Thursday, January 31, 2013

Prohibition Key West

The Florence Club
Key West presented an ideal situation for the lure of rum running in the late 1920's.  There were few legitimate jobs and fewer industries that were operating successfully during the era.  The operation of a speakeasy was one of the few profitable businesses during the era.     One such out of work man was Raul Vasquez, he set out to be a supplier of the needs of residents and tourists alike in a wide open Key West.   Raul had a small boat with a pretty good motor and had been on the sea off of the coast of Key West many times before.

     Raul, who came to Key West with his parents when a child, learned the trade of "cigar selector" and worked at it for a number of years at the Gato factory.   With the closing of the factory his need to provide for his family in a seriously depressed Key West led him to Rumrunning and turning his house into a speakeasy.    His first trip that he anticipated  a day and a night to accomplish took him a couple of weeks and provided him with several of perilous moments.   The house still exists at 1117 Duval Street and is still a bar that is part of a bed and breakfast. 
   There were a lot of people that were involved in the illicit movement and sales of liquor during the prohibition era.   The sales, supply, and distribution of liquor was the only really profitable business on the island during the era.    There were "outlaws that would hijack the loads of rum that was being smuggled in as well.  One such group known as the "Pelicans" were one of the most active during the era.   This group would watch at night as the runners would stash their cargo and come in behind them and steal their load.  
      Joe Russell was another of the enterprising individuals who operated illegal speakeasies. Even Ernest Hemingway, who made Key West his home at the time, slipped over to Russell’s on occasion to buy illicit bottles of Scotch, and the two struck up an enduring friendship.   Joe and Hemingway would take numerous trips together on his boat the "Anita" to Havana for fishing and to party in Havana.   Who knows what they brought back with them besides the fish?  

     There were not only men involved in the trade of rum running in and around Key West.  There were many women involved as well.   One of the most notorious of the women was Marie Waite, "Spanish Marie", She became the heir to the business when her husband Charlie Waite was found on the shores of Key Biscayne in 1926.    Her business was based in Havana where she ruthlessly ran a small rum running empire.     She had the fastest contact boats of the era and delivered rum from Key West to Palm Beach.     A really formidable opponent, she would use any means at her disposal to oppose those who would tamper with her rumrunning.  Her empire came crashing down when she and her crew were arrested on March 12, 1928 off loading liquor from her boat "Kid Boots" in Coconut Grove.  She made bail and then disappeared and was never seen again.

    These were tough times in Key West and the the rest of the country.  The noble experiment that nearly brought the country to its knees, made "outlaws" out of everyday people, some of whom became very famous.   Key West still to this day shows many of the signs of that era and it's colorful history.  ;o)


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just Another Wednesday

    After two days off, Wednesday morning seems to find me in a dilemma about what to write about.    Today is one of those days, I'm getting ready to go down to the Rum Bar and get it opened up for business and trying to get my mind working on a subject for today's blog.  I had two days of rest, a much needed change from the hustle bustle of last week.   As of now
this is going to be a "normal" week ahead.    It is the unpredictability of the days that make it so much fun for me these days.   I don't know who or what is going to appear to make the day so unique.

     I saw some King Fishers as I walked down the dock this morning.   The are around here this time of year and their noisy chatter is always welcome to me as I pass by them.     For the most part they seem to stay clear of people, but I seem to be able to get closer and closer these days before they fly off.    I walk to the office each morning just before sun up, a beautiful time of the day when there are many types of birds just beginning to move around and the fish are also just starting to feed.   This is a peaceful time that makes me feel really good and at ease with the world.

     I hope that your day starts like mine has and that you can enjoy the start to your work week in a similar way.   It really make going to work easier when you can start the day in such a tranquil setting.    I guess that it just reaffirms the reasons for living down here in the Keys.   Make this week a fun one and take the time to enjoy your surroundings, wherever they are, It makes your outlook on things a whole lot nicer and more fun.   ;o)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January's Cocktail Idea

    This is an idea I had as a result of working with some absinthe on some other cocktails that seems to work well.    I've found that absinthe is a great ingredient in many cocktails, but a very little bit goes a very long way.   In most cases you can just swish it around the glass and pour it out as you follow it with the other ingredients.   In this case, you can actually mix it into the blend.   The combination of a rum with strong whiskey notes and the absinthe work very well with the dry vermouth and the bitters.  This is an unusual balance I liked and I hope you do also.

Bahama Bob's Happy Daze

  • 1 oz. Flor de Caya 12 Year Old Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Absinthe
  • 1 oz. Italian Dry Vermouth
  • 1 Dash of Bitters

Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.  Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange zest floated on top.

Enjoy to first cocktail of 2013 just for the blog readers.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Pink Pigeon Rum

    Pink Pigeon Rum is a real jewel of a premium rum that comes to us from the "Jewel of the Indian Ocean", Mauritius, located just off of the East Coast of Africa and Madagascar.   Pink Pigeon Rum is made at the Medine Distillery, a part of The Medine Sugar Estate located on the West Coast of Mauritius. The Estate produces 400,000 plus tons of cane to the mill where it primarily produces sugar for domestic use rather than export.  Pink Pigeon Rum launched in 2010 by Medine Distillery's partnership with British spirits merchants Berry Brothers and Rudd.

     Medine Distillery has been producing Mauritian rums since 1926, making it the oldest working distillery on the Island. Pink Pigeon Rum is produced from molasses made from sugar cane grown in the Medine Sugar Estate.  The distillery uses 4 column continuous stills to produce a light and smooth rum. After distillation, the rum is infused with handpicked and hand-pollinated Bourbon vanilla from orchids that grow in the rain forest canopy of Madagascar and the rich volcanic soil of the Reunion Islands.  Bourbon vanilla gives to the rum its rich and creamy texture with notes of tropical fruits and sweet spices. For extra balance and complexity, orange peel and orchid petals are added.   

     There are strong notes of the vanilla on the nose and other scents that remind me of fresh baked sugar cookies.  Orange peel adds freshness and zing while orchid petals release delightful honey notes.     On the palate, the same vanilla is joined by a tropical fruity taste.  There is a very light initial taste of the alcohol that quickly dissipates to the slightly sweet extremely long lasting finish.

     I'm currently working with this rum to try to develop some ultra premium cocktails that will work well with the flavors of the rum and allow the rum to stay in the forefront of the cocktail.  

     This rum will be in the Rum Bar in Key West next weekend for you to sample.  ;o)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Week Sails to Conclusion

The Regatta Week is now over here in Key West.  It has been a great week of incredible sailing and street events.   Hope others enjoyed the rum and sails as much as I did.    ;o)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Duval Uncorked Crawl in Key West Today


       Duval Street will be electric as the Key West Food and Wine Festival hosts "Duval UNCORKED" tantalizing revelers with a mile long wine tasting, food sampling and shopping extravaganza.   This Key West Food and Wine Festival party promises to be the event that can’t
be missed.

     The chic boutiques, funky shops and fine galleries will flow with a large selection of wines from famous wine regions while the neighborhood’s best restaurants and bars will be serving samplings of their signature dishes and cocktails.   Toasting, tasting and shopping will be infused with the gusto of Key West’s personalities, performance artists and other sexy and sophisticated spectacles. 

     Tickets are available at the Southernmost Beach Cafe at the foot of Duval street and at the corner of Duval and Caroline Streets.    This ticket includes tastes of food or wine in over 40 locations as you stroll down Duval Street. 

     While you are working your way down Duval Street, the Rum Bar is one of the stops, we will be serving a special Pusser's Painkiller for your pleasure today.  These are a decadent mixture of Pusser's Rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and orange juice topped with fresh ground nutmeg.    This is an unforgettable experience that you won't want to miss while you are sauntering down Duval Street.   I'll be behind the bar today to serve you your painkiller and a wide selection of cocktails that may suite your palate.   ;o)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mount Gay Day at the Rum Bar Today

    Mount Gay Rum is the featured rum today at the Rum Bar in Key West.    There are 4 special Mount Gay XO Rum cocktails that will be featured for $5.00 each from 7:30 until 9:30 pm today.   Stop by and see us and sample these fine cocktails that were created in the Rum Lab specifically for the event.   Be sure to bring your Mount Gay Passport when you come by.

XOld Fashion

·         1 ½ oz. Mount Gay XO

·         1 oz. Luxardo

·         ¾ oz. Agave Nectar

·         2 Mari chino Cherries

·         1 Dash of Bitters

·         1 Orange Zest

Muddle agave nectar, cherries, and bitters, add liquor and shake until chilled and serve in a rocks glass garnish with orange zest.

 Barbados Swizzle

·         1 ½ oz. Mount Gay XO

·         1 ½ oz. lemon Juice

·         1 Dash of Bitters

·         ½ oz. Cane Syrup

·         Top with Club Soda

Place all ingredients in a Collins glass with ice shake until chilled garnish with an orange wheel.

Mount Gay Elder

·         3oz. Mount Gay XO

·         ½ oz. St. Germain

·         Dash of Bitters

Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until chilled, strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon zest.

XO Daiquiri 

·         2 oz. Mount Gay XO

·         ½ oz. Cointreau

·         ½ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

·         ½ oz. Lemon Juice

·         2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Pour all ingredients into a blender with 1 cup of Ice blend until smooth.  Pour into a Martini glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

Make the effort to stop by and enjoy one of our fine cocktails and the fun vibe of the Rum Bar this evening.  ;o)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday at Sea: Regatta Time in Key West

     Yesterday was one of those fabulous days at sea down here in the tropics.   The winds were blowing around 20 or so and the sun kept coming in and out of the clouds making it warm enough to be comfortable without getting burned.   The crew of the America 2 did a wonderful job of keeping us close to the action all day long, making the action exciting to watch.

     We set sail about 10:00 am and headed out to the race course along with all of the boats in the competition.  This was a very colorful trip out watching the crews readying their boats as they worked their way out to the course area.

    Marta and I were enjoying a glass of Mount Gay XO with a couple of cubes on the way out, the perfect was to start the day on the water.  Mount Gay XO is one of the flagships rums, and has earned its stripes as a fine sipping rum.   By the way, a heart felt thank you to Karlene Palmer - Mcleod, the regional brand manager at Mount Gay for the invitation and the kind treatment as their guest aboard the America 2.

    The races were divided into to two divisions, The very large boats and the smaller boats.  The larger boats were on the westerly course and the smaller on the easterly course.   Both classes provided some very exciting action throughout the days races.   In the big boat classes, the 72 foot boats really put on a great dual as the came down wind with full spinnakers flying.   The dropping of the spinnakers to make the turn up wind is always an exciting time in the event and critical to winning the race.   The boats really put on a show today with the good winds.  They had all the power to go fast and make the action even more exciting.

     Over in the division 2 area, there are a lot more boats and the action is a lot closer.  There is a lot of moving around trying to keep the sails filled with clean air in order to keep the speed up.     This close in racing and pushing the limits sometimes ends up in a blow over that can really slow you down approaching the gates.  This makes for quite the traffic jam as well.

    Headed back to through the channel to the marina you could see the big 72 foot yachts making their final turn to down wind and their spinnakers filling with the wind as they accelerate away from the turn buoy.   This was a really wonderful day filled with good food, great racing and some really enjoyable Mount Gay XO Rum.   I don't know how it could be any better.  ;o)


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sailing Day on America 2

   Today it is off to the Historic Sea Port here in Key West to board the America 2 for a day of sailing fun on the ocean with the people from Mount Gay Rum and Quantum Key West 2013 sailing regatta.   This is going to be an exciting day of sailboat races and fun cruising with the people of Mount Gay Rums as our hosts.   I'll have complete pictures and the rest of the story tomorrow.   See ya then.  ;o)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mount Gay Rum Day at Quantum Key West 2013

VIP Sailing Yacht America 2
     Tomorrow is Mount Gay Rum Day at the annual Quantum Key West 2013 Sailing Regatta.   I was lucky enough to be invited aboard the VIP Sailing Yacht America 2 for a day out on the water to observe the racing.  Mount Gay Rums have been a long time backer of sailing regattas all around the world for many many years.  It is a real honor to have been invited aboard for the day.  

    This is going to be a full day of watching some of the best sailors in the world dealing with the breezy waters off of Key West.   There are many many classes that will be competing in this years event and some 121 boats entered.   There will be a lot of close jiving and tacking as the day progresses.   I'
ll be there all day with my cameras to record the event and bring it to you on Thursday morning.

   Of course there will be a chance to sample those fine Mount Gay Rums while aboard, It would not be a Mount Gay event with out the fine flavors of Barbados based Mount Gay Rum.

    I'll keep you filled in on Facebook at Bahama Bob Leonard during the day as well as here on the blog on Thursday.  Thank You to Mount Gay and all the folks at Premiere Racing for the hospitality and the invitation.   ;o)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Barbados Making Noise Over the Rum Subsidies

     In an article in Caribbean 360, Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart spoke out the the growing problem of the United States rum subsidies to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and the ripple effect that it is having on the rest of the Caribbean rum producers.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Saturday January 19, 2013 

Caribbean Community (CARICCOM) rum producing countries are holding high-level talks with the United States on resolving issues surrounding the rum industry in the region, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has announced.
A government statement said that Prime Minister Stuart made the announcement as he addressed a ceremony unveiling a commemorative plaque for Mount Gay Distilleries’ New Aging Bond earlier this week.
Prime Minister Stuart said the discussions, which are also being attended by officials from the Dominican Republic, were necessary since, within recent time, subsidies had been given to rum producers in the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, much to the disadvantage of Caribbean rum producers, including Barbados.
He said the situation is so serious that Barbados is prepared to take its case to the World Trade Organization (WTO) if a solution is not forthcoming.
“The Government of Barbados has had to take a stand on this issue, and under my instructions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade communicated with the US Government on this issue. And, of course, very recent discussions have taken place between CARICOM countries, the Dominican Republic and the United States Trade Representative with a view to addressing the more pressing concerns of rum producers, not only here in Barbados, but in other parts of the Caribbean, and, of course, in the Dominican Republic,” he said.
Prime Minister Stuart said that CARICOM was not going to “relapse its vigilance” on the issue.
“We are not about to relax our persistence on this issue… We do not intend to allow rum producers in the Caribbean to be so severely disadvantaged by this market distortion which has resulted from these overwhelming, if I may use that word, subsidies being extended to producers in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.”
Last month, the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) said  the region continues to have “serious concerns” regarding the competitiveness of Caribbean rum in the United States.
"In addition to being the largest agriculture-based export industry in CARICOM, the rum industry is a substantial employer and a major contributor to foreign exchange earnings and government revenues," COTED said.
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said that the rum issue, involving Diageo, the global rum producer, continues to "threaten Caribbean rum into the US market, and the leaders agreed that strong and urgent political intervention was needed to address that issue.
"There is a concern with regards to some subsidy that is being provided for Diageo, the multilateral and one of the largest rum producers which is currently located in St Croix in the US Virgin Islands," said LaRocque.
"Last August, the UK-based Diageo reportedly warned that should CARICOM mount a complaint to the WTO over the alleged subsidies it would "re-evaluate" its Caribbean interests.
Diageo has denied 'flooding' the US market and has defended the US governments 100-year-old 'cover over' programme, which it said granted the USVI and Puerto Rico much-needed revenues to promote economic stability and fiscal autonomy.
Prime Minister Stuart has assured rum producers in Barbados that his administration “is alert to your concerns on this issue, and that CARICOM and the Dominican Republic are working collaboratively to ensure that we reach some kind of resolution on this matter”.
Stuart said rum “has steadily become a serious foreign exchange earner for Barbados” adding “you really cannot run a country like Barbados, a small open economy, unless you have reliable sources of foreign exchange.
“And, the rum industry has been making its own contribution to Barbados’ gathering of foreign exchange needs to make life more tolerable and more abundant for the people of our island.
 “So, we cannot afford to ignore threats to the industry. Threats to the industry are not for us a luxury, but we have to take these threats seriously and spring into action to protect the industry wherever these threats occur,” he added.

Read more:
     On the heels of the "Fiscal Cliff" legislation that .extended the rum subsidies to the U.S. territories, this is what I feel is only the beginning of the latest round of actions in this ongoing dispute. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Morning Wanderings

    A some what gray Sunday morning here in the Keys.  The remnants of a cold front still hanging around, but it is still a comfortable morning in the mid 60's.   I wish all of you football fans good fortune for the team you are supporting, but for this old Forty Niner Faithful, its "Roll on Niners".

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kirk and Sweeney, the Rum and the Sloop

  35 Maple Street, the spirits division of The Other Guys (TOG), has announced the release of Kirk and Sweeney Rum, a handcrafted, 12-year-old premium liquor. Kirk and Sweeney becomes the third spirit introduced by 35 Maple Street as it continues to expand its niche in the growing cocktail movement, which has spawned a “gold rush” of cocktail bars and underground speakeasies in urban areas across America over the past five years.


"Rum-runner sloop KIRK AND SWEENEY with cases and barrels of rum on her deck, was seized by the U.S. Coast Guard about January 13, 1924.  A generous supply of cases of liquors were kept on deck to save time when the fast motorboats of bootleg smugglers from shore came to make contact outside the three-mile limit (extended to 12-mile limit by Act of Congress April 21, 1924).  The KIRK AND SWEENEY was later renamed the CHASE and used as a training vessel at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the 1930's."  
Photo No. G-APA-01-13-24 (02) G.F.; 1924; photographer unknown.


     “Kirk and Sweeney was the name of a wooden schooner that was best known for smuggling rum from the Caribbean to the Northeast United States during Prohibition,” said August Sebastiani, TOG president. “There’s a historical bent for each of our spirits, so we thought naming the rum after Kirk and Sweeney was appropriate.”

     The rum is made in the Dominican Republic and aged for 12 years in American oak barrels. Its unique packaging – featuring a raised cork in an elegant low-set bottle – was inspired by short, round 18th-century bottles, which typically contained rum.
    This is a beautiful mahogany colored rum with great legs in the glass.   The rum immediately hits you with aromas of wood and vanilla, followed by a light and delicate fruity smooth taste on the palate.  The finish is long lasting and smooth.    I really liked the rum from the first taste and put it on the shelf at the Rum Bar in Key West immediately.    This is a must try new rum, and seems to be available in many areas of the country.   ;o)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Angostura Single Barrel Rum

     Angostura Single Barrel Rum is not available here in America, but well worth mentioning.   This is a fine rum that is made in Trinidad by the Angostura.   John Georges, the master blender at Angostura has put this mixture of heavy and medium distillates into a blend that is aged in American oak bourbon barrels to perfection.

    This is a very unique rum that costs about $18, but has the flavor of a much more expensive rum.   Available in "Duty-Free" stores in airports and cruise ship harbors around the Caribbean and well worth the trip into one while traveling to obtain a bottle.

On the nose you first notice the light woody notes followed by a delicate sense of vanilla and other tropical spices.   In the mouth you get the taste of honey and a nutty tropical fruity flavors that yields to a long, smooth and warm finish.   This rum is a very good example of how rum should be finished through proper aging.

    This is another example of a fine rum that is not available to those of us that live in the United States.   This is unfortunate for all of us that live here,  the tax and hoops make it difficult and expensive for rum companies to bring many of their products to market here.    If you get out and about this winter to an airport or cruise port in the Caribbean make the time to search Angostura Single Barrel Rum out, it is worth the effort.   ;o)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ron Medellin Grand Reserva 12 Year Old

    12 Year Old Ron Medellin Grand Reserva is a very fine rum from Columbia that I was finally able to obtain for the Rum Bar yesterday.   This is a classic rum like those from the high valleys of Guatemala that benefits from the cooler average temperatures.   The Aburra Valley has an elevation of about 5,000 feet and an average temperature of 70 degrees.  Even with it's proximity to the equator, the high altitude spring like weather makes for great rum aging conditions.   There is a smaller amount of loss to "Angel's Share" evaporation from the barrels.

     This is a pure rum made from local sugar cane with no added sugars or artificial flavorings.   The Colombian way of making rum is based on the quality and control by using selected resources that come from within the Colombian borders.    

     The rum has a complex smokey flavor from the American Oak barrels that it spends 12 years resting in.  The local rum in Columbia is 70 proof, but the export available in the United States is a full 80 proof.    There are hints of vanilla and a certain spiciness to the rum that is followed by a long and distinctive smooth finish.  The rum feels very nice on the palate, and  has a distinctively long finish.

     I have always liked the three and eight year old rums from Ron Medellin, but this twelve year old is really nice and one that needs to be placed in your collection.   ;o)


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Marlyn's Birthday Party in the Marina Last Night

    The owner of the marina had a birthday party last night and it went on into the wee hours of the morning.  The head is a bit foggy this morning and at least I didn't have to walk out into a bright morning sun today.  The little shower and the clouds were welcome.

     The Kingfisher was out this morning getting his morning meal and all in all it was quite the nice morning.   I'm normally in bed by 9 or 10, and these 3am getting into bed are hard on this old guy, but it was a party for a friend and worth staying up for.

     I know that in my younger days, the late nights were easy to handle for a few days in a row, but these days even one is rough.  I guess that is the price of the years of experience and something that you just have to be aware of.   I'm not going to complain about this because it was a fun party that all who attended enjoyed immensely.

                                       By the way I will be in bed by 8 tonight!!!  ;o)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January's Cocktail Barbancourt

    I am offering another cocktail utilizing the combination of Rhum Barbancourt Four Star and Pango.   This combination offers flavors that are conducive to many varieties of cocktail.   The smokey flavor of the Four Star Rhum when combined with the pineapple and mango flavors of the Pango will lend itself to many many possibilities for a choice cocktail.

Bahama Bob's Haitian Surprise

·          1 oz. Rhum Barbancourt Pango

·          1 ½ oz. Rhum Barbancourt 3 Star

·          ¾ oz. Triple Sec

·          1 oz. Grapefruit Juice

·          1 ½ oz. Pineapple Juice

·          ½ oz. Cane Syrup (Simple Sugar Syrup)

·          2 Dashes of Bitters
Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.  Pour into a Collin's

glass and garnish with an orange wheel and cherry.
Hope you get the chance to enjoy this cocktail this month and try your own ideas using Rhum Barbancourt Four Star and Pango.  ;o)

Monday, January 14, 2013

More on the Fiscal Cliff Tax Cuts

     It is good to see that I am not the only one that is a bit miffed about the "pork barrel" antics that took place in Washington D.C. under the guise of the "Fiscal Cliff".

Lobbyists help smooth the way for Diageo's jumbo-sized tax breaks 

 The deal will mean Diageo saves many millions more dollars in rebates 

Source: The Independent 

by Jim Armitage  

Friday 11 January 2013 

Global Outlook All that fiscal cliff business had investors reaching for the drinks cabinet over the new year. But when the bill was passed, one British corporate giant had more reason to celebrate than most. For, believe it or not, thanks to the weird world of United States lobbying, the Smirnoff-to-Guinness giant Diageo emerged as one of the biggest beneficiaries.

While we naive observers in the rest of the globe thought the legislation was all about saving the US from economic collapse, in fact, for a small but powerful Washington lobbying elite, it was more about driving through a few jumbo-sized special-interest-group tax breaks.

The rest of the world, and US taxpayers, focused on the deep public spending cuts and tax rises for the wealthy presaged by the bill, but President Barack Obama shoehorned in a host of completely unrelated "pork barrel" tax breaks for big business.

One of them was a two-year extension to the tax break mainly benefiting Diageo's Captain Morgan rum distillery in the US Virgin Islands.

The deal will mean Diageo saves many millions more dollars in rebates, which rivals argue makes it hard for the company ever to lose money on the liquor.

It's impossible to state exactly how much Diageo will save as the break is based on how much rum the company manages to shift from its shiny new distillery in the US territory. Some reports have put the annual benefit at around $50m (£31m).

You could argue that's not much for a multi-billion dollar operation like Diageo, but it's a whole lot more than the company paid the Washington lobbyists Trent Lott and John Breaux to push for the change. Data obtainable through the website suggest Diageo paid the pair's firm only $120,000 last year.

Perhaps the duo, a former Republican and Democrat senator, should up their rates. They may need to, since another client, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, may not be paying its $100,000-$250,000 annual lobbying dues for much longer.

As a Brit, whose pension is, I presume, partly invested in the world's biggest drinks company, it's hard not to have mixed feelings. On the one hand, you have to admire Diageo for its political nous in hiring two of the most effective lobbyists in Washington to do its bidding so well. The way the White House jingoistically abused BP after the Deepwater Horizon disaster highlighted how British firms don't always play the game with such elan.

But this kind of lobbying in foreign climes is reputationally risky. As the US media focused on the Armageddon Averted fiscal cliff story, the tale of Diageo's nice little earner didn't cause much of a stink. But think about it: "hard-pressed American taxpayers bail out Limey booze peddlers," could have played pretty big in other circumstances.

Incidentally, Diageo, which did not comment on my queries about this story, managed to get tax incentives worth some $2.7bn when it moved its Captain Morgan distillery from impoverished Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands.
     I just could not let this article pass in all good conscience.    Enough of my "soap box" orations and back to the issue at hand, good rum.   ;o)