Wednesday, May 20, 2015

From the Road: Fair Game Beverages

Driving through North Carolina finding Pittsboro is a fun time. Pittsboro is just South West of Raleigh NC and is set is a neat area. Fair Game Beverages is on Lorax Lane (yes, Dr. Seuss fans; Lorax Lane). There is a cluster of buildings that reflect an artistic flair as well as an environmental awareness that we love to see. Looking for the location of where Chris Jude, Distiller, Owner and all-around nice guy we encountered friendly people and directions. Soon, we were visiting with Chris, who, with Rose (Assisting and helping with the many tasks of this Winery, Distillation operation) were busy keeping all in order.

Chris took time to lead a very informative and fun tour of the distillation portion of the business. Talking to him, you find that it is not just a business, it is a passion with him. Just this year they launched No'Lasses, their Sorghum based spirit that is rum in all senses other than it is not made with Molasses. More about that. He also allowed us to sample two, new, true rums in pre-production!

As with just about every Distiller I've met, Chris was proud of his operation, a wealth of information and driven to make high quality spirits. He showed us pictures of sorghum, in the fields, telling us
that the canes are treated similar to sugar cane, the juice squeezed out and concentrated. For distillation, the fermentation is nearly identical and of course the still begins the transmutation stage into what for all practical purposes is rum.

the US Government definition of rum includes the wording that it must be made of Sugarcane juice, molasses and/or cane by products in order to be called Rum. the 'Ghum is process similarly and the concentrated juice is sweet and is often used like syrup on toast, oatmeal etc by Southerners and farm families all over. We got to sample some, my wife declaring that it would be delicious on her morning Oatmeal and I agreed as a spread on biscuits, toast etc, it was great.


Tasting the No'Lasses was a treat. The bouquet lacks some of the tell-tale aromas of cane-based rum, sure but it had an almost floral scent, vegetative yet sweet to the nose. The taste was different from the other sorghum based rum I have tried. this was full bodied, just great on the tongue and a pleasant after taste, lasting and mildly sweet rum. This is a nicely aged spirit, a definite sipper, but there are many mixed drinks that would be improved with its addition. Also Fair Game offers recipes using No'Lasses in them. I'd encourage tasting them and adding this Rum-Spirit to your bar!!

Now we talk "What comes next?" Well Chris has a great source of Sugar Cane and has begun to distill a Rhum Agricole and a Rum made with Panela sugar. For explination purposes let's define:

Ruhm Agricole:
Rhum Agricole is the French term for cane juice rum, a style of rum originally distilled in the French West Indies islands from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice rather than molasses.

Panela Sugar:
Panela is unrefined whole cane sugar, typical of Central and of Latin America in general, which is a solid form of sucrose derived from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice.Panela is known by other names in Latin America, such as piloncillo in Mexico (where "panela" refers to a type of cheese, queso panela) and rapadura in Portuguese. Elsewhere in the world, the word jaggery describes a similar foodstuff. Both of them are considered Non-centrifugal cane sugars.
Panela is sold in many forms, including liquid, granulated, and solid blocks, and is used in the canning of foods as well as in confectionery, soft drinks, baking, and vinegar- and wine-making.
You can see the small bottles of Agricole & Panela.
He had samples of both and in my journey have discovered that Rum Agricole IS the taste I recall from my initial experience with CSR Rum. It has a sugary taste, molasses flavors nearly absent. Instead, a sweet, almost grassy flavor that is just wonderful and so earthy, so much a reward for just sipping the rum. The Rum Agricole I sampled was an excellent example. When this product debuts -- GET SOME. 

The Panela sugar made rum is similar. The fact that they let the liquid solidify, intensifies the sugar and allows a bit of caramel, or browning of the sugar. the taste effect is subtle but, for me, had just a tang of fine molasses, not black strap, but more the fine molasses. this is a fine, delicate yet robust rum that will also (I predict) be a great addition to the Spirit list of Fair Game Beverages.

This was an enjoyable, fun and informative tour. Glad I met Chris and glad we took his advice and lunched at City-Tap, in town. 

So, Till Next Time:

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