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.
It takes me back to the days before anti skid brakes were a thing.
On emergency stopping with a truck & trailer, it was common to lock all the trailer wheels keeping an eye on which way it would swing before pumping the brakes to keep on line.
This released copious amounts of white smoke – burning rubber – which is what I got from Sea Dog Dark Rum.
Now I know Jamaican Rum is renowned for it’s funkiness – described by Alexandre Gabriel, Master Blender for Plantation Rum as ‘overripe banana, overripe tropical fruit, meaty gaminess and green pineapple’ in an article here – but I just get flash backs and the acrid smell of a pile up on the M1 motorway.
Old Sea Dog is as ubiquitous in Ireland as OVD is in Scotland.
Both brands have cornered their markets far better than that unfortunate driver back on the M1.
The opportunity to taste and sample a variety of styles & flavours before committing to a large bottle.
Lidl are currently showcasing The World Of Rums – including offerings from;
Panama – La Réunion – Cuba and Jamaica.
Rums are often categorised into styles based on their former colonial occupiers. It’s not particularly scientific or pretty – but neither is the use of Scottish Regions to define the flavour of whisky.
Being Lidl – it’s likely to be sourced private label brands too. As confirmed by ‘Imported & bottled by: ‘Pabst & Richarz Vertiebs GmbH‘ on the outer packaging.
But what interested me were the differences of flavours showcased by the individual rums themselves.
Panama. Sir Francis Drake. 6 Years Old. 40%
Spanish style. Light, buttery & sweet.
Pale straw. Vanilla sweetness followed by darker molasses & treacle notes. Soft & sweet palate – a bit too sweet for my liking – but develops a pleasant oaky spice from the cask ageing.
Easy & enjoyable.
La Réunion. Coeur Du Soleil. White Rum. 37.5%
French style. Rich , fruity & complex.
Clear spirit. Pungent vegetal nose – reminds me of Mezcal. Palate was smooth & characterful. The earthy herbaceous notes give a slightly savoury yet sweet appeal that slowly fades.
Cuba. Ron Santero. 3 Year Old. 38%
Spanish style. Lean & clean.
Clear spirit. Soft subtle & sweet. After the other 2 rums, Santero’s delicateness just merged into a bland neutrality for me. Cries out for mixing.
Jamaica. Caribica. Brown Rum. 40%
British style. Funky, heavy & bold.
Light brown. Noticeable funkiness on the nose – reminds me of burnt rubber. Syrupy palate. The funk is lost a little to a treacly dark sweetness, but re-emerges on the finish.
Is Jamaican funk the Islay peat of the rum world? Finding it challenging.
An interesting & entertaining taste experience.
I’d have thought there’d be a rum here to please every palate.
La Réunion’s Coeur Du Soleil was the one for me. The powerful mix of sweet, sour & savoury notes demonstrated the full bodied style of ‘Rhum Agricole’ using freshly pressed sugarcane juice bottled straight off the stills.
C’est très bonne.
What is your style?
A brief guide to styles of rum can be found at the handy Tenzing blog here.