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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.

The Rum Club – St Lucia Distillers Jul 05

With a recent staff change at Trailer Happiness, it would appear that there’s also been a change of approach to the Rum Club. So far so good, as not only was I pleasantly surprised last Friday to receive an email from the Rum Club advising of 4th July Rum Club, but I would personally say that lasts nights tasting session provided by Andrew Scutts on behalf of St Lucia Distillers has been one of my favourites so far.

Rum Club - St Lucia Distillers

Rum Club - St Lucia Distillers

For those not in the know, St Lucia Distillers distills and bottles a number of brands including but not limited to: Chairman’s Reserve, Elements Eight, Toz and Admiral Rodney. Of these, Chairman’s Reserve is probably the most recognisable brand to most as it’s available at several locations in the UK including the supermarket chain Waitrose. From comments being made last night by some of the Rum Club faithful, not only are the rums of St Lucia Distillers held in good regard, but they’re also considered good value for their quality at reasonable prices.

The evening started with a brief overview of the history of Saint Lucia and the St Lucia Distillers, along with a short geology lesson on the fertility of the island’s soil, due to the Qualibou volcano that helped shape the island. It was at this point that Andrew pointed out that the importance of the volcanic activity of the island was reflected on the bottles of Chairman’s Reserve, with its representation of Gos Piton and Petit Piton mountains in its logo.

Whether intentional or not, this led nicely onto our first tasting of the evening. That of the recently introduced Chairman’s Reserve Silver. A 3 year old, charcoal filtered white rum, bottled at 40% / 80 Proof. A blend of 90% column still rum and 10% pot still rum I found this rum light and smooth with a very subtle bite. More of a mixing rum, this was considered suitable for cocktails such as a Mojito and Cuba Libre.

This was followed by Chairman’s Reserve, which has been on the market for a while now. It’s a 3 – 5 year old golden rum, that has been bottled at 40% / 80 Proof and is a blend of approx 65% column still and 35% pot still. The higher blend of pot still gives the rum more character and taste, while remaining smooth and easy to drink either neat or mixed.

Finishing off the current range of Chairman’s Reserve, we sampled Chairman’s Reserve Spiced. This is a sweet and light spiced rum with aromas and tastes of oranges, cloves and cinnamon flavours. Still bottled at 40% / 80 Proof, this golden rum has been infused with the spices for a month in steel vats, giving it a very sweet and easy to drink nature.

Rum Club - Chairman's Reserve 1931

Rum Club - Chairman's Reserve 1931

Having considered myself privileged to try Chairman’s Reserve Silver rum before it goes on general sale in the UK, I felt doubly blessed when Andrew pulled out a prototype bottle of the soon to be released Chairman’s Reserve 1931 from his bag. Explaining that we were the first in the UK to even try this premium rum, I can say it was highlight of the night.

Chairman’s Reserve 1931 represents the best of the brand and commemorates the 80 year history of the St Lucia Distillers. Blended from 9 casks of 5 – 11 year old rum, 7 of which are American Oak Bourbon with the other 2 being Port, this rum has been bottled at a higher strength of 43% / 86 Proof. Strong, slightly dry with a long aftertaste, this rum will be limited to approximately 1000 cases a year with something like 100 – 200 cases reaching the shores of the UK. Andrew advised that each year the mix of rum casks will likely change, meaning that each year this limited edition rum will take on a slightly different taste.

If it wasn’t for the quality of the next rum, it would have been easy to think that following the Chairman’s Reserve 1931 would have been a tough act to follow. However, Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum in its decanter style bottle proved why it has been so highly regarded since its introduction. Bottled at 40% / 80 Proof, I found this 8 – 11 year old rum quite sweet for its age, with an aroma of caramel.

To finish the evening, we were introduced to Toz White rum, served as a Daiquiri. While I can’t comment on the rum directly, not having tasted it neat, I can say that this 5 – 8 year charcoal filtered rum made for a good Daiquiri. Toz White is finished off in Sherry casks, before being bottled at 40% / 80 Proof.

All in all a good night and one to remember, not least for trying two great new rums. So all that remains is to say my thanks to Max and Trailer Happiness for hosting the Rum Club and to Andrew Scutts and St Lucia Distillers for such a good evening. For those interested in joining the London Rum Club, please either visit the Rum Club website or pop into Trailer Happiness and speak to the bar staff.