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RUMS

Rum is a spirit resulting from the distillation of the fermented mash of sugarcane.  

While we tend to think of this product being cultivated in Hawaii, sugarcane may have originated in China, India or the South Pacific.  

Who would think of India as the first place to make rum?!

Alexander The Great returned home from his voyage to India and told of a "reed" which gives honey without the help of bees.  Of course, this "honey" was the sugary, sweet syrup extracted from the canes of sugar.  

Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to the New World when he was sailing along the flat planet back in 1490-something.  Plantations of sugarcane were scattered around the Caribbean.

The effects of Columbus' "Johnny Apple seed-like" work is visible still, some 500+ years later!  

The word "rum" may come from a West Indies word, "rumbullion."  This referred to someone who was out of control, likely the result of the after-effects of too much of this distillate.  

Another possibility is the Latin word for sugar, saccharum.

Much rum we see in the United States comes from Puerto Rico.  At one time they actually grew a lot of sugar cane there.  Now they import molasses from the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.  

Puerto Rican law, for example, requires all rum be matured for one year in wood.  Some producers, as I understand it, filter their rum to remove color!  Others add caramel to achieve a dark color.  Further, not all dark rum is wood aged!!!

Rhum Agricole are words you might see on a few labels.  This indicates the rum comes from French islands and is distilled from fresh sugar cane juice.  These are distilled in a single column continuous still.  Rhum is Rhum Agricole which has been matured for at least three years in wood not bigger than about 170 gallon capacity.  I was invited to a lunch with some Piemontese winemakers and someone brought out a bottle of rum which was claimed to have been more than 100 years old.  It was spectacular, whatever it was.

A new rum project is located here in the United States.  It seems that sugar cane cultivation has been a tradition in Louisiana and someone set up a distillery to make "craft distilled" batches of excellent rum.  

Here are some rums in stock:



COCKSPUR 12 Year RUM
From Barbados, this firm was founded by a Danish fellow back in the 1800s...

Their 12 year old rum is spectacular...smooth, mildly spicy with notes of toffee.


$32.99

 

 

 

 

 

LA FAVORITE  (Rhum Agricole)



This is another magnificent Rhum Agricole.  The distillery was first built in 1843 and today it features two copper, single-column stills.  Paul Dormoy runs the place, and expertly at that!

We found the white rum, the "Coeur de Canne" to be our favorite Favorite.

The nose features hints of citrus and ripe pear nectar aromas.  It's crisp and drying on the finish.






RHUM SAINT JAMES
Coming from the French island of Martinique, the production of this brand stems from the 1700s when Louis XIV decided to ban rum in France. Some priest sailed off to the Caribbean and started cultivating sugar cane and distilling rum.  He sold his production to the settlers in the colonies.  Was he on a mission from God?  Was this fellow possessed by the devil?  
These are "Rhum Agricole," meaning they're made from fresh cane sugar.  

We have their Royal Ambre ($27.99)
Extra Old ($44.99)
and their Hors d'Age ($56.99)





GOSLINGS "BLACK SEAL"
This Bermuda rum used to be bottled in used bottles recycled from the local British military encampment.   It had, until the 1920s, or so, been available only straight out of the barrel!  The Gosling brothers would bottle their rum, purchased in bulk, in these used champagne bottles and to ensure they were stoppered properly, they'd put a black sealing wax on top of the bottle.  The rum became known as "Gosling's Black Seal."  Today they use a black seal as their logo, though this marine animal had nothing to do with rum production.  It's a dark, 3 year old (or so) bottling.  $22.99  

There's also an "Old Family Reserve" ($74.99) bottling...



NEISSON  (Rhum Agricole)

The Neisson distillery is family-owned and operated.  It's one of the top, most prestigious rum producers in the Caribbean.  

Their products have only recently become available to us.
Bob went bonkers for their "Rhum Agricole Blanc," a citrusy, vaguely floral effort.  The importer tells us it's superior thanks to its three days of fermentation before distillation.

A Reserve Spéciale features Rhums as old as ten years.  You can certainly detect the wood in this one!  Expensive, scarce and very fine.

 

 

BARBANCOURT
Coming from Haiti, it's said this place was the first to cultivate sugar cane.  Given it's French heritage, it's not surprising the distillation process here is much like that employed in Cognac.  This firm offers three rums which we know of...
The best of the bunch is their 15+ year old bottling.  Double distilled in pot stills, this is aged in white oak barrels.  They claim only a limited amount is available for sales each year.  Connoisseurs call this the "Cognac of Rum." They may well be correct!  Plan on spending about $44.99 for this.  The young, 3 star bottling is about $19.99 and is very good, too.  The older one is great on its own, while the 3 star is perfect for mixed drinks.
5 star is $27.99
White rum is $18.99


PAMPERO ANNIVERSARIO
This great rum from Venezuela was missing from the market for more than a year!  It has recently returned to the shop, clad in it's usual leather bag.  Pampero is known to connoisseurs, but since there is virtually no marketing effort here in California, it's a relative unknown.
$34.99 as of February, 2010.





VIZCAYA CUBAN-STYLE RUM
We're told the family that makes this rum had worked in the spirits business in Cuba...this is, they say, a Cuban-styled rum but made in the Dominican Republic.  It's well-aged in used whiskey barrels and has plenty of sweet spice notes from its lengthy maturation in wood.

$43.99





FLOR DE CAÑA
The Grand Reserve bottling from this Nicaraguan distillery is matured for seven years, giving it a nice vanillin note.  You'll find this silky-smooth and almost sweet tasting.  

We have their five year old Black Label, a more "muscular" rum.   
The Centenario- 12 year old rum,  is (lists for $50) $40.99, while the Black Label is just less than $19.99.  

A Grand (7 years of age) rum is $26.99 and their white rum (4 years of age) is $19.29 as of the most recent pricing update.  

There's a dynamite Centario- 18 year old ($54 list) sale priced at $49.99, while the Centenario 21 year old lists for $83 and is sale tagged at 74.99 as of February, 2010.
Limon is unavailable these days...sorry...not sure what happened.


Black Rum $19.99

 

RHUM J.M.
Another Martinique Rhum, J.M. makes a couple of excellent, wood-aged bottlings.

We have their VSOP, a Rhum that's matured for four or five years in wood.  This shows a nice note of toffee, caramel with some spice tones.

The Vieux Millésimé bottling is matured for about a decade in oak...this is even more striking and complex.  


 

 


RHUM CLÉMENT
The founder of this estate in Martinique is described as the "father of Rhum Agricole," since he started making rum from his own sugar cane back in the late 1800s.

Homere Clément started the operation in 1887 and it's still going strong, making good Rhums.

We have their Première Canne which is a delightful rum for mixing.  It's sort of fruity and nice...

There's also a delicious aged rum with the VSOP designation.  $39.99

The Homere Rum is $89.99...XO lists for 143 and is sale-priced at $124.99

Clément also makes a delightful rum-based liqueur...it's called Creole Shrubb.  It's got a nice orange and spice note, along with the rum character.  I think vanilla and nutmeg are used to season this, but there's also a clove-like tone.  






ANTIGUA DISTILLERY
We have a lovely, smoky rum that's sold as a "5 year old" bottling from a firm in the West Indies.

It started back in the 1930s when some small, little distillers banded together and formed the Antigua Distillery.  I gather they make a more commercial product as the mainstay of their company, but there's a rather nice, aged bottling called "English Harbor Rum" which is new to our market.

This rum has done well in a few blind-tastings, we're told and the producer likes to point out this competes well against seriously well-aged bottlings, despite its relative youth.





WESTERHALL PLANTATION RUM

This rum comes from Grenada and they make only a few barrels a day of what's called "Plantation Rum."

The firm is still family owned and operated.  

Westerhall rum is typically matured for about 6 years in wood.  The rum displays sweet notes as well as some spice tones.

It's $26.99 a bottle presently.


 

 

N.O. RUM
These fanatics in New Orleans have started an artisan production of marvelous rum!  
Made exclusively from locally-grown sugar cane, they distill small batches, less than 100 gallons at a time.  
The rum is aged in wood and bottled without adding colorings, flavorings or fragrance-enhancers.  You've probably not heard of this, since the firm is new and they're not spending money on advertisements.   Even their distributor doesn't know they carry this product!
$18.99/bottle



CRUZAN RUMS
Located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, this firm makes a wide range of rum and rum products.  
Run by the Nelthropp family, there are a couple of exceptional bottlings in this firm's portfolio.

We carry their magnificent "Single Barrel" Rum ($33.99), this is aged in charred American oak barrels.  It is made from aged rums which are blended together and then returned to wood for more aging.  

Estate Dark-2 years old...
Vanilla $14.99

 



RON BARCELO

This is a delightful rum from the Dominican Republic and it's spent about ten years in wood.
Nice oak and lots of smoky, woodsy notes.

$29.99

 

 

 



 

RON MATUSALEM
This is an old brand of rum and a new brand of rum.  The brand was launched in Cuba and, at one time, it dominated the market for rum there.  But with Castro's revolution, the family that made Matusalem emigrated to the US.  

There were squabbles amongst the family members about the brand and company and only in 2002 did one of the descendants gain control and re-launch Matusalem.

These are 'billed' as Cuban-styled rums and they're made in the Dominican Republic.  

We have a nice, fresh "light' rum called Platino ($19.99)...
There's a "Classico" ($21.49), a nice golden-colored rum with a touch of wood.
The Reserve ($34.99) is said to be a 15 year old rum and it has nice molasses-like notes and is thoroughly enjoyable as a sipping rum.

 



RON DEL BARRILITO
Though Bacardi accounts for the lion's share of the production of rum in Puerto Rico, a small company called Edmundo B. Fernandez makes some of the best rum of the island.  The rums made by this firm get great accolades from virtually all the rum experts.  They make two star and three star-designated rums. 
 
$31.99 for the 3 star rum.


 

 






BARDINET'S RHUM NEGRITA
The most politically incorrect rum in the market is this one from France.  It's distilled from molasses brought in from the West Indies.  Bardinet has been making "Negrita" since the mid-1800s.  It is quite popular amongst those who use rum in cooking and in France, we're told, this is "the" rum used by chefs around the country.  

Not available, presently.






APPLETON/WRAY & NEPHEW
The Appleton is an old estate in Jamaica with more than 1,500 hectares of sugar cane.  A guy named Wray owned the place and brought his young nephew in as a partner.  We have a couple of Appleton-labeled rums, along with their "dark" rum called Coruba and a Wray & Nephew white rum which is called "Overproof" (it's something like 126 proof!).
The V/X is quite good as their their "Extra," a rum who's youngest component is 12 years old.  This is close to classic.
We're also now carrying their dynamite bottling of 21 year old rum!  





MOUNT GAY
Some people think rum distillation began in Barbados.  Its production has been ongoing for hundreds of years.  This firm was once run by a fellow named, ironically, Sober. 
Our friend Shirley Sarvis was hired by "Trader Vic" Bergeron (years ago) to scope out rums for his Polynesian-styled establishment in Emeryville (and San Francisco).  She concluded that Mount Gay made "the best" rums.  In fact, at dinner at her home a few years ago, we were served a glass of "Eclipse" rum with the "Spot Prawns" and rice.  
Today Mount Gay's "Eclipse" rum is bottled here in the U.S.  However, their other offerings are still bottled in Barbados.  "Reserve" runs less than $20 a bottle, with "Extra Old," the classic gem of the line-up costing around $40.  
A rum called "1703" is exceptionally fine and sells for $89.99.






LEMON HART "Demerara" RUM
Guyana produces rums which often have the word Demerara on the labels.  This is the name of a river.  
Lemon Hart is an old time label, apparently the work of a British firm, some time ago.

The brand has been owned by the Pernod-Ricard conglomerate and they, apparently recently sold it to some Canadian drinks firm.  There has been some issue over the use of the term Demerara and apparently this sticky wicket is being ironed out and, one day, Lemon Hart may soon re-appear in our market.  I gather they're working on bottling it in a proprietary bottle, replicating one used decades ago.

We now have their 151-Proof Rum back in stock!







ZAYA
I've heard claims the particular soil in Guatemala where this firm has its farms is ideally suited to producing magnificent sugar cane.  I never have thought sugar can was prone to demonstrating the sort of "terroir" elements as wine grapes, but perhaps this is true.

Still, the spirit is distilled in pot stills and then matured for a dozen years in oak barrels.  This rum has a magnificent perfume and is a wonderful spirit to savor.
Currently sale-priced at $29.99.




 

 



STROH'S AUSTRIAN RUM
This Austrian rum is amazingly strong and it will, if tasted straight, numb your palate for quite a while!
Stroh's 80 is 160-proof, so don't be opening a bottle of this near the fireplace or plan on having a smoke while you're imbibing this.
Needless to say, a little of this goes a long, long way.  Grandma might sneak a taste of this to calm her nerves while the grandkids are wrecking the house.  She might also use it in her cakes and cookie recipes.
If any rum should require a prescription, this is it.





PLANTATION RUM
This label comes to us from a French firm, Gabriel & Andreu. We used to feature their magnificent Cognacs in the shop.

They have been buying Caribbean rums for some years and offer a trio of wonderful rums.

We have one from Guyana, one from Barbados and one from Jamaica.

These retail for $36.99-$45 for a 750ml bottle.




PYRAT

Here's a rum from Anguilla in the British West Indies.  I don't think this firm distills any of its own products, but rather buys rums from various firms and does a blending and aging business.
They offer a range of bottlings and these seem to be appearing in various adult beverage emporiums around the Bay Area.  
We have their XO Reserve, which we're told is about 15 years old.  Whatever, it is nice.

$34.99 for a 750ml bottle.



RON ZACAPA

This brand comes to us from Guatemala and is made from sugar cane, not molasses...these are matured in wood for a long time...

Centenario $49.99
XO $89.99




TANDUAY
Here's a rum from the Philippines and we get requests all the time for it.  

They had been out of the US market for many years and we'd only few years ago been able to offer this...


We have not been able to purchase this since the beginning of 2013... As of August 2013, it is still unavailable...
Stay tuned...



ORONOCO

Here's an interesting rum that comes from Brazil.  It's mostly distilled from sugar cane, but we understand there's a bit of a molasses-based spirit in the blend.  Further, we understand it's blended with a bit of aged Venezuelan rum which gives a vanilla-like character.






EL DORADO RUM
We were thrilled to be able to stock the fantastically good 15 year old bottling of El Dorado Rum...

This is one which routinely brings people back for a second bottle.

It's about $43.99.

The 21 year is now $103.99.

We have several of their younger rums, too, finally.



OLD MILL

A small company in Oregon imports this special blend which is distilled and aged by the Cruzan company.  
The rums incorporated are matured for between 2 and 4 years.  
$17.99

MARTI "MOJITO"
I suppose you could make your own Mojito, a cocktail featuring light rum, mint and lime or you can buy a bottle of this.
Supposedly this was a favored cocktail of Papa Hemingway, though old Ernest, who had strong wrists, is said to have had a number of "favorites."

It's a new arrival here.



BACARDI
We have Barcardi's basic rums, but also their Aejo, 8 Year Old and Solera rums.


MORE RUMS IN STOCK...I'm always working on this page to update new arrivals.


ALSO:  FALERNUM IS BACK IN STOCK!
This is a delightful mixer that features lime, ginger and other secret spices.
Made by our friends on the east coast at Fee Brothers!



(We also stock their excellent Orange Bitters, Peach Bitters and Mint Bitters...a dash goes a long way!)


We also have the Taylor Falernum...

 

 

 

 

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