"Got Rum?" Magazine
Rum in the News
The most recent and noteworthy headlines in the rum industry, written by Mike Kunetka and published monthly in the "Got Rum?" magazine. To share your news with our readers, please send an email to Mike@gotrum.com
2015 NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL SPIRITS COMPETITION
The New York International Spirits Competition prides itself as being a competition with TRADE ONLY judges comprised of buyers from the top retail stores, restaurant owners, cocktail bars, hotel beverage directors, distributors and importers. This year over 35 countries submitted almost 500 of the world’s best spirits, a double digit increase over last year. Gold Medals for rum went to Balcones Texas Rum and Damoiseau 110 Blanc. Silver Medals were awarded to Afrohead Aged Dark Rum XO 15 Year, Ballast Point Three Sheets Barrel Aged Rum, Bluebird Distilling Sugarcane Rum, CH Distillery Rum, Hotel Tango Romeo Rum, Key West Rumbunctious Gold Rum, Mezan Guyana 2005, Old House Vineyards, Ryno Rum Amber, Stillwrights Bourbon Barrel Aged Rum, and Wilderness Trail Distillery Harvest Rum. Bronze Medals were awarded to 3Howls Rum, AstraLuna Distillery Cape Cod Great White Rum, Batiste Rum ECOISTE, Bayou Rum Select, Mezan Panama 2006, Ron Cihuatan Solera 8 Gran Reserva, Sangre Distilleries Wet Mountain Spiced Rum and Shellback Rum Spiced.
International Awards went to Damoiseau for Caribbean Rum Distillery of the Year, Mezan for the Caribbean Rum Producer of the Year, Rio de Engenho for Cachaca of the Year - Brazil, Afrohead for Rum Producer of the Year – Trinidad & Tobago and Ron Cihuatan Solera 8 for Rum of the Year El Salvador.
Individual Domestic Awards were awarded to Shellback Rum for Best Value Rum of the Year,Louisiana Spirits for Louisiana Rum Distillery of the Year, Astraluna Distillery for Massachusetts Rum Distillery of the Year, Sangre Distilleries for Colorado Rum Distillery of the Year and Old House Vineyards for Virginia Rum Distillery of the Year. For a complete list of all awards go to: https://nyispiritscompetition.com/2015-winners/
ASTRALUNA BRANDS DISTILLERY
AstraLuna is an imaginary word deriving from Latin. It embodies the limitless connection between the moon and the stars. Well, the stars have certainly aligned for AstraLuna. As mentioned above they were chosen the Best Rum Distillery in Massachusetts at the New York Spirits Competition and their Cape Cod Great White Rum won a Bronze Medal. Great White was introduced in April of this year and is made from the purest of molasses, brown sugar and their proprietary rum yeast. The wash is distilled on “The Duchess”, a custom engineered still by Vendome Copper and Brass Works and then bottled at 86 proof. AstraLuna also makes Crook Jaw’s Cape Cod Amber Rum which is aged in once used bourbon barrels. On the horizon is Whydah Cape Cod Dark Rum.
CAPTAIN MORGAN RUM
The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Justice and Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs are investigating Diageo USVI for allegedly shipping rum to its Captain Morgan facility on St. Croix, while claiming it was bringing in molasses to make rum. On November 10th, the Virgin Island Consortium reported that “Between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Monday, Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, along with Department of Justice officials descended on the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier located on the south shore of this island and west of Tropical Shipping, to take samples from 12 tanks of what’s supposed to be molasses used to produce rum at Diageo USVI’s Captain Morgan Rum Distillery.” Diageo’s response is that they are experimenting with a new distillation process on St. Croix that incorporates a “sugar cane intermediate” that would be coming from a source off island. At stake here is the 30 year, $2.7 billion dollar tax incentive package that Diageo negotiated to move Captain Morgan from Puerto Rico to St. Croix. The Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research organization, said that the package included a new $165 million dollar distillery, “market support payments” to keep molasses prices low, government funding for 35% of Captain Morgan’s advertising and a 90% tax break.
BAYOU RUM AND STOLI USA
Louisiana Spirits and New York-based Stoli Group US A announced the start of a long-term partnership. As of January 1, 2016, the multi - year agreement will see Stoli Group USA become the exclusive national distributor of the award winning Bayou Rum and its family of America’s Rum, and will enable the Bayou Rum brand to grow internationally in the future. “In just two years, Bayou Rum has received more than 65 awards and accolades,” said Trey Litel, co-founder and president, Louisiana Spirits, LLC. “Our rum is handcrafted from Louisiana sugarcane and distilled and bottled at the largest private rum distillery in the U.S. The opportunity to partner with a powerful, brand- focused organization like Stoli Group USA will help us achieve our long term vision of establishing Bayou Rum as the leading American Rum on the market.” The Bayou Rum family consists of four offerings: Bayou Select Rum, Bayou Silver, Bayou Spiced, and Bayou Satsuma Rum Liqueur.
Gubba Rum’s recipe for success was inspired by the native rum that founder Steve Gubb and his wife tasted on a trip to St. Martin in 2011. Determined to bring “The Allure of the Caribbean” to American shores, Gubb returned home and soon partnered with the award winning Dancing Pines Distillery of Colorado to create an unforgettable, handcrafted pure cane rum infused with natural ingredients. Batches of Gubba Gold and Gubba Silver, both 70 proof, go through a six-month infusion—the Silver with real coconut, and the gold-medal Gold with real vanilla. Neither contains any extracts and both are in the process of being certified as organic spirits.
Kraken Black Spiced Rum will open a black Christmas boutique this month at 186 Hackney Road in East London. The clever shop, called Think Ink Pines, will offer what it claims are the world’s first real black trees, mistletoe, wreaths, holly and Poinsettia. Visitors will be able to make their way through a world of black firs, with a festive Kraken Black Spiced Rum Bar to be found nestled within the trees, where they can enjoy Kraken Christmas Cocktails like a Perfect Storm, an Old Kraken, Squid Bite and a Black Expresso. Customers will also be able to purchase “dangerously dark Kraken Christmas cards”.
Don Q’s Passion, a passion- fruit flavored rum, is finally getting broader distribution in the United States. Don Q infuses a premium rum, aged 1 to 1 1/2 years, with the natural essential flavor and extraction of real passion fruit, making a flavored rum that stands alone, as well as it mixes with pineapple, guava or peach nectar. Passion recently received high marks from The Tasting Panel Magazine, where the reviewer said “ the oils from the fruit and passion flower elements combine beautifully for aromatics, taste and texture.”
SPARROW COCKTAIL BAR
Footman Hospitality, the folks behind the successful Bangers & Lace and The Betty, have opened Sparrow, a rum-centric bar in Chicago’s Gold Coast area. Footman has taken an old art-deco apartment building lobby bar space and updates it into a classic, yet casual watering hole with a full list of rum focus drinks, created by Peter Vestinos. The focus here is on old fashion rum drinks; think pre-WWII Cuba, rather than Tiki. Enjoy a La Floridita, an El Presidente or an AirMail. In years past, many apartment buildings in Chicago had a small bar in their lobby, where tenants and friends could enjoy a drink after work. Sparrow is hoping to recreate that atmosphere.
DEACON GILES RUM
The story of Deacon Giles was originally written as a temperance tract in Salem around 1835 by a young firebrand minister named George Cheever. Giles was an impious man, distilling rum on the Sabbath, paying his employees with liquor and selling bibles from his counting room. After his employees finally walked out in anger, he unknowingly hired a gang of demons to operate his distillery. The demons decided to play a trick on Old Deacon Giles, secretly branding his barrels with messages of damnation that glowed with an unholy light when tapped. This story inspired Ian Hunter and Jesse Brenneman to revive the art of distilling in a town once rich in both trade and spirits, but sadly devoid of distilleries for the last 100 years. Liquid Damnation Rum starts with a blend of blackstrap and fancy molasses to create the type of wash the Old Deacon might have made himself. From careful fermentation using ale yeasts, to artful cuts made on the still, the distinctive process creates a well –balanced rum that is not too sweet and not too dry, with a hint of pepper and banana up front, and notes of caramel and vanilla in the finish.
The Legendary Alnwick Rum is based on a unique old recipe first produced in Alnwick Brewery Co. over 90 years ago. Lost for over 20 years, the recipe for this distinguished dark rum was rediscovered by Ian Linsley of Alnwick, son of the last Managing Director of the Alnwick Brewing Co. The aged Guyanan and Jamaican rums which give Alnwick Rum its distinctive full round character are expertly blended in Holland and the resulting Alnwick-approved mixture is bottled in Scotland. Alnwick has added two new blends to their portfolio, Golden Spiced Rum and Percy Warmer. Golden Spiced is a rich blend of carefully selected rums, mixed spices, citrus, and exotic fruits. It has a deep dark flavor of spice and orange, with a hint of ginger and black pepper. Percy Warmer is a unique and warming blend of Alnwick Rum and Lindisfarne ginger wine, a perfect toddy for the cold months.
Last December I wrote about Malahat Spirits starting up in San Diego. Experimentation seems to be the key element in the development of all their products. Using their small experimental still, they distilled several dozen combinations of various molasses and different yeasts to develop their white rum. The winning recipe includes multiple types of molasses and an unexpected strain of yeast. A similar experimental approach took five months to develop the right combination of herbs and spices for their Spiced Rum, which won a Gold Medal at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. More experimenting, this time with various gingers, came up with perfect root that offered both sweetness and a touch of heat for their Ginger Rum. The latest offering is their Black Tea Rum, an interesting combination of bold, black tea leaves and rum. It promises to be a great summer refresher, possible mixed with Lemonade for an Adult Arnold Palmer. Malahat offers tastings Friday and Saturday, from noon to 7:00 PM. For $15.00 you get to taste the four rums mentioned above, as well as two other experiments.
Being a collector (some say a hoarder) of rum and rum-related books, I highly recommend Cuban Cocktails. From the renowned mixologists behind Cuban rum bar Cienfuegos and Death & Co. comes this spirited collection of 100 recipes that celebrate Cuba’s rich history and culture. But Cuban Cocktails offers more than just a collection of delectable recipes. It captures the tropical elegance and unfiltered energy of old Cuba, brimming with beautiful, evocative images of the drinks and the places where they came to life. Features shed fascinating light on the country’s cocktail history, its legendary bars, and the famous cantineros who ran them, while notes, tips, and tricks make it easy to create a tantalizing taste of the once-forbidden Caribbean island.
LIQUID ASSET BRANDS, SPIRIT INVESTMENT PARTNERS & STOLEN SPIRITS
Chicago-based Liquid Asset Brands and Spirits Investment Partners announced that they have made a US $14 million investment in Stolen Spirits, for a majority stake in the business. STOLEN , an independent spirits company founded in Auckland, New Zealand, currently produces four internationally awarded innovative rums, including the world’s first smoked rum. The partnership with LAB/SIP provides expertise and significant growth capital for expansion of the Company’s portfolio, including a smoked whiskey, several unique rum releases and other new products under development.