Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hello -- Welcome!

The direction of Rick, The Rum Runner (RTRR) is simple; to enjoy craft/small batch rums made in the USA. No prejudice against large and or foreign made rums, just that they have a pretty good following already for their quality product. My aim is to uncover and present to you, the little guys. This is sort of "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, " but for rum, not food [Although the two often mix very nicely].

How this is gonna work

Just getting started I have to say there are a few goals.
First, I plan, over the next few days and weeks, to develop a database of these small rum distillers. I will list them by state. How to present it here will be done with a master list that I will update, and a blog post listing the state or states for that day. I hope to get a link to a list you, the rum drinker/reader, can access and get the low down on your state or perhaps one you plan to visit.

Second, I want to develop a standard Taste Card. Something that will score a rum based on attributes. I have my ideas -- but am open to yours. So if you have an idea for an attribute (say: color, aroma etc) and what scale to use (Sweet to dry - or sour or hot) I am open. Eventually I plan to have a card that you can print or fill in and get to me so we can build a real Merit Review Board.

Finally, I'd love stories from you (submit to my email) telling me of places listed here or new ones that you've found. That's it -- get your rum-face on and let's have some fun!

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Journey, Part 2

So.... My all consuming love affair for a rum no longer made somehow, over they years has lead me to this. A search for rums where hardly anyone ever looks. Surprisingly the place is nearby and it has a long long history of rum. Where is this land of history soaked rumology? Why right here in the USA!

Now don't get me wrong the mass made rums we have available are fine products. Their Premium and Specialty offerings are great as well. What I wanted to know was – What about rum made right here in the states?

Once I had accepted that CSR was not coming back; well not the original for I have heard murmurings of a “new” CSR – but have not heard much else, I felt comforted in seeking out the regulars. Realizing my waistline could not stand a steady diet of Rum & Coke (one of my favorites) – I even switched to Diet Coke. Still the very best rum is rum drunk neat. OK maybe a rock or two – but rum straight.

I found that I liked darker rums (not liking the spiced rums too much though – but open to the possibilities), especially with Coke as the heightened caramel flavors were just a tremendous mix. I like Bicardi, liked Meyers, pretty much liked most. Then, I retired.

My family is wonderful. They like to have a party for just about anything, but, they respect requests. I asked that no big thing be made of my retirement. That was obeyed. However, everyone dropped cards and gifts on me without a party. One gift, among a group of great gifts, was a bottle of clear Tommy Bahama Rum. Very good. This was a different taste as well. Now I was learning that rums had a spectrum of tastes that, to me, were as broad as wine! I mentioned how much I liked the clear and that I loved the darker for mixing, especially with Coke. Voila! A bottle of Tommy Dark! It was as good as I could imagine. Still though I was in the crowd with the crowd.

One of the things about being retired is the ability to explore more. On one of our trips to Traverse City Michigan, I read about a distillery that make whiskey, vodka and RUM! Needless to say I was intrigued. Alas we did not seek it our more actively, but that is a sin I shall not re-commit! For now I must do more research to find it.

So that's it – that's how it started. I found that rum was being made here. Here being the USA. To be frank I have only found one, that is Certified 100% USA made (meaning that not only is the spirit distilled here in the US – every ingredient is also USA grown or produced. We'll get to that one very soon – So stay tuned.

So fellow Rummies (wear the title proudly!) stay tuned. Drop me a line, comment, send me your ideas. One thing in the making will be a Rick The Rum Runner taste card & ranking. Remember not often is alcohol encouraged – but rum was required!

A Bit of Rum History in the USA.

 Rum has been popular in the US long before we were the United States. While sugar cane production, particularly in the Caribbean, was where most of the raw material for rum making came from (Rum, by the way had been around for a long time before sugar cane was used - Marco Polo commented upon "wine made from sugar" in his travels to the far east centuries before.) the first distillery for rum on United States soil was 1664. It was located on Staten Island. Massachusetts had a distillery just three years later.
Rum has a long history in the USA, and beyond much of what many of us take as obvious: Pirates, slave trade, Navel rations etc, there is still more to discover -- Please feel free to read more, and I make these suggestions:
Wikipedia General Information -- history -- even some how to...
Rum Facts, Rum Ratings and Rum Reviews at Taste.com More detail -- some real intrigue and a great source on Rums. I plan to stick to US made craft rums -- so for a general education read this article.
The History of Rum - Blogcritics Tastes - The History in a nutshell. A short, informative two page column...

As usual -- you are more than welcome to comment and or email me with ideas, questions, favorite US Rums, perhaps your taste experiences with this wonderful spirit.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Journey Towards Rum...

So let me get started by telling you about my interest in rum.
First, as I grew up and became aware of liquor, rum was a bit down the list from the drinks I sought.  To be frank, beyond beer and some cheap wines (Boone's Farm and the like) even graduating to such greats like Matuse (Every bottle is like a trip to Portugal...), which was, in fact pretty good. Still -- as an American guy from 21 till my 40's I tended toward beer. Sometime in the last decade and a half, my palette for alcohol changed. First most American style beers were fine -- but really more drinking to cool off, get a buzz or just socialize. I found certain ones that I had tolerated, no longer could be. Then, I discovered foreign beers and later craft beer both domestic and imported. I found myself drinking less and enjoying it more. Yeah, it is possible!
Not content to limit myself, I began to re-explore wine. Sure the first experiences were more for the budget - to maximize the effect, but an olde brother, who took me under his wing, introduced me to fine wine. This was the early 1970's when wine was beginning to come opt of its fancy cover it had worn for so long. Sure the Sommelier was still there but somehow he became less imposing - more a familiar - one to help me guide my way through. But, beyond a few favorites I never explored it too much.

The Age Of Enlightenment.

Now, I have just entered my 60's, many of  my tastes are locked in, immovable. Still I try for an open mind. So the ever present quest for fun drinks. At this point beer has really taken a back seat. I like Tequila -- but tend toward mixed drinks to straight except for a few brands. Gin? Had to give that up years ago as it causes an rare but painful form of indigestion in me and I have avoided it for many, many years. Vodka.... Oh yeah. But the problem here is so many others have discovered it already. Even now It seems all so "been there drank a bunch of that.." So, what to really look into? What to seek out, find, taste and report upon? My thoughts went back to a trip to the Caribbean where I was introduced to a completely new (to me) rum... 
My wife, Cathy and me, were on an 11 day cruise. Believe me, cruise the Caribbean entails a LOT of rum. To be honest I stuck with the well.  I didn't know enough about this spirit to ask for a specific, by name. This ended on St Kitts.
Our island tour was a unforgettable walk through the rainforest of St. Kitts. The wildlife, scenery; everything was fabulous. Have to admit the heat and humidity sure got us into the mood for a cold drink. The guides knowing this served a simple rum punch with a mix of tropical fruit juices and their local rum. This was that moment. One taste and I found that I instantly liked the rum and, to me, nothing had ever tasted like that before! I asked about it, they showed me the name CSR. A thirst had begun. We found that CSR was the local brew, basically made on St. Kitts and not sold much anywhere else. On the way back to the boat we found a store that sold it -- $7.00 US for a quart! We brought the legal limit home, doled it out to a few friends and neighbors. We made rum punches and even drank some straight. Rum and Coke NEVER tasted this good before!
Eventually we ran out -- it wasn't until 2002 that we found ourselves on St Kitts. We discovered we had a hard time finding any! Finally we loaded up on a mixture of Quart, pint and half pints and brought it all back. It wasn't long before I saw that stock deplete. Frantically I search for Someone who could wholesale it into the US. Over the years, I still drank rum, but, never re-experienced that flavor, that texture. The sweetness and thickness just was not available from other, mass-made rums.
I found this announcement in a we page....

Basseterre, Saint Kitts & Nevis

CSR closed in 1999 after the death of the founder Baron Edmund Rothschild. This rum is no longer being produced. 
It seemed the search was over. What we had tasted back in 1996 and has so much trouble finding in 2002 was the end of The Baron's Rum. 

NEXT --- My search for American Rums - and why!