Monday, November 30, 2015

Along With US - Cuba Detente Comes a Battle Over Trademarks

     The long standing battle over the Havana Club trademark is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are cigar, restaurant and American coffee just to name a few that are close of the same names. Despite the United States' 53-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, companies from both countries have continued registering trademarks and patents in the other.   Since 1966 about 1,500 U.S. businesses have filed nearly 6,000 trademarks in Cuba, including renewals, according to data from Saegis, the online trademark database from Thomson Reuters.   I found this article to be quite enlightening as to how the 50 plus year gap in communication has caused some very serious issues that need to be resolved.
     When Julio Manzini decided two years ago to name his small restaurant McDonald's after the famous fast-food chain (MCD.N), he had no idea it could cause any trouble. He has since been frightened into removing the name.   "I don't even know what McDonald's tastes like, I just thought the name was striking, like Shakira or something," he said at the lunch counter of what used to be "Cafeteria La McDonald's Camagueyana" in the Cuban city of Camaguey, about 300 miles (500 km) east of Havana.This month, Manzini stripped "McDonald's" and the famous golden arches from his handcrafted sign as a precaution after he claimed his establishment was visited by a lawyer sent by the company.   The place is now simply called "Cafeteria La Camagueyana."
     His counterfeit McDonald's illustrates a potential battlefront between Cuba and the United States over trademark and intellectual property rights as Cuba's economy opens up to more private enterprise and closer ties with the United States.   The two countries restored diplomatic relations this year after half a century of Cold War hostility and are now working to improve ties. Trademark and intellectual property issues will be on the negotiating table, both sides have said.

     Both have grievances. The United States has denied Cuban companies the same trademark protection enjoyed by brands from everywhere else, forcing marquee names such as Havana Club rum and Cohiba cigars into long, expensive court battles.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Day the Sky Caught Fire

     The day the sky caught fire,  the late afternoons looking west from the dock.  Life on the boat brings you views that a lot of people never get the opportunity to enjoy.  This is one of the late afternoons when the clouds and the sun worked together for an incredible view to come home to.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Westerhall 10XO Premium Rum

     One of the highlights of the Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival in St. Maartens was the Westerhall Distillery booth.   Westerhall is a legendary distillery from Grenada that has been producing top quality rums since the 1700's.  They have a long history of making fine rums at their historic distillery.

     Westerhall's 10XO is a ten year old premium rum that has already earned it status with a Gold Medal at the Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival  earlier this month.   This beautiful mahogany colored rum catches your eye immediately and when you open the bottle and the aromas start to catch you nose, you know that you are going to be in love with it once.

     Westerhall 10XO greets you with a taste of  caramel and smoky oak initially with a sweetness of honey, vanilla later joined by a combination of spices that you would expect from a rum that originates in the spice islands.   This is a rum slowly that finishes dry with a lingering flavor mocha and spice that fades at the end.

     Keep your eyes open in your favorite liquor store or cocktail lounge for this one.  Don't let it get away from you without tasting it.   ;o)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday: Great Day to Change it Around to a Black Rum Friday

     If you are as tired of the mega merchandising media blitz bombarding you with their get something for nothing rantings.  I've got a better idea, lets all stay home and create a great new "Black Rum Day" concoction.

     Why don't you follow suit with me and head into the special place where you create your cocktails and put on that thinking cap and make something new using a black rum.  This should be very fun and the rewards are consumed for a real fun afternoon.

     There are a lot of choices from the very sweet like Cruzan Black Strap abd Gossling Black Seal; the spiced Blacks from Captain Morgan and Kraken; British Navy Rums like Pusser's and Smith and Cross.   Many are available at your local liquor store and perfect for making you "Black Friday" a whole lot more enjoyable rather that banging heads with millions of shoppers in over crowded stores.

     You might want to give this idea try if you are not getting any inspirations standing infront of the bar.

Black Friday Relief

  • 1 1/2 oz. Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum
  • 1 oz. Siesta Key Toasted Coconut Rum
  • 2 oz. Half and Half
  • 2 dashes of Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters
Place all ingredients into a shaker and shake until chilled and strain into an Old Fashion glass or a twelve oz. tumbler filled with fresh ice.  Garnish with a lemon wedge.

    Avoid the Black Friday mess if you can, but if you can't, enjoy the relief when you get home.  ;o)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

     This is a day that is as American as American can be.  It is a day to share with your friends and your family.  It is a day of reflection and giving thanks for all that your have been able to accomplish.   Traditionally a day of feasts and sharing of your bounty with your friends, family and neighbors.  The first Thanksgiving took place in Massachucetts in the 1620's, a day of giving thanks and sharing.

     Today the principles are the same, but how we celebrate it has changed.   It is a morning of preparation of the first and getting the tables and chairs in place for everyone to be able to join in at the table for our feast.   We also spend a lot of time in front of the television watching the Macy's Parade and then the football game as soon as the table is cleared.

    How are you going to spend the day this year?  No matter how you do, I just hope that you get to spend the time with the people nearest to you and a lot of fun getting together and sharing with everyone.  ;o)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Celebrating a Friend and Sharing Fine Rum

     Windy and blustery, but one of the best tastings yet. So many fabulous rums and so little time. With only seven of us it was a chance to sit and ponder the taste and qualities of all of the fine rums that were present.
     Yesterday we took a little time to raise our glasses to a friend that was lost on November 12th. Patrick Shank, you are really missed around here, and I think you would have enjoyed sitting with us and enjoying a fine rum.
     It is going to be hard to keep up bringing so many quality rums for the enlightenment of everyone. It is such a fun time to sit on the key looking out over the Gulf of Mexico and sip really great rums. This week was no exception with rums that span the range of 2 years to 25 years old and all were just wonderful.
     The cool weather and the warmth of the rum, a really great concept and on that should be repeated throughout the winter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Winter has Actually Arrived in Key West

     Rainy day in Key West.  So many things planed and now I'm here in the marina.   I've got a number of projects that need doing, but a dreary day with all the clouds and rain make it a bit hard to get motivated.  This is the price you sometimes pay for living where the sun shines most of the times and the rain only lasts for about 20 minutes of so,   I guess that I have to accept the winter happens even in Key West.

     I go out of the aft deck and watch the gray clouds as I look through the rain spattered glass.   I thought about creating a new cocktail, but the inspiration just wasn't their.   Sat and watched the water as the rain drops mad interesting splashes in the smooth, clam water.    I decided to go outside anyway,I'm not made of "butter", I won't melt.   After all the temperature is still 77 degrees and there is no wind to chill you.  It really felt good having the raindrops fall on my head and sounds of the rain splashing off of my foul weather gear.

     Not many people out and around on the docks, so I guess that I'll just wander back to the boat and
see how long this is going to linger.   By 5 o'clock, rain or shine it is into the dinghy and head off to the Hurricane hole and enjoy a couple of cocktails with some of the braver locals that will ignore the rain and come down to the dockside bar for the usual conversations and cocktails.  Who knows it might be nicer by then and we can go out and stay dry.  If not it will be a fun outing anyway.  ;o)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Papa’s Pilar Introduces a Limited Edition Dark Rum

     Papa’s Pilar Rum has put together a very special new expression.  This is a limited production rum that takes the previously finished dark rum and placing it into used bourbon barrels for between 90 and 120 days of additional aging.   This method deepens the flavors of the whole blend and not just some of the components.  It also gives the blend a more intense and spicier flavor.    The special edition is bottled at 43% ABV giving it a bolder flavor, and the additional aging makes it even smoother and more congruent than the original expression.    
Patrick Hemingway and Bahama Bob Leonard
     The idea for this special edition according to Carlton Grooms, Pilar is looking to introduce a “cool special edition” that would not compete with their staple dark rum.   The initial expression was already sold out before it even reached the bottles.   Carlton Grooms tells me they are going to have two more releases next year of 200 barrels each.     These are expressions that you need to keep your eyes open for, because to miss them would be very disappointing.  
     I was around for the initial introduction of Papa’s Pilar and had a chance to talk with Patrick Hemingway about the Papa’s Pilar line of rums.   They have been great rums from their introduction and the new special edition is just an extension of the of the brands commitment to offering fine rums.  ;o)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Old Havana From the Bacardi Building

     There is a awe inspiring 360 degree view from the top of the Bacardi Building in Havana.  You can see from the harbor to the hills of the city on the opposite side of the building.   No matter which way you look there are eye popping view.    This one shows you the Jose Marti Memorial out toward Revolution Square.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Battles Over Cocktail Names Continues

     It seems that the spectrum of where you must not use names that are"confusing" to the public anywhere.  Even blogs are receiving some of the "cease and desist" notices for tagging cocktails with names similar to the trademarked ones.

     “A Dark 'N Stormy®, like a Painkiller®, or a Sazerac™, is one of a handful of trademarked cocktails.   On September 15, 2015, Gosling sued Pernod Ricard USA, LLC alleging that Pernod's use of "Dark N' Stormy" and "Black Stormy" in recipes and advertising containing Pernod's Malibu line of rums infringed several of Gosling's DARK 'N STORMY registered trademarks. The case-Gosling Brothers Ltd. et. al. v. Pernod Ricard USA, LLC.-was filed in federal district court in Massachusetts.   The alleged trademark infringement stemmed from Pernod including cocktail recipes on its website for a "Dark N' Stormy" containing Malibu Island Spiced Rum, and a "Black Stormy" containing Malibu Black Rum. Further, Pernod released a YouTube video demonstrating how to make a "Dark N' Stormy" using Malibu Island Spiced Rum. (A lot of the links seem to be now removed.)”

     In the past there have been cases where owners of trademarked cocktails have sent out cease and desist orders and the problem usually went away, but Gosling Brothers Ltd. is taking this one much more seriously.   it's not just brand names that can cause so many intellectual property disputes in the crowded spirits field.    It is also every part of  websites and advertising .     It even applies to those quirky cocktail names you apply to your creations might come under these intellectual property controls.   ;)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Proposed California Initiative Would Lower Drinking Age to 18

“But group says 21 minimum drinking age has saved thousands of lives.”

     You've heard it before, "Why can you join the military at 18 but not drink?"   Well, one proposed California ballot initiative is looking to change the drinking age. According to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the initiative has been cleared to begin collecting signatures.   If it gets enough signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot, voters will have the opportunity to decide whether 18-year-olds will be able to legally purchase and drink alcohol in the state. The legal drinking age is 21, which was established by the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984.

     The proponent of the measure is business owner Terrance Lynn, who must collect the signatures of 365,880 registered voters to qualify, Padilla's office said in a statement.   "The proponent has 180 days to circulate petitions for the measure, meaning the signatures must be submitted to county elections officials by April 26, 2016," the statement reads.

     The Secretary of State's office said if the ballot passed, California would lose $200 million in federal highway funds. But it would also lead to an increase in state and local tax revenues from the sales of alcohol beverages, the office said.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving opposes lowering the drinking age below 21. The organization says that more than 25,000 lives have been saved across the United States since the minimum drinking age was raised to 21.        "When states had lower legal drinking ages in the U.S., the underage drinking problem was worse.   For example, before the 21 minimum legal drinking age was implemented by all states, underage drunk drivers were involved in over twice as many fatal traffic crashes as today," MADD's website says.   It said the law continues to decrease the number of crashes  by an estimated 16 percent each year.

"I think it's fine at 21. I think if it was younger, maybe young adults may not make the best choices," 20-year-old Michael Villagomez told KABC in Los Angeles.    "I think if we're able to send people to war at 18, they should be able to determine if they can handle alcohol," Burbank resident Lisa Neglia added.   "I think 21 is a great age for drinking because I feel like nowadays people think that just because they're older as in 16, 17 that they feel free to do whatever they want," 17-year-old Rakkell Villagomez also told the station.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Don Q Wants to Make Rum Responsibly

Sixth generation rum maker and Ph.D. candidate, Roberto Serralles talking about the intersection of distilling and the Environment.
     Although they had to “take a little break during Prohibition,” Don Q has always been run by the same family in the same place.    His family owns Don Q, supporter of Puerto Rico Meets NYC and one of the largest distilleries on the island.  
     “Don Q has always been in the same family in the same place, though we had to take a little break during Prohibition. When I actually went to college, I wasn’t thinking I would join the family business — in fact, I wanted to be a professor, so I started on my Ph.D. in environmental studies. It was a funny thing. I’d literally done all but my dissertation when I started having conversations with my father about a wastewater issue. I was living in Seattle and I started consulting back in Puerto Rico — I was flying back and forth all the time. Eventually I moved home and joined the business.”
     “For anybody in the distilling industry, wastewater is an issue. When you think about the way you make spirits, you’re essentially concentrating the alcohol into something that’s fermented and turning it into a spirit. What’s left over is wastewater.    If you’re making whiskey, for example, you’re essentially making an eight to ten percent alcohol beer and then making whiskey from that — the other 90 percent is wasted. It’s not talked about very much.”
     “The issue for us was that back in the old days we had sugar cane fields and could put our wastewater back into the field — it had nutrients, it provided irrigation and it worked perfectly fine. But now that we no longer have sugar cane growing in the area, we were spreading it in the fields, and the sewage (it’s nothing toxic, but there’s a lot of organic content) was starting to degrade. The distillery was upwind from town, and the smell started creating community relation issues.”   “Our solution was to implement an anaerobic digestion process.   This process exhaled methane, which we could then feed back into the boiler to reduce the amount of oil it consumed.   Then, similar to a municipal wastewater treatment plant, we essentially pump the water with a lot of air to convert it to irrigation-grade effluent.”  It has a lot of ancillary benefits, including the usable methane gas, but it’s very tricky. The digester creates a very corrosive environment. We’re working on additional systems — eleven years later, a lot of technology has changed. We’re looking for a more efficient alternative.

     The definition of rum is that it has to come from sugar cane — it can’t be made from wheat or corn. The sugar cane molasses content is a critical component of the process.   When we started, my great great grandfather came from Spain and opened a small sugar cane operation. His first Puerto Rican-born son bought a small still and used leftover molasses to make rum. It was really always a sideline business — the main business was sugar cane. He started making in rum in 1865, and the sugar cane industry has changed dramatically over time. The golden age of sugar in Puerto Rico was between 1900 and the 1920s — Puerto Rico was one of the top exporters of sugar, and it was a significant piece of the socioeconomic fabric of the landscape. That obviously had tons of issues; the monocrops were problematic, sugar cane is very labor-intensive, there were huge seasonal booms and busts in terms of labor force. There’s no rosy history about these extractive agricultural economies. By the 1960s and 1970s, we were having a really hard time competing — the price of sugar dropped globally, introduction of corn syrups and corn sweeteners from the US and other places meant that the price of sugar was less than a cent per pound. The costs in Puerto Rico were very high. For example, labor force unions didn’t want to allow mechanization while other countries were mechanizing rapidly. We shifted to rum, but to this day, sourcing quality molasses for distillers is a really tricky thing.  When you’re in the sugar industry, molasses is just a byproduct. Molasses is what’s left over when it’s not economically viable to extract more sugar.    When the energy cost to make another sugar extraction is more than the price of sugar you can extract, you stop that process.   As you can imagine, when the price of sugar is 7-8 cents, there’s a lot more leftover sugar than when the price goes up to 30 cents.    The quality of molasses is inverse to the price.    There’s a particular point in which the molasses is so poor you can’t ferment it — the trick is finding good sources of molasses.    In this day and age, that means finding inefficient mills.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Diageo Says It's Testing New Methods Of Distilling Aimed At Improving Productivity And Efficiency

     This is the second part of the story that I ran yesterday.   This is the response from Diageo  in relation to the allegations made by the Department of Justice and the investigation that was launched.  You can read more about this VI Consortium story at

     Diageo USVI issued a statement late Monday in hopes of bringing clarity to confusion over what it says is a new method of distilling that it's testing, following a VI Consortium exclusive story revealing that the territory's Department of Justice had launched an investigation to determine whether the liquid substance from 14 Diageo tankers that it sampled was molasses, which is subsidized by the Government of the Virgin Islands as part of a 30-year agreement between Diageo and the GVI.

      A well-placed source within the Department of Justice revealed to The Consortium that if the substance was found not to be molasses, then "all hell could break lose," adding that the DOJ could extend its probe to include past shipments in an effort to determine the length of breach.

     But in a statement issued to The Consortium, Diageo says it has been testing a sugar cane intermediate as it continues to innovate and try new distilling techniques.

"Now in our fifth year of rum distillation on St. Croix, Diageo USVI is proud to have achieved a number of milestones in our production. From record water recovery and conservation, to the creation of new rum products, we continue to innovate and test distilling processes and techniques.  Some of these distilling techniques are used throughout the Caribbean, and may help improve plant efficiency, our environmental footprint, and productivity," wrote Erica J. Johnson, communications and corporate relations head at Diageo USVI.

     "As part of this, we have been testing a new distilling process using sugar cane intermediate, in which a minority amount of this ingredient, which we would be bringing from outside the territory, would be added into our distilling process along with molasses.  Some tankers of this ingredient are now being questioned by the VI Department of Justice officials.  As with all our distilling methods, the use of sugar cane intermediate is not only legal and meets federal and local standards, it is also within the boundaries of our agreement with the Government of the Virgin Islands," she added.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

St. James Hors D`Age Rhum Vieux Agricole

     Rhum St. James is one of a group of rhums that are known as "agricoles".   This is a French style of rhum making that like other rums, has very strict rules by which it must be produced.  I think that my friend Dave Russell probably put it best in one of his agricole reviews.

     "For your appreciation, and out of due respect, Agricole rhums must be considered within their own context.  Agricoles are distinguished by their unique taste and aromas.  There is more to their story than is commonly known.   Distillation techniques, the proof of the spirit exiting the still, aging requirements and required minimum quantities of residual particulate matter also contribute to the difference. 
What’s important to us is that rhums agricole generally exhibit distinctly different aromas and flavors from their cousins industrielle. Often, people prefer one style over the other, and there’s nothing wrong with that.   It’s a matter of taste anyway.  If you prefer a sweeter style typical of molasses-based multi-column distilled rums, the Saint James isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a dry, elegant sipping rum made in the agricole style, mellowed in oak to a mature age, then Rhum Agricoles might be for you."

     That being said today I am tasting and sharing this rhum with some friends as part of The Rat Key Rum Tasting Association  tasting and looking forward to the response to it that my friends have to this member of this very unique group of rhums.  This is an 86 proof (43% ABV) rhum and it has been aged for between 6 and 10 years.  It has a stunning Mahogany color and the aroma of  dried fruit, and a very slight note of vanilla and wood.   

     This is a very dry rhum, one that has a lightly sweet with the faint taste of dried fruit on the palate that rapidly fades to a growing warmth related to the higher proof, with a relatively dry and short lived finish.

This is an agricole that is available herein the states.  It also lacks the harshness and grassyness that man of the younger agricoles have.  I feel like this is a really good way to introduce yourself to the world of agricole rhums.   

Monday, November 16, 2015

Department Of Justice Investigating Whether Diageo USVI Breached Contract

     A story has broken in St. Croix that there is an issue with Diageo and what is transpiring at the plant in St. Croix.  This is an article published by the VI Consortium on November 10, 2015.   This is a portion of the article and the rest can be read at   I will publish the Diageo response tomorrow. 

     Between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Monday, Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, along with Department of Justice officials descended on the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier located on the south shore of this island and west of Tropical Shipping, to take samples from 12 tanks of what's supposed to be molasses used to produce rum at Diageo USVI's Captain Morgan Rum Distillery, a DOJ source with direct knowledge of the matter revealed to The Consortium, after the publication questioned officials on a tip it received from another source with inside knowledge of the probe.

     DOJ and DLCA officials also took samples from two separate shipments at Diageo's rum distillery, located at the Renaissance Park development here. According to the DOJ source, who requested anonymity because of the nascent nature of the investigation, part of Diageo USVI's agreement with the Government of the Virgin Islands is that the GVI subsidizes the molasses imported to make the rum here. But the samples collected on all 14 containers did not appear to be molasses, which is dark in color and has a strong, distinct smell.


"It looks and smells like rum," the DOJ source said, adding that DOJ must first test the samples before accusing Diageo USVI of any wrongdoing or breach of contract. But if the firm were to be found in breach, the consequences could be far-reaching; and the DOJ would extend its investigation and try to determine how long the breach has existed.
molasses pier entrance

In 2008 the GVI subsidized Diageo's move to the island, totaling an estimated $2.7 billion over 30 years. Some of the subsidies include: a new $165 million distillery, "market support payments" to keep prices low for molasses, 35 percent of what Diageo spends on advertising, a 90 percent income tax break, exemption from property taxes, environmental mitigation supports, and 47.5 percent of all tax revenue collected on Captain Morgan rum. By one estimate, Diageo's net cost to produce rum is zero, according to Tax Foundation, a leading independent tax policy research organization. The 30-year agreement received Senate ratification on July 9, 2008, with a 10-5 vote.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November, Sunshine, Umbrellas and a Palm Tree

     Fall in the Keys can be so wonderful, 80 degree days, lazy clouds, blue skies.  Just give me an umbrella under a palm tree and let me lay in the sand and sip my favorite rum and relax.  

     I knew that there was a reason that I chose to live in the Keys,   I can't think of a better place to live.  I may be prone to traveling further south on occasions, but for living, it is really hard to beat life in the Keys.

     Just give me a sunny November day in the 80 degree range with a beautiful blue sky scattered with fluffy clouds add a beach and an umbrella lo lie under with a cocktaile and you might be awfully close to heaven right here on earth.   ;o)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Barbados by Night

Looking for a new way to enjoy Doorly's XO, try this Idea that I worked out the other afternoon in the "camper".     It has a really dry taste, but that is what I was looking for.  It is not the tart of the "Papa Doble", but is has a very naturally smooth and slightly sweet flavor.  

Barbados by Night
·         2 oz. Doorly’s XO
·         1/2 oz. Drambuie
·         2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters
·         Lemon Twist

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice, stir until chilled and strain into a rocks glass, Twist the lemon oil from the zest and drop into the cocktail.
Give this one a try, I think that your will really like it.  It brings back some the ideas of the classic cocktails by mixing the Drambuie with the dry rums of Richard Seale.   ;o)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday the Thirteenth: What is That All About

It's Friday the 13th, and millions of people are on edge, fearing a calamity with personal or global repercussions-a broken leg, a stock market crash, or the trigger pulled for World War III.
     Why all the anxiety? In short, because the fear is ingrained in Western culture,  "If nobody bothered to teach us about these negative taboo superstitions like Friday the 13th, we might in fact all be better off."   People who harbor a Friday the 13th superstition might have a fear of the number 13, and often pass on their belief to their children, he noted. Popular culture's obsession with the fear-think the Friday the 13th horror films and even this story-helps keep it alive, added Stuart Vyse, the author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition.   Although superstitions can be arbitrary-a fear of ladders or black cats, for example-"once they are in the culture, we tend to honor them     "You feel like if you are going to ignore it, you are tempting fate."  

   There are some that say the it has its roots in the Bible.   There are several theories out their that give way to why the number 13 is such a problem for so many people.  Then there's Friday. Not only was Christ crucified on that day, but some biblical scholars believe Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on a Friday. Perhaps most significant is a belief that Abel was slain by his brother Cain on Friday the 13th.   More interesting is why people associate any Friday the 13th with bad luck.   The answer has to do with what is called principles of "magical thinking" found in cultures around the world.   One of these principles involves things or actions-if they "resemble other things in any way of resemblance-shape or sound or odor or color-people tend to think those things are related and in a causal way."     In this framework, there were 13 people present at the Last Supper, so anything connected to the number 13 from then on is bad luck.

     On Friday the 13th, some people are so crippled by fear that they lock themselves inside; others will have no choice but to grit their teeth and nervously muster through the day.   Nevertheless, many people will refuse to fly, buy a house, or act on a hot stock tip, inactions that noticeably slow economic activity.   "It's been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day in the United States because people will not fly or do business they normally would do," he said.
     I'll be at work making drinks all day today, so if you need a little courage to get through the day stop on by and enjoy a fun cocktail to take the stress of the day away.  ;o)     

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Rum Journal's 2015 Rum Awards

     Each year the Caribbean Journal names its Rum Awards.  Here are the winners for 2015.   I think that you will find all of these to be very worthy of their awards.  Congratulations to all of the winners.

Rum of the Year: 1931 (Fourth Edition) By St Lucia Distillers
The Rum of the Year is always the hardest choice to make, and this year was no different. More and more producers are entering the market with serious aged rums, looking to highlight how far rum has come, how many delicious, interesting rums are now on the market. But one rum took top honors: 1931 from St Lucia Distillers. This is the fourth edition of a small-production rum, but this year there was a twist: along with a blend of several maturates, this year saw the inclusion in the blend of St Lucian-grown rhum agricole, the first agricole to be produced on the island since the 1930s. The result is something rather astonishing: a velvety, voluptuous rum with a fascinating texture and a playful but elegant flavor profile marked by tropical fruit, citrus zest, caramel, dried mango and spice. This was the best rum we tried all year, and a simply spectacular rum. Cheers to the 2015 Rum of the Year, 1931 By St Lucia Distillers.
Runners up: Mount Gay XO, Ron Santiago de Cuba 11 Anos, Flor de Cana 25, Papa’s Pilar Limited Edition.
Rhum Agricole of the Year: Rhum Depaz XO Grand Saint-Pierre
Another incredibly difficult choice. The rums of the French Caribbean are, arguably, the most “authentic” in the Caribbean — they have a real terror, a sense that one can taste the region where they were made, thanks to a local, vertically integrated process from cane to cap. But the best offering from the French Caribbean was this: Rhum Depaz XO Grand Saint-Pierre. This agricole from the foothills of Martinique’s Mont Pelee volcano is magnificent: ultra-smooth, ultra-balanced and spicy, with notes of candied fruit, with a transcendent finish. This is the second year in a row that Depaz has taken the top agricole crown, and the reason is clear: they’re producing simply exquisite rums.
Runners up: Rhum HSE XO, Rhum Damoiseau 8 Ans, Rhum Dillon XO.
Best New Rum: Afrohead
Long a house rum, this rum was born on Harbour Island in the Bahamas but now is something far more regional, from Dominican molasses to Trinidadian distillation. The 15-year variety is a terrific rum that earned a lot of points for its wonderful drinkability and a feeling of authenticity. At its roots, it still feels like a house rum, and that’s a very good thing. 
Best New Rhum Agricole: Rhum HSE 2005 Sherry Finish Pedro Ximenez
This is the most creative rum distillery in Martinique, and one might argue in all of the Caribbean. HSE is the rum that really pioneered the extra “finishing” process of rhums agricoles, from finishing agricoles in malt whisky barrels to, more recently Spanish sherry. The latest edition of the Sherry Finish saw an aged agricole spending eight months in Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels, and the result was a peppery but sweet rum with HSE’s signature power. A tremendous product and one that makes us excited to see what they come up with next.
Best White Rum: Bacardi Facundo Neo
Two years ago, the new Facundo Collection took the rum world by storm — the best rums Bacardi had produced in decades. And the company’s Exquisito took home Rum of the Year honors. We’re glad to see that the Facundo collection is still around, and the company’s Neo white rum (actually a blend of aged rums that’s then charcoal-filtered) is, while expensive, a new kind of standard for great white rum: smooth, elegant, crisp. It passes the most important test of white rum with flying colors: you can sip it.
Best White Rhum Agricole: Rhum Bologne
There are a few important benchmarks for a great rhum blanc. First, and most importantly, how does it taste in a Ti’ Punch? And second, how does it taste sec, or neat? On both counts, Guadeloupe’s Rhum Bologne is at the top of the class. Bologne’s 100-proof white rhum agricole is a floral, sweet, energetic superstar. Guadeloupe remains one of the world’s undiscovered rum capitals — but here’s hoping that changes.
Best Gold Rum: Don Q Gold
This is a tough category to judge, simply because the area between young white rums and older aged rums is often filled with a Motley Crue of rums. But Don Q has long been making some of the Caribbean’s best rums in this category, and the Don Q Gold is no exception. While, like most gold rums, it’s best off in a cocktail, this is a rum with a honey-sweet aroma and a caramel-brown sugar flavor profile that makes it quite drinkable on its own.
Best Spiced Rum: Siesta Key Spiced Rum
The first time we announced the Rum Awards, a certain upstart rum from Florida, not from the Caribbean, took the crown. Since then, Siesta Key has swept the Rum Awards’ Best Spiced Rum category every year, last year with its Distiller’s Reserve. And this year is no different, except that this year we return to the rum that started it all: Siesta Key Spiced Rum, the company’s flagship expression. It’s quite smooth, made from Florida sugar cane and distilled in a copper pot still. It’s simple, rooted in natural spices and, most importantly for a spiced rum, uniquely sippable. This distillery in Sarasota has set a standard for spiced rums around the world, and has also shown the world that America is producing some rather good rums of its own. 2015 makes it four years in a row. Cheers, Siesta Key.
Best Flavored Rum: Rhum Clement Mahina Coco
We were pleasantly surprised to this on the shelf in an American city, because Clement’s Mahina Coco is absolutely lovely. A throwback to the homemade punches you often find after dinner in the French Caribbean, this is a fruity, creamy delight that’s a dessert on its own —and an elegant digestif.
Best Overproof Rum: Sunset Very Strong Rum
St Vincent Distillers is quietly one of the Caribbean’s underrated outfits, best known for Captain Bligh XO but also producers of some significant Caribbean spirits. And none more robust than the aptly-named Sunset Very Strong Rum. This is as strong a rum as you will find anywhere on earth — but it’s also remarkably smooth. Bottled at 84.5% ABV, it requires some courage. But that courage is rewarded with a remarkably smooth overproof spirit.
Best Bottle Design: Rhum Damoiseau Rhum Vieux 8 Ans
The thing we love most about this bottle is that it feels far older than eight years. It feels like something you find floating around in the ocean, or tucked away in a corner of a centuries-old bar. Its green, flat shape hearkens back to a different era, and that’s what rum is all about.
Rum Bar of the Year: Papa Zouk, Antigua
We were dismayed to learn that, last year, the venerable Papa Zouk in Antigua had burned down. But through the charity and love of its many patrons, the bar was rebuilt. It remains a Mecca of Caribbean rum, a place that all rum pilgrims must visit and pay homage. Bert Kirchner’s “rum shop” on the outskirts of St John’s has more than 100 rums, less than its heyday but one growing quickly, in large part to frequent donations by customers. This is a wonderful place, a wonderful rum shop and the best rum bar in all of the Caribbean.
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I feel like this was a great group of winners against some very venerable competitors and I'm proud of all that were considered for the awards.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Don Papa Launches 10 Year Old Expression in UK

Following the UK debut of its core expression last year, Philippine Rum brand Don Papa has launched a limited edition 10-year-old expression in the market.

Don Papa 10 will launch in the UK later this week.  Don Papa, described as the world’s first single island rum from the Philippines, first hit shelves in the UK last February.  The brand’s “super-premium” 10-year-old variant is a created on the southern island of Negros and is aged in re-charred oak barrels in the foothills of Mount Kanlaon before being blended.   The variant will be distributed in the UK by distributor Marblehead Brand Development from 5 November, with exclusive availability in Harvey Nichols for the first month.

“We are very proud to be able to bring out the 10-year-old and further share with the world, some great Philippine rums,” said Don Papa Rum founder Stephen Carroll.   “We have been delighted with the reception to Don Papa 10 in other international markets, and we expect this 10-year old edition to enjoy similar success in the UK.”  Said to have a flavor of dried fruit, cacao and a “hint” of smoke, Don Papa 10 is bottled at 43% abv and will be available in the UK.