Saturday, November 30, 2013
The press is another of the very old pieces of equipment still in operation at the factory. It is driven by the water wheel through a series of gears and chains that turn the harvested sugar cane into juice. The spent cane hulls are then hand lifted into small rail cars and pushed over to the dumping area and allowed to dry in the warm tropical sun. Later the hulls also known as "bagasse" are used for the most part as fuel to boil the cane juice and fire the still, but some is also used as fertilizer for the crops on the estate.
After the cane is pressed, the juice flows by gravity to the copper boiling cauldrons where the syrup is thickened and concentrated. This is a process that is accomplished first by gravity then is hand ladled from the coolest cauldrons to the hottest one. The syrup is then pumped on to the fermenting tanks in the next room.
Fermentation in the tanks of cane syrup / molasses picks up natural yeasts from the air and fermentation begins. It takes fro 8 to 10 days, depending on the weather at the time for the fermentation to bring the alcohol content up to 13 to 15 percent.
The wash is then pumped into one of the wood and bagasse fired "Ventdome Potstills" where the rum is distilled until it reaches the ABV (Alcohol by Volume Percentage) desired. The rum is tested in a hygrometer, if the ABV is at the desired level then it is pass to bottling and the process is concluded. If not, then it is pumped back into the still for further distilling. until desired ABV is reached.
There was some Coca production being done in days gone by on the estate when the cane was not available for making rum. You can still see some of the drying tray rails along side of the tasting room.
River Antoine Distillery is a year round operation, but it is the favorite rum of the region of Grenada in which they operate, and they sell 100% or their product locally as well as to the visiting tourists. I bought the T Shirt, that says "Don't Say Rum, Say Rivers". There is an extreme loyalty that the "Rivers" drinkers have for their rum and it can be seen in the rum shops and taverns around the north region of Grenada.
If given the opportunity to visit this wonderful "old school" distillery, do pass it up, take a taxi, a bus or a car, but make it up and see how rum was made in the 1700's. There are daily tours and tastings at the distillery and estate.
Friday, November 29, 2013
|Sloppy Joe's Bar 1940's|
|Alice Faye at Sloppy Joe's bar|
The best thing about going to Havana today is you still feel like you are back in the era of "Weekend in Havana" and watching Carmen Miranda whirl around the stage of the Tropicana or see Caesar Romano and Ernest Hemingway chatting at Sloppy Joe's Bar.
If you can find this movie on the television or on one of your video services, it is a fun visit to the past in Havana during her hay days.
This is 2013 and here is Sloppy Joe's Bar in all of her restored glory. With some of the best cocktails in Havana right along side with the El Floridita and the National Hotel. ;o)
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Hope that all of you are enjoying some quality time and a wonderful day wherever and however you celebrate this day. If you are in Key West today and looking to escape the hubbub, stop by and see me from 11 until 6pm, we can share some good times. ;o)
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I was thinking of something that fits the atmosphere of Fall and Thanksgiving, and two things popped into my head. First pumpkin pie and then apple pie, from this I immediately thought of Siesta Key Spiced Rum. This is the perfect holiday rum, it has flavors of gingerbread men and pumpkin pie. Give this recipe a try, I think you will really like it.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Rum is undergoing a revolution of the category and there is much more time being spent developing upper tier expression and less and less emphasis on the "well" grade rums. The fact that rum was always the cheapest liquor on the shelf has hurt the efforts of so many of the developers of quality rums for so many years. The "cover-over tax refund" for the US territories hasn't helped either. This is just another incentive to make a large quantity of low grade bulk rum and dump it on the American market.
If the Rum Category is to grow, it will be in the premium and ultra premium sectors of the category. I feel that there is a space for fine rums just like there is for any other fine aged spirit and it is rapidly finding its niche in the spirit world. If the rum producers keep their eye on the market and give the public what it is craving, then the growth will continue and there will be many fine rums out there to be your "go to" rum in the near future. ;o)
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
|So much rum, so little time|
The job requires us to taste all 63 of the presented rums and evaluate the first the same way that we do the last one. The consumption of water and bland water crackers in between tastes to cleanse the palate and give the stomach something to absorb some the alcohol slowing its travel to the brain. These were tasted over a 4 and a half hour period, and an 45 minute lunch break en between, Fortunately, the over proof rums were saved for the end, they can really take a toll if they are consumed too early in the tasting.
|Can you feel all of the stress?|
|The Knowledgeable Judging Panel|
The beauty of Grenada and the friend that make this event so wonderful will, with any luck bring me back next year for this event again. You also might want to think about scheduling a Grenada vacation to coincide with this event. It makes a really exciting tin=me exploring the island's many interesting places and sights. ;o)
Friday, November 22, 2013
|Cocoa Pod Broken Open.|
|Belmont Estate Drying shed and fermenting bins|
Later we traveled over the mountains and visited Grand Etang Lake and Forest Reserve in the center of the island mountains. This is another really interesting area with this volcanic crater that has formed a lake. As part of the reserve there is another viewing area were Gibbon monkeys that were extremely friendly and ready to have you hand them some fruit. These friendly creatures a really cool, but my experience with monkeys is they are best when kept at just out of arms reach.
|Grand Lake Etang|
The sun is beginning to go down and it is time to head back down the mountain and back to the St. George area for our final stop of the day at Fort Matthews. Built in the late 1700's, Fort Matthews was never used as a fortification, because the island had not been attacked until 1983 when it was mistakenly bombed by American forces during the 1983 invasion of Grenada. The fort was being used as a place to keep the criminally insane at the time. Today Fort Matthews is in a state of extreme disrepair, but it does have a unique little bar in the catacombs. There are a number of catacombs that use to house troops and later the inmates of the insane asylum.
The bar is a quaint little place that was a wonderful place to chill at the end of this long, but fun filled day of exploring Grenada. ;o)
Thursday, November 21, 2013
|Water wheel powered cane crusher|
The process begins with the hand harvesting of local sugar cane, hand loading it on to the conveyor belt and finally to the crusher. All of this powered by the very "green" water wheel and the free power of the river.
|Wood Fired Still|
There is a bit of a contradiction that occurs with the system. The concentration of sugar in cane is at its highest during the dry season (Jan. to May), the water which powers the cane press is more efficient during the rainy season (June through Dec.) when there is plenty of water in the river.
The plant did not operate making rum throughout the year, as the sugar cane harvest is not a year round process. They would also process chocolate, nutmeg and mace in the off seasons as did many of the estates in the area.
This is one of the few remaining "old school" distilleries left in the world. River Antoine Distillery is still making rum in the tradition of the 1785 era, when slaves were cutting the cane and carrying it to the distillery for processing and water and wood powered the plant. This is a truly interesting operation, one you should not miss should you get the chance to visit this lush island. ;o)
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
|Beautiful view from the room here in Trinidad just at dusk and the clouds running down the mountain.|
|Angostura Aging Warehouse|
My luck with arrivals and being able to see Trinidad in the two visits here have been squelched by late arrivals and early departures. This visit is just the same, we arrived at 3pm this afternoon, cleared immigration and customs, and jumped into a taxi for a rocket ride the Angostura before it closed at 4:00 pm. I was hoping to find a bottle of Angostura No. 1 to bring back to the US, but it won't be in the store until Tuesday of next week. My luck is still the same, but I did manage to hat a buy on get one free on the Single Barrel, so it wasn't a total loss.
Oh well, it is off to Granada at 6:00 am and a tour of the River Antoine Distillery on the North side of the island with my friend Mike Streeter, who I haven't seen in nearly a year. Then it is time for the Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival for the rest of the week. Keep watching, I'll bring your the stories as they occur while I'm in Granada. ;o)
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I will be spending the day today in Trinidad and then it is off to Granada and the Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival for three days. This is really proving to be an exciting
g trip, and I as so looking forward to my first visit to Granada in the morning.
Today is Trinidad, and it has so many interesting things to see and do, and with only a short time on the ground there, I am going to make the most of the time.
Keep following, I will keep you up to day daily of what is going on in this part of my world. ;o)
Monday, November 18, 2013
|Facundo Rums just released this month|
It is also a time when many companies are introducing new bottles and labels to bring a new and more sophisticated image for the company. Flor de Cana has just introduced a whole new label and bottle make over in the last month. These are very exciting and attractive bottles that will surely bring attention to their fine products.
Diplomatico just introduced their newest vintage rum, Diplomatico Vintage 2000, a follow up on the original Vintage 1997 brought out in the fall of 2012. I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to try this new Diplomatico rum yet, but I'm sure that I will be given the opportunity at the 2014 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in April, or maybe able to find a bottle in a "Duty Free Shop" on my trip this week.
Brugal has come out with their latest entries into the Ultra Premium arena with the Siglo de Oro and Papa Andres lines. Both of these are very special and flavorful rums that deserve your attention. The Siglo de Oro is readily available, but there are only a very limited number of the Papa Andres made each year.
Angostura has just released their No. 1 rum, this one I will hopefully be able to taste at the House of Angostura tomorrow when I visit there. The Angostura Legacy is another of their recent entries to the Ultra Premium rum world. They also have other new expression that I intend to explore as well.
These are very exciting times in the world of rum, and a time when the "stepchild" of the spirits industry is growing up and being recognized as a first rate spirit. The growth of the category is a reflection of the willingness of the category to grow into the higher status of a premium spirit. ;o)
Sunday, November 17, 2013
|Cojimar Fortress where Pilar would sit at anchor during Hemingway's tenure in Cuba|