Monday, June 24, 2013

Speaking of Journeys

When I began this rum Journey as a blog some nine months ago, I envisioned a few dozen distillers across the country that would interact and we'd form a close knit alliance to spread the word of small batch craft rum. As soon as I applied myself, I discovered hundreds of Distillers at all levels of sophistication, size, even business missions. Some are successful Distillers that have rum as an addition to their other distilled spirits, others - rum is their life. Some have incorporated food, entertainment and who knows what else as I never cease to be amazed at the creativity of these people, and companies.

Beyond the Distiller Setting

Once you break it down, all distillers, no matter how creative they are at marketing, educating and entertaining their customers, there has to be rum. No matter the setting the Distiller must, well, distill. Let's be honest stripped of it's minutia, the distillation process remains the same. Well it is pretty damned old. "The first clear evidence of distillation comes from Greek alchemists working in Alexandria in the first century AD." - (Wikipedia) Since that is the first clear evidence -- you can bet it had been going on longer than that in scattered corners all over the world. Even rum, which many (particularly those in the USA) think of and a British, American drink, can be found in many forms all over the world.
So the distillation process; Straightforward. I find then it is that minutia, that strikes the difference, Quality of the few raw ingredients, then time of "run" once distillation begins even the yeast developed to give the rum its subtle "under tastes" we all seem to love to detect..... Often that yeast is the biggest secret held by the Distillation Master.

In my journey I have seen so many stills. Primarily copper, and somewhat similar in design, the stills used to make rum are really quite pleasing to the eye. There is an elegance to the machine. A grace to the dance of alcohol, a curvature and shape, that to many is decidedly pleasing. A gain, something that has been with use for over 2000 years is recognizable, almost immediately by all.


Whether it is a small still, perhaps just able to make a drink or two...








OR






One decidedly larger...






The outcome is nearly the same. In this case, rum.

The flavors

The biggest phrase I hear from people I introduce to small batch, craft rum is, "It doesn't taste like rum." I have decided that this is only correct because most of us never taste much rum. We all know there is a huge market outside the Big Name Brands that we see in nearly every establishment licensed to sell rum. Here in the US much of it is Caribbean based, a lot of it is pretty good. There are a few US based companies that make some of their product here, import some, blend some... it gets confusing. But for the longest time it was accepted that really GOOD rum, the stuff that tastes like rum, was imported. But our sample range has been restricted. How many reading RTRR have sampled rum outside the Caribbean list of rums? How about Central America? South America. Oh and British rums -- how many have you tasted? Did you know there are rums in India? Thailand? Sweden? Name a country... chances are there is at least one version of rum. Oh and I have not tasted many either, but the ones I have, once you leave the confines of what we have been raised to call rum, guess what? It doesn't taste like rum. Oh wait -- let me modify that - It doesn't taste what we thought rum is supposed to taste like. Believe me I had my narrow tongue too. But once I widened it - it became much more fun. Rum tastes like rum, you just have not tasted them all.

American Made Rum

Besides being the name of our Facebook page (click it -- read it - click the LIKE button, please), AMR is the niche I decided to blog about. I have been challenged with "What about NNN Rum from CCC? It reeks with goodness." I bet it does or even I know it does, but it's not an American made rum. I just decided to open the doors to what is so readily available, and only needs to be exported (A joke I thought at first) between states. Some are beyond terrific, some good and improving. I can honestly say I have not had a bad one. I was asked if I ever gave a bad review. My answer was, "No -- it i nearly impossible to give a bad review. The very reason I might think that some rum was bad, could be the VERY reason someone else loves it." The most I can do is report (so inadequately) on its tastes, its flavor, tongue feel, after-taste. The smell, the legs left in the glass (Makes many left by many wines and liquors to be lacking) even the sight of it. It's all I have. I might (maybe) even say. "This is not a favorite because I....." See it is that "I" that sets it off. Because I -- don't like XYZ flavor/color/feel/sight. But that is me, not you, or the guy beside you, or the woman over there. What do I know, I'm just a rum runner.

You know, it's getting late, I'd love to talk more but it is bed time; and I need to put together the Fantastic visit we had to Three Oaks Michigan and Journeyman Distillery as well.... That will be the subject of Friday's blog. Wednesday we will talk some more about my Rum Journey. Why I do what I do and don't do what it do not do....
Oh and -- Lick the glass when you are done, make a Distiller smile:


                                          I am -- after all is said and done....


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