Friday, September 30, 2016

You First Taste Your Cocktails with Your Eyes

“Before we dive into cocktail presentations, we must have a delicious-tasting cocktail to start with!   A very good drink is most important—and be executed well—before we can move on to other elements of the cocktail experience.”

    One of the most important factors to a fine cocktail is how it appears to the customer.  If you look at what people picture on their Facebook or Twitter pages it is the cocktails and food that is most appealing to their eye.   These are the pictures that they share with their friends and family as to how good what they are eating and drinking is before they ever get to taste it.

     The best chefs and mixologists in the world work as hard on the appearance of their creations as they do on what is going into them.  First is the ingredients and the mixing of the cocktail, next is the selection of the glass that it is to be served in. and third the importance of garnish to finish the mix all adds to the taste appeal of the cocktail long before the first sip.  “Amazing garnishes to presentations should enhance the drinking experience, not merely add fluff and glitter to it.  Many garnishes don't just add eye appeal, but also add supplemental flavor.  With this in mind make sure the items of garnish also add a positive note to the overall flavor of the cocktail.  There are no "universal garnishes", but rather each cocktail calls for a garnish that enhances the experience for the customer and not just something that is tossed on top.
Unique Glassware

     The eye appeal along with the palate appeal is a combination that has to be addressed on every cocktail if you want your customers to enjoy the complete experience of your creation and return for a second visit and tell their friends about your skills.  

Havana Club Set to Enter U.S. Market the Minute the Embargo Disappears

New Label
     Cuba’s Havana Club rum is set to enter the U.S. market “even if it were to open tomorrow,” according to executives of the firm that exports 75 percent of its production.   “We’re well prepared. We’ve spent 16 years waiting for the opening of that market, which is the world’s biggest for rum,” master rum distiller Jose Navarro told a press conference in Havana, to which he presented the new image of the iconic firm’s rum that is aged for seven years.
Old Label

     Early this year, the mixed Cuban-French company, Pernod Ricard-Cuba Ron that markets Havana Club worldwide won the legal battle it has fought for more than 20 years with Bacardi for brand rights in the United States.  Until that litigation was resolved, Bacardi sold the brand in the U.S., while Pernod Ricard has marketed it in the rest of the world since the mixed company was formed in 1993.

     Havana Club International CEO Jerome Cottin-Bizonne said Monday that the company is preparing to open new markets, “including the U.S.,” which will only be accessible to a Cuban product once the embargo is lifted that the United States has imposed on the island for the last 50 years.

     Though the two countries announced the beginning of a diplomatic thaw almost two years ago after five decades at daggers drawn, the embargo remains in place and its elimination is the chief demand of the Cuban government within the new relations.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

October 14 - 22 Old Fashion Cocktail Week

     On the 14th through 22nd of October, bars around the world will host Old Fashioned Week through a number of events, masterclasses and collaborations with affiliated brands.   The festival first launched in 2015 based on an initiation of the Maria Loca bar in Paris and Cyrille Hugon, founder of Rhum Fest Paris and Rumporter Magazine, but it has now been transformed from an exclusive French event to a global cocktail festival.
Old Fashioned Cocktail
     The first documented definition of the word "cocktail" was in response to a reader's letter asking to define the word in the May 6, 1806, issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository in Hudson, New York. The May 13, 1806, issue, the paper, the editor wrote that it was a potent concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar, it was also referred to at the time as a “bittered sling”.   J.E. Alexander describes the cocktail similarly in 1833, as he encountered it in New York City, as being rum, gin, or brandy, significant water, bitters, and sugar, though he includes a nutmeg garnish as well.
     By the 1860s, it was common for orange curacao, absinthe, and other liqueurs to be added to the cocktail. The original concoction, came in different proportions, came back into vogue, and was referred to as "old-fashioned.  Most popular of the in-vogue "old-fashioned" cocktails were made with whiskey, according to a Chicago barman, quoted in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1882, with rye being more popular than Bourbon. The recipe described is a similar combination of spirits, bitters, water and sugar like it was seventy-six years earlier.
     The first use of the name "Old Fashioned" for a Bourbon Whiskey cocktail was said to have been at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen's club founded in 1881 in Louisville, Kentucky.    The recipe was said to have been invented by a bartender at that club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City
     During Old Fashioned Cocktail week we will celebrate the venerable old cocktail with the spirit of your choice, mine being rum, ron or rhum if you will with a recipe that makes you smile as it slides across your palate.  During the week I will introduce you to some "new" Old Fashioned Cocktails from my devious mind here in the bar on the boat.
     Keep the week in mind and help us celebrate one of the first ever cocktails recognized around the world.

Read More at 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Former Diageo and Constellation Executives Bringing Back the Legend of Indonesian Island Rum

     For centuries, travelers, traders and explorers have been drawn to the Indonesian islands.  For a millennia, sugar cane has been cultivated here.   All rums are distilled from sugar cane, a species of grass that has been cultivated in Indonesia for at least 8,000 years. The first Indonesian rums were exported during the early years of the Dutch colonial occupation, and rapidly swept the globe.   Forgotten by history, some of the very first rums served in the punch houses, bordellos, salons and coffee houses, of 18th-century Europe were Indonesian.  Inspired by ancient days and modern nights, Nusa Caña, a new island rum that’s bringing back the forgotten spirit of those very first adventurers and the rum they discovered.    A smooth, aroma-filled tropical island rum, Nusa Caña is as mellow, approachable and yet adventurous as Bali itself. The “King of the Forest” barong mask on the bottle and visuals inspired by the late Bali artist Arie Smit pay tribute to the island of the gods.
     Created by four guys who share a passion for Bali, great bars and outstanding drinks, Nusa Caña is a unique rum. Launching in July, it’s already on sale in some of the island’s most iconic haunts.   Crafted on Java, the original home of Indonesian rum, the heart of Nusa Caña is a rich Indonesian sugar cane.  To create it, Javanese sugar cane molasses are slowly fermented with pure, forest-filtered water and red rice cake.   The resulting liquid is distilled in antique Chinese pot stills then matured in sustainable Javanese teak casks, before being blended for today’s tastes.        Nusa Caña blends in effortlessly without ever hiding its true character, it stands up to mixers or can be sipped on the rocks.

     With over 100 years combined experience in the global drinks industry, the team behind Nusa Caña comprises drinks industry mavens Andy Gaunt, Joe Milner and Marc Rodrigues, Asia-Pacific bartending legend Sam Jeveons and Bali-based Dre Masso.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Real Bittersweet Cocktail

     Here is an idea for a really nice cocktail that is not for the person that likes a sweet cocktail.  This has a subtle sweetness up front and a pronounced tartness at the finish.   The variety of flavors keep changing throughout the experience.  I find it to be wonderful and the lack of the heavy sweetness makes it uniquely different and enjoyable.

The Real Bittersweet Cocktail

  • 1 ½ oz. Real McCoy 12 Year Old Rum
  • ½ oz Absinthe
  • 1 oz Amaro di Toscana
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • ¼ oz Sour Orange Juice
  • 1 Dash Fee Brother's Old Fashion Bitters

Put Absinthe into a rocks glass, swirl and discard.   Add remaining ingredients to mixing glass filled with ice and stir.   Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass.  Garnish with and orange zest.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Nearly Half of Young Workers Feel That Not Drinking Alcohol Can Hurt Their Ability to "Fit In at Work

Nearly half of private sector employees feel drinking is an important part of workplace culture, think tank finds
In a report published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said drinking alcohol with colleagues is regarded as a ‘rite of passage’ and ‘social glue’ by 40 % of young workers, according to a new report.  More than two-fifths of young workers between 18 and 34 surveyed developing  the report,  Youth Drinking in Transition, said they believed that abstaining from drinking alcohol was a real barrier to social integration at work.   Nearly half said they drink with colleagues, and a further 10 per cent said they drink alcohol with clients, with some expressing concern about their career progression if they abstained.   A quarter admitted to experiencing pressure from colleagues to drink.
     “Harmful drinking is on the decline among young adults, but alcohol remains the defining social glue for many young adults, with non-drinkers effectively excluded in many circles” according to Ian Wybron, senior researcher
     Nearly a quarter of respondents to the survey said they performed less effectively at work because of alcohol; an additional 21% said they had gone to work with a hangover in the last month; and 9 % had been under the influence of alcohol in the workplace within the last month.  This makes for a situation where the employee is damned if they do or don’t drink, and it means that they have to know when to say when.  The real key to this is knowing when to “drink with the crew” and when to bow out.  It is a tough decision, but sometimes your success in the job relates to your ability to walk that “tightrope”.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Beautiful Afternoon Sun Coming Through the Hilton Head Island Trees

Hilton Head Island is a picture right out of the Old Southern Plantation era, the trees with the Spanish Moss hanging from them with the sun shining through the trees makes for a peaceful and relaxing image.  The place is wonderful with all of the beaches and foliage covering the island.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hilton Head Distillery Grand Opening Continues Today

Stripping Still
   I got to go through the distillery before the festivities began, seeing the high quality equipment and how well thought out the plant was I expect fine quality rum and vodka will be coming out of this facility.  They were in the last minute rush to get bottles of their espresso flavored rum bottled and ready the entire place for the opening.  This is a very impressive craft distillery, it has all of the right stuff, plus a fine group of experienced people there to run the plant.

Stripping and Finishing Stills
     Jillian Stephens, the business manager of the operation very
gracefully escorted me through the plant and the retail portion of the operation. This was very interesting and provided several incites to how they are planning to produce the rum and vodka.

Temporary Bottling Line
     Later in the day the plant went into operation finishing their espresso flavored rum bottled in time for the Grand Opening this afternoon.  The entire staff got involved in the bottling and stocking the tasting room and the retail area to them right up to "show time".  Meanwhile, the still crew was finishing up the stripping still, putting the connecting neck from the pot still to the stripping tower.  This is the first step of the distilling process, followed by the 45 plate finishing still and vodka towers.  The facility is very well laid out and looks like it runs very efficiently, and when the automatic bottling equipment finally arrives they will be able to turn out finished bottles of rum and vodka very rapidly.  The temporary hand bottling machine is a bit slow when they get into full production.

     When they get into full production a portion of their rum will be placed in Port Wine Casks for aging.   They already have a good supply of these barrels in the ready for this to happen in the very near future.  A port finished expression is a really good and flavorful finish for good rum.
Fermentation Tanks

Hilton Head Distillery Expressions
     I really enjoyed the visit to the Hilton Head Distillery and
visiting with the wonderful and very cordial staff.  Thanks for a really great visit and look forward to visiting again some day and seeing your rums and vodkas in the stores and bars soon.

Tasting Room and Retail Area

Friday, September 23, 2016

Why are People Quitting the Jobs They Love?

     I ran across an interesting article in Inc. Magazine that addressed this issue in a very succinct manner.  The discussed the seven issues that most like will cause good employees to leave their jobs. "
To win at being the best company, you must first win over your best employees".    The biggest issues are the same every where you look, from the small companies to the largest corporations.

1. Stagnation: There is an old joke about the "Peter Principle", where you promote people to their level of incompetence and leave them there.  Stagnation kills all drive and employees loose interest.
2. Overwork:  Expecting employees to do their work and cover for either the lack of people or the laziness of others is a serious reason for people to become frustrated.
3. Vague Visions:  A lack of feeling like your work is contributing to a goal or making them feel like what they are doing really means something is essential.
4. Profits Over People:  Being more concerned with the bottom line in an area where people are really putting out to make things work will cause these good people to loos interest and not be as interested in putting in the extra effort.  Find out what the real cause of the problem and be willing to fix it. 
5. Lack of Recognition:  When you have people that really put out for you, let them know that you appreciate them.  A "Thank You" goes a long way.
6. Lack of Trust:  Nothing drives competent people away faster than the feeling that they are not trusted.  Keep watching every move they make and your producers will be gone, especially the honest ones.
7. Excessive Hierarchy:  When You have a structure where any idea has to pass through excessive layers of people for something to happen, you have a problem.  Creativity and new ideas come from a variety of places and if the people that can make the changes don't hear about them, you are going to have the producers going to a place where they will be heard.
     Most people quit their job leave because of the boss, not the work or the organization.   Ask yourself what you may be doing to drive your best people away, and start making the necessary changes to keep them.  The article is very enlightening and you might want to give it a good read.  If your employees picture you as though you have that deer in the headlights look when they talk to you they will soon be gone.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Controlled Drinking is Harder Than Quitting Completely

People looking to give up alcohol are said to be more likely to succeed if they go cold turkey rather than if they cut down gradually.
     Research carried out by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that people with a dependency on alcohol were less successful in reaching sobriety when they were under the supervision of a care provider that worked in controlled consumption.   Care providers in Sweden are split on the problem, with half believing that a gradual reduction of a person’s alcohol intake is the way forward, while others believe that stopping completely holds the best results.   However, previous studies have shown that the key element in the treatment process is that patients and care providers share the same view and that the treatment method plays a subordinate role, though how great an influence the choice of method has had on the final treatment result has not yet been looked into.
     The study followed 201 adult patients for two-and-a-half years after their treatment began and showed that a shared view between patient and care provider was not decisive for the treatment outcome.   However, Associate Professor Kristina Berglund, who studies dependence at the Department of Psychology, said “patients whose goal was total abstinence were more successful than those who had chosen to control their drinking.”   Some 90% of patients agreed with their care provider that total abstinence were still sober during the follow up, where only 50% who were in agreement with their care provider on controlled consumption were still sober.
“It is easy to believe that the patient and care provider having a common goal is the most important factor in achieving good treatment outcomes, but it is not that simple. Our study shows that, regardless of agreement on goals and methods, in the end it is more difficult to stick to controlled drinking than to give it up entirely,” Berglund said.
You can see the whole story at

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The United States Does Not Need the Surgeon General to Drop us Back Into Prohibition Again

It seems to me that the U.S. Surgeon General is “throwing out the baby with the bath water” in his effort to solve the problems of chronic and abusive drinkers.
      I have to join the leaders of the alcoholic beverage producers, distributors, and consumers that feel that they need to work on the problem and not attempt to move us back toward January 16, 1920 and start another attempt at Prohibition.      Leaders like Robert Koch, who is president of California’s Wine Institute, and Kraig Naasz, who heads up the Distilled Spirits Council, have signed a letter addressed to the US Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Murthy urging him to “reject calls for the inclusion of unproven, population-based policy recommendations aimed at consumers in general rather than abusive drinkers.”
The letter asks the Surgeon General “to consider offering the public an opportunity to comment on the report prior to its final release.”   It also states, “Recommendations that penalize responsible consumers of alcohol have no place in a report of this nature.”   The September issue of The Weekly Standard, Kevin Kosar observes that “neo-prohibitionist anxiety has begun to spread” from the UK to the US, helped by “alarmist” reporting by US newspapers such as The Washington Post.
He observes the march of the “no alcohol is safe” argument, but points out that this “ignores the fact that just about everything – even activities with obvious and abundant benefits – carries a risk or cost.”   Indeed, he writes, “Responsible drinkers are not drags on society.  On the contrary, drinkers tend to earn more than teetotalers and are twice as likely to exercise.”
The letter from the US trade associations to the Surgeon:
Dear Vice Admiral Murthy,
As the national trade associations representing producers and importers of beer, wine and distilled spirits products sold in the United States, we are writing regarding your upcoming report on the health effects of drugs, illicit or otherwise, as well as alcohol misuse. While the overwhelming majority of Americans consume alcohol lawfully and responsibly, we welcome your efforts to destigmatize treatment and recovery for those for whom alcohol consumption is a concern.
We appreciate your care in ensuring that you base any conclusions and recommendations on widely-accepted evidence endorsed by the scientific community with expertise in prevention and treatment. You have great resources in NIAAA and SAMHSA, which lead this country’s research efforts on evidence-based ways to prevent and treat alcohol abuse. We hope you will look to those agencies for meaningful guidance and reject calls for the inclusion of unproven population-based policy recommendations aimed at consumers in general rather than abusivedrinkers. Recommendations that penalize responsible consumers of alcohol have no place in a report of this nature.
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to convey our concerns in greater detail and discuss the state of the science in this regard. We also urge you to consider offering the public an opportunity to comment on the report prior to its final
release. This will help ensure that the report provides targeted guidance to the American people that will be both helpful in terms of encouraging treatment and recovery and well-respected in terms of its scientific underpinnings.

Sincerely yours,


Or at

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cocktail Possibilities with Oloroso Finished Rum

     Oloroso Sherry barrel finished rum from my friends at Cayman Spirits Company is the basis for this very interesting herbal cocktail.   There’s a lot of interest these days in making cocktails with Sherry in them.   Just for your information, Abuelo has released Abuelo XV Oloroso Finished Rum, currently available here in the states.  This is an idea that I had after sipping the new Oloroso finished Seven Fathoms Rum recently.  The rich fruity flavors of the Oloroso finished rum blends well with the herbal notes of the Amaro.  A little bit of sweetening with the thyme syrup really sets it off.  The herbal notes are especially noted in the lingering finish.

Fruit and Herb Cocktail

  • 2 ½ oz. Oloroso Barrel Finished Rum
  • ¾ oz. Amaro de Toscana
  • ½ oz. Thyme Syrup
  • ½ oz. Lemon Juice
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters.

Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled.  Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon zest.  Note: Abuelo XV Oloroso Finished Rum also works well.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Key West Bike Week is in Full Swing

     Over the past few years, bike week here in Key West has been shrinking in its numbers of both people and bikes.  This year it is back with avengance, nearly ten thousand bikes lined the Duval Street and many of the side streets from Truman to Mallory Square.  The bike owners, the tourists got quit the show as they walked down Duval Street.  If it had anything to do with bikes, trikes or a myriad of hybrid machines.

     The Bikes started arriving on Thursday, by Saturday the streets and the town was filled with these beautiful creations.  Most of them hit the party scene last night on Duval Street, filling the bars and the streets.  It is always a really great party, but this year it was like it used to be back ten years ago.   If you missed it you missed a really fun event here in Key West.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hand Feeding the Frigate Birds at The Reef Resort

     One of my favorite sea birds is the prehistoric looking Frigate Bird.  It looks a lot like a pterodactyl , an incredible soaring bird, but up close and hungry, this huge bird can be quite intimidating as it swoops down to take a piece of fish out of your hand.   The Frigate sports a wingspan of nearly 5 feet and a beak nearly 4" long with an evil looking hook at the end, and we haven't even said anything about the rather large talons.

     These were incredible to watch an I took nearly 500 pictures of these magnificent birds as they kept swooping down for the tidbits of fish.

Marta was the Brave One Feeding the Frigates While I was Standing Behind with the Camera.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Grand Opening of Hilton Head Distillery

     The Hilton Head Distillery aims to blend traditional Caribbean expressions with American back woods style spirits is opening on Hilton Head Island September 23, 2016.  Hilton Head Distillery is located next to Island Winery on Cardinal Road.   They are planning to produce white, flavored, spiced and premium rums in addition to vodka as a part of the collaboration between Dark Corner Distillery, in Greenville, SC and Cayman Spirits Company Distillery,  in Georgetown, Grand Cayman.   Hilton Head Distillery will combine the talents of both partners to produce a new and unique taste for their spirits. Hilton Head Distillery will produce a variety of rums in addition to vodka made from the same sugarcane base as the rum.

Column Still and Vodka Towers
     The Grand Opening is Friday 23 September and Saturday 24 September from 11am until 7pm both days.  There will be exciting guests and entertainment on Saturday along with some very exciting food options.   Tours and Tastings going on on both days for your pleasure.   The full scoop on what is going on at Hilton Head Distillery can be found   at  .

Pot Still and Rectifier
     I know that I'm looking forward to the visit Hilton Head Distillery, getting to know the crew and seeing the new distillery layout.  It seems like they possess a great combination of knowledge, talent and skills to produce some new and great spirit expressions.  Come by, have some fun, and while you are there take the tour, sample the spirits and be sure to look me up while you are there.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rhum Martinique Decree

Martinique and Guadeloupe Rhum Agricole
     "Martinique rhum agricole is more expensive to produce, due to the high cost of labor in Martinique, compared to neighboring countries such as Jamaica, Cuba or Brazil. Molasses being by products and requiring less care in handling are also cheaper raw materials compared to fresh sugar cane juice.  To protect Martinique rhum agricole, producers tried to create an image of a luxury product.  The luxury notion would explain the higher price of Martinique rhum agricole.  The decision to seek an A.O.C (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) was made as early as 1975. The A.O.C's purpose was to extend the legal protection entitled to rums produced in French overseas regions.   The A.O.C request did not succeed for technical reasons and in 1989 the FENARUM (National Federation of Rhum Producers) filled another request.             '

            "In 1993 an expert committee wrote the AOC specifications.  This committee sets up geographical limits for cane cultivation and defines acceptable production techniques (distillation columns, ageing, fermentation, etc.). As it is the case in most AOC specifications, these limitations did not exclude any current production but rather set new rules from current practices to make sure that rhum would always be produced the same way.   In France, all laws and decrees as well as official texts are published in the Journal Officiel. The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée Martinique decree enacting the AOC has been signed on November, 5 1996. It has been published in the Journal Officiel dated November, 8 1996 starting at page n° 16360. You can access the three pages of the decree."

     This decree is what separates Martinique rhum agricole from the rhum agricole produced in other  Armagnac Column Still, but deeply entrenched traditions of the other islands as to how it is fermented, distilled and aged means that the final product of the other French islands is slightly different.
(Guadeloupe - Réunion - Guyana).  Granted they are called agricole, but there are differences in the way that they are produced and where the sugarcane comes from.  Many of the smaller French islands don't have room to produce the sugar cane necessary for their needs and have to be procured from one of the sister French islands.  All agricoles are distilled in an
French overseas regions

     This is a very confusing issue for me, they are all agricoles, but they are not AOC Martinique agricoles.  The different location of the origin of the sugar cane and the methods make they the same, but different.  The Martinique Decree is what governs these differences.  I'm hoping that this helps you better understand the differences between the agricole from Martinique vs the agricole from the rest of the French Overseas Region.  Even though Damoiseau has an Appellation d'Origine Guadeloupe on its label it isn't the same set of rules as the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée Martinique.  It is kind of like Australian Rules Football and Soccer, they are similar, but not the same.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cayman Spirits Company Distillery Announces a New Oloroso Finished Seven Fathoms Expression.

Vodka Tower and Pot Still
     One of the highlights of my recent trip to Grand Cayman was spending time With Walker Romantica and Nelson Dilber, owners of Cayman Spirits Company Distillery.  As usual, the had a number of new thing for me to see and more importantly taste on this visit.   The addition of the 60 foot Vodka Column and a large pot still have pretty much filled the building.

     Their well know Seven Fathoms Rum has been placed into an Oloroso Sherry barrel for some final finishing.   The results are very impressive, adding a rich fruitiness to the already wonderful Seven Fathoms expression.

Oloroso Sherry Casks
Oloroso means scented in Spanish, a variety of sherry wine, a fortified wine made in Jerez and Montilla -  Moriles and produced by oxidative  aging.  It is normally darker than other sherrys.   Oloroso is usually dark and nutty flavored.  Unlike other sherries, Oloroso producers remove the flor yeast early in the process then suppressed by fortification at an early stage.   This causes the finished wine lacking the layer of flor yeast to be exposed to the air through the slightly porous walls of the American or Canadian oak casks, giving it an oxidative aging.    As the wine ages, it becomes darker and stronger.   Oloroso Sherry is also the base for many of the sweet sherry developed for the international market, such as Bristol Cream.  These barrels after they have reached the end of their life as sherry barrels are often sold to whiskey, brandy or rum producers.  Most of the warehouse managers and master blender only use the Oloroso sherry casks for the finishing.   Spirits that are matured only in Oloroso casks is often to taste more like a liqueur, and usually way too sweet.

Note the Color Difference of the Oloroso 
     Rums finished in Oloros casks usually pick up the dark flavors and nuttiness of the Oloroso Sherry.  It picks up notes of figs and raisins giving the rum a fruitiness that is not found in the standard expression that is ages solely in bourbon barrels.  This gives the rum an oily and more viscous quality that really smooths the finish.    The Oloroso casks will darken the rum rather quickly giving it a more mahogany color and raises the eye appeal noticeably.   

     The other sherry casks that are popular among rum blenders is the Pedro Ximenez Sherry Casks.  These also a a note of fruitiness like the Oloroso cask, but it has more of a dried raisin flavor and dads a syrup like viscosity to the rum.   The Pedro Ximenez casks don’t darken the rum as much as the Oloroso either.  Both make for a great finish for quality rums.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Governor Alejandro García Padilla Opened the House of Rums in Old San Juan

     At the press conference held in the courtyard of the local, Governor Alejandro García Padilla said The Rum House will serve to enrich the tourist experience of the more than 1.5 million tourists annually from cruise ships, while the rum, one of the most emblematic and internationally known Puerto Rican products are promoted.    "Facing economic difficulties that the country can cross, as most of the other countries of the world, Puerto Rico decides to not close the doors and hide, but to open their doors and show our best face", said the Governor.  "So we chose to extend the tourism, hotels, with new destinations in our country.   We want to let the whole world bring tourists by cruise ships or airlines that will be arriving to expand tourists interest in Puerto Rico".

     According to Carlos Purcell, a local businessman in charge of the design and administration of the House of Rums of Puerto Rico, investment in the development of the project is around $750,000.00 including rehabilitation and construction, machinery and personnel training.   The small structure, built in 1937, initially hosted customs services and subsequently to the tourism company until 2009 when it relocated. The opening of it represented the creation of approximately 55 direct jobs and other 20 indirectly.   The ease of access, added Purcell, has with an area of tasting of rums in which will be present to all of the brands local registered in the program, including Bacardi, Serralles, Club Caribbean, Ron of the Barrilito, and Caray.   Tourists may taste the rums as well as the tapas Puerto Rico in the same place.
     The House of rums is a joint initiative of the Department of economic development and trade, the company's Industrial development through the Rums of Puerto Rico tourism company program, along with the trading and export company and the cooperation of the port authority.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Is All Rum or Rhum Made From Cane Juice an Agricole?

   What is the basis of a true rhum agricole?   In 1993 an expert committee was set up to write Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) specifications.   This committee sets up geographical limits for cane cultivation and defines acceptable production techniques.   As it is the case in most AOC specifications, these limitations did not exclude any current production but rather set new rules from current practices to make sure that rhum would always be produced the same way.   This specificity in raw material gives rhum a wider bouquet. This is especially the case for white rum (rhum blanc) as in older rums barrel aging tends to smooth down the differences. Fresh sugarcane juice being so prone to oxidation, a rhum agricole distillery can only produce rhum from locally sourced canes. Rhums agricoles have specificities of the geographic origin, its soil, climate, growing techniques and personality of the cane juice used in its production.

   This being said, if the cane is not grown close to the distillery and in the designated soil and climate conditions, it can not claim to be Agricole Rhum.   There are a lot of similarities with rhum agricole and rums made with fresh squeezed sugar cane juice in flavor, but they are not agricole.   In Georgia, The Richland Rum people grow their own sugar cane on the estate and it is fresh cut and pressed into cane juice, just like the agricole's are, but this is not one of the specified sugar canes.  Therefore not an agricole.  Same with many other rums made in Hawaii, Mexico, and other places around the world.

     To be an agricole it has to be made in   Martinique.  These are the island that have all of the requirements to grow the sugarcane necessary to make agricole.   The cane is only the tip of the iceberg, the production methods, aging methods are also a part of the very strict rules that govern rhum agricoles.  This is what makes them so special in their flavors and the consistency year after year.

     The thing to remember is that all agricoles are made from fresh cane juice, but all rums made from fresh cane juice are not agricoles.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Endangered Blue Iguana Back from the Brink

     The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is one of the preserves where they are working very hard at bringing the Blue Iguana back from the brink of extinction in 2004 when there were only a dozen or so left in the wild.   The Blue Iguana Tour in the park was not open today because of the fact that it was a critical breeding season for the reptiles.  Two major things were bringing the specie to the brink of extinction.   First, their habitat was being converted from fruit farms to grazing pasture.  Second, the young were being killed by feral cats and dogs on the island.

Young Male Blue Iguana
     The Blue Iguana is a native reptile of the Cayman Islands whose preferred habitat is rocky, sunlit, open areas in dry forests or near the shore, as the females must dig holes in the sand to lay eggs in June and July.   A possible second clutch is laid in September. The blue iguana's are herbivores and live on a diet that includes plants, fruits, and flowers. Its coloration is tan to gray with a bluish cast that is more pronounced during the breeding season and more so in males. It is large and heavy-bodied with a dorsal crest of short spines running from the base of the neck to the end of the tail.

     These are not the green iguanas that you see in the pet stores or over running the keys in Florida.  They are said to be related to the dragons that can be found in the Galapagos Islands.
Most of them are over three feet, and one we saw was closer to 5 feet not counting the tail.

Large Female Blue Iguana