of apple juice concentrate? That’s a candy recipe right there. Why even bother with the half ounce of lime juice?

And no, putting a float of dark rum on your drink doesn’t make it a “Mai Tai”.

As best I can ascertain, the only ingredient this “Mai Tai” shares with an actual 1944 Mai Tai is lime juice. This is light years removed from “…autumnal take on a familiar tropical classic’,

Here’s what I’m hoping for from Thrillist:

“We’re sorry. The Dead Man’s Mai Tai recipe we recently published did not meet our standards. In fact, it doesn’t meet any standards whatsoever. Truth be told, our accountant’s six year old concocted it in our break room when they were left unattended. We’ve taken away the responsible editor’s keyboard and will return it after they consume a bottle of Jeppson’s Malort followed by 100 Hail Marys to Victor Bergeron.”

If you want to create and publish a drink recipe like this, great. Just don’t call it a Mai Tai. Respect the Tiki tradition. People like Martin Cate, Jeff Berry, and countless others have worked tirelessly to bring Tiki the respect it deserves, after many dark decades where the category was considered an old joke, left for dead.

Well-made Tiki is anything but just haphazardly throwing rums and fruit juices in a glass. Tacking on the Mai Tai moniker on to this abominable recipe perpetuates this misperception.

p.s. Want to learn how to make real Tiki classics at home? Check out this post from the archives.


Nicola Carruthers - 11/10/2016 – The Spirits Business
The Kraken Black Spiced Rum has unveiled a new limited edition bottle design via Proximo Spirits.

Replicating a Victorian rum bottle, the bespoke vessel features two handles – allowing for easy portability.
The Kraken Rum is an imported rum from the Caribbean blended with 13 spices. Named for the sea beast of myth and legend, The Kraken Rum delivers “notes of cinnamon, vanilla, cherry and coffee aromas”.
Suitable for vegans and gluten-free, Kraken is 40% abv and is recommended served with ginger beer and a lime wedge to make The Perfect Storm.
The brand said that “only a very limited number” of the ceramic bottles have been produced.
The new bottle is available now in the UK through Amazon at an RRP of £30.99.


Writer: Unknown - 11/15/2016 -

You know who knows best which bottles to buy for holiday gifting? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. For 2016, we asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why. 

Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s a list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary state to state.


“This stuff is both a cult favorite and a crowd pleaser. It won best new product at Tales of the Cocktail this year and is great neat, on ice or in a cocktail. I’ve tasted this rum straight from the vat as the pineapples imparted their goodness. Trust when I say this is magic in a bottle.”—Karin Stanley, co-owner of Dutch Kills and bartender at Little Branch and Suffolk Arms


2. RON ZACAPA 23 YEARS ($46)

“A great rum for the price either as a sipper or in a cocktail. It has great notes of orange, honey and baking spices.”—James Bolt, beverage director and host bartender at The Gin Joint


3. SANTA TERESA 1796 ($41)

“This solera-aged rum has been my No. 1 pick for many years. Great to sip and beautiful in cocktails, it is full-bodied and incredibly versatile.”—Michael J. Neff, bar director at Holiday Cocktail Lounge



“Sooo smooth! Fifteen-year-old Haitian rhum agricole that’s a great sipper neat or on the rocks.”—Zach Lynch, bar manager at The Ice Plant and brand ambassador at St. Augustine Distillery Co.



“Tremendous flavor with tremendous smoothness makes this rhum agricole one of the finest in the world at any price.”—Gary Patrick Crunkleton, bartender at and owner of The Crunkleton



“If you haven’t heard of it, you soon will. Incredible blend of Havana Club’s best casks.”—Ryan Maybee, co-owner of Manifesto and The Rieger and co-founder of J. Rieger & Co.


7. RHUM CLÉMENT V.S.O.P. ($40)

“Rhum agricole has a wild, grassy character that’s tamed well by barrel aging. This bottle is best consumed straight from the bottle while floating in the ocean off Martinique but still tastes delicious sitting on your porch.”—Michael J. Neff, bar director at Holiday Cocktail Lounge


Scott Laird - 11/07/2016 - Travel Pulse
Malama ka ‘aina is a phrase frequently used in Hawai‘i. Translated, it means to care for and nurture the land. In these islands, land is precious and limited, and when the only alternative to the lush, verdant Islands of Aloha is thousands of miles of ocean before any inhabitable land mass, caring for the small, previous sliver of paradise you’ve been gifted with is of the utmost importance.
But even in paradise, you have to make a living. I’ve written much over the years about how Koloa Rum has rebooted sugar cultivation on Kaua‘i in support of their premium rum products, and how they’re doing so in a way that is sustainable, and, well, malama ka ‘aina. In 2012, I was just getting acquainted with the quality rums that make up their core product line. The following year, they rolled out a Coconut Rum that reinvented Coconut Rum.
The year after that it was a stupendous Pineapple Passion bottled cocktail, and this year it was a new coffee-flavored rum made with coffee also grown on Kaua‘i. It almost requires return visits to Kaua‘i every year (which I do anyway) to discover what new delights the company has cooked up over the past twelve months.
Seriously, you’ve never tried rums like these before. Each has its own special quality, and a top note that strikes a bold theme that mellows and melts into subtle, comfortable complexities. The Kaua‘i Coconut Rum is a rum-lovers coconut rum—not a saccharine-sweet liqueur like most of the coconut rums on the market. The Kaua‘i Coffee Rum yields an extracted coffee flavor more pure than anything that can be got by straining hot water through grounds. The Kaua‘i Dark Rum hits with the aroma of vanilla blossom in an antique wooden box weathered by generations of rainfall—almost the exact aroma of Koloa Town itself.
One translation of the name Koloa, in fact (Hawaiian was an entirely oral language until the 19th Century and many words carry multiple meanings, making the language’s place name etymology a confounding set of contrasting theories) is that it refers to the sugarcane grown in the area since before Western contact. Ko for “sugar cane” and loa for “length, height, distance, or tall”—literally, “Tall Cane”.

Sugarcane, while not endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, was carried onboard the canoes carrying Kaua‘i’s first human inhabitants, who are believed to have first migrated from Tahiti or The Marquesas sometime at the end of the first millennium CE.
Visitors to the Garden Isle can enjoy Koloa Rum at the Company Store and Tasting Room at Kilohana Plantation. Local liquor regulations limited the company from giving out more than a shot glass-full of samples each day, but there’s no rule preventing visitors from visiting for a free sample every day. Because there are now more rum types that can be fit in a single shot glass, the flavors on offer vary each day. The tasting also includes some of their fabulous rum cake (which are sold in the shop and make great omiyage – a Japanese tradition of returning from traveling with gifts, also popular among Hawai‘i residents).
For those who want a proper Koloa Rum cocktail, stop into the bar at Gaylord’s, next door, where an expert mixologist will mix you a rum cocktail and “talk story” with you about Kaua‘i. For those who run out of their purchases and are unable to return to Kaua‘i for more rum, Koloa Rum is available at retailers in several states, and via mail order in most states without brick-and-mortar retail sales.
In addition to great tasting rum, knowing that you’re partaking in a product grown with care in the island’s rich volcanic soil, nurtured with the precious fresh water from the island’s rivers and streams, and distilled into a spirit that stays with you long after you’ve finished your drink and left Kaua‘i is the kind of connection that savvy vacationers have come to love about travel. The knowledge that Koloa Rum is also doing its part to malama ka ‘aina  through sustainable agricultural practices makes it all the more enriching.
The Details: Check the website for the Company Store to find out more about store and tasting room hours. Kilohana Plantation is just west of Lihu‘e and is convenient to most of the island’s major resort areas.
The Drink Suggestion: There are several great mai tais and other rum drinks to be had at various resorts around the island made with Koloa Rum, but my personal favorite is Kaua‘i Coconut Rum with soda and a splash of pineapple juice.
Note: Some Hawaiian Language diacritical marks, such as the kahako (macron) have been omitted from this story to ensure web browser compatibility.


The Confidentials - 11/09/2016 - Travel Pulse
Neil Sowerby raises a glass to Reverend Stiggins with Liars Club and Cane & Grain boss Lyndon Higginson
BLESS you red-faced Reverend Stiggins. Partial to a warm, sugary tot or three of pineapple rum despite your pledges of abstinence. And if you weren’t one of the more memorable characters in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers… well, your legacy makes the most delicious Daiquiri we’ve ever sampled. 
Don’t believe us? Taste for yourself. The recently released Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy 1824 Recipe Rum has found a home in two sibling Manchester bars – Liars Club and Cane & Grain. They are among only 20 UK establishments (plus ten across Europe) who have been chosen to become members of the elite Plantation “Pineapple Society” and are allowed to stock this unique tipple. Just 6,000 bottles are available in Britain.
Part of the deal is that they offer that signature Daiquiri. At £7.50 a go (compared with the standard Bacardi-based version at 50p cheaper), it’s a tangy, toothsome snip. 

“Making a Daiquiri is the equivalent of a chef getting a poached egg just right. It’s the ultimate bartender test. Sounds simple – rum, lime juice, sugar but get one component out of synch and it’s ruined,’’ says Tiki-meister Lyndon Higginson, who runs The Liar’s Club, refuge for every quality rum under the Caribbean sun.
Most of them have a story; few as good as Stiggins’ Fancy, even without the ghost of Charles Dickens. Lyndon explains the history as we sip it neat (there’s a huge pineapple tingle but not a hint of cloying sweetness).
This pineapple rum revival came about when cocktail historian David Wondrich challenged his friend, Alexandre Gabriel, owner of Maison Ferrand, to bring Reverend Stiggins’ favourite back to life using 19th century recipes.
Rum from a Cognac house in South West France? Of course. Part of a mould-breaking transformation of the company’s fortunes that also encompasses remarkable gins as well as brandies. Gabriel was already buying in parcels of amazing rum from the Caribbean for his Plantation label. Next step – find the perfect pineapple with the aromatic, oil-packed rind that is key to the whole process. The ‘winner’ was the Victoria, a variety renowned as being one of the sweetest and most fragrant.
The fruit is hand-peeled and the rind is macerated in Plantation 3 Stars White Rum for a week before distilling in pot stills. Meanwhile, the flesh is infused in Plantation Original Dark Rum for three months, at which point both infusions are combined and put in casks for a further three months. 
Result – beyond delicious. Tropical fruit, cloves, a hint of smoke. 40 per cent ABV. We suggest you get down to Cane & Grain and The Liars Club before precious stocks run out.
Pineapple Daiquiri recipe
- 50ml Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy 1824 Recipe Rum
- 20ml Fresh lime juice
- 15ml Simple sugar syrup (1 to 1 sugar and water)
- Shake and strain into a martini glass or over fresh cubed ice in a rocks glass.

4 Rums to celebrate Thanksgiving

Federico Hernandez - 11/13/16 -  TheRumLab

For the week of Thanksgiving, TheRumLab wants to share 4 rums that will fit perfectly with that delicious food &/or joyful moments with friends & family. Each month we will shine a light on some great rums for you to add to your collection, in a season for them to shine!

Fall has fell, and the chill is setting building to the holidays. This is the time of year to be thankful, caring and sharing our hearts and time the people around us along with the one we love. A rum to sip, enjoy and share. These are four fantastic rums to fit that bill!

CLEMENT 6 Year Old

This Rhum Agricole begins as fresh sugar cane juice which is fermented, masterfully distilled, rested and then it is aged for a minimum of 6 years in a combination of virgin oak and re-charred Bourbon barrels to spectacular results. The aromas reveal smoky oak, cocoa, blossoms, spices, tea, vanilla and tropical fruits. The flavor reiterate the scents adding deeper citrus nuance and elevating the sapidity of the spice. The finish is long and lingers to display the flavor in a chewy, intricate structure

Don Q Gran Añejo

Don Q Gran Añejo is produced by the Serralles family from the stock of their best aged rum. Originally released in 1993, it is a blend of older and younger rums to harness a balance between the sweet and the dry that is harmonious. The nose reveals unripe tropical fruit (green banana), tight baking spices that back up damp dark wood and leather. The tastes follow those directions and include provocative sour notes that linger and are carried along with flavors of smoky custard or burnt sugar towards a dry finish.

Ron Abuelo XV Napolean

Ron Abuelo XV Finish Collection is a masterful series of limited edition rums that was created to highlight Ron Abuelo rum and the impact of various expressions of wood. The Napolean was finished in barrels that had previously contained cognac. The aroma shows complex oak, dried fruit, tea, and cacao. The flavors carry these aromatic delicacies to their fullest all the way across the palate to an elegant, lingering finish that is vibrant, complex and warming. 

Mount Gay XO

Mount Gay Extra Old begins with aromas of bitter chocolate, candied nuts and roasted coconut meat. A smooth entry leads to toffee, baking spice, ripe plantain, baked apple, and brown bread with vanilla that resolves with a long, sensuous fade of flan, dulce de leche, and lingering dark wood and molasses. Tastes of brown sugar, spice, vanilla, nuts, and caramel merge on the palate and finish with a robust, complex layered demonstration of the flavors.

These rums are fantastic to sip and enjoy and absolutely perfect to share. 

In this season of giving thanks, we would like to thank you for joining us on these journeys of rum and we hope that your hearts are filled with gratitude and your experiences are filled with great rum.

If you would like to taste some of this rums, you might consider visiting the following events: 

- MidWest Rum Festival - Chicago, IL - April 8th, 2017 
- California Rum Festival - San Francisco, CA - Sept 9th, 2017 
- New York Rum Festival - NYC, NY - Sept 30th, 2017


Kevin Rozario - 11/10/2016 – TR Business
Wild Tiger rum from India has notched up strong sales on Tigerair to be among the bestselling products on the Singapore-based budget airline, following a listing in July.
Gautom Menon, Chief Brand Officer at Wild Tiger Rum has confirmed this to TRBusiness based on information supplied by the carrier’s inflight concessionaire, Inflight Sales Group, across all routes. Wild Tiger, based in Kerala in southern India, is currently in talks with Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, Air Asia and other airlines for further listings.
Wild Tiger – selling at $23 on Tigerair – is currently the only rum label on board any carrier in the Asia Pacific region according to the brand, and it is now also in talks with full-service airlines, other low-cost carriers and retailers in the region.
Commenting on the Tigerair sales, Menon says: “The key buyers are Chinese, Singaporean and Thai nationals, followed by Malaysians & Indian nationals. “This is despite the fact that the former two groups not being known for rum consumption – which is a great insight for retailers and in flight managers.”
The brand recently took part in the ISG-Tigerair second-year anniversary event at Changi Airport where its Special Reserve Rum (dark) was showcased. The event was attended by over 300 Tigerair crew members who had the chance to interact with and learn more about a number of brands through education sessions and quizzes.
“They were able to take away some interesting facts which would enable them to communicate more effectively to a potential buyer on board,” says Menon. “In a sense it’s very heartening to know that we now have 300 brand ambassadors up in the sky.”


Matt Chambers - 11/10/2016 – TR Business
A few weeks ago, someone asked me about which spirit would be the ‘next whisky’. By that they meant, which spirit would come out of the shadows in a similar way that whisky started to do about ten years ago? Whisky has become the ‘new Cognac’. My prediction skills have never been good, but after some discussion we came to our conclusion - rum.
Whisky and rum have a lot of similarities if you think about it - both are distilled from a raw product that has been fermented with yeast, molasses in the case of rum and grain in the case of whisky, and then aged in oak casks for a maturation period. Both also have a diversity of styles.
Rum, like whisky before it, has long been seen as a drink for an ageing population or simply a mixer and cocktail ingredient. Add scenes of pirates swigging from the bottle in movies and you have a misinterpreted drink. Is now the time for rum to stand up and be counted, and for consumers to appreciate fully the quality of products on the market?
Whisky finally began to shake its old fashioned image in the mid 2000s and this was driven by education, brand stories, heritage and history of the distilleries and liquids. This, along with innovative new products and ones designed to appeal to a younger and wider audience of drinkers, has helped the whisky category achieve the worldwide growth and position that it has today.
Rum is made around the world but has a deep heritage that is engrained in the culture of the Caribbean and Central America in particular. Whisky is similarly intertwined in to the fabric of Scottish, Irish or American society and history. Can the rum companies pull on this history and the stories from their individual brands to promote their products to encourage new consumers?
Many of the rum distilleries are older than their whisky counterparts across the world. For example, Glenturret, which is Scotland’s oldest that is still in production, began distilling in the Highlands in 1775. Bowmore on the famous whisky island of Islay was established in 1779 and Jack Daniel’s in Tennessee has just celebrated its 150th anniversary after starting in 1866.
For example and to compare, Appleton Estate in Jamaica was officially founded in 1749. Records show evidence of rum production on the site even earlier than that, maybe even as far back as 1655 when the estate was set up after the English captured Jamaica from the Spanish.
Appleton Estate seems like one of the key candidates that could push this potential drive of the rum category forwards. It is one of few places to grow and process the sugar, separate and ferment the molasses, distil and then mature the rum all on the same site.
They are historically innovative having been at the forefront of experimentation in the 1940s to develop their rums to fill a void. This had been created by a combination of Prohibition in the USA, which had all but eradicated American whiskey from the market place, and World War II that saw much lower whisky production levels in Scotland.
The current Master Blender, Joy Spence, was also the first woman ever to hold such a role in any spirits category in the world when she was appointed in 1997. Next year, she celebrates her 20th anniversary and 35 years at Appleton Estate in total.
So, what is stopping people buying a bottle of rum and sitting down to sip and savour it like a fine Scotch single malt? Can rum be the ‘new whisky’, the same way that whisky became the ‘new Cognac’? The products, history and manufacturing methods are so similar, so is it simply a matter of perception that rum cannot be consumed this way?
When talking with Joy Spence a couple of weeks ago, she felt that it is rum’s time to shine and for Europeans to follow the Caribbean way of drinking it neat or with some ice. She sees no reason as to why the category should not grow and that it was important for rum companies to look at how whisky achieved such growth with the use of consumer engagement.
With most rums at a cheaper price level than the equivalent whisky or other dark spirits, especially those products with ages stated, it seems that with a good marketing push an increasing number of consumers could be converted. Having not sampled much rum in the past and then getting guided through the different styles by the legendary Joy, I think I will be one of them.


Jessica Sidman  - 11/11/2016 – Washingtonian
Cotton & Reed opens Saturday with a white rum and dry-spiced rum.
Chances are you’ve drowned rum in Coke at a shitty bar or mixed it into a fruity tropical cocktail during spring break. Cotton & Reed, a new distillery opening Saturday near Union Market, wants to tell you there’s another way. The spirit doesn’t have to be sweet mixer and taste like a Christmas tree. It can also be a bitter, dry base spirit as versatile as gin or whiskey in cocktails.
Cotton & Reed comes from Reed Walker and Jordan Cotton, who are both former consultants to NASA. Head distiller Chas Jefferson and bartender/”herbalist” Lukas Smith help round out the team.
The distillery launches with a white rum and a dry-spiced rum. The former uses a Belgian saison yeast strain typically used for beer and a wild pineapple yeast strain. “It gives a lot of cool, sweet, funky aromas,” Smith says. The latter incorporates 17 different botanicals, including ginger, Chinese long black pepper, gentian, bitter orange peel, fenugreek, and licorice. “It kind of behaves as much as an amaro as it does any traditional spiced rum,” he says.
Both products are only available at the distillery to start but will roll out to other retail outlets over the next couple weeks. The white rum goes from $30 and the dry-spiced rum for $35.
Early next year, the distillery will also come out with an allspice dram—”probably my favorite product,” Smith says. The spirit uses clove, allspice, black pepper, burdock root, star anise, cinnamon, and a big dose of dry-fermented Persian limes.
All the spirits lack the sweetness typical of many rums, which Cotton & Reed hopes will make them more appealing to bartenders. “We want it to have more flexibility in cocktails, and we don’t want it to cloy,” Smith says. “We want everything to finish clean.”.
The cocktails on Cotton & Reed’s own tasting room menu—all $10—certainly aren’t your typical rum drinks. For example, a white rum, Campari, lime, and ginger beer drink called “Redbeard” is more bitter than you would usually find with a rum cocktail. Meanwhile, the “Rum G&T” uses a housemade tonic with botanicals typically found in gin to create a cocktail that mimics a gin and tonic.
Cotton & Reed. 1339 5th St., NE; 202-544-2805. Open Wednesdays through Fridays from 4 pm to midnight and weekends from noon to midnight. 


Neville Graham  - 11/13/2016 – The Gleaner
Rum company J. Wray and Nephew Limited (JWN) is plunking down nearly $1 billion on a total makeover of its world-famous Appleton Rum Tour. A small hotel is also under consideration, but that is several years away. JWN chairman Clement ‘Jimmy’ Lawrence says when the company breaks ground next Friday it will mean the temporary closure of the estate tour which will be developed into a brand new product. The rum tour is part of the operations of JWN’s sugar and rum producing subsidiary Appleton Estate.
“The renovation is so extensive that it would not be practical to have the tour operating with the restrictions that would be required for the construction and so we’ve taken the difficult decision to do that but in terms of safety and the quality of a tour we’ve agreed that it should be the proper course of action,” Lawrence said in an interview with Gleaner Business.
He says the renovations will cover all aspects of the tour and may include branding of transportation to the venue and the surrounding community in St Elizabeth.
“We’re spending US$7.2 million, plus there are other items of expenditure that we will not go into at this time. All told that should translate to $1 billion and we think that will be a solid investment in the company, the community and Jamaica at this time,” he said.
The Appleton Rum Tour takes visitors along a scenic, winding route in Jamaica’s Cockpit Country. The location is about 50 kilometres from the nearest tourist centres. Lawrence admits that despite the beauty of the drive, the mode of transportation by bus and the length of time it takes to get to Appleton would have taken its toll on visitors.
With that in mind the company is looking to the revitalisation of the rail service to accommodate the rum tour so that they can triple the number of visitors.
“That is an integral part of the plans that we have. We’re looking to grow the number of visitors from 50,000 to 150,000 and the rail experience and the logistical benefits that it offers would fit nicely with our plans,” Lawrence said.
For the medium term he says the company will be looking at establishing a small-scale hotel as part of the offerings at Appleton. This is in addition to the improvements in surrounding communities to include shops and craft markets for artisans.


Alia Akkam - 11/16/2016 – Bravo
Surely your holiday to-do list includes snagging a gift for a cocktail aficionado or two, not to mention drinking lots of cocktails yourself. If you're a rum fan, kill a few birds with one stone: There's an intriguing new rum that will wow everyone from spirits geeks to tiki-drink types who wish they were on a beach somewhere double-fisting umbrella drinks. 
Its name is a mouthful: The rum is called Plantation O.F.T.D., which stands for Old Fashioned Traditional Dark Overproof Rum. It's a blend of rums from Guyana, Jamaica and Barbados, and at a whopping 138-proof (69 percent alcohol), the spirit is flavorful and balanced enough to gracefully star in breezy, tropical drinks—see the recipe for the OFTD Swizzle below—and dusky classics. Or, like Scotch, you might even (perhaps with the aid of a little water) want to sip it in its naked form, too.
And if you're into spirits that have a juicy backstory, this one delivers. Plantation O.F.T.D. came about as an attempt to replicate an old-fashioned, strong rum that dates back to the 1800s.
Seamen who once holed up on Royal Navy ships looked forward to knocking back their “daily tot,” an uplifting reprieve from the demands of tying knots and firing cannons. To determine the quality of these coveted rum rations, the 17th-century British sailors lighted booze-soaked gunpowder on fire. If it ignited, there was the “proof” it was legit; if it didn’t, undesirably watered-down liquid was their fate. The ritual lived on until 1970, when it was abolished.
Making a modern-day version of this nostalgic rum style was the dream of Alexandre Gabriel, the visionary behind France’s Maison Ferrand portfolio of spirits. An adept blender, Gabriel most recently racked up street cred from the bartending community with the launch of Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy Rum, a collaboration with renowned cocktail historian and scribe David Wondrich.
Before embarking on his follow-up creation, Gabriel decided he wanted the assistance of several refined rum palates, so once again he turned to Wondrich, as well as Jeff “Beachbum” Berry of Latitude 29 in New Orleans, Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco and Paul McGee of Lost Lake in Chicago. Owners of the country’s most transporting tiki joints, they were joined by Paul McFadyen from London and Scotty Schuder from Paris, who run the equally quirky, convivial bars Trailer Happiness and Dirty Dick.
This global, spirits-savvy sextet secretly convened with Gabriel in New Orleans during the summer of 2015. After ample tastings and discussions, Gabriel returned to his laboratory and magically transformed an eclectic collection of notes into the heady liquor the gang all envisioned.
“Working with Alexandre and the others was a chance to reformulate an overproof rum that has complexity, instead of just being overpowering for the sake of overpowering,” explains McGee.
“Most of the time when you grab an overproof rum, you’re just looking for the strength or the heat. This one is truly dynamic: it has richness, spice, a little bit of fruit and interesting aromatics.”
McGee says he's "happy to have another fantastic rum in my arsenal” at Lost Lake and finds that the lush and textured spirit works in timeless favorites like the whiskey-dominant Old Fashioned, and makes a great tiki drink: Its bright coffee and orange notes, paving the way to warm layers of cinnamon and nutmeg and a dark chocolate and caramel finish, make it ideal for playful cocktails like Lost Lake's OFTD Swizzle (recipe below). Or, for a more wintry holiday punch, pair one third of the high-octane O.F.T.D. with two-thirds Cognac, as Wondrich recommends. But sip slowly: This stuff is powerful.
OFTD Swizzle
1.5 oz Plantation O.F.T.D.
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 dash Absinthe
Combine all ingredients in a metal cup or large glass. Add 1 cup of crushed ice and with a "lei lei bois” (swizzle stick or barspoon) swizzle for 5 to 10 seconds. 
Add additional crushed ice and garnish with a mint bouquet dusted with nutmeg, a cinnamon stick, an umbrella, a swizzle stick and a straw.


Robert Burr - 11/16/2016 – Rob´s Rum Guide
Known for their clever approach to marketing, Stolen Spirits announces the release of their Stolen Overproof Rum across the United States in key markets.
Discovering Stolen Overproof Rum
Stolen discovered this rum at a historic, family-run distillery in Jamaica that’s over 250 years old. In their time-honored Jamaican style, the mash ferments for seven days in a selection of 50 different cedar vats, developing a bold, rich and complex flavor profile. Traditional copper pots are used to distill the rum in a rustic manner, before a six year maturation in used whiskey barrels.
Stolen Overproof Rum is bottled at 123 proof (61.5% abv) and presented in half-size 375ml bottles with a suggested list price of about $20.
Tasting Notes
Stolen Overproof Rum offers aromas of bold charred oak and pepper over ripe banana, leading to funky juicy fruit. On the palate, a bold entry of butter, vanilla and oak develops a bouquet of fruit in the dry mid-palate with hints of tart citrus, soft pear, black banana and a touch of treacle in the long finish.
A Handcrafted Rum
“We consider ourselves to be extremely fortunate to have discovered this remarkable product. It’s rare to find a handcrafted rum of this proof and quality that’s been aged for six years,” said Samira Seiller, Global Managing Director of Stolen Spirits.
Stolen Overproof Rum is a limited release, with only 60,000 of the half-size 375ml bottles available.
About Stolen Spirits
Other notable releases from Stolen Spirits include the Stolen Smoked rum.
The brand began in 2010 when two rum fanatics gave up the corporate grind to pursue their passion in Auckland, New Zealand.  Stolen Spirits products are currently available in Australia, New Zealand, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee, with more states coming online soon.

Until the next newsletter!

Federico Hernández - The Rum Lab

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