Saturday, January 31, 2015

No Imagination at Home, but Willing to Try new Things at the Pub

     Have you noticed that when you visit friends and or you are at home you pretty much drink the
same things?  It is an interesting thing, friends and myself included, except with me it is just the opposite.  I drink the same thing when I'm out on the town, and experiment at home.  

     I notice that people that come to the Rum Bar are willing to experiment with new ideas regularly.  I find only a few that are really stuck in their ways and don't want to vary from their regular cocktail.   There is an article done about some research recently done in the United Kingdom that verifies this phenomena.   An article in the Spirits Business showed the results.

"Eight out of 10 United Kingdom consumers never or rarely try new alcoholic beverages when drinking outside of their homes, new research has revealed."

     Research shows the majority of British consumers are reluctant to try new alcoholic drinks.  Researchers found 77% of out-of-home drinkers were reluctant to try new products and 32% admitted to sticking to brands they already know and trust.  Reasons given for being hesitant to sample new brands included a lack of awareness of new products on the market (14%) and that there were no new drinks on the market that they liked (21%).
     “With the vast diversity of products available at pubs, bars and clubs, consumers are faced with a myriad of alcoholic beverage options, and in the face of so many new drinks they often stick to tried and tested favorites,” commented Sam Allen, analyst.
     However, more than half of those questioned (56%) who frequently experimented with new drinks said they enjoyed trying new flavors and 33% looked for locally made products.  Seasonal products also proved favorable, with a quarter of consumers keen to try new offerings selecting seasonal beverages.  “Many consumers are becoming bored with traditional flavors, which has resulted in the rapid growth of smaller scale brewing and craft production,” Allen added.  “Limited edition and seasonal options that offer fresh and exciting tastes will encourage more consumers to try products while they have the chance.”

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Thaw from Castro's Point of View.

Fidel Castro
With all of the stories circulating about all of the thaw between Cuba and the United States It is good to finally hear something from the Cuban side of the story.  The Caribbean Journal has just released this story of their opinions.

Just weeks after rumors of the death of Fidel Castro swirled across the Internet, the former Cuban leader has broken his silence with a new message.

In the new message, which was addressed to Cuba’s University Student Federation and released by Cuba’s government, Castro is reported to mark the 70th anniversary since his entry into the University of Havana.

Most notably, Castro weighed in on the recent rapprochement between the United States and Cuba.

“I do not trust the US policy, nor have I exchanged a word with them,” he said. “To defend peace is the duty of everyone. Whatever peaceful and negotiated solution to the problems with the United States and the people, or of any people of Latin America, they should not involve force or the use of force.

Castro said that his brother Raul, the country’s current president, had taken the “appropriate steps according to the prerogatives and powers granted by the National Assembly and the Communist Party of Cuba.”

“The serious dangers that threaten humanity today should give way to rules that are consistent with human dignity,” he wrote. “No country is excluded from such rights.”

“In this spirit I have fought and continue to fight until the last breath,” Castro wrote.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Flor de Cana 25 Year Old Rum: Now at the Rum Bar Key West

     It has been a long wait for Flor de Cana 25 Year to come to the United States and more specifically Florida, but it has arrived and we have it on the shelf at the Rum Bar.  This expression has only been available through Duty Free Shops outside of the United States until now.  I hope to see some of you rum lovers at the Rum Bar this coming week to learn what this fine rum is all about.

    The company is describing Flor de Cana 25 year Old as "our jewel in the crown".  The brand joins the Centenario Collection in receiving a new decanter style bottle that emphasizes the quality, age statement, and the "Tradicion Artesanal" (traditional craftsmanship) of the rum.   The bottle is beautifully with a great shape and heavy glass base.

     According to the label it is "Slow Aged" for 25 years, which is a trademark of Flor de Cana.   It is also a "single Estate Rum" and presented at 80 proof.

     I will do a full review of the rum when I get a chance to taste it Thursday back at work.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Energy Drinks and Alcohol: Not so Good.Together

     I've always had a problem with the mixing of caffeine and sugar laden drinks with alcohol, The logic really doesn't fit .  Alcohol is a depressant and the caffeine and sugar are stimulants.  You really don't want to take your body in two different directions at the same time.  There is an article in Time that helps you understand why this is not a good thing to be doing.

    For years, research has suggested that mixing alcohol and heavily-caffeinated energy drinks could have negative health effects.  Combining the two seems to make you want to drink more and mask signs of inebriation.  The combo's potential negative consequences aren't just a personal risk, but a public health one, suggests a new paper in the journal Advances in Nutrition.


     "When people mix energy drinks with alcohol, people drink more than they would if they had just consumed alcohol, which is associated with a cascade of problems," says paper author Cecile Marczinski, associate professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University. 

     The increased likelihood of engaging in risky behavior, particularly drunk driving, is chief among the public health concerns, Marczinski says. The caffeine rush in energy drinks makes a drinker look and feel more balanced and coordinated than their drinking would suggest, leading some drinkers to believe they're not actually drunk. In one study Marczinski cited, people who combined energy drinks and alcohol were four times more likely to think they could drive home than their counterparts who drank alcohol alone. The effects of the energy drink may also make it less obvious to police officers that a driver is drunk, making the officer less likely to breathalyze.

     You really need to put some thought into the consumption of these potentially deadly libations.  I really hate to loose some of my readers this way.  ;o)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Rum Rebellion of 1808

     On January 26, 1808 there was the one and only military coup in Australia against the Governor who had attempted to control the sale of liquor.  Known as the "Rum Rebellion", it was a feud between the military and the Governor to control the sale of liquor in Australia.

     The “Rum Rebellion” in fact had many causes but it was Governor William Bligh’s attempt to stop the essentially illegal rum trade that was controlled by the local militia that proved the final straw.   In fairness to Bligh, he was merely carrying out orders from the Colonial Office which wanted to normalize trading in the colony which had been formally founded just 20 years before.  
     Yet Bligh, already infamous the inciting a mutiny on his ship The Bounty, was an abrasive character in his own right. On his trip to Australia to take over as governor he had chafed at command of the convoy being given to a junior naval officer, Captain Joseph Short, and so willfully disobeyed his orders (which led to Short firing a literal shot across his bows) before finally arresting Short and taking over the little convoy himself.
     His attitude in Australia did not endear him to many.   He arrived in Sydney in 1807 and his dictatorial manner made him powerful enemies.  He dismissed important men from their positions for no reason, he stopped giving land grants to the powerful – and gave them to himself instead, he evicted the poor and appropriated their land, he imprisoned those who wrote to complain and then he tried to stop the New South Wales Corps’ rum trade which made its members and local businessmen large profits.
     Matters when he came to a head when Bligh clashed with the irascible John MacArthur, a part-time officer in the Corps and burgeoning wool tycoon with considerable interests in the rum trade.   A disagreement over landing regulations led to MacArthur’s arrest. He was bailed on 25 January and the next day, under threat of arrest, he and supporters from the Corps and other prominent colonists marched against Bligh when he accused them of treasonous actions.  Marching to Government House with colors flying and band playing, Bligh was found hiding under the bed.  A rebel government was established in which MacArthur played a key part.
     After a period of house arrest Bligh was sent back to Britain, though he unsuccessfully tried to get help from the lieutenant-governor of Tasmania to help reinstate him on his way back.
William Bligh never seemed to be able to get the respect that he should, but when it comes to controlling the availability of liquor to the people, you don't want to say NO!  ;o)

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Hybrid Pot Still Built Before You in 2 Minutes

     The assembley of a still in just 2 minutes.  See it at

     The still is the basis for all of the spirits that make up the rum category.  The video above is a really good chance to se what they are and how they are put together.

     Built in the Vendome Copper and Brass Works in Louisville, Kentucky, the 1,700-pound hybrid pot still features a reflux onion, optional gin basket, and attached columns with bubble cap trays.

     This still was installed next to existing whiskey still Mary, named after George’s wife and mother to the Bowman brothers.  The new 24-foot installed at the Smith Bowman Distillery, still has specific features chosen by master distiller Brian Prewitt to allow him to create unique new expressions.   Prewitt said: “We want to have the capability to try anything and everything, and with George, we should be able to do just that.”

     This video give those of you that have not been around stills at all a chance to see what they look like and how they go together in the distillery.  This particular hybrid pot still will work very well for development of new expressions because of the abilities of the still to combine the characteristics of both pot and column stills.

     Hope that you found this as interesting as I did.  You don't often get to see one of these stills being assembled in front of you and in 2 minutes.  ;o)


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Cool of Key West Winter Evenings

     Winter in Key West is marked by short days and chilly evenings.  The blues of winter can be just as exciting and the bright colors of summer.  I just enjoy watching the day turn into evening even in the winter.  I love having the foliage still on the trees as well, the bare sticks in the north for me can be a bit depressing and colorless.  ;o)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Back Home in the Warm

     After a three day journey to the north for a business trip it is really great to be home again in the warmth of Key West.   Even though the highs were in the fifties, the lows were in the thirties.   I can live with high fifties as a night time low, but as a daytime high, that is a little rough on these aging joints.  

     You don't really appreciate the tropics until you get away from them for a few days in the winter time.   It is funny that there are afternoons when the sun goes down that we run for some pretty heavy jackets to keep warm, but it is a rare day that I can't walk out in a t shirt and shorts when the sun is up.

     I really do feel for you guys in the northern tiers of this world in the winter time.  I really wish more of the world was like the tropics, I'd probably be more inclined to visit them more often.  The funny thing is  that when I lived in this area for some 16 years, it didn't really bother me that much.  I guess that it is really a case of perception.  

     Age and treachery usually wins out over youth and enthusiasm, and with age comes stiffer joints and the warm really makes everything feel so much better.   No matter how you look at it today I'm really glad to be back home in Key West.   ;o) 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Rum is Maiking Inroads into the Scotch Catagory Sales

     Rum is starting to make some inroads into the sales of Scotch worldwide.  It seems that the premiunization of the rum category is starting to pay some dividends.   Scotch drinkers could be turning specifically to dark rum especially the expressions that have undergone a premiumization the  
recent years.    “One category that appears set to capture a share from Scotch is dark rum.”   “High-quality aged sipping rums are winning over consumers in the UK, Benelux, France, the Nordics and Eastern Europe as they look to change up Scotch or gin consumption on the back of the current premiumization trend.

     This is good news for the rum category as a whole, especially with the money and effort that is being spent to bring the quality level of the category up to its competitors.   For to many years, the category was known for its white unaged and sugared and flavored expressions, but today the public is starting to appreciate the quality of the dark aged rums offer and beginning to switch to these expressions.

     I have found it fairly easy to get bourbon and scotch drinkers to try many of the higher end rums that share notes of bourbon or scotch from their aging processes.  Bourbon drinkers find rums like Zafra, a 21 year old expression of rum master Don Pancho Fernandez in Panama, will get their attention and usually turn their heads and find themselves asking for it again.   Diplomatico from Venezuela, Doorly's XO from Barbados, Plantation from France and El Dorado from Guyana also have the same effect on many of my customers.

    While there is a serious growth from the ultra-premium expressions, the basic rums like Bacardi and aptain Morgan and showing growth at the same time.  The Category is doing very well as a whole.  Its growth is a slow and steady on and not just a "flash in the pan" growth that like most fads doesn't last.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Flight Delay!!!

     There are a lot of things that we usually assume to be because that is just how it happens most of the time.  Once in a while because of things that happen elsewhere our world is DELAYED!!!  Today is just one of those days where the ice and snow in Connecticut has delayed the departure of the plane, meaning it, will be late arriving in Charlotte, causing us to be an hour plus late in our arrival into Key West.  The domino effect, which brings me to the point of this story.

     We are always looking for the cause or someone to blame for our problems, when we should be looking for ways to fix that problem.  Ranting and raving about being delayed because of bad weather in Connecticut will not get you home any sooner, plus it would be a lot easier on the rest of us not having to listen to all of that noise.   By spending my time during the delay writing this blog will in effect give me that hour back when I do get home.

     I love all the noise that people in the airports make when things don't go their way, if as much effort would be spent fixing the problems caused by a delay, life would be so much better for all involved.   There is nothing that can be done to bring the plane on line any sooner, but you have the option of spending the delay time in a productive way instead of screaming, their problems would be so much easier to solve.  Remember that you have little or no control over these delays, but you do have control of your mind and your ability to make better use of these times instead of making those around you miserable just because you didn't get your way.

     This delay is just about over, the ticket agent has just called the flight and I got this blog written with time to spare.  Just think, I don't have to worry about it when I get home because I used this delay time in a useful way.  ;o)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There is a "Wee World" Out There

     Isn't it interesting as we walk around all of these places and all that we see is the big stuff.  It seems that we rarely look closer at the place and see all of the colorful and interesting little things that surround us.  I was walking around the park at Bahia Honda the other day and I found myself looking at butterflies, flowers and little birds rather that at the ocean, the bridge and the really "spectacular" stuff. 

     What I found was a very small and wonderfully colorful world  that is right in front of me at a much smaller level.  The little flowers, colorful and very delicate just sitting there waiting for someone to notice them.  Then I was surrounded by butterflies and little birds.  All this while wandering through a holler of interesting bushes and flowers.

     It never ceases to amaze me what you can see is you slow down a bit and open your eyes.  A second look is you will at what you thought you saw in your first glance.  There are so many little things out there that are so worth while seeing.  Take the time to look closely, the sights are so rewarding when you finally notice them.  ;o)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Toasted Coconut

     When I was introduced to the Siesta Key Toasted Coconut Rum, I fell in love with its flavor right out of the bottle neat.   I've been trying to come up with something to put it with that would be a cocktail that would showcase the rum and not bury it in other flavors.   I tried several mixes with fruit juices and other things, but they were just lacking something. 

     I took to the idea of a smoothie style of cocktail and I researched what went well with coconut and found several things that I could work with and came up with this idea.  I hope you enjoy it.

Siesta Key Toasted Coconut Smoothie
  • 2 oz. Siesta Key Toasted Coconut Rum
  • 1/4 Cup of Pineapple Chunks
  • 1/2 Fresh Banana
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice
  • 3/4 oz. Orgeat
Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into a 16 oz. Glass and top with a float of Toasted Coconut Rum and fresh ground nutmeg.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Havana Club 7 Year: Big Throughout the Latin Countries

     Havana Club 7 Year Old rum is pushing it's strong appeal across the Latin American countries with a strong success rate throughout the region.  In the Latin world, there is very little white rum consumed, but rather an emphasis of the aged rums all of the way through the ultra-premium expressions.   I really have to agree, the value for your dollar spent is good.  Havana Club 7 to me anyway is the finest of those currently produced by the brand.  In the past their "Barrel Proof" was my favorite, but today I have to stand behind the Havana Club 7 Year old.

     It is felt that the Bacardi brand is seen as a white spirit in the region, but there is hardly  any white rum at all sold in South America, where they basically start with Especial and look to the better rums from there.   There is a serious focus is Havana Club 7 now, it is sold in Mexico where it is competitive at the same price point as 12-year-old Scotch.  Havana Club has taken a deliberate super-premium strategy, that seems to be paying off well for the brand.

     In Havana Club's homeland of Cuba, they sell one million cases a year, which is about 60% of this quality rum bottled produced each year.   Havana Club’s Cuban roots give the brand its strong Latin appeal that resonates across the entire region.   Havana Club is also strong in markets like Argentina, Colombia and Peru.  Havana Club 7 Year is a super-premium rum that can also play to the values of Latin Americans.

     I think that this is a brand and an expression that will soon be here in America in the next few years and be very competitive in this market.  The iconic brand that has been envisioned as the "holy grail" of rums, mostly because of its unobtainable status will be on many rum drinker's list of most desired rums.  The strength in the Latin world and the strong Latin population here in America will help propel this brand when it finally arrives in the United States.  ;o)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pelican Life

Pelicans have returned to the to the Keys for the winter.  This can be a blessing and a curse, but they are very much a part of the water life of the Keys.  The are fun to watch when they are out of the marinas scavenging.  The are very artful raiders of fish from the sky, but to many have become scavengers of the scraps of the fishermen hanging around the fish cleaning tables of the marinas.  This leads to them perching on boats and leaving the tell tale trail of "Pelican Poop".  Never the less, they are unique and pretty birds that always interest me as they fly in ground effects over the water.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Do We Really Need Alcohol in Order to Relax?

    I read an article about a study in Scotland and it really makes me wonder about this.  I know that I
really enjoy jumping into the dinghy after work and heading over to the Hurricane Hole for a couple of cocktails, but I sometimes wonder if it is really necessary for me to chill out after work?   I do know that it is really about hanging out with a lot of friends that also enjoy getting together for a few cocktails and conversation, but I really don't know one way or the other if the alcohol is a necessity.

    It comes in light of a new study, Transformation and time-out: the role of alcohol in identity construction among Scottish women in early midlife, which concluded women in their thirties and forties use alcohol as a means to look beyond their everyday roles and responsibilities.  As such, drug and alcohol misuse experts claim alcohol advertising has effectively linked booze to “reward and relaxation”.
     “While recognizing that many people enjoy relaxing with a drink, we need to be wary that images portrayed in the media and entertainment industry do not make alcohol seem essential to relaxation and enjoyment in today’s culture for women in midlife, or indeed for people at any stage of life.”
     This really makes me wonder about the power that advertising has on our daily lives and if we really have any control over what we do or does the media really control our daily actions, needs and beliefs?  You can read more about the subject at  Then please make your own decision.  ;o)


Friday, January 16, 2015

T. Rutter Rum from Pennsylavia

    T. Rutter Rum is a very interesting unaged white rum created on the banks of an 18.2-mile-long tributary of the mighty Schuylkill River that cuts through the countryside and has become home to a winery, a brewery and, now, a distillery.  Manatawny was named by the Lenape Indians, Man'en'tau'wata'wik, "the place we meet to drink," and it means the same to us today.

     This is an unaged white rum that has been double distilled rum that has notes of an agricole style rum.  It is a very clean rum and works very well with Barritt's Ginger Beer for me,  I feel like that now matter what you mix it with you will enjoy it.  It is a clean well crafted small batch rum that makes a tasty cocktail that doesn't over power the taste of the cocktail.

     The Manatawny Still Works also produces Whiskey , Vodka and on the horizon is a new Gin expression ahead.  Manatawny Still Works was developed to produce world class spirits with character in small batches. The distillery is modern, but the practices are based on old world production with a reverent nod to the history of the region.  

     This distillery in Pottstown, Pennsylvania has regular hours for you to visit the distillery and an opportunity to purchase T Rutter Rum. You can find Manatawny Still Works on line at

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rusults from the Brand Report

You could flip a coin – each year since we’ve been polling the world’s best bars, the champion rum has been either Havana Club or Bacardi. 

     Havana Club fell face up this year, with 27% of polled bars attesting to its selling power.  Havana Club is a marketer’s dream and nightmare – authenticity but half-owned by the Castros.   Pernod has taken things slowly, building the brand in the right way – marketing the city of Havana and all that entails rather than just flogging rum.   Bacardi was the top seller in 18 of our polled bars. Respondents were about 50% European and 20% North American – in reverse, we may have seen Bacardi dominate, such is its status in the US.  Still, Bacardi has successfully diversified its image over recent years and has a powerful package to offer bars.

     At Schumann’s in Munich, you’re more likely to be served Bacardi 8 than any other rum and at A for Athens, they told us their “primary deal” is with Bacardi, a “value-for-money choice” with product quality “above average”.  The American Bar is the Bacardi bar when it comes to most house pours. The brand’s global cocktail competition, Bacardi Legacy, is second only to Diageo’s World Class and is an effective recruiting tool for its flagship rum.  

     Plantation makes its debut in the Best Selling list this year. In previous Brands Reports it wasn’t the bestselling rum in any of our bars – now it is top in 15 of our 100.   Its owner, Cognac Ferrand, had a good 2014 and it seems its blended island rums and vintages are offering the bar market something different. 

Diplomatico, a sweeter Spanish style in the mold of Botran and Zacapa, has made a beeline for bartenders.  Spearheaded by its World Tournament bartending competition, which debuted in 2013, the Venezuelan rum is the best seller of its category at Edinburgh’s Bramble, 28 Hong Kong Street in Singapore and the Lui Bar in Melbourne, but its greater feat is shown in the trending chart – 15% of bars polled said it was the hot rum among punters.  Diplomatico, though, takes second place to Zacapa in the trending list.
Diageo was one of the first to go ‘super-premium’ with rum – a phrase previously reserved for other categories – and bartenders have long been convinced.  Topping the Trending charts means consumers in the world’s best bars are too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Rums of the "Spanish Style" of Rum Making

Mixability is helping the Spanish-style spirit to a renaissance. Lucy Britner explores the background

     Spanish Settlers brought with them to rum’s heartland their knowledge and love of brandy and sherry. So rum-making Spanish style is sometimes influenced by the solera system of maturation. It is also largely centred around South and Central America. 
     Diplomatico marketing manager Javier Herrera Toral describes Spanish-style rum as ‘smooth’. He adds: “Basically, most of the rums with this origin are easy-going, with a smooth palate and are easy to sip.”
     Several places are important to the history of Spanish-style rums, which came into their own in the 19th and 20th centuries. Spaniard Don Juan Serrallés imported a still to Puerto Rico in 1865 and Spanish drinkers back home enjoyed the Rom Barrilito brand, as did some Americans. The commercial stage was set, though some boast production before 1865. 
     Venezuela is a key country for Spanish-style rums and Santa Teresa claims to be the oldest rum brand registered there – its 1796 expression carries the year of the hacienda’s incorporation. 1796 makes use of the solera system and today the company also has a social program called Project Alcatraz that aims to rehabilitate gangland criminals. 
     Diageo looks after two Venezuelan, non-solera rums – Cacique and Pampero.   Cacique – meaning ‘chief of the tribe’ in Spanish – has been around since 1959.   Pampero is slightly older, having been launched in 1938.    Both count Venezuela and Spain as their key markets and Pampero is also big in Italy.   Also in Venezuela is Diplomatico, which doesn’t employ the solera system but does make use of Spanish drinking habits. 
     Toral says: “All the rums blended in Diplomatico are aged separately until they achieve their optimum age. The first ageing is always done in 180-litre American white oak barrels, which were used first to age bourbon or Scotch. Some of our rums are aged in a second stage in Spanish sherry and Pedro Ximenez barrels. Blending is the last stage.”
     Heading north, Nicaragua is home to Flor de Cana – Spanish for ‘sugar cane flower’. According to the brand, the first distillery was built at the San Antonio Sugar Mill in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, in 1890. In 1937, an independent company was founded within the plantation called Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua and it launched the brand Flor de Caña in that year. The company describes its ageing process as a “unique slow-ageing method” in American oak barrels and the brand does not use the solera system. In summer last year, the brand revamped its packaging to pay closer attention to its heritage and age statements. 
     Further north, Guatemala was better known for coffee until commercial distillers became established in about 1914. The 20th century also saw the creation of Industria Licoreras de Guatamala, the company which makes the Botran brand and Diageo joint venture Zacapa. It’s a massive operation. Zacapa is known for its maturation at high altitude in what is called the House Above the Clouds and the solera system is employed, creating a blend of old and new rums in the same way that many Spanish brandies are produced.

   With his eye on the prize, Spanish emigrant Don Facundo Bacardi bought a distillery in Santiago (Cuba) in 1862. He was the pioneer of dry, light Cuban rum. In the words of Dave Broom: “You could call it a Spanish style – but I wouldn’t advise it in front of a Cuban distiller”,  Wise words. Havana Club set up shop in 1878 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Francisco "Don Pancho" Fernandez
     One modern master of the Spanish style of rum is Francisco "Don Pancho" Fernandez.  His history of rum making in Cuba with Havana Club, Abuelo Rums, and on his own rums working with Carlos E. Esquivel G. at their Pilsa Distillery in Panama.  "Don Pancho" makes his rums in the true Spanish style and his newest expression "Origines" are an expression of his  lifelong belief in true rums of the Spanish heritage.
    The Spanish style of rum making is one that has a long history and provides the world with a true rum that stands alone without additives and the flavor of the rum comes directly  from the skills of the distillers and the blenders.  ;o)