Friday, August 16, 2013

Ugly Dog Distillery & Big Cedar Distillery

Excited about these two Distilleries -- And we will get to the story as we go, but first this announcement! It is Friday and it nearly is:

September 20 is National Rum Punch Day and this recipe is from a local Liquor Store. Sounds great -- may give it a try! I LOVE rum punch...! We can practice for the day!

Rum Punch
Ingredients for 12 drinks

4oz of fresh lemon juice
4oz of fresh orange juice
4oz simple syrup
3lemons quartered
1orange quartered
1/2 Tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 cinnamon sticks broken
12 oz boiling water
8oz of light rum
8oz of dark rum
4oz of orange curaçao

In a container, mash the lemons, orange, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add syrup, lemon and orange juice. Pour the boiling water over the mixture. Let it cool. Strain out the solids. Heat the juice mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Let it cool and refrigerate overnight.

In a punch bowl, combine the juice and spice mixture(approximately 24 oz), light and dark rums, and the rum liquor.
Serve the punch over ice with some orange and lemon wheels.
Top with grated nutmeg and cinnamon.


Let's talk Rum Tour
In our efforts to find and taste as many Rums made in the US as possible, we did our homework and tried to fit in as many as we could. We were excited to include these last two as part of the return home. I am very glad we did!

Ugly Dog Distillery


Ah-h-h-h Taste testing..
As I had mentioned in my first report; made it here on the skin of our teeth! We were greeted by Dewey, one of the owners, and his son, Austin. They had spend a long day bottling and were ready to head home. That did not matter. Dewey is a great guy and a great businessman. He took the time to tell the story of Ugly Dog and as in so many before, the idea and business was born from a series of conversations. A great group of friends, Jon Dyer  and Dewey Winkle included, would meet for cards or fishing/hunting trips and while together they'd treat themselves to cigars, fine foods (served on china in fine table settings in the most rural of conditions, these guys know how to live!) and spirits. Since they each tried to out-do past presentations the subject of the drinks came up. Bet you can't guess what happened next! Rugar, their dog, was chosen as mascot and name for the Distillery. Yes that is a real dog and really, Ugly? Not really - pretty cute in person and friendly. It took 15 seconds for him to lay on the couch in the Distillery tasting room and put his head in my lap - looking for scritches.
After a talk, and with interruptions for customers (now well past closing time), Dewey introduced me to their line of spirits and their rum.
Almost apologetically, he said their rum was in white only and was more "the mixer type" comparing it to some of the mass marketed white (crystal, clear, etc, etc) rums. He poured me a sample. I checked the aromas. I found them light, sweet. The cane was in the menu with only the slightest of caramel whisping in the background. A taste: Subtle, light with a nice alcohol "bite", at 80 proof a very nice flavor definitely sweet, more a sugar flavor. Yes, this is a very, very good mixing rum. I agree that this (most whites really) is not a rocks drink for everyone. But to compare it to mass-marketed rums -- no sir-ee, this is quality, smooth and could easily be a sipping rum. Guys, be very proud of your rum!
Ugly Dog offers other spirits as well. Their vodkas are very sought after by locals (we witnessed many sales as we chatted and sipped, literally an hour after closing) and their bacon flavor vodka (yes not a typo) is a great mixer with a Bloody Mary. Bacon, lettuce and tomato anyone??
Ugly Dog is still a work in progress (aren't they all?) and they are constantly tweaking and improving. I can see continued success and and expansion into a wider market and audience. Great job guys!
The Rick The Rum Runner decision? Yes, great people (nice dog) - great Spirits and a very good addition to your bar. Don't let the Ugly Dog escape!


Big Cedar Distilling

Here is a tale of success being restricted. We drove to Sturgis, Michigan to find Big Cedar Distillery. The GPS guided us to a driveway at a home. I went to the door and was directed to a driveway back at the end of the property and a Tasting Shed/Distillery at the rear. Seems they have outgrown their current place and were looking to escape some restrictive business practices at this locale.
Almost empty!
We were told that we were there on their first day after they were to be shut down. They still had stock and they were not to be closed "forever" but were in need of newer, bigger digs. I was able to taste their rums and was impressed.

Flavor infusion
Castaway Rum: Light - white and a very good mixing rum. Aroma of molasses was minor with more sugar and vanilla. Taste was light as well. An "unobtrusive" rum but with good flavor. 
Plans to age it are in the works. I think this will age well, and be a light alternative to some of the heavily aged rums out there. These tend to be great alone and mixed with ingredients that let the smokey, woody goodness through.  The picture shows an "Aging Stick" which is put in the rum to infuse the cask aging. It is an innovative way of imparting flavor.

Castaway Spiced: The spiced rum was very good. As with many good spiced rums, this can easily stand alone. the spice aroma and flavors are homogenized and treat the taste-buds. This has a very bright future.
I hope they expand and grow with a new location and greater marketing opportunities. Please guys - keep us in the loop, we want to follow your re-emergence!

Read our posts here along with MORE!
Heads up to all the Distillers that read here -- We are talking about having a "Spirit" night (Think Halloween) here at the Rum Runners Shack. If you'd like us to sample and comment (written and video are in the works) please feel free to make sure we have some of your rum on hand. If you need information - email me!

As usual I am so happy to be:

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