Drove out to Firefly Distillery today - a beautiful South Carolina day. We also stopped at the Charleston Tea Plantation (The only one in North America!) where, among great brands of teas, they make the tea used in Firefly Vodkas and Bourbon Sweat Teas. We thought it would help to learn about some of the ingredients.
Just a short trip further brought us to the Irvin Vineyards and Firefly Distillery. They have a great installation with everything they need to make and market their distilled spirits and the wines.
We did not waste too much time and after a bit to eat and a sip of water, we went to the Distillery Tasting Room. It was not long before we had a nice conversation with the young lady pouring samples about Rum and Rum Making. She brought Jim Irvin to meet us and talk about his passion, the farm where wine and spirits are made.
After working more than 45 years, Jim had retired and was looking for a new direction. Widowed for some time, he met and married his new wife and together they began by planting the vines that make the wines bearing their name. Soon, Jim was experimenting in distilled spirits. Their list contains liquors from Moonshine to Bourbon, their famous Vodkas as well as Rum. In fact, they have nearly thirty flavors and variations of their products! Sampling as he explained each product gave me a real look at the man behind the still, so to speak. Easy going but very into the nuances of what he wanted. He explained that his quality control for flavors was 12 people. If he did get a thumbs up from all 12, the flavor needed tweaking.
Let's taste the rums:
First I had was the White Rum. This was filtered, never barreled and bottled right after distillation. It had a great buzz on my tongue., very clean, just a hint of sugar/molasses at the finish. The aftertaste lingered nicely too. A great sipper or mixed with fruit style drinks and or colas as well.
Gold Rum. Aged in bourbon barrels for 4 years, this has the toasty wood flavor and definite bourbon influences.The toasty oak and mellow rum seem to bring caramel to the forefront. I find it a VERY good aged rum, certainly one of the best to date.
The Spiced Rum was, for me, a real surprise. If you recall, I have never been a fan of spiced rums, but was entranced by craft rums use of spices and the fact that they all seem to blow away the mass produced rums. Well this one is no exception. One sip and I was a fan. Jim mentioned, "If you can't drink a spiced rum alone it's no good..." Well his is very good alone.
Finally we had his Java Rum. If you like coffee, you will love this -- face it; coffee and rum is a marriage made in heaven. Toss in that it is sweetened coffee and you have an after dinner, dessert rum that is good by itself and ready for any mixing that you'd like to taste real coffee. Jim mentioned using it as the rum in a Pina Colatta, and I plan to try just that!
I have more and will continue another day with recipes and stories on Sea Island Rums and from Jim. Stay tuned his story is amazing.
As for me -- I remain