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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: rum

Our favourite specialist bars for specific spirits

Whether you have a certain spirit that you know you love above all others, or you want to jump in at the deep end of flavour discovery of a new…

Whether you have a certain spirit that you know you love above all others, or you want to jump in at the deep end of flavour discovery of a new tipple, we’ve rounded up a few awesome specialist bars that are pros in specific spirits!

They say variety is the spice of life, but on the flipside, there’s also the conundrum of being the jack of all trades and master of none. Well, these bars are each the master of one chosen spirit. In the words of Wham!, if you’re gonna do it, do it right.

When it’s safe to go back out to all the wonderful places the world has to offer, make sure you have this list to hand to guide you through the glorious world of spirits!

specialist bars

Hacha

What? Agave spirits
Where? London

Tequila and mezcal line the back bar of Hacha over in East London, which is also home to the legendary Mirror Margarita. Trust me, forget about any misgivings you’ve had about Tequila in the past, it’s like no other Margarita you’ve tried before. There’s a selection of 25 spirits behind the bar, and while you may have been expecting that number to be higher, when a bottle is finished a new one takes its place. Now you’ll never get bored of the same old choices! What’s pretty cool about this place is that owner Deano Moncrieffe (who was previously a Diageo Tequila ambassador) pairs different nibbles with the ever-changing selection of agave spirits. Some come with Monster Munch, others come with Toblerone. It’s all-round awesome. 

specialist bars

Smugglers Cove

What? Rum
Where? San Francisco

Opened in 2009, Smugglers Cove is everything you’d expect from a bar that specialises in rum. The three-story tiki bar boasts the largest rum selection in the country (over 550 behind the bar at one time), and it’s a place that really embraces part of rum’s identity with waterfalls, lots of nautical paraphernalia and an entirely wooden interior. Meanwhile, the cocktail list takes into account the centuries of history behind the spirit. You’ll find both classic and more contemporary serves, and one that has made quite the name for itself is the Smuggler’s Rum Barrel, a punch made with 15 different rums and 20 different juices!

(Smugglers Cove isn’t currently open because of COVID, but be sure to take a trip over there when it’s safe!)

specialist bars

Bobby Gin 

What? Gin
Where? Barcelona

Well, the clue is in the name here, and you’ll find Gin Club in the home of the Gin Tonica, Spain! Specifically, Barcelona. At Bobby Gin you’ll find those classic fishbowl glasses, with almost countless numbers of gins, tonics and garnishes to play with. With a sign on the wall stating ‘the perfect Gin & Tonic doesn’t exist’ (well, it actually says ‘el gintonic perfecto no existe’, but I thought I’d save you the trouble of translating), though you  may as well start here to try and find it!

specialist bars

Black Rock 

What? Whisky
Where? London

Now, choosing just one whisky bar was a near impossible mission. But, finally, Black Rock emerged as a winner, boasting both London and Bristol locations! Aside from the truly jaw-dropping selection of whiskies you’re faced with (over 250), the London site even has the city’s first whisky hotel, along with a blending room where you can take home your very own creation. It’s a brilliant place for people who want to explore the spirit more as well as seasoned drinkers, because each bottle is clearly labelled with one of five flavour profiles and its price. If you’re really stuck, the clever chaps behind the bar will certainly be able to help you out. Whisky for all!

specialist bars

Le Syndicat Paris 

What? Cognac
Where? Paris

Le Syndicat only stocks French spirits, so it’s not technically a Cognac bar per se, though you will be greeted with a lot of brandies among a scattering of absinthe and eau de vie. You’ll find DJs on the weekend playing mainly hip-hop (with half of the artists played probably sporting their own Cognac brand), French food and French twists on classic cocktails. If you don’t just want to try out the cocktails, you can treat your taste buds to a Cognac tasting, too!

specialist bars

Spirits Bar Sunface Tokyo

What? For when you’re feeling lucky
Where? Tokyo

Here’s a fun one. Over in Shinjuku, Spirits Bar Sunface doesn’t actually have a drinks menu. They serve brilliant cocktails, make no mistake, but instead of you choosing a drink (how normal that would be), you have a chat with the folks behind the bar and then your drink will be made to suit you. We’ve heard that it sports quite an extensive collection of Tequila, though its back bar spans quite a range of spirits! The place itself is just as unique, with its centrepiece a fabulous tree trunk which serves as the bar. It’s a bit like a tarot card reading, but with cocktails. Let us know what you get!

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New Arrival of the Week: Mad City Rum

This month we’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with a rum that thinks it’s a gin from those booze innovators at Foxhole Spirits. Sound a bit crazy?…

This month we’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with a rum that thinks it’s a gin from those booze innovators at Foxhole Spirits. Sound a bit crazy? Well, it is called Mad City.

One of the biggest trends in spirits in the last few years is the blurring of previously discrete categories. For example, gin starts to take on some of the characteristics of whisky after ageing in bourbon casks. Our new arrival, Mad City, is a flavoured rum, no doubt about that, but its clean bright flavours, which we think will appeal to gin lovers in particular, are a world away from sweet spiced rum

The man behind it is James Oag-Cooper. The company was originally set up in conjunction with Sam Linter from Bolney Estate, one of England’s best vineyards, but  is now independent. The team has form when it comes to this sort of genre-bending. Their first product was the Foxhole Gin made with a grappa-like spirit distilled from leftovers from wine production. This was followed last year by HYKE, another gin which strayed into brandy territory as the base spirit is made from surplus grapes. 

Oag-Cooper explains: “Our goal has always been to prove that using sustainably sourced, surplus materials can create spirits better than those that use grown for, single-purpose materials. With Mad City we’ve been able to apply our skill working with botanicals to rum and demonstrate expertise in a different category. We believe that the style of Mad City, with no sugar added post distillation, puts it in a category all of its own. The result is fine and balanced, absolutely delicious, and thoroughly satisfying to drink. This isn’t a flavoured rum or a spiced rum. It’s Mad City”.

The label is by Bristol-based urban artist, Sled-One. Pretty crazy

The base spirit used to make Mad City is packed with flavour. No wonder, as it includes pot still rums from three distilleries in Jamaica: Worthy Park, Clarendon and Hampden Estate; column still rum from the Diamond distillery in Guyana; pot still from Consuelo Estate in the Dominican Republic and finally some column still spirit from the West Indies distillery in Barbados. All of these are unaged. 

Oag-Cooper told us: “The approach was the same as for HYKE & Foxhole Gin.” It’s about matching the botanicals to flavours in the spirit. He continued: “The development process involved lots of blending of rums and botanicals, but the final production method once we had the exact flavour profile dialled down is just like a gin; we add all of the botanicals together, macerate and distil through an Arnold Holstein hybrid still, before cutting with natural spring water.” The botanical list is long: coffee, coconut, papaya, cherry, lime peel, sweet and bitter orange, rosemary, coriander seed, allspice, cassia bark, green and black cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, cacao nibs, ginger root, tonka bean, molasses, liquorice root, lapsang souchong, cubeb, hibiscus tea, and vetiver root. Phew! It can’t have been easy getting that line up to harmonise especially with such characterful rums.

The coconut, coffee and molasses aside, you would not be surprised to find these botanicals in a gin, and indeed the profile is quite like a gin. The spicing is very subtle and elegantly done, first sip you think it might be gin but hold the front door, there’s no juniper and then there’s pineapple, chocolate and coconut with grassy and citrus notes with warm baking spices. It’s extremely elegant and has a sweetness about it though without any added sugar.

The big question is then how do you drink it? With gin, everyone knows what they are doing, mix it with tonic, make a Martini, stick it in a Negroni. That’s why gin is so loved because it’s so adaptable while always remaining distinctive. But what do you do with this botanical rum? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that it does go with tonic water making a sort of G&T that isn’t a G&T. It’s also great in other classic gin drinks like a Tom Collins or indeed a Martini; the latter worked particularly well-made half and half with dry vermouth. Naturally, it’s right at home in a Mojito or Daiquiri. Mad City suggests adding basil and acacia honey to the latter for “a mad twist on a classic”. They’ve also come up with a Hard Seltzer made with coconut water, fizzy water and orange zest. Very simple and refreshing. And a take on the rum and ginger with a little added Italian vermouth. See here for the full recipes. 

Treat it like a white rum or a gin, and really you can’t go wrong. We’ve been told time and time again that rum is the new gin. Hell, we’ve been saying ourselves more than once. It hasn’t quite happened yet but if there’s any rum that’s doing to tempt the gin drinker, Mad City is it.

Mad City rum is now available from Master of Malt.

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New Arrival of the Week: Husk Pure Cane

Our New Arrival of the Week is something a bit different. Say hello to Husk Pure Cane, an unaged Australian Agricole made on a family-owned farm distillery. It was a…

Our New Arrival of the Week is something a bit different. Say hello to Husk Pure Cane, an unaged Australian Agricole made on a family-owned farm distillery.

It was a family holiday to the French Caribbean that sparked Paul Messenger’s love of Agricole rum and prompted him to build Australia’s first and only Agricole distillery, Husk. Located on the family farm nestled in the green caldera on the north bank of the Tweed River at Tumbulgum, a town in northern New South Wales, Australia, the distillery is run by Messenger and his wife Mandy, plus daughters Harriet, Edwina and Claudia. It’s probably best known for producing Ink Gin.

The majority of the output from the distillery, which was completed in 2019 after a long and difficult construction complicated by the most devastating flood in 100 years as an aftermath of cyclone Debbie, is Agricole rum. This includes Husk Spiced Bam Bam, a three-to-four-year-old Agricole rum flavoured with wattleseed and native ginger, both which grow wild on the farm. It’s recipe also includes mandarin, orange peel, cinnamon quills, vanilla beans and a sprinkle of sea salt. The line-up also features Husk Triple Oak, a premium sipping Agricole rum that was matured in ex-Port, ex-bourbon and new American oak.  

Husk Pure Cane

The Messenger family at their farm and distillery

The brand’s signature product, however, is Husk Cane Rum, which the family describes as being “the most pure expression of our region”. It can only be made from freshly crushed cane juice, so its production is restricted to the harvest season from August to November. Once harvested, the sugar cane is transported to a mini sugar mill designed and built specifically to make rum. Here it is immediately crushed and transferred to the fermentation tanks for inoculation. “We are farmers first, distillers second. This means we make rum from the finest quality, freshly crushed cane juice grown on our farm,” says Messenger, who continues to oversee the distilling and every aspect of the distillery. “Drawing inspiration from the traditional, our production methods were designed to complement our provenance and local cane varieties and to suit the Australian palate.”

Fermentation starts with a special strain of yeast which is propagated onsite over 48 hours prior to pitching. To best control fermentation, closed, jacketed beer fermenters are employed, as well as an intelligent cooling system that maintains the temperature of the brew at 32-34˚C. The brew is fermented for 100 hours, quite a long time, and produces a fruity, nutty wash that is then distilled in a 6,000-litre Scottish Forsyth still which arrived on the farm back in 2018. It was built in Rothes, Scotland to the brand’s specifications that were drawn up over six years of experimenting, travelling, tasting and learning. At the time of writing, it’s the only Forsyth still to venture into the Antipodes. Husk Distillers even went so far as to build its own dephlegmator (a device that sits at the stop of the still to encourage more reflux) to allow more control over the production process, which is led by Quentin Brival. The head distiller and production manager, Brival hails from French Martinique, the home of Agricole rum, and serves as Husk’s fountain of knowledge of all things Agricole. 

Husk Pure Cane

Head distiller Quentin Brival in the sugar cane fields

Husk practices a sustainable approach to production that the family has termed ‘full circle distilling’. This essentially means most of the waste made at the distillery gets put back into the farm. Around 30 cattle on-site eat the stillage, spent botanicals, cane tops and the high-protein yeast left behind after distilling. The family are also the caretakers of 12 hectares of remnant Gondwana rainforest, which is at the rear of the farm. Any leftover bagasse (what is left behind after the sugar cane is juiced) that the cattle can’t eat is used as mulch for the rainforest regeneration plantings dotted across the property, or used as a compost base. 

Husk Pure Cane was bottled at 40% ABV without any chill-filtration or added flavourings or colouring. What you will see on the back of each bottle, however, is the specific cane variety used and the harvest year as seasonal variations are reflected clearly in this style of unaged Agricoles. Fans of provenance and terroir will appreciate this. It has exactly the kind of profile you want from a good Agricole rum: it’s vibrant, grassy and fresh, and makes for a good introduction to this beautiful and unique style if you’re not familiar.

Husk Pure Cane

Husk Pure Cane

“When you taste our rum, you will discover a body and character unlike traditional molasses rums. This sparkling, crystal-clear liquid exhibits an unparalleled freshness with herbal and floral aromas, light and fruity with sweet sugar cane and citrus notes and a well-balanced, pastry finish – a world away from many one-dimensional, almost vodka-like molasses-based white rums,” Messenger says. 

If the taste of an Agricole rum is a little overwhelming to you initially, then you’ll be pleased to know that Pure Cane was designed to be mixed. Some simple, refreshing serves you can try are classic rum cocktails like a Mojito or Daiquiri, while the traditional Brazilian Caipirinha or classic Caribbean Ti Punch are also good options. Otherwise, you can keep things simple and mix with your Husk Pure Cane with soda water and a squeeze of lime. 

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Five minutes with… Elwyn Gladstone from Hotel Starlino

Today, we talk to the marketing guru behind such brands as Sailor Jerry rum, Hendrick’s and, most recently, Malfy Gin. His latest venture, Hotel Starlino, aims to bring Italian aperitivos…

Today, we talk to the marketing guru behind such brands as Sailor Jerry rum, Hendrick’s and, most recently, Malfy Gin. His latest venture, Hotel Starlino, aims to bring Italian aperitivos to a whole new audience. If anyone can do it, Gladstone can. 

You probably haven’t heard of Elwyn Gladstone but will have drunk something he has worked on. He’s not a distiller or a blender, instead he’s the person who supplied the marketing magic behind brands including Sailor Jerry, Hendrick’s gin and Kraken Rum. He worked in-house at global multinationals before forming his own company  Biggar & Leith which had a notable hit with Malfy Gin which launched in 2017. Last year, he sold the brand to Pernod Ricard. So you could say that Gladstone has the midas touch when it comes to drinks. We were particularly excited, therefore, to talk to him about his latest venture, a range of Italian aperitivos, including a bourbon-cask Vermouth Rosso, an Arancione and a grapefruit-scented Rosé, under the Hotel Starlino brand. All of them share the Gladstone ethos of delicious bright flavours, stylish packaging and an eye for an untapped corner of the market. 

Welcome, Mr Gladstone!

Elwyn Gladstone with Carlo Vergnano from Torino Distillati

Master of Malt: How did you get into the booze business?

Elwyn Gladstone: I worked in Edinburgh in the Oddbins there and they used to do really good single malt programmes and lots of champagne stuff. I got really interested in wine and spirits; I travelled a lot in France and with my dad and learned about wine. I decided after university I would go to UC Davis [wine school of the University of California] and I got a scholarship to go there. And I found it really, really interesting. I actually decided to move back to the UK  – my wife didn’t want to live in California, which perhaps was a mistake but anyway…  Then I went to work for Bulmers Cider, in Hereford, when it was family-owned.

MoM: How did you make the change to spirits?

EG: I went to work for William Grant & Sons in London. And that was the time that we started brands like Hendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum. And my business partner now, is a guy called Mark Teasdale and he was really the one who started up all those brands. He did them in the US, I was based in the UK. It was really interesting: William Grant’s at the time was really a Scotch whisky company, they didn’t have anything that wasn’t Scotch. And they really didn’t want to do anything that wasn’t Scotch. So it was a really interesting challenge to both get brands like Hendrick’s Gin going. And what was most interesting about it was actually they worked, which is quite unusual with these new brands. 

MoM: Why did you decide to strike out on your own? 

EG: I went to work for Jose Cuervo, the Tequila company, in the US. And we did a lot of good brands there, like we created one called Kraken Rum. And then after a while I didn’t enjoy it anymore and started my own little company called Biggar & Leith and created a brand called Malfy Gin, from Italy, and grew it really, really well to become a big million bottle brand in a very short space of time and we sold it to Pernod Ricard. 

MoM: Can you just tell me a bit about the idea for Malfy because it was a very strongly-branded gin?

EG: We wanted to do something that was a little bit different to the traditional juniper-heavy gin, there’s so many of those that are really good, it didn’t seem like the world needed another one. We found this really interesting factoid that gin maybe came from Italy originally with monks adding juniper to alcohol, way, way back, on the Amalfi coast. Citrus fruits are really interesting flavour profiles and they fit with the whole gin thing. Strong juniper flavours are possibly the reason that gin was limited in terms of consumer acceptance. Brands like Hendrick’s did a much softer, easier-to-drink profile.  We just thought ‘people love Italian stuff’ and there were no Italian gins at the time. It has a great connection with cocktail culture, Italy and all that kind of thing. The packaging was bright and stood out and very good-looking. And it really caught people’s imagination, we created a brand that took you to the Amalfi Coast. What was interesting to me was it had such international acceptance, we got it into about 90 different countries, Japan and Russia and China and all sorts of places, and that whole Amalfi thing works all over the world. 

Hotel Starlino vermouth

MoM: How did Hotel Starlino come about?

EG: Another category that I think is really interesting is vermouth. Which is sort of the wine equivalent of gin. It’s wine that is infused or flavoured with various different botanicals and herbs. It’s lower in alcohol than gin. The people we work with, that made Malfy, are Torino Distillati, it’s an old distillery and bottler. And we became enormous friends with the family that owns it, the Vergnano Family, and all the people that work there. And they’ve been making vermouth for a long, long time. But people don’t really know what aperitivos and vermouths are. I don’t know whether people understand what Aperol is. But anyway, this nice family was making lots of interesting products, they just weren’t particularly well marketed or nicely presented. And so that’s our expertise: making interesting brands with really nice, easy-to-drink, good high quality liquids and making a story around them that hopefully will interest consumers and grow the category overall. 

MoM: So how do you think yours are different from other vermouths or aperitivos on the market?

EG: In the US most people drink red vermouth as a cocktail mixer with bourbon. And so we came up with the idea finishing the red product in bourbon barrels. And then in terms of the pink and the orange, we really wanted to make something very friendly. I think some might critique Aperol as being a little chemically, a little overdone perhaps, a bit mass-market. So we wanted to try and do something that was an easier flavour profile but still had that interesting bitter and sweet combination. It has pink grapefruit in it which is a very popular flavour at the moment and it’s something that grows a lot in Italy. We created an interesting brand story with nice modern-looking packaging but it also has traditional hues in it as well. I come back to this thing like we did with Malfy Gin, the world doesn’t need another very traditional bitter-style aperitivo. So again, we try and do stuff that has the heritage but is much more approachable, interesting-tasting and drinkable.

Beppe Ronco and Carlo Vergnano in the blending room

MoM: How long did it take you and who was it who worked on the recipes?

EG: We do everything with Torino Distillati. There’s a guy there called Beppe Ronco and a very nice man called Denis Muni. They have a lab and they have all various botanicals and they have lots of miniature stills and access to all different types of wine and stuff. It took maybe three or four months of experimenting with various different flavour profiles and different blends and mixes. And the feedback we’re getting at the moment is people seem to like them, they’re pretty well-accepted. 

MoM: We hear a lot about vermouths and aperitivos being the next big thing. What do you think about that?

EG: I think the drinks industry is guilty of saying everything is the next big thing: mezcal, Islay whisky and absinthe, that was a classic one that was going to be the next big thing! I think they [aperitivos] hit a lot of good spots which is that they are lower in alcohol compared to spirits, but they look like spirits. This is just me pontificating but people have bottles of Martini in their drinks cabinet, so they don’t think of those things as wine. They think of them more as a spirits-type product. They last once you open them for a while. And I was reading a very interesting article about Treasury Wine Estates and their belief is that these sort of hybrid wine products, of instance one they were talking about is red wine with coffee in it sounds bad, don’t judge! I do think there is something interesting in terms of categories blurring more and more. And I do think the aperitivo ‘moment’ in places like the UK and in France and in Germany is a real thing because consumers go on vacation, they go to Italy or they go somewhere and they really do have that great moment of a pre-dinner drink. A very refreshing drink. And that’s the other thing, I think it sounds a bit stupid but global warming, as things get hotter and hotter, I think people do want more and more refreshing drinks. And I think they fit into that very well because you can have a decent glass of it and not fall over. 

Bright vivid flavours and strong branding

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink them in cocktails or just very simple with tonic or soda?

EG: I think really simple. I think with soda is great. Tonic is delicious if it’s good tonic. And then the spritz with some prosecco or… we launched a range of sparkling Moscato, with the same branding, to give the consumer an idea of what to do with it. 

MoM: What else are you working on?

EG: We have a big number of different brands. We’ve got our cherries; we’ve got an amaro, that we’re going to bring out, that we think is also a really interesting category. It’s made with traditional amaro botanicals etc. but then we distill cherries around it, again, to give it a slightly brighter, easier to drink, less bitter flavour. We’ve got a very fun blended malt brand that we’re bringing out, all around Gladstone, my ancestor, who is receiving some not-so-good press recently! My great-great-grandfather was Gladstone and my mum and dad live in his old house. He was the one in 1860 who signed the Spirits Act which allowed blending of Scotch whiskies together. And his relatives had all been in the Scotch whisky trade as well, back in the 1780s and later. Then we have an interesting Tequila project that we’re working on, which is really fun and cool, called Butterfly Cannon. And some of them have some flavour in them, no one’s cracked flavoured Tequila really, and I think that’s an interesting opportunity to try and bring people into the category.

MoM: What are the rules on flavouring Tequila, can you still call it ‘Tequila’?

EG: There is no such thing as ‘flavoured Tequila’ but you can communicate on the packaging that it has Tequila in it. So that’s a fun one and Tequila is obviously very fancy at the moment. We have a few new brands coming out and we’ll kind of roll them out one-by-one and we’re trying to create a portfolio of interesting brands and do them in categories that are perhaps a little bit overlooked. I think to say it’s the next big thing is a bit pompous but overlooked things that are interesting but perhaps haven’t had the magic unlocked yet. 

The Hotel Starlino is available from Master of Malt. If you’re looking for some cocktail inspiration, go to the website.

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Seven of the best pre-mixed cocktails

From seasoned spirits producers to bartender-created brands, the quality of pre-mixed cocktails has never been better. Today, our new contributor Lucy Britner catches up with a few of the people…

From seasoned spirits producers to bartender-created brands, the quality of pre-mixed cocktails has never been better. Today, our new contributor Lucy Britner catches up with a few of the people behind the products to see what makes them so tasty 

Once the preserve of the train journey, pre-mixed cocktails have come a long way. And with a summer of weird indoor, outdoor, don’t-get-too-close-to-me drinking on the cards, bottled and canned cocktails provide the ideal solution. While the canned G&T is a (pretty great) staple, the world of pre-mixes grows ever more sophisticated every day. So, to get an idea of what’s set to tickle the summer tastebuds, MoM caught up with seven producers to chat flavours, serves and the ideal snacks to go alongside. 

Mac & Wild Wild Fizz 

This pre-bottled cocktail from Scottish restaurant group Mac & Wild packs a summer punch with Blackwoods Vodka, lemon verbena, wild nettles, peach liqueur, celery and fino sherry. “Wild Fizz was conceived during a summer walk a few years back along Edinburgh canal,” says head of cocktails, Luke Leiper, who created the range at the company’s Edinburgh base. “There are lots of wild botanicals that grow there including verbena and nettles. Initially I picked them both for teas but started experimenting with vodka infusions. Peach worked really nicely… but I wanted it to be even fresher and settled on celery to achieve that.”

Leiper enjoys Wild Fizz topped with prosecco or tonic in a chilled flute glass with fresh lemon peel zested on top. Snack-wise, he plumps for a selection of charcuterie from Edinburgh company East Coast Cured. 

Sacred Negroni

Highgate’s very own micro distillery, Sacred, has taken each ingredient from the classic Negroni cocktail and developed all-natural English equivalents. Sacred co-founder Hilary Whitney says the mix sees equal parts of classic Sacred Gin, Rosehip Cup and English Spiced Vermouth “combined in the bottle to allow the ingredients to marry and mellow”. 

“We call the Rosehip Cup the English alternative to Campari the beautiful colour comes from grape skins and rhubarb juice,” Whitney says. English Spiced Vermouth, meanwhile, is made with English wine from The Choirs in Gloucestershire. Whitney suggests serving with olives, cheese or cured meats at picnics and parties “virtual or otherwise”. 

Handmade Cocktail Company Vesper 

Can’t decide between a gin Martini or a vodka Martini? Don’t bother making a choice; drink a Vesper instead. The drink du jour for Britain’s best-loved secret agent, the Handmade Cocktail Company’s Vesper is made with premium English gin, vodka, vermouth and bitter aromatic wines. It’s described as “dry, juniper-led nose with tangy light citrus and hints of geraniums, cream soda, cereal, sage and a little grating of nutmeg”. The palate meanwhile is tangy and tart, with zingy lemon top notes. 

To invoke your inner Bond, add a healthy measure to a large, ice-filled glass or shaker. Stir for a minute or so (or have it ‘shaken, not stirred’ if you’d prefer). Strain into a chilled Martini glass, garnish with a strip of lemon peel and serve with one raised eyebrow a la Roger Moore.

Cockspur Cockspur Rum Punch

“Our Cockspur Rum Punch very much replicates the crowd-pleasing rum punch that comes hand in hand with any social occasion in Barbados,” says Steve Wilson, CEO of Woodland Radicle Ventures, the company that owns Cockspur. The drink is a blend of tropical juices including pineapple, orange and coconut with a hint of Caribbean spice and a generous glug of Cockspur rum. 

Ideal for outdoor summer drinking, the Bajan characteristics lend themselves to spicy food pairings. “Hot and spicy chicken wings go very well with it, I also love rum drenched prawns with coconut, lime and chilli,” adds Wilson.

Black Lines Pear & White Tea Fizz 

“We wanted to design our own drink and after a summer’s afternoon eating pear ice lollies and drinking iced tea we thought the flavours complemented each other really well,” says Morgan Ward, head of sales and business development at Black Lines. “That set the wheels in motion and we started experimenting and testing the flavours with a variety of spirits.” Black Lines eventually settled on Chase Potato Vodka combined with Junmai Sake from Kanpai, the UK’s first sake brewery. Ward says the sake brings a dry finish to the drink. 

Good drinks deserve good snacks and when it comes to what to eat with Pear & White Tea Fizz, Ward’s suggestions are a far-cry from a bag of vending machine salt & vinegar on the platform at Clapham Junction. “We recently collaborated with Brindisa, the Spanish deli based in London, and we included a tin of their famous Perello Gordal pitted olives with every order,” he says. “I’d recommend snacking on these whilst you enjoy the Pear & White Tea Fizz the balance of saltiness from the olives and sweetness from the drink is a real winner.”

East London Liquor Company Vodka & Rhubarb 

ELLC Vodka & Rhubarb sees pressed rhubarb juice meet a little apple juice before being blended with East London Vodka and filtered water. The drink is then carbonated to the “perfect level” of fizziness. “Using British wheat for our vodka gives a creaminess that blends perfectly with our rhubarb soda,” says James Law, who developed the recipe and is a big fan of rhubarb’s famous tart tang. 

Law recommends enjoying the drink with roasted and salted almonds “straight from the bag”. Good man. 

Starward Nova

Starward (New) Old Fashioned

Australian whisky producer Starward describes the (New) Old Fashioned as “a BBQ-ready distillery batched cocktail”. The classic was created by the Starward team of bartenders and it strikes the balance between sweetness and aromatic spice. The cocktail also highlights the use of ex-red wine barrels, used to age the whisky, and adds an Australian twist with Starward’s own blend of wattle seed bitters (wattle seeds come from Acacia and they have a nutty, coffee, chocolate aroma.)

For a foodie fix, the gang suggests a barbie: “Try it with duck, steak, sardines or barbecue chicken.”

Lucy Britner has been a drinks journalist for 15 years. Her work has appeared across numerous publications and she was one of the founding editors of World’s 50 Best Bars. She holds a WSET diploma in Wine & Spirits and in 2019 she received the honour of becoming a Keeper of the Quaich.  

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The Nightcap: 10 July

The weekend is here, your drink is poured and you’re ready to settle down with another batch of all things newsy and boozy. It’s The Nightcap! Given that July is…

The weekend is here, your drink is poured and you’re ready to settle down with another batch of all things newsy and boozy. It’s The Nightcap!

Given that July is Rum Month and Saturday is World Rum Day (11th July), there’s been a fair amount of rum-based news land at MoM Towers this week. So much so that the word rum is starting to lose all meaning. I’ve said it too much now. Rum. Rum. Rum. Yep, it sounds weird. I know what I need to do. Take a break, have a sit-down and enjoy my Friday evening with a dram of something delicious. I might have some rum.

On the MoM blog this week you might have noticed that Motörhead made an appearance. On our blog. The band Motörhead. Not only did we launch a new competition with the legendary rockers that means you could win a bundle of merch and booze, but Mikkey Dee even stopped by for a quick chat. As in Mikkey Dee from Motörhead. Did I hallucinate this week? I can’t have done, because I remember all the delicious rum, like our two new arrivals, the six expressions we picked out to mark the month of rum and Cleo Farman’s delightful Diablesse Rum. Elsewhere, the likes of Jamaica, Mexico and err… Tonbridge were on the list of places team MoM would love to go when we can travel normally again, Annie talked to Rémy Martin about its climate change-ready grape trials and Henry enjoyed The Dude’s favourite beverage The White Russian

The Nightcap

Its’ the world’s First European Online Rum Festival

Tickets now available for European Rum & Cocktail Online Festival

Earlier this week, we wrote about where we would like to visit now that the world is opening up. In all likelihood, however, we won’t be going to Jamaica any time soon. But that doesn’t matter! Because the Caribbean can come to you in the form of the European Rum & Cocktail Online Festival on Saturday 8 August. This event is run by the cool cats at RumCask and features distilleries from Trinidad, Barbados, Bermuda, Martinique and Guadeloupe, as well as cocktail classes from top bars like Duke of Tokyo in Amsterdam and El Del Frente in Havana. But you won’t just be watching people talk about rum, you’ll be drinking it too as the ticket includes 25 20ml samples of rums from distilleries including La Hechicera, Foursquare, Angostura, Rhum Damoiseau and rare bottlings from Single Barrel Selection. Plus the non-perishable ingredients to make four cocktails. That’s a lot of booze for your buck. Events run from 12 noon until 8pm (BST). There are early bird tickets available until 10 July for £50 (plus postage), after that it’s £60 up until 29 July which is the cut-off date for sending the rum. Go here to buy tickets. You won’t regret it. 

The Nightcap

The crowdfunding campaign offered you the chance to help name a rum brand

Silk Road Distillers rebrands as Offbeat rum

Another one of the standout rum stories from this week is that Silk Road Distillers has chosen its new name. After a public crowdfunder campaign to rebrand the producer has revealed its new name is Offbeat. Founder George Agate picked Offbeat as the winner after people from all over the globe submitted more than 70 name ideas. The crowdfunder also achieved 102% of its target in just 14 days, raising £5,139. Agate chose Offbeat as he felt the name demonstrated “the exciting direction the brand continues to take, challenging the norms and celebrating the offbeat”. For those who were fans of the original Silk Road rum, there’s no need to worry, the liquid inside the bottle is still a botanical rum featuring a blend of ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, hibiscus, rosehip and pink peppercorns which are vapour infused into white rum from Guyana and bottled without any added sugar at 42% ABV. New name, same delicious rum and tonic waters.

The Nightcap

Lee Morris was victorious with his gaff The Albert Arms

Britain’s best home bar revealed

Have you ever pondered the question, who has the best home bar in Britain? No? We did, especially during the lockdown. Now the answer is in, thanks to Liberty Games. The games room specialist has just announced the winner of its competition and it’s Lee Morris from Albrighton in Shropshire with his gaff The Albert Arms. Morris commented: “The pub is all handmade by myself using a lot of recycled materials.” He went on to say: “I homebrew a lot of beers and use traditional hand pulls to give a real pint feel. Inside the pub, I have a fully stocked bar with spirits and optics.” There’s also a log burner, dartboard, TV and, for some reason, a drum kit. Not ideal if you’re trying to enjoy a quiet pint. Morris may have been the winner, but we were particularly taken with one of the runners-up, Greg Rhodes in Cheshire from Cheshire with his note-perfect Tik bar. Morris wins a year’s supply of beer as well as the glory in being the owner of Britain’s Best Home Bar 2020. We’re going to start working on our basement for next year’s competition. 

The Nightcap

Whyte & Mackay employees are walking, cycling or rowing all for charity!

Whyte & Mackay employees globetrot 29,000 miles for charity 

It seems like most of the UK, if not the world, was in awe at the achievements of Captain Tom Moore back in April. The folks at Whyte & Mackay were so inspired they decided to create their own challenge, dubbed Whyte & Mackay Cares. Well, a virtual challenge. Participants have to collectively walk, run, row or cycle enough miles to travel around the globe (which apparently is around 29,000 miles) over the next eight weeks. Day one saw the team clock enough miles to travel from Glasgow to London, so just the rest of the world to go! The goal is, of course, to raise money, with an aim of £50,000, which will go towards charities nominated by the team, including the Scottish Association for Mental Health. Thanks to its virtual nature, the challenge is also serving as a way to keep people connected. “That we stay connected and support our community and our friends further afield is really important, especially now,” said Nick Garland, chief commercial officer at Whyte & Mackay. “The role charities play in keeping people connected, and providing access to the support that is needed is vital. We are delighted to play our part by raising funds to support their work.” You can keep track of their (virtual) progress on their Instagram!

The Nightcap

Sandy McIntyre and Gordon Dallas will answer viewer questions and offer expert views

Tamdhu hosts virtual whisky tasting

Following a number of hugely popular live-streams, Tamdhu Distillery has announced that it will introduce its latest bottlings via a live-streamed virtual tasting. The event will allow viewers an opportunity to learn more about the Speyside distillery, as distillery manager, Sandy McIntyre, whisky experiential ambassador, Gordon Dallas and global brand ambassador Gordon Dundas offer their expert opinion on the new drams and answer questions that viewers can ask both ahead of time as well as during the live-streamed event. During the tasting, the panel will sample Dalbeallie III, a distillery exclusive named after the famous Dalbeallie train station, and the Iain Whitecross Single Cask, which is the assistant distillery manager’s debut single cask whisky. £1 from the sale of each bottle purchased from www.tamdhu.com will go to The Drinks Trust and The Ben to help support its hospitality colleagues. They will also sample a final, mystery dram that will be revealed during the stream. The event will be streamed on Tamdhu’s Facebook and YouTube channels from 7:30pm BST on Thursday 16 July.

The Nightcap

Fans of antique bourbons and all things Pappy Van Winkle should enjoy this exhibit

Pappy Van Winkle exhibit opens at the Frazier History Museum

Yesterday an exhibit about the life, family, and brand of bourbon whiskey icon Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle opened at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville. Is that the best name in whiskey? It just might be. Pappy Van Winkle: The Van Winkle Family Collection features over 500 pieces of family memorabilia that Van Winkle, Sr.’s grandchildren donated, including personal items such as his walking cane, two of his golf clubs, and his cigar table, the feet of which are carved to resemble his boots. There’s also original photographs and photo albums, hand-written letters, newspaper columns, distillery tour brochures, holiday recipe booklets, minutes from W. L. Weller & Sons’ first stockholders and board of directors meetings, 1908; and an original copyright certificate for Old W. L. Weller Bourbon, 1914. Fans of American whiskey will probably be most intrigued by the selection of rare and vintage decanters and bottles of bourbons and rye whiskeys on loan from Julian Van Winkle III, including bottles of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, Old Rip Van Winkle, Old Fitzgerald, Very Very Old Fitzgerald, Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald, Weller’s Antique Reserve, W. L. Weller’s Cabin Still, and Mr. Weller’s Pure Limestone Water. There’s even a barrel sample taken from the 500,000th barrel produced at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery on display. Custom wallpaper made of replicas of vintage Weller and Van Winkle whiskey bottle labels has been installed in the gallery and a monitor that plays a video about Pappy has been mounted nearby. The exhibit will run until July 2021 and for more info just visit fraziermuseum.org.

The Nightcap

Looks delightful, but what happened to the other ⅓?

And finally… Free pints from Estrella (well, nearly)

To celebrate the opening of a new London restaurant, Brat at Climpson’s Arch, on 11 July, top Spanish brewer Estrella Galicia is offering the first 50 diners through the doors a free ⅔ pint of its World Lager. The new summer residency at this Hackney venue sees Michelin-starred chef Tomos Parry cooking classic northern Spanish food like Basque fish stew, and the only beer on tap will be from Estrella. It sounds perfect, great food and free beer. We don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth but we do have one question, what happens to the rest of the pint? Is someone pulling a fast one and skimming off ⅓ of a pint? We need to be told. 

 

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Five minutes with… Cleo Farman from Diablesse Rum

Cleo Farman, the creator of the Diablesse Rum, joins us to talk about challenging preconceptions, betting her house on the brand and receiving a ‘Guardian of Rum’ commemorative coin from…

Cleo Farman, the creator of the Diablesse Rum, joins us to talk about challenging preconceptions, betting her house on the brand and receiving a ‘Guardian of Rum’ commemorative coin from Foursquare Distillery

In case you missed it, July is now the month of rum. In the spirit of things, we began this week with not one, but two new arrivals of delicious rums, then suggested some terrific expressions for you to enjoy, and we’ve still got National Piña Colada Day (10 July), National Mojito Day (11 July) and National Daiquiri Day (19 July) to look forward. And that’s not all, today we’re lasering in on one of the most exciting new brands to have launched in the UK recently, Diablesse Rum.

Its founder, Cleo Farman, joined for a virtual chat during the lockdown. Most of the previous year had entailed meetings, staff training and talking about her rums in person. Her focus had to shift to account for the pandemic, which means she’s been increasing her social media presence, responding to questions and comments, hosting live cocktail sessions that are then posted on YouTube, taking part in online rum tastings, overhauling the website with a rebrand and balancing all of the above with homeschooling her son. There’s already a lot to do given it was only a year ago that the Manchester-based brand launched a new range consisting of two signature products, Diablesse Caribbean Rum and Diablesse Clementine Spiced Caribbean Rum

The former marketing manager for Richard Branson’s Necker Island, Farman “fell in love with rum”, as she put it, on press trips to the Caribbean. For thirteen years she was also one of Manchester’s most well-known bar owners, with Odd, Oddest, Odder and the Blue Pig all being part of her roster, which provided a platform to further explore rum. By 2018 Farman had decided that her next adventure would be to launch her own brand and began formulating a plan to do so in March of that year. 

Diablesse Rum

Say hello to Cleo Farman, founder of Diablesse Rum!

Most of the early days of Diablesse Rum were spent visiting multiple distilleries and bringing back samples to experiment with, which Farman did in collaboration with The Main Rum. Every blend she made she would send to people in the trade, from chefs to bartenders, before she settled on the final blends n February 2019. “I’m fortunate to know a lot of wonderful industry professionals who helped, like Main Rum and Stephen James. What they don’t know about rum isn’t worth knowing in my opinion. They’ve offered me a lot of advice and information and most importantly told me not what to do”.

Farman makes it sound like a simple process. You know rum, you love rum, so you launch your own rum. But the process of creating a brand is rife with difficulties. “It’s insane! It’s so hard. You don’t realise something is going to be a hurdle until you’ve tried to overcome an obstacle and then find out there are even more obstacles you missed before. Raising the money and sorting the legislation is really tough. I put my house on Diablesse. That’s how much I believed in it,” Farman explains. “There’s a lot of conversations and inspections done with HMRC. You can’t start trading until you get the licenses but they take months to process, so what I did was develop the rum while I was waiting and hoping that I would be granted them”.

In the twelve months of trying, testing and tasting Farman had two basic principles: one being to, as she puts it, “let the rums speak for themselves,” which meant no adding any sugar or colouring and the second being that she would work with “establish, respected distilleries that have been doing this for a long time and have a lot of provenance and cultural relevance”. The three distilleries that ended up supplying the Diabelsse brand with rum with certainly fit that description: Foursquare, Worthy Park and the Diamond Distillery (fun fact: the latter still uses a 19th-century wooden Enmore column still which is thought to be the only still of its kind in operation today). Main Rum helped establish the connection, but Farman expertise and vision clearly sold the project. So much so that she received a ‘Guardian of Rum’ commemorative coin from Foursquare. A Richard Seale of approval, if you will. “It’s a massive honour and it means I’m on the right track. When I was given it I nearly burst into tears,” Farman admits, laughing. 

Diablesse Rum

Worthy Park Estate is one of three distilleries Farman has collaborated with

Diablesse Caribbean Rum features all three distilleries, including an eight-year-old pot and column still Bajan rum from Foursquare Distillery, a four-year-old Jamaican pot still rum from Worthy Park distillery and a three-year-old Guyanese (wooden) column still rum from the Diamond Distillery. All the rums in the blend have been aged in ex-bourbon casks in the Caribbean, so our friend tropical ageing plays a role here, before the rums are shipped to the UK, blended by Main Rum and bottled in Manchester to Farman’s preference, with no additional colouring or additives. 

Diablesse Caribbean Rum is refined rum that’s not overly sweet, which is the profile that Farman herself enjoys. “There’s this smooth, light Bajan rum at the core, with the power and funk of the Jamaican rum adding body and then the natural sweetness of the Demerara rum rounds it out,” she says. “This is a rum for people who know and love rum and value provenance and authenticity. They’ll want to know all the details of how it’s produced, which I’m transparent about”.

Diablesse Clementine Spiced Rum, by contrast, is an expression to welcome people into the delightful world of rum. A single origin and unaged Demerara rum from the Diamond Distillery which was flavoured with clementine and spices, it’s sweeter and has an accessible and delightfully mixable profile. Farman thinks this kind of premium spiced bottling can seduce gin drinkers who are looking for their next spirit love. She’s seen the beginnings of rum establishing a wider dominance in her role advocating her brand and trade shows and tastings. “When I began doing this at a show there’d be five gin stalls there. Now there are five rum stalls. Prior to the pandemic, I saw that the on-trade was increasingly requesting tastings and talks because they wanted to increase their rum range. Even during the lockdown, there’s been a wave of people wanting premium rums that they can experiment with at home”.

Diablesse Rum

Farman and Jones have created some truly delicious cocktails

Farman’s appreciation of cocktail culture has her well-placed to meet this demand. Along with award-winning Cottonopolis bartender Gethin Jones, she has created a number of delightful serves. She suggests the classic Daiquiri as a wonderful way to enjoy Diablesse Caribbean Rum and recommends the Chocolate Orange Negroni for the Diablesse Clementine Spiced Rum (I can confirm it’s also delicious in a regular Negroni), while both work well in Old Fashioneds and Sours. Her favourite, however, is Jones’ creation, the Mama Dlo. It represents Farman’s desire to create sophisticated, delicate and high-end serves. “Everyone immediately thinks of rum and Coke or ginger. But I want to help promote rum’s versatility. It’s great with all kinds of tonic water and can be used to make a number of amazing cocktails you might associate with different spirits”. 

This ability to challenge preconceptions of rum is of great importance to Farman as she’s aware that the category still carries some negative connotations. “Some people still think rum is a cheap party spirit that lacks versatility or sophistication. It’s worth remembering that gin overcame this problem. People used to call it mother’s ruin. Now look what’s happened. It’s about education,” Farman says. This perspective has also fuelled Farman’s desire to ensure that women don’t feel excluded from the joys of rum, which influenced her brand story and name. “I wanted to create a female inclusive brand. A lot of rum imagery is very bullish, featuring gods of the sea or pirates and captains. My rum is for everybody, but I wanted to have that female perspective. Hence why I chose La Diablesse, who is brilliant. She was a beautiful temptress from ancient Caribbean folklore and legend has it she had deals with the devil and would cast spells on unsuspecting men and lure them to their fate in the night”. 

Looking forward, Farman reveals that she’s currently working on a new expression, saying “I can’t tell you any more than that or I’ll have to kill you…” She’s hoping to launch relatively soon, but with the current climate, she’s biding her time to see when the best moment is. Farman admits that she’d love to release some cask strength, small-batch rums from the Caribbean. She also reveals she trademarked another brand that will release English rums but that it won’t be seen until much further down the line, adding that “I’d also love to have my own distillery, but that’s pushing it right now!” At the moment, the focus is on spreading the word about Diablesse Caribbean Rum and Diablesse Clementine Spiced Caribbean Rum. For my money, it should be an easy sell. These are well-balanced, versatile and delicious bottlings. You can taste the quality of the base rums in the blend and both have enough character to stand out even when mixed. I’ve had a very enjoyable time experimenting with them and I’d really recommend trying some of the Diablesse cocktail recipes on the website

You can both purchase Diablesse Caribbean Rum and Diablesse Clementine Spiced Caribbean Rum here.

Diablesse Rum

Diablesse Caribbean Rum Tasting Note:

Nose: The first thing I get is a really pleasant dose of Jamaican funk, with dunder notes and plenty of tropical fruit with overripe banana, chargrilled pineapple, papaya and citrus peel. There’s then plenty of sweet spices and vanilla fudge, as well as toffee apple, brown sugar, melted white chocolate, fresh herbs and a hint of sweetened coffee.

Palate: Dry, clean and delicately sweet, the palate has more of that tropical fruit blend (pineapple cubes mostly) and vanilla, with hints of lime and gooseberry adding a slightly sour and tart element. Peppery oak, black tea and the slightest touch of wasabi add real complexity as butterscotch and molasses make things sweeter as the palate moves towards the finish.

Finish: Long and lightly spiced, with a combination of vanilla and butterscotch making the finish quite sweet. 

Diablesse Rum

Diablesse Clementine Spiced Caribbean Rum Tasting Note:

Nose: Like a thick, full slice of Jamaican Ginger Cake that somebody has spread a huge heap of Seville orange marmalade on. That might sound strange but it’s beautiful. The blend of spice is complex and well balanced, with nutmeg, cinnamon, red chilli, then clove and star anise which give it a slight East Asian element. There’s a dollop of golden syrup, as well as dried fruit, vanilla and red cola cubes underneath. 

Palate: The palate is sweet, slick and has a liqueur-like delivery, which is then lifted by an aromatic and full-bodied hit of spice, mostly ginger. In fact, it’s like a slab of gingerbread. With marmalade on it. I’m not sure who’s spreading marmalade on all these desserts in my mind, but it’s definitely working for me. The clove is more pronounced here, as is the dark fruit note, adding more sweetness which Demrara sugar, toffee apples and another handful of cola cubes enhance.

Finish: The finish is a good length and has more of that spicy blend I like.

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Six bold rums to toast Rum Month

You might know this collection of 31 days as July, but to us here at MoM Towers, it’s Rum Month! To mark the occasion we’ve selected some stand-out expressions we…

You might know this collection of 31 days as July, but to us here at MoM Towers, it’s Rum Month! To mark the occasion we’ve selected some stand-out expressions we think you’ll love.

We’ve reached July, folks, which might have passed you by with everything that’s been going on. But now that the sun is gingerly making an appearance and life has some semblance of normality again, this is as good a time as any to take a moment and try to relax. Particularly as July is Rum Month! That’s right. A whole 31 days to celebrate all things delicious, distilled and rummy. There’s only one thing to do with that information. Indulge in some of the finest rums you can find. Thankfully we’re very good at making that process incredibly easy. Click away!

Rum Month

Central Galactic Spiced Rum

A rum that boldly goes where no other rum has gone before. Ok, that’s not strictly true, but we can assure you that Central Galactic Spiced Rum doesn’t just offer the chance to make all kinds of space puns, but that it tastes tremendous. The creative folks behind this expression added pot-distilled fresh raspberry distillate, star anise and cold-distilled lime peel aromatic to Caribbean spiced rum to create this (inter)stellar bottling. I apologise for nothing.

What does it taste like?

Oily orange peel, liquorice, juicy raspberry sweetness, orange marmalade, rich brown sugar, toffee, zingy lime peel, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla pod.

Rum Month

Gosling’s Black Seal 151 Proof 

You may be interested to know that Gosling’s combined rums from both pot and continuous column stills to make this super-strength bottling. Or perhaps you’ll be intrigued to learn that this classic rum’s name comes from the black wax that was originally used to seal the bottles. But the most important information we can tell you about this rum is that it’s very tasty and will make a sublime Dark ‘n’ Stormy, a cocktail that’s actually trademarked by Gosling Brothers.

What does it taste like?

Dark fruits, sweet spices, fresh herbs and fruitcake.

Rum Month

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum 

The legendary Diamond Distillery that sits on the east bank of the mighty Demerara River in Guyana makes all kinds of delicious rum, but the El Dorado brand is probably what it’s best known for and with good reason. This charcoal-filtered, cask-aged three-year-old white rum is incredibly versatile and can be used as a base for a number of different cocktails.

What does it taste like?

Coconut, icing sugar, tart citrus, cocoa, dark brown sugar and buttery toffee.

Rum Month

Signature Blend #1 (That Boutique-y Rum Company)  

The first release from That Boutique-y Rum Company’s Signature Blend range, this tasty treat was developed with Pete Holland (of The Floating Rum Shack) to make the best gosh darn Daiquiri you’ve ever had. It features a combination of unaged rum from Martinique and some particularly bold aged rum from Jamaica and can be used in a number of different serves. But do yourself a favour and embrace its Daiquiri potential. You won’t be disappointed. 

What does it taste like?   

Conference pears, foam banana sweets, dried pineapple rings, a little watermelon, a touch of pink grapefruit tartness, classic Martinique grassiness, vanilla oak, stewed winter fruits, salted caramel, ginger root and a prickle of black pepper spice.

Rum Month

Pull The Pin Raspberry & Strawberry Rum 

This expression from Pull The Pin is packed full of classic British summertime deliciousness, which makes it the ideal July bottling. The combination of raspberry and strawberry makes this a balanced, light and sweet flavoured rum that you can pair with all kinds of different mixers.

What does it taste like?

Crunchy sugar, strawberries and cream sweeties, a hint of jam on brioche, some citrus sharpness.

Rum Month

Two Swallows Cherry & Salted Caramel Rum        

Combining salt and caramel was already a genius move that has improved all of our lives immeasurably. But throwing cherry into the mix? We’re through the looking glass now folks, and it tastes like delicious rum. Rockstar Spirits created this delight with rum from Guyana’s Diamond Distillery that was infused with maraschino cherries, black cherries, caramel and a pinch of rock salt. 

What does it taste like?

Packed with honey and caramel, fruity esters drifting up through the richness. Just a touch of savoury salt notes arrive later on, balanced by juicy cherry and fresh banana.

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New Arrival of the Week: Plantation Fiji 2005

Today, we’re looking at a brand of rum, Plantation, that announced last week it is in the process of changing its name because of the word’s unsavoury connotations. We’re shining…

Today, we’re looking at a brand of rum, Plantation, that announced last week it is in the process of changing its name because of the word’s unsavoury connotations. We’re shining the spotlight on two particularly interesting bottlings, one from Fiji and the other from Jamaica. 

Before telling you about the rums that have just arrived at MoM HQ, we’re going to start with the news that Plantation is in the process of changing its name. “As the dialogue on racial equality continues globally, we understand the hurtful connotation the word plantation can evoke to some people, especially in its association with much graver images and dark realities of the past,” says the brand’s founder Alexandre Gabriel. “We look to grow in our understanding of these difficult issues and while we don’t currently have all the details of what our brand name evolution will involve, we want to let everyone know that we are working to make fitting changes.” We will let you know as soon as we learn more.

When you think of rum, your mind probably goes to Caribbean and Latin America, but sugar cane spirits are made all over the world. According to Alexandre Gabriel from Plantation rum (as the brand is still called for the time being), sugar cane which is native to Asia would have been planted in Fiji long before it was brought to the Caribbean. The country is made up of over 300 islands which together have a landmass about twice the size of Jamaica and produce about 160,000 tonnes of sugar annually. The variety planted, which Gabriel calls ‘noble cane’, was wiped out by disease in the Caribbean in the late 19th century but still thrives in Fiji.  

It’s hard to say how long rum has been made in Fiji though. Gabriel thinks it dates back a long time: “You cannot help human beings from making booze, it’s been happening throughout the world. It’s a rule that’s never been broken.” He has found evidence of distilling from the early 1800s but thinks it goes back further. 

The distillery that our New Arrival of the Week comes from, however, is more recent. It was built about 50 years ago by the Fijian government at Lautake on Viti Levu, the largest island (which is roughly the same size as Jamaica) to process molasses from the nearby plantations. In 1980, it was bought by a private consortium, the Rum Co. of Fiji

One of the pot stills at the Rum Co. of Fiji

As well as using exclusively Fijian sugar cane, Gabriel said: “The yeast you use, how you ferment, how you distill, how you handle it is as important as your raw material. The sense of terroir in a holistic way including the local know-how that perpetuates itself from that one generation to the other.” He then filled us in on production methods: “The Rum Co. of Fiji uses both wild yeast and cultured yeast, depending on what they’re trying to achieve.” Fermentation of the molasses takes around five days depending on the batch. The distillery has two pot stills, both adapted with double retorts to produce rum by John Dore & Sons, and an old column Canadian column still which produces spirit a little over 80% ABV. Gabriel describes the country’s style as combining some of the weight and intensity of Jamaica with the elegance and balance of Barbados. 

The team at the distillery are all Fijian except head distiller Liam Costello. An Australian, his background is in wine but he married a Fijian woman and moved to the island: “And fell in love not only with a wonderful Fijian woman, but also with the country and became the master distiller at the distillery,” said Gabriel. 

Today, the distillery produces two brands Ratu and Bounty (not to be confused with the brand of the same name from St. Lucia) as well as selling bulk rum. Which is where Gabriel stepped in. He explains: “I met Liam five or six years ago, I knew about his rums and I really liked them. I said one day: ‘I think we should do something together’ and he says ‘yes’. So we kept on communicating until one day he called me and he says: ‘You know I sold some of the bulk here and there and I was very often disappointed with what they did with my rum.’”

Gabriel & Costello, a great double act

So Gabriel and Costello hatched a plan to bottle some spirits that will show off the Fijian style to the full. There’s a popular blend but Plantation also bottles some special vintage offerings. The latest batch of which comes only from the column still. According to Gabriel, even with just the column, you still get that intensity but, as he puts it “in a very elegant way.”

The rum was aged for 14 years in Fiji in ex-bourbon barrels before being shipped in cask to France: “The interaction with the wood and the elements is incredible,” he said. This is how rum was shipped in the old days, and Gabriel thinks it really makes a difference and this is apparent not just in taste but through analysis with gas chromatography.  “I can show you a chromatography before and after you’ve shipped the rum,” he said, “the ester elements, the fruit elements are totally boosted, you have wood extractions that’s 10% more, just during that journey.”  Once in France, it is transferred to old Cognac casks and aged a further year. It’s bottled at 50.2% ABV with 4 grams per litre of sugar added. The result is something that is elegant and fruity with notes of toffee, mint, apples and crème brûlée with spicy ginger and cinnamon. A gorgeous luxurious rum that pays tribute to a rum tradition that deserves to be better known.

But today’s excitement doesn’t stop there: in addition to this exclusive Fijian rarity, we’ve got something very special from Jamaica. It’s a rum from Clarendon distillery distilled in 2003. It’s a high classic high ester style (422 g/hl)  known as a Monymusk Wedderburn (a designation created in the 19th century by rum blenders) produced from a two week ferment followed by distillation in a Vendome pot still. It’s aged for 16 years in Jamaica in American oak before spending a year in Cognac. It’s bottled unsweetened at 49.5% ABV. “I do a dosage depending on what I’m trying to showcase,” Gabriel said, “Here I wanted to really bring forward this rustic, in a good way, feel”. As you would hope, it’s packed full of high ester goodness like overripe banana and pineapple melded with chocolate and spice cask flavours. 

So there we have it: two utterly different, unique Plantation rums.

Plantation Fiji 2005 and Jamaica 2003 are now available from Master of Malt.

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Five minutes with… Mikkey Dee from Motörhead

The fastest, heaviest and loudest rock’n’roll band in history, Motörhead’s far-reaching influence on music can’t be overstated – and now, the band is making waves in the spirits world with its…

The fastest, heaviest and loudest rock’n’roll band in history, Motörhead’s far-reaching influence on music can’t be overstated – and now, the band is making waves in the spirits world with its own whisky, vodka, rum, and more. Here, we chat with legendary drummer Mikkey Dee on touring, his favourite drinks and Lemmy’s surprising love of Kinder eggs.

From their prolific back catalogue to their dedicated touring schedule, the trio behind Motörhead – late bassist and singer Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, drummer Mikkey Dee and guitarist Phil Campbell – never did anything by half measures. So when these pioneering rock icons started bottling their own booze, we had a feeling the liquid would be nothing short of incredible.

It took three years and an untold number of cask samples to finalise the recipe for Motörhead’s flagship single malt whisky, made in collaboration with Sweden’s Mackmyra Distillery, and this exacting attitude extends across the entire range: from Motörhead Vödka, made in the Swedish market town of Malmköping using locally-grown wheat, to a rum aged in ex-bourbon casks from the Dominican Republic.

Mikkey relaxing before a show with some on-brand booze

Behind the scenes the creative process has been an uncompromising and hands-on affair, with no detail left unchecked, as drummer Mikkey Dee attests. As Motörhead Premium Dark Rum bags yet another tasting award, its fourth in a little over a year, we caught up with Dee to talk Motörhead Spirits, memorable shows, and the contents of their rider:

Master of Malt: First things first, how did the Motörhead spirits range first come about, who came up with the idea?

Mikkey Dee: Lem always had a dream to make his own drinks brand. We were all on board. Drinking together was a big part of our life, so why not have drinks to call our own! Lemmy also wanted a legacy beyond the music, something else that could keep the spirit of Motörhead alive for years. That’s when the vodka was created, Lem had moved to drinking vodka and orange juice more than other spirits once he was diagnosed with diabetes.  

MoM: Tell us about the process of creating each one – how involved were you, Lemmy and Phil?

MD: It’s got our name on it, so we’re involved in everything. It always started with a product idea – what Lem or we enjoyed drinking, then also thinking of the fans and what they would like and want to see from us. We’re involved in it all, from choosing the liquid, to naming the products and bottle and label design. Lemmy really liked the creative part, he knew how he wanted the bottles to look. I remember we were in the studio recording mixes for Bad Magic when we were brought samples of the Single Malt Whisky – Lem chose it right there. It took three years of tasting to find the right one!

MoM: Motörhead Premium Dark Rum has just won its fourth spirit award. How does it feel for the liquid you created to be recognised in its own right?

MD: We work really hard on our drinks for the quality and we are ready to take on anyone – that’s always been the Motörhead way. The quality was always really important to Lem and will continue to be for anything else we do in the future.

Motörhead’s award-winning rum. Count those medals!

MoM: Could you share a story about a time the band shared a memorable drink together? Where were you, and what made it memorable?

MD: We were doing a show in Stockholm in 2015 at the Hovet Arena. We got together before the show and had some of our drinks there – our lager and the Single Malt Whisky, which was Lem’s favourite. The whisky is made in Sweden by Mackmyra so he called it his ‘Swhisky’ for Swedish Whisky. It was one of the last shows we did together before Lem passed, so I’ll always remember it.

MoM: This isn’t your only spirits project, you also opened Alabama in Paris last year. What made you want to open your own bar, and did you have a specific vision in mind?

MD: Yes I actually got asked by a friend of mine – Sofia – if I wanted to be a part of the bar opening. I had just shut down my other bar in Tenerife which was called Mikkey Dee Rock Lounge. I thought it was a great opportunity and decided to do it with Sofia. The bar is right at Plaza Republic, super central. We have all the Motörhead drinks there and also some merchandise. We really brought in the feeling of Motörhead; a little bit of memorabilia! That was the vision. I try to get there as often as I can but it hasn’t been too much recently.

MoM: What’s your go-to drink of choice when you’re playing a show? And how about when you’re relaxing at home?

MD: I’m not complicated, I like a simple lager. We have our Bastards Lager available around the world – hopefully soon in the UK too!  

Skål!

MoM: You were in Motörhead for 23 years. How did the band’s approach to touring change over time – were the later tours as rock’n’roll as the earlier ones?

MD: Absolutely. With Motörhead the problem we had was Lem couldn’t stay at home! That old bastard never wanted to stop. We had just got back from four or five months’ touring in Europe and the US, I flew home to Sweden and two weeks later Lem called and said, ‘Hey what’s going on, should we go out again?’. I’d say to him, ‘We need to have time off!’ and he’d say, “Fuck it, we should get going now!” The approach was never-ending, being on the road all the time, even in the later years.

MoM: What might we find on a typical Motörhead rider?

MD: We weren’t really that particular to tell you the truth. We were easy going. Lemmy liked bourbon, whisky, and vodka and orange. On my rider – beer, a bottle of whisky, water. Snacks: fruit. The only weird shit was Lemmy was obsessed with Cadbury Kinder Eggs. He didn’t eat the chocolate but loved the gift on the inside. Sometimes he opened the egg and there was a finished piece instead of one you put together and he’d say, ‘This is a shit batch!’ He liked to make the toy himself. My boys would sometimes be backstage with us and would go into Lemmy’s dressing room before the show to hang out – then they’d come into my room and said to me, ‘Hey dad, Lemmy doesn’t eat the chocolate!’ with shocked faces.

MoM: Motörhead will be remembered as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Could you share one of your career highlights from your time in the band?

MD: Oh my god, so many. Basically every time you walk off stage – you felt that was it, no one can follow this. You felt you gave it all. I remember we didn’t care much for awards shows and all three of us had the same attitude – how do you compete in music, why should this song or album win an award over this or that. We always got awarded by our fans and that was enough for us. That’s where the real deal is. But, when we did win a Grammy, Lem was very proud. I could see and feel that. And of course me and Phil as well. Not so much because we won – more that someone finally gave us a little bit more space and attention in this world. I thought that was fair. I’m glad Lemmy got to experience that, he deserved it. The band deserved it too after so many years of total rock and travelling the world. I don’t think we had one bad record. It was nice to be awarded for that from the industry.

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