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Archive for July, 2011

Kanaloa Rum Club – Gosling’s Rum Jul 27

Kanaloa Rum ClubWhile London basked in the light of yet another overcast summer’s evening, a small crowd gathered under the shelter of Kanaloa’s Tiki Club, as a Dark ‘n’ Stormy evening brewed.

Playing host to Gosling’s Rum and their UK distributors Love Drinks, the bar tenders at Kanaloa Tropical Island Bar & Grill kicked off the second Kanaloa Rum Club with Bermuda’s national cocktail, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy.

One of only two cocktails to have been trademarked, Gosling’s Dark ‘n’ Stormy is a simple but effective drink, being 2 measures of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum over ice, topped with ginger beer and garnished with a wedge of lime. Bringing their own style to this classic cocktail, the Kanaloa bar tenders also added a splash of fresh lime juice, prior to the ginger beer, resulting in a drink that in their own words is a “tiki classic”.

Our guest speaker for the evening was Malcolm Gosling Jr (pictured right), who was on the Kanaloa Rum Club - Malcolm Gosling Jr - Rum Tastinglast day of his UK trip to share his love and passion for his family’s business. A family business that has been around since 1806. Today, Gosling’s Rum has become part of the national heritage of the small island of Bermuda. A vital ingredient in Bermuda’s national dish, Fish Chowder, along with it being essential to several of Bermuda’s cocktails, Gosling’s Rum is even used to christen new buildings on the island.

With a history as rich and full of character as the rum itself, Gosling’s Rum has been produced since 1863, where after 3 years of experimentation with blending imported Caribbean rums, their distinctive black rum was born. Originally sold from the barrel, due to a lack of glass manufacturing on the island, it wasn’t until World War I that Gosling’s Rum was sold from reclaimed champagne bottles. Using black sealing wax to seal the corks in place, it wasn’t long before people started asking for the “Black Seal” rum.

Using a secret blend of Caribbean rums, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum uses rums aged from 3-6 years old, which are then blended together with a small amount of molasses to give that rich dark colour, before being bottled at 40% ABV / 80 Proof.

Not surprisingly, the evening’s tasting started with their signature Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. For me this rum hits the tongue with a rich smoothness that finishes with a slight bite. With plenty of character and flavour, I see this rum as not only great for cocktail mixing, but also for sipping over ice. (With a full review coming over the next few weeks, I will be putting both of these ideas to the test.)

Next up was the latest edition to the Gosling’s range of rum, Gosling’s Gold Rum. Created in 2005, after 100 years of experimentation, this blend of 2-5 year old rums, is lighter in colour and taste than the Black Seal Rum and I very much see it as a mixing rum. Also bottled at 40% ABV / 80 Proof, this amber coloured rum is still smooth, but doesn’t have quite as much depth of  character as its older brother, the Black Seal Rum.

Kanaloa Rum Club Gosling's Family Reserve Originally kept for the Gosling family themselves, our next tasting was of the Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum and I for one am so pleased that they decided to share this little gem. Taking the original Gosling’s Black Seal Rum blend and then aging them in charred oak barrels for a further 16 and 20 years, this 40% ABV / 80 Proof rum has a rich deep amber colour, with a chocolaty aroma. Incredibly smooth to sip, this is without a doubt one of my favourite rums.

Limited to 5000 cases every year, each bottle comes in its own distinctive wooden box and is individually numbered and signed by Malcolm Gosling, the president of Gosling’s Export (Bermuda) Limited and Malcolm Gosling Jr’s father.

To finish off the evening we were treated to Gosling’s 151 Proof Rum, which with a bit of help from one of Kanaloa’s bar tenders was proved to be extremely flammable and highly suited for fire breathing. Bottled at 75.5% ABV / 151 Proof, this overproof rum uses the same blend of 3-6 year old rums as Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.

Clearly an overproof rum of this strength is going to be strong to the taste, but where Gosling’s 151 Proof Rum succeeds is that it also has retained a lot of the depth and character of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum as well.

 With the tasting over, the rest of the evening was spent catching up with some of the Rum Club faithful, chatting with Malcolm and the Love Drinks team and enjoying “The Bermuda Triangle” – one of the cocktails that Stuart Hudson and his team at Kanaloa had put together for May’s National Bermuda Day celebrations. A blend of Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum, bitters and falernum served over ice, this cocktail truly is an expression of the best that Gosling’s Rum offers.

So my thanks to Malcolm Gosling Jr for his informative and tasty presentation, Kirsty and Joel of Love Drinks and to Stuart and the Kanaloa bar team for a great evening and for allowing me to get an even better understanding of what Gosling’s Rum has to offer.

Although the date of the next Kanaloa Rum Club is still to be confirmed, it is likely to be Wednesday the 10th August 2011. It is however definite that it will be featuring the excellent El Dorado Rum, presented by their UK Ambassador, Stefanie Holt and will be an evening not to be missed.

For further details about the Kanaloa Rum club, please email or if you’re passing by, simply pop in to Kanaloa Tropical Island Bar & Grill and ask the bar staff.

Rum Reviews… Not that you’d have noticed… Jul 24

Appleton Estate 8 Year Old RumAs some of you may have noticed, that what has been lacking of late is any actual reviews of any of the rums listed on the site. There’s been roundup’s of Rum Shows and Rum Clubs, as well as details on bottles and distilleries, but nothing that I would really call a proper review.

It’s my own fault really, starting a website with plans of world dominance and delusions of grandeur, I set upon the mammoth task of adding every bottle all at once, be it Rum, Cachaça, Tequila or Vodka. I must have had too many of something when making that decision, as after all this time, there are still gaps that need to filled in, such as details on some of the distilleries, the History of Cachaça and basically every bottle review.

So after a recent reality check, Rum has taken point, Vodka’s fallen off the wagon and there’s been a number of other tweaks of late, in order to bring the site more together and easier to navigate. However, as anyone who’s tried writing a website will confirm, it takes time to write this stuff, but I’m also aware that anyone who might consider being a regular reader wants to see regular reviews, news and updates. So here’s the plan:

Along with playing catch up with all of the missing content, there will be regular sneak-peaks and reports on both the Notting Hill and Kanaloa Rum Club’s, news about new or interesting rums, upcoming tastings and Rum Shows including my take on the day and of course the all important Rum Reviews.

As well as tasting observations about sipping the rum in it’s neat form, each rum will also be tasted over ice, as well as making the base of four classic rum cocktails; Cuba Libre, Daiquiri, Mai Tai and Mojito. There may even be a fifth cocktail, inspired by the rum under review, but that will be determined on an individual basis. To round off each review, the rum will be given its rating on my very own non-scientific good to bad scale of; Rum Heaven, Sipping on the Beach,  Great Mixer to Sip, Cocktail Mixer and No Comment.

To start off the Rum Reviews, I will be looking at Appleton Estate V/X, the 8 Year Old Appleton Estate Reserve and the 12 Year Old Appleton Estate Extra rums. Why Appleton Estate? Well partly because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed finishing a bottle of the V/X recently with my usual Rum and Diet Coke’s, but also because of the generosity of the nice folk at Appleton Estate for sending me over a bottle of the Reserve and Extra rums for review. So lookout over the next couple of weeks for full reviews and hopefully a couple of Appleton Estate inspired cocktail recipes.

The Drink Show Live 2011 – Rum Roundup Jul 20

The Drink Show LiveArriving at London’s Vinopolis on the South Bank and organised by The Drink Shop, The Drink Show Live aimed to bring the curious and enthusiast drinkers of London together to “explore a selection of desirable, innovative and limited edition drinks.”

For the rum drinkers among us, that meant St Lucia’s Distillers with their Chairman’s Reserve and Toz White Gold Rum brands, Bermuda’s Gosling’s Rum, Venezuela’s Ron Santa Teresa and the Dominican Republic’s Ron Atlantico.Tasting Shots

Hosted in the evening of Friday the 8th July, as well as all day on Saturday the 9th July, the show consisted of a number of spirits, wine and beer companies promoting their products. Alongside the opportunity to try these drinks, a number of masterclasses were held over both days. These included; The Gin Revival, The Secrets of Scotch, Tequila Travesty and Housing the House Party to name but a few.

With free entry, the currency of the show was tasting tokens (£10 for 16 tokens), which once purchased could be exchanged for masterclasses (5 x £1 tokens) or tastings of the various beverages (1 token per tasting). For those who wanted to attend multiple masterclasses and not worry about the tokens for tastings, there were VIP wristbands, for a fixed price of £30.

Andy Pearson in Mexican SombreroUnable to attend on the Friday evening, I headed to Saturday’s show intending to explore the rums, as well as attend the Gin, Liqueur, Scotch, Tequila and Home Cocktail Party masterclasses. I cannot deny I would have liked to have seen a rum masterclass, but you can’t have it all.

Our host for several of the classes was the award-winning mixologist and TV presenter Andy Peason (pictured left), who has been described as “The Jamie Oliver of the bar world.” Bringing his own zany style of presentation to the proceedings, I’d like to thank Andy for his fun and edutaining classes. I’d also like to give a mention to Diageo‘s Whisky Ambassador Colin Dunn for his brilliant masterclass on Scotch Whisky.

The day also proved useful for my love of mixology, with the opportunities try several liqueurs, such as Grand Marnier, Chartreuse, Drambuie and Chase Marmalade Vodka, as well as the new Black Cherry flavoured Bourbon, Red Stag from Jim Beam. Although I haven’t had a chance to give it a go, I can’t help but wonder what a Cherry Cola cocktail would taste like, with the Cherry Brandy being replaced by Red Stag…

Having started my day at the Chairman’s ReserveChariman's Reserve Rum Stand Rum Shack, I took the opportunity to sample the excellent Chairman’s Reserve Spiced and Toz White Gold rums. Both rums are bottled at 40% ABV / 80 Proof, with Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum being a sweet and light spiced rum with the aroma and taste of oranges, cloves and cinnamon flavours. Toz White Gold Rum is a smooth 3 year old, charcoal filtered white rum.

Being the third chance to enjoy these drinks  in less than a week, I think poor Andrew Scutts must have thought I was stalking him or something.  Along with the samples of rum on offer, Andrew was promoting the use of Chairman’s Reserve Rum as the base of a premium Mojito.

Next up for the rums was Ron Atlantico, Ron Atlanticofrom the Dominican Republic. Having tasted this only 3 days earlier at the Imbibe Live show, in quick succession with several other rums, I knew how special this rum was and couldn’t wait to get another chance to savour the taste.

Using three stages of aging and blending to create an exceptional and sweet tasting rum, Atlantico’s master blender takes a selection of their finest small batch aged rums and blends them together in private casks. The private cask blend is then aged further to produce a mellower and more complex rum. In the final stage the solera method is used to bring the age blend up to 15 to 25 years. Bottled at 40% ABV / 80 Proof, this is simply a great rum, that you really should seek out.

Gosling's RumOnly having recently picked up a bottle of Bermuda’s Gosling Black Seal Rum, I decided that next up should be the Gosling’s Rum stand. Not having opened up my own bottle as yet, this was my first chance to taste this dark, rich and full-bodied rum and it didn’t disappoint. It was also a chance for me to meet Malcolm Gosling Jr, whose family business for seven generations has been making rum.

Malcolm talked me through my tasting of the four rums that make up the range of Gosling’s Rum: Gosling’s Gold Rum, Golsing’s Black Seal Rum, Gosling’s Black Seal 151 Proof Rum and lastly the Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum.

Starting with Gosling’s Gold Rum, a light golden rum, that is equally suitable for mixing or sipping. It is the base of Gosling’s Bright ‘n Sunny cocktail. This was followed by “The Spirit of Bermuda” – Gosling Black Seal Rum. This dark rum is the base of Bermuda’s national cocktail, the Dark ‘n Stormy and comes with a rich and highly flavoured taste. Like Gosling’s Gold Rum, it is bottled at 40% ABV / 80 Proof.

Next up was the Gosling’s Black Seal 151 Proof Rum, which is based on the same recipe as the Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, but comes with a much higher alcohol content, of 75.5% ABV / 151 Proof. What is surprising about this rum is how much flavour and character is retained, considering its strength.

To finish Gosling’s Rum, I was introduced to Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum. Until recently, this rum was kept for the family’s personal enjoyment, but fortunately for us, they have released this exceptional 40% ABV / 80 Proof, sipping rum for us to enjoy. And enjoy it I did, so much so that when I finished talking to Malcolm, I popped round to The Whisky Exchange shop and bought a bottle.

Ron Santa TeresaLast up for the rums of the show, was Ron Santa Teresa. I knew of Santa Teresa, but had not knowingly had a chance to taste any of their range. Available to taste at the show, were four of their rums; Santa Teresa 1796, Santa Teresa Añejo, Santa Teresa Arakú and Santa Teresa Rhum Orange.

Being a fan of the Venezuelan rums that I’ve already had the pleasure of trying, I approached the Santa Teresa range with high hopes. Not as sweet as some of the other rums at the show that day, Santa Teresa 1796 and Santa Teresa Añejo are both smooth rums with good depth and character. The other aspect that they both share is their strength, at 40% ABV / 80 Proof.

Where they differ is in their aging process. Santa Teresa Añejo is aged for up to 5 years in oak barrels and casks and is blended to produce its smooth character. On the other hand, Santa Teresa 1796 is crafted using the Solera method, with rums as old as 25 years blended together with younger añejos to create this premium sipping rum.

In addition to the traditional rums, Ron Santa Teresa also produces two flavoured rums. Namely the 28% ABV / 56 Proof, coffee infused Santa Teresa Arakú and the 40% ABV / 80 Proof, Orange infused Santa Teresa Rhum Orange. Both offer intense flavours and are suitable for drinking over ice or as an ingredient in a cocktail. Although untested, I’m thinking that Santa Teresa Arakú would make a good substitute for Kahlua in an Orgasm and Santa Teresa Rhum Orange would go well in a Margarita.

So with all of the rum tastings savoured and the masterclasses I wanted to attend finished, my highlights of the day had to be tasting the delicious Ron Atlantico again, trying (before buying) the sublime Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum, picking up a bottle of Toz White Gold Rum and being entertained by Andy Peason. Let’s hope that next year, The Drink Show Live brings us more rum, but in the meantime, I’d like to offer my thanks to everyone that helped make for a great show.