It always intrigued me that the gender mix at Whiskey Live Dublin was predominately male, yet that of Gin Live – organised by the same folks, often with exhibition stalls from the same distilleries & staffed by the same people – is overwhelmingly female.
Well Girly Drinks by Mallory O’Meara can unsolve that mystery.
A thoroughly researched book, packed with information presented in an entertainingly readable style tells the tale of how females have been systematically excluded from the drinking scene for centuries.
This results in genderised drinks whereby whiskey = male & gin = female – as played out in my Dublin experiences.
Things are changing for the better however.
But consider the first female Master Blender of any sprits category was as late as 1997 with the appointment of Joy Spence at Appleton Estate Rum Distillery in Jamaica.
There is still a long way to go.
A compulsory text for anyone serious about the gender divide in alcohol.
I thought I’d take advantage of the last hurrah at Tiny Tipple & try out a trio of aged rums.
With the news global rum brand Bacardi are proposing to takeover Dublin whiskey distillery Teelings as well as rum now outselling whiskey in the UK – it seems a topical time to sample this trio.
Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, 40%, Venezuela
Diplomatico are quite big hitters in the rum world – despite a reputation for added sugar – & are generally easily available.
Out of the 3 rums Diplomatico does come out the darkest shade of golden brown giving the nose a suitable dark, rich & sweet aroma of muscovado sugar.
Very smooth, sweet & easy on the palate.
Develops a rich & complex depth on the rear finishing with a touch of tannic spice.
A very peasant easy sipper.
Appleton Estate Reserve Blend, 40%, Jamaica
This is a non-age statement – NAS – release that previously proudly displayed an 8. Whether this is due to an increase in sales depleting stocks or simply a way for the distillery to utilise a broader array of rums for the blend I don’t know. Not having tried the 8yo I can only go on what is before me.
The palest light brown of the trio.
Soft hints of funk on the nose – I’d be disappointed if I hadn’t found funk in a Jamaican rum!
The palate didn’t give much away – smooth, easy & fresh.
A flourishing finalé of engaging spiciness interspersed with juicy fruitiness lifted the drinking experience.
Flor De Cana 18 Year Old, 40%. Nicaragua.
I’ve not tried any Flor De Cana before – so this big 18yo age statement carrier is a bit of a leap into their Ultra Premium Collection.
Light brown colour.
Quite a shy nose only giving away a gentle fruity sweetness.
Found the palate a trifle non-descript & unforthcoming of flavour.
The long ageing in wood dominated the finish providing a drying tannic spiciness which tingled merrily away.
Left me a little underwhelmed.
These 3 rums can easily be appreciated by whiskey drinkers. All have been aged in wooden barrels – ex-bourbon are predominately used – although I must admit to finding the wood influence begins to dominate from the core rum flavours which can counterpose as an alternative to drinking whiskey.
All 3 demonstrate a rich sweetness not typically found in whiskey – with only the Appleton exhibiting a fruity funk – even if it was quite mild in this Reserve – giving it a lead above the other 2.
Perhaps my palate would have preferred the younger rums from these distilleries? They tend to showcase the flavours from the raw ingredients used to a higher degree.
Nearing the end of my lockdown miniature selection are these 2 rums.
The Legendary Alnwick Rum immediately brought back memories of my days at sea aboard the MV Alnwick Castle bulk carrier whose parent company hailed from the same area this Dark Rum emanates from.
Deep reddish brown in colour, heavy molasses on the nose. Good solid mouth feel – oily & viscous – with a lovely flourish of spice on the rear.
A very decent dark rum.
The Duppy Share also took me back to my days in London where the vibrant & colourful Carribean culture enlivened the otherwise grey streetscape.
Light straw in colour, a clean & clear funk on the nose. More fruity on the palate, a mellow funk fusing with a sprinkling of spice & sweet caramels to round up this very easy & approachable golden rum.
‘Duppy’ has a number of meanings – one being a playful spirit – & this rum toys with that association.
A lovely little duo to appreciate the diversity of styles & influences within the growing rum category.
Ostensibly tracing the failures & fortunes of one family across the generations – it also captures the ups & downs of the British Empire through the involvement of that same family.
In doing so it details the centrality of the slave trade to British prosperity – the wars fought to maintain that wealth – and the role Rum played in holding it all together.
In the 18th Century Britain ruled the waves.
It’s ships exported manufactured goods, captured slaves from Africa to work the colonies in the Caribbean & N America & imported rum, sugar, coffee, cotton & tobacco from the exploitation of those slaves.
It made Britain – and all the other European powers involved – extremely rich.
The sailors on those ships were given a daily rum ration – not abolished until the 1970’s – and members of the authors family were central in procuring some of that rum – as well as overseeing the Jamaican colony where a lot of it came from.
The book is a fascinating insight into a dark period of human history where the complete subjugation & exploitation of one people for the unsustainable profits of another was deemed ‘good business’.
I just hope the rum I enjoyed while reading this book came about by a much more sustainable & equitable manner.
A highly recommended read that brings to life the horrors of the past & sheds some light on today’s travails.
A distilled spirit made in Haiti from wild strains of freshly cut sugarcane, fermented in the open with naturally occurring yeasts, single distilled in direct fired alembic pots & enjoyed locally unaged, unfiltered & cask strength.
There are over 500 Clairin distilleries in Haiti – a reminder of the days every town in Ireland had their own Poitín producer.
The opportunity to try out such spirits was too good to miss – so courtesy Irish Spirits Training – I signed up for a Zoom tasting.
Presented before us were 9 samples.
6 were Clairin sourced directly from Haiti.
4 were ‘single estate’ Clairin – although there are no rules or classifications in the Clairin world – 2 were blends of those ‘singles’.
The other 3 – a rhum agricole, a big brand rum & an aged rum – were provided for comparison.
After a historical synopsis of how Haiti came to be & is today – we progressed to the tasting.
The big brand rum was a clear, soft & relatively flavorless spirit.
The rhum agricole possessed far more character & appeal.
The 1st Clairin I tasted – Clairin Communal – a blend of the 4 ‘singles’ – burst through with heaps of fresh fruity funk, an oily & rich mouthfeel combined with varied herbaceous & floral notes dancing away on a long finish.
In a world that is often constricted by uniformity, conformity & consistency together with financial pressures dictating efficiences of scale & production – usually at the expense of taste – here was a liquid unimpaired by such constraints – and it delighted my palate.
The 4 constituent ‘singles’ were as follows,
Clairin Sajous had a sweet funky nose, quite a clear, clean taste with a powerfully dry prickliness on the rear.
Clairin Vaval wasn’t as funky, had a more umami feel to it’s rich flavours, an oily mouthfeel & prickly spices on the finish.
Clairin Le Rocher dialed up the funk. Using a ‘dunder syrup’ – not unlike Jamaican rum – Le Rocher differed both in taste & style – to satisfying results!
Clairin Casimir was my favourite. The funkiness was soft on the nose, well balanced on the palate by a fruity sweetness & a lovely long finish.
It’s another case of ‘ should’ve bought the large bottle’ as experienced with La Penca Mezcal!
The evening finished with the aged rum.
Being Jamaican, the funk was evident, yet complimented by an oakiness from the barrel ageing similar to whiskey.
Clairin – despite being unaged spirit – is bursting with bold flavours – many unfamiliar – which are simply a joy to experience.
Presented in a distinctively shaped bottle – common across the Blacks Gin & Whiskey spirits range – with an elaborately designed label bearing both the Blacks Crow & a pirate ship – along with other steampunk style contraptions – the suitably golden liquid lured me in.
A heavy funk on the nose – Jamaican style – with a hint of ripe fruitiness on top.
Luscious on the palate – the fruitiness puts in more of an appearance.
A gorgeously growing softly tingling spiciness rounds up this delightful rum – as the gentle funk slowly fades away.