Friday, October 30, 2015

We Explore Connecticut's Smuggler's Rum!

When we searched Connecticut for Rum Distillers, one Connecticut Valley Distillery (CVD) stood out. The Owner and Chief Distiller, Rich Gummoe, was nice enough to answer questions from us about his journey to maker of SMUGGLER'S Silver RUM.
Now, I have to confess, I have not tasted this spirit (yet) but am hoping one of three things will happen soon. One, I get to visit Connecticut and head out to Ellington, Connecticut and sit down, taste and talk right there at CVD. Two, he sends a sample, allowing me to taste and tell you all about it. Finally, there's Three: One or more of my readers stop there and send me email telling me all about their tastes... I'll get back to you just as soon as I can on any or all of those happenings.

So, to go from there.... Let's talk Rum:

Rich Gummoe was nice enough to answer many of my questions. I tend to be very inquisitive because I am fascinated with not only the product (rum) but also the producers. In our first back-and-forth we find out a little about Connecticut Valley Distillery CVD and, Rich Gummoe.

So when it comes to hats, what one do you wear?
“I wear a lot but the one I am most proud of is Distiller. That was my goal as I started and the final product, Smuggler's Silver Rum is my rum child. It is what we have developed, to date, and I am proud to offer it to my customers.”

That brings us to the “when's”, the “why's”. Tell us about the beginnings, what got you started?
“It was early 2004. I was looking at brewing a beer. At the time Craft Beers were coming fast onto the market and the industry found a thirsty public, wanting to explore.
I played with different styles of beer. I was using my education in microbiology, yeast cell reproduction, I had learned at UCONN.

I was experimenting, looking for a higher alcohol content from the yeast I was using. The
idea to run the beer through a still and see what came out. The distilled spirit was, in fact, a whiskey of sorts. My Chem 201 Classes were continuing to pay off in my distillation skill. I have to say at that moment it was goodbye to the brew kettle and hello to the copper still.
I studied 17th century New England distillery process. I noted that Connecticut style of rum during those colonial times and I was struck by how similar these steps are to the initial production steps I was seeing during my time spent studying sake’ brewing in Japan a number of years prior. That led me to CVD's classic colonial Silver style of rum making.”

I notice Your Silver Rum is currently the only product you offer. I would imagine as you grow others (maybe whiskeys, etc) will come about.
“Smuggler’s Silver Rum is the only rum that we produce at this time. This style of rum was 3 years in research and 1 year development. The research of Smuggler’s Rum took me to many historically renowned New England rum making communities. When during one of these investigative trips to New London Connecticut, I struck upon what I thought was a unique process that I had not seen in other areas of New England.” However, we do expect the release of our Smuggler's Spiced Rum early 2016.

So that let's me know Rich is not a wide-ranging gunner of all spirits, but a thoughtful, and patient Distiller, looking for what, first of all, pleases him. He seems to want to make sure he makes the very best he can, and reproduce it for the parched, Rum Enthusiasts. I asked a question about his philosophy of distilling and his answer confirmed what I suspected.
“One of the reason that I chose to begin making rum over other spirits is the lack of TTB process restriction as is with other spirits like whiskeys.”
Often, I find this same attitude among many Distillers and find it's what keeps their focus and their quest of quality to the fore.

As we speak of Smuggler's Rum, I'd like to know how your growth, in a short period of time, has been?

“In the nine months CVD has made Smuggler's Rum we have already been recognized in CT NOW, Reader's Choice Poll as the #3 Distillery in the 12 listed Distilleries in the state. Smuggler's Rum is out #1 Rum produced in CT. I am proud to say that.”

So that pretty mush sums up this entry. I search for Rum all over the USA looking for it all. When I find it I will make sure you hear about it. Stay tuned -- for I AM:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rick explores Minnesota for Rum and Fun!

This post we continue in our search for rums in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. For me, nearly 3 years ago when I decided to begin to write about craft rums, and not just any craft rum, just those made in the United States, Little did I know I would have such a directory. The Rick the Rum Runner directory is available to everyone who visits here and is looking for a great rum, and a rum made near them! Pick your state, or one that you'll be visiting perhaps on vacation, even a business trip and select the distiller(s) that catches your eye. Our directory will take you to their website (and make Facebook and/or Twitter if available) allowing you to find out more. If I may suggest - take a tour, taste the rum in their house and know if its one that you'd like to add to your barback. You can even see what we've had to say about it by putting the rum name or the distiller name into the Search This Blog spot on the right of the page. Bam! Every mention of that rum will appear for you to read, contact and even report to me to tell us what you thought of the rum.
Three years we have been reporting here and i have to say, it is still tons of fun. So much so - we need to get back to our search and look at:
I decided to work this search using a site called City Pages Use this link to connect you to it if you want to read more. Lets see what they list as - Open, About to open or planned Distilleries in Minnesota:
Norseman Distillery
"Norseman Distillery, the first micro-distillery in Minneapolis, was founded with principles of using the very best local ingredients to produce small batches of exceptionally fine spirits. From our micro-distillery in northeast Minneapolis, we hand craft each batch with the hopes of inspiring legendary cheer in those who drink it."
We here may make a run just to visit these distillers. The more we find the better we like it!
They have tours (go to their website (click on their name to go there) and put it in your plans!
"Visit our distillery and see in action the attention that NORSEMAN Distillery gives to each spirit run to create a hand crafted, award winning, premium Spirit.
Our tours happen on Friday, and Saturday for the general public. Plan to spend a minimum of 60 minutes at our facility. Each tour includes samples of all of our premium spirits (21+)"

The Next stop?
Far North Spirits
Ålander is distilled in small batches from Demerara and Turbinado sugar. All rum spices are purchased whole (no extracts or flavor-house oils) and infused by hand: whole bean vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.A hint of espresso lends a surprising depth of flavor.

So a Spiced rum is there for us to enjoy. For me its sounds very interesting and, I want to meet them and hear their story! Here's a bit -- but go to their site for the whole story.

In 1917, Great Grandpa Gustaf arrived in Skane Township to begin farming some of the richest land on earth.
Almost 100 years later, we built Far North Spirits, the northernmost distillery in the contiguous United States, here on the Swanson family farm just 25 miles from Canada in the northwest corner of Minnesota. ...

Boiler Room Rum
Sugar is produced from refined sugar cane juice, and molasses comes from the extract of this concentrated sugar. If the molasses is boiled a third time, it is known as Blackstrap. It's more bitter than the second boil, but it is also more flavorful.
Most rums are made from molasses, but vary in strength. Our Boiler Room Rum uses dark blackstrap molasses to find the richest end of the spectrum.
We hope you enjoy the complexity and nuance of this back room spirit.

Their name and their history is pretty neat as well:
Located in the historic Hamm's Brewery on Minnehaha Avenue in St. Paul, 11 Wells is proud to be part of the revitalization of the Payne Avenue Corridor along with our other great neighbors Ward 6 restaurant, Ace Hardware, Flat Earth Brewery, and Urban Organics. And, yes, there are 11 wells on site, the 11th of which will be the water source of our spirits. You may have heard of us before under the name Mill City Distillery, but we have renamed our distillery 11 Wells to be true to our St. Paul roots.

See what I mean -- I love these introduction and have every intention of going there to meet the whole team.

At the time of this publication - they were not producing. You (and we) can use the link to
check on them and find out what is happening

So there we are -- as we here are finishing up our third year seeking great American Made Rum, this exploration to Minnesota is just the beginning. Keep reading and keep Sipping!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Let's Get Behind The Bar - Rum Recipes

I was giving the Charles Coulombe book, Rum The Epic Story That Conquered The World, a look, and noticed a few drink recipes from all ages of Rum History.

Here's one that, while the name doesn't go back to WWI the formula does:
Between The Sheets
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 oz brandy
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 ox light rum
Shake this with ice and serve in a cocktail glass

I find Between The Sheets interesting in that we have a mixture of alcohol we don't often see. Let's see what others we can find.

I post this next one because we have become lazy when mixing drinks. I confess to often just going to Rum & Coke as a drop back, but forget the history behind the Cuba Libre, the real drink that started that marriage. Having make it in the original way I can say -- You NEED to make it this way. It is decidedly a better drink a treat to your taste buds:
Cuba Libre
3 oz Coca-Cola
Lime wedge
1 oz rum (I like a dark rum)
2 oz Gin
2 dashes of bitters.

Try that mix -- please write to me and tell me what you think!!

We can't talk historic rum drinks without wading into --- The Mai Tai. Here are 4 recipes, each with their subtle tastes standing out -- but each different in their own, cool way....
The Original Mai Tai formula
2 oz 17 year old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican rum
½ oz French Garnier Orgeat
½ oz Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
¼ oz rock candy Syrup
Juice of 1 fresh lime
Hand Shake and garnish with ½ the lime shell inside the drink and float a sprig of mint at the edge of the glass.

As the name Mai Tai implies (The Very Best), making one of those can get rather expensive. However, the drink has changed over time:
First changed Mai Tai Recipe
1 oz 15 year old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican rum
1 oz Coruba or Red Heart Jamaican rum
½ Trader Vic Formula orgeat
½ oz Holland DeKuyper Orange Curacao
¼ oz rock candy syrup
Juice of 1 fresh lime
Mix and serve as the Original above

So Trader Vic makes an appearance and the rum used is a bit younger (part of it was that there was such a limited amount of 17 year old that 15 year old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican rum was supstituted. Still more changes were made.

Second Ajusted Mai Tai Formula:
1 oz Trader Vic's Jamaican Rum (15 or 8 year old)
1 oz Martinique rum (St James or Trader Vic's)
1 oz pre-mixed Curacau, ogeat, and rock candy syrup
Juice of 1 fresh lime
Mix and serve as the Original

Here there are more pre-made ingredients, showing the commercialization of the drink, but allowing more of us the ability to eaily make one, or 20. Still, there is one more, which pretty makes up what most of us get when we order a Mai Tai

Present Day Mai Tai Formula
2 oz fine dark rum
4 oz Trader Vic's Mai Tai Mix
Juice of one large lime
Mix and serve as the Original

So once we get past the named Rums (decidedly not American Made) we find the present day Mai-Tai. Try it with a your very best Dark American Rum and tell us how you liked it..

OK OK That's it for me. See you next time!!!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

We check out the web for Rum!

Emails,Tweets, Facebook and the like. I just needed to talk.
Seems Blackwater Distillery got some great recognition and it will allow them to expand and upgrade. Here is the release we have:

Blackwater Distilling Awarded Queen Anne’s County Economic Development Grant and Low-interest Loan

Grant of $70,000 and low-interest loan of $100,000 will be used to expand production capacity and product lines at the Queen Anne’s County distillery.
STEVENSVILLE, Md. – October 5, 2015 – Blackwater Distilling™, Inc. (“Blackwater”), Maryland’s oldest craft distillery, today announced that the company has been awarded a total of $170,000 in loans and grants from Queen Anne’s County.... (LINK)

Blackwater seems to be out there - getting their Spirits onto the market. If you are interested - click that link to read the entire article. 
A little background:
About Blackwater Distilling

Blackwater Distilling™, Inc. is a rapidly growing producer of handcrafted, premium spirits and Maryland’s oldest craft distillery. Blackwater was founded on a vision of reviving Maryland’s distinguished distilling heritage by crafting premium-quality spirits using the finest ingredients, supporting local farms and businesses in the process.

We also made contact with the folks at Connecticut Valley Distilling. Richard Gummoe got back to me and we are in the process of setting up an e-interview. I will keep you posted!!

In Twitter -- we have heard from many interesting Rum Enthusiasts. We love the follows - but I general don't follow back unless YOU are a rum, food, spirit information Tweeter. However, if you want to hear from not only us, but many food, drink , and spirit Makers, marketers and commentaries -- We are the spot! @Rick_Rum_Runner.. Just a sampling of interesting Tweeters we follow:
Wicked Jack's Tavern
George Sheppard
Wicked Dolphin Rum
Rougaroux Rum
Imbibe Magazine
The Bar Chick
And so many more. Get all your rum and Spirit info @Rick_Rum_Runner.

Til next time I AM:

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Looking for Rum in Kansas

Since Rum got its start in the 13 Colonies here before the USA, it seems right that its presence in Distilleries, as we go further west, tends to fade away. However, I am determined to "fill in" the states that have no Rum distillers listed in our Guide. I was not thinking too positively when I began my search in this interior state, but found a goodly amount of Distillers. Being a Grain State, Sure it seemed they all were Whiskey based (nothing wrong there, but not my focus here) ... I did stumble upon:

Looks like we found not only a Rum but two Rums!!

Wichita’s 1st legal distillery
Wheat State Distilling is a Kansas artisan distillery producing premium spirits including vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon and rum. Our Wheat Vodka is for sale now at the distillery and at Kansas liquor stores with our Gin and White Rum for sale later this spring. We currently are aging our Wheat Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey and Spiced Rum.
Master Distiller & Owner- David Bahre

David Bahre’s love and knowledge of grains and fine spirits combined into an obsession. After years of planning, he started building the distillery in January of 2013 and Wheat State Distilling officially opened in December of 2013.
David is a Wichita native and self-professed nerd. Following a family tradition in agriculture, he received his bachelor’s degree in Grain Science and Milling from Kansas State University and is working on his Masters in Agribusiness from KSU as well. Wheat State Distilling is a family owned and operated business. David’s wife, Kim, a Wichita native and KSU grad as well, works along with him. Their daughter, the inspiration for Bella Bahre’s Bourbon, is a frequent sight at the distillery in addition to great friends and family who help out when needed. Shiloh, the Great Dane better known as the Hooch Pooch can regularly be spotted lounging on the couch watching the hard work happen.
Why Kansas?
Wheat makes some of the best spirits in the world. With the best wheat in the world in Kansas, why are spirits not made here? David has set out to change this.
Wheat State Distilling’s goal is field to bottle distilling, tracing the ingredients we use from the FARM to the MILL to the STILL to the BOTTLE. You can track how your spirits were made with the hand written batch and bottle numbers on your label this web site. Learn more under Our Process.

Wheat State Distilling’s focus is premium, Hand-crafted spirits

made from local quality grains.

So I see that their main aim is whiskey. They do, however have this in their repertoire:

Available NOW in our tasting room and at liquor stores across Kansas!!

NOW available at the Distillery

Rum barrel aged for 7 months, infused with cinnamon, clove, ginger, vanilla.

This said.....  I don't have lots of info on Wheat State Distillery (WSD), I will send a follow up email and see what I can find out!


As we enter the Fall season -- This is an IDEAL time to enjoy a nice Dark & Stormy:

Dark & Stormy Ingredients

2 ounces rum -- dark rum

3 ounces ginger beer

1/2 ounce lime juice

Collins glass, or, my favorite a mug 


Combine the rum, the ginger beer, and the lime juice (optional), in a tall glass full of ice cubes and give it a good stir.
The idea here is to nail the ratio between the spice of the ginger beer and the richness of the rum. Depending on brands of each used, you may want to play around with the proportions. For an “Authentic” Bermuda D&S, omit the lime juice.

Remember, Ginger Beer is NOT Ginger Ale. There are a number of very good brands out there at good liquor stores. Experiment with the one YOU like with the Rum YOU LIKE.

I have heard of making it with Spiced Rum but have not tasted one myself. I'd be interested in your reaction to this easy and very satisfying drink.....

October is a special time of the year for RTRR... Why you ask? Because its our Anniversary Month!! More on that later this month as I recall some of our early places, people and ideas....