Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rick Makes A Deal With The Devil...

Part of the job here at RTRR is that we get to drink and talk about it. Yeah I know many of you do that on your own - but I get to do it to thousands of people at one time. I do it one time and the people read it... 

To make that possible I need rum. In the beginning - I bought every bottle I tasted and reviewed, later, as I visited Distillers, I found them to be generous and smart in that they saw RTRR was starting to make a small impact and they would supply me with a bottle or two - just to sample and write about. As Rick the Rum Runner became more visible, I have had the honor of being contacted by Distillers to send samples and ask my opinion on their Rums.
Richard Stillwagon has a Distillery that bears his name. He sent a sample of all five (I may have mentioned six in the past) rums and I intend to sip and comment. But let's look at Stillwagon Distillery, first.

They have a Website and it does a great job of presenting their products and business. It certainly attracted me and if I find myself near Charleston Oregon, I plan to visit. 
Part of a persons journey into any business is the story behind it. I have to include the story of Rick Stillwagon's route:

"This venture  started with a Koi pond.  I was raising koi and looking for a better way to clean and heat the water.  I stumbled upon aquaponics, the Living Machine, steam, had a steam engine built in India, water distillation, then ethanol fuel production.  I then began my path through the licensing process with the federal, state, and county governing bodies.

That is the very short version.  There is about 10 years of exploring, experimenting, and a lifetime of developing different skills that led to this current endeavor.  This is only a piece of a larger puzzle.

We are also working on a waste water treatment system to process our spent wash, a CO2 capture system to prevent excess CO2 from escaping our fermentation process, and solid waste composting and recycling to reduce our waste stream.

We are just getting started, and slowly getting to these very complicated but necessary amenities to our business.  So if you would like to know more about what we are doing feel free to contact us or drop by for a visit."


Sounds like an interesting trip!  

So enough of my Blah-blah-blah... We gotta taste!

Their comment at their website is; "Our White Rum has a delicate smooth flavor with a sweet and fruity finish. Not to be taken lightly at 110 proof."
As soon as I opened the bottle a bouquet filled the room. Sweetness, sugar, I get a bit of burnt sugar or caramel. Big legs on the glass wall... For a 110 proof, there is the tiniest tongue bite, but a burst of flavor immediately. This is stout, unruly rum -- a Pirates drink for sure. No dainty "just a mixer" here. Describing the flavors is interesting - so complex, its like tasting a Jambalaya, layers of taste. Smooth - yes, the sweetness is not just a finish but upfront as well. There is a clean almost grassy taste (cane) - caramel, very subtle butterscotch. The finish is sweet and a nice fruity sweet as mentioned by the makers. 
I say this is too good to mix -- but don't write that off - any mixed trink that asks for rum will be improved with this clear, rowdy rum. But, take some to sip. A water splash brings out a greater aroma. It also sweetens the flavor - so a slowly melting rock would make this a cool, very refreshing sipper....

This is a crystal rum at a 155 proof! They say:
"Our Wicked Rum is our overproof at 155.  It is incredibly smooth for a high proof with a sweet fruity finish."
You would think the aroma would be even greater than the White, but not so. I find it very cotton candy, touch of caramel, deeply attractive to the nose. Tasting it yes  a tiny tongue bite but the flavor is released like a tiger escaping from a cage! My palate was immediately warmed. I have a passing of vanilla, Sweetness down the center of my tongue and a long term sweet finish. Holding a small sip in my mouth was warming - sweet, slightly burnt but intensely satisfying... Wonderful sipping rum. Any mixed drink calling for over proof rum would explode with the addition of Wicked Rum.. Still in a glass over a lump of hard ice -- YUMMY I added a touch of water and teh butterscotch aroma came to the forefront. Absolutely smoothed the taste out and intensified the long lasting finish....
Always a surprise - I find Spiced Rums an exciting style. There are so many varieties that each has a personality whether sipped or mixed. Their comments: 
"Our Spiced Rum is infused with the flavors of the tropics.  We use real Pineapple, Coconut, Vanilla, and a host of other spices carefully blended to tantalize your palate."
Aroma is spicy and very attractive. This will be complex - just by the nose. I smell so many things -- besides what they say... Is that APPLE too? Now to taste. Oh my... The flavor is a drink in its own! All they say (love the pineapple) the spice mix is rich, very rich. I detect clove, as well as a huskiness - perhaps cinnamon? What ever it is -- whoever came up with the mix was spot on!
I know spiced rums tend to be used in Cuba Libras, and this would elevate that drink to skyscraper heights, but, you HAVE to try this alone. At 96 proof, the rum is great neat, actually cooling on its own. A bit of water separates some of the flavors. Ice would complete it on its own, but I WILL have a Rum & Cola just to experience it!

Aged golden rums is where rum crosses lines. I am sure the authenticity reigns as rum was carried aboard ships for over a century or more. Naturally they'd age in the cask... Stillwagon writes:
"Our Gold Rum is aged for at least a year in new charred oak barrels made by ISC in Missouri.  It has a mellow smooth slightly sweet flavor with a hint of vanilla and oak.  Many Bourbon drinkers have been swayed by this rum..."  
Ah-h-h- a mellow, subtle bouquet wafts up. You can tell the barrels are new, the wooded aroma is pronounced and has that toasted twinge to the nose.  The smoothness of the taste is so evident. They speak of swaying bourbon drinkers, and the shear smoothness on the tongue is sway enough for me. There is a definite butterscotch after taste that lessens to that slight tingle that makes aged rums so tasty. The proof is 109 -- and you are not aware of that high number - flavor is what it is about. Stillwagon has treated his rum like a good whiskey and the reward is beyond its cousin in flavor. Sure you are free to mix this as you want but this is a HIGHLY ranked sipping rum. Saying Rum is just sugar and/or molasses fermented is like calling whiskey just moonshine in a barrel. there is a a LOT more there and it is presented so well by Rick Stillwagon's Gold Rum.

This is their newest addition. I have only one rum to compare it with so far, a mass marketed one named after a mythical Greek Sea Monster. I do like that one -- especially with cola. They say:
"Our newest product is our Black Spiced Rum!  It has a different combination of spices than our spiced rum, blended in our gold rum with a splash of molasses to give it a rich bold flavor."
I stick my ample nose into the glass and detect a deep spiciness not at all like their "regular" spiced Rum. No, this is different. There is a burnt sugar and spiciness melange that is really tempting. This is a lower proof rum and I get deeper lower notes of spice (Cinnamon, and others... Not up on spice names). I taste it to discover that they have made this into a sweet spicy complete drink of its own! Rolling the rum in my mouth lets the layers expose themselves. Sugar, caramel, butterscotch - offset by a heavy spiciness that both intensifies but mellows the sweetness. Oh -- Rick -- This is a winner! Again -- mixable and MADE for cola drinks -- but Please, please -- chilled or over a rock -- yes, yes indeed. 

There you go - Five rums from Stillwagon Distillery -- My final comment is this. If this was born of koi  raising..... Can you imagine how kick-ass their koi are? Best to you all at Stillwagon Distillery, please keep us up on where you are - where we can get your products and any news we NEED to know -- Thank you for the opportunity!

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