Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Why Whiskey Drinkers Should Look at Trying Rum

Good Candidates for Whiskey Substitution

If you’re a whiskey drinker, that is looking for a little bit more from his cocktails you might want to substitute a rum of the same age as the whiskey you’re are using to make those wonderful whiskey cocktails.  With the help of a knowledgeable rum barman you will be really surprised at how good these really are.   Rum has a natural sweetness that whiskey lacks and allows you to sweeten the cocktail up without the addition of sugar to the mix.
     Rum and whiskey share a parallel history both in the American Experience as well as abroad. Boston area of New England was one of the largest producers of rum in the world in the late 1600’s.  This was in part due to the “Triangle Trade between the US, Africa and Barbados and other British colonies in the central Caribbean. At the same time, Whiskey was being made by farmers utilizing their leftover corn. When the American Revolution went into full swing, the molasses became hard to get a hold of because of the British Blockades of American ports and many of the distilleries switched over to producing whiskey.  Soon, whiskey became the most popular spirit of the colonies.

   Whiskey drinkers in general don’t understand the flavor of the two spirits are very similar.   Although rum and whiskey come from different raw materials they both are fermenting a sugar source that will be aged in American oak barrels that were very often originally used for aging of whiskey. Both spirits exhibit flavors of vanilla, toasted and charred oak, and, in some cases when charred barrels are used you pick up notes of smokiness.   Both spend from three to seven years in the barrel and the ethanol is being exposed to the wood yielding a very similar maturation process.
     Many of the traditional cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan or even a Sidecar can be given a new life by interchanging whiskey and rum. These drinks will still share a lot of the same flavors you know and love, while adding some new dimensions to the flavor profile.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Trash in, Trash Out, it is Not Just True With Computers

Large Production Fermenter
     What are some of the factors that you have to be aware of when you are making rum?   First of all, you have to be concerned with the preparation of the fermentation vessel and all of the equipment that is being used to make the "wash".  Dirty utensils and fermenters will introduce unwanted bacteria and wild yeast strains all of which can taint or ruin your fermentation.   What you use can also effect the final product as well.  Low grade molasses, the type of sugar, water that is tainted with chemicals are all factors in a good fermentation.

200 Year Old Fermentation Tanks
     A good full flavored wash is the product of careful measurement of the ingredients and choosing the ingredients that will all work well together to make the fermentation active and pure.  There are a number of by products that can come out of the fermentation that are no going to taste good or even leave you rum cloudy.  Molasses or Cane Juice are going to give you the best tasting rums, rums made from processed sugar will yield alcohol, but they will be more of a neutral spirit, vodka, rather than a flavorful rum.   Fermenting a cooler temperatures will also effect the flavor and give you a higher yield of alcohol that warmer ones.

Pitching the Yeast
     The choice of yeast will also be a huge factor in what you end up with as a final product.  There
are a huge number of types of yeast from bread, wine, whiskey, rum, and many more to choose from.  The other option is to culture your own strain of yeast.  All of these will work, but you need to do some experimenting with the different strains to get what you are looking for as a flavor profile.  Some of the yeasts are "supercharged" and can produce up to 12 or 15% alcohol in as little as 48 hours.  Others are slower and are more about producing a wash that will give the final product a specific flavor.

     These are some of the most important factors in making rum, because what you start with has a huge effect on what you end up with.  Starting with low grade materials will yield alcohol, but very little flavor and this is fine if you just want a neutral spirit.  If you want a great tasting rum, you must pay careful attention to your beginning, in other words the fermentation.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Drinking Alcohol More Important Than Exercise to Living Past 90

Clinic for Aging Research and Education in Laguna Woods, California

      RAISE A GLASS TO THE golden years.   Making it past 90 years old may boil down to drinking a couple of glasses of alcohol a night, according to a study on members of the oldest demographic in the U.S.   The 90+ Study, started in 2003, focuses on the fastest growing age group in America - the "oldest-old" - to determine what habits lead to quantity and quality of life, according to its website. This year, researchers at the Clinic for Aging Research and Education in Laguna Woods, California, focused on what food, activities and lifestyles are commonly featured among those living longer.   Analyzing more than 1,600 nonagenarians, the study results showed that people who drank two glasses of beer or wine a day improved their odds of living longer than those who abstained by about 18 percent.

     Dr. Claudia Kawas, a neurology specialist and head of the 90+ Study at the University of California, presented her findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual conference in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 17.   "I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity," Kawas said in her keynote address.

     Exercising regularly and partaking in a hobby for two hours a day were also associated with longer lives. Surprisingly, people who were overweight, but not obese, in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.  "It's not bad to be skinny when you're young, but it's very bad to be skinny when you're old," Kawas said at the meeting.

Cheers to life, seriously.   When it comes to making it into your 90s, booze actually beats exercise, according to a long-term study.  The research, led by University of California neurologist Claudia Kawas, tracked 1,700 nonagenarians enrolled in the 90+ Study that began in 2003 to explore impacts of daily habits on longevity.
     Researchers discovered that subjects who drank about two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18 percent less likely to experience a premature death, the Independent reports.    Meanwhile, participants who exercised 15 to 45 minutes a day, cut the same risk by 11 percent.   “I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas stated over the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Austin, Texas.
     Further study is needed to determine how habits impact longevity beyond people’s genetic makeups.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Barbados: The Birthplace of Rum

     Another Island that I haven't visited in quiet some time is Barbados.  I have a lot of very fond memories of this Island.  It was where I was offered the chance to judge rum at the Caribbean Food and Rum Festival.  It is also the home of some of my favorite rum distilleries, like Foursquare Distillery, Mount Gay, West Indies Rum Distillery and of course St. Nicolas Abbey.

     Rum's history is very deeply lives on this little Caribbean island and is a beautiful place to come and learn about it.

St. Nicolas Abbey Plantation Distillery

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Virginia Distillers Association Advocates for SB803

If passed, Senate Bill 803 is set to breathe new life into Virginia's distilled spirits industry

     Senate Bill 803 proceeds through the Virginia General Assembly ranks as state legislators continue to evaluate whether or not they want to foster the Commonwealth's burgeoning distilled spirits industry. Virginia is a control state for distilled spirits, which requires the state's distilleries to operate as government ABC stores. This means Virginia distilleries must sell their products using the state-imposed markup structure while shouldering 100 percent of the operational costs for a distillery store. SB803 will allow Virginia distilleries to keep the state-imposed markup for product that they sell onsite at distilleries, and as a result never moves through the state fulfillment system.

     As of last week, the bill passed the full Senate floor, and will now proceed onward to the House for crossover. "Support from the Senate for commonsense legislation to advance fair policy for Virginia distillers, who are also Virginia farmers, Virginia employers in rural communities and drivers of Virginia's tourism has been tremendous," said Virginia Distillers Association (VDA) Government Affairs Director Curtis Coleburn.

     SB803 Patron Senator Bryce Reeves identifies with many of the unique and excessive challenges faced by Virginia distillers. "We should be doing everything we can to promote and reward small businesses and their operators in Virginia - SB803 does just that. It allows distilleries to keep more of their well-earned proceeds," explained Senator Reeves.

     Distilled spirits are the only consumer good where our state government is an active market participant. In addition to the state-imposed markup which averages 69 percent but can be as high as 93 percent, Virginia adds on a 20 percent excise tax to all distilled spirits sales. Virginia has the second highest excise tax for distilled spirits in the nation, at 20 percent of the retail shelf price ($30.88/gal for distilled spirits for a bottle that retails for $30.59 excluding Virginia sales tax). On a per gallon basis, this is more than 19 times greater than the state excise tax on table wine ($1.51/gal), and 117 times greater than the state excise tax on beer ($0.26/gal). To better understand the economics of distilling and selling spirits in the Commonwealth, CLICK HERE for an overview. SB803 will allow distilleries to keep the state-imposed markup (averaging 69 percent but as high as 93 percent) for all sales at their distilleries; allowing them to reinvest in their businesses.

    The markup formula how the state sells product is the same whether product is sold at distilleries, or at local ABC stores. Subsequently, distillery operators shoulder 100% percent of the expenses for operations (e.g. employees, overhead, credit card processing machines, etc.). In exchange, distillery store operators receive a commission of 8 percent of sales for product sold at distillery stores. That commission was formerly 15 percent, but was reduced to 0 percent, then 8 percent in 2015 by ABC. As a result, distillery stores render a higher rate of return to the Commonwealth at 40.52 percent vs. 35.03 percent for the state's own government ABC stores." See p. 34 of Virginia ABC's 2017 fiscal report for further information. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

In 1933 Congress Strikes the First Blow in The Fight to Kill Prohibition

     A lot of people feel that prohibition just appeared, it didn’t, it was a long time coming and it took a long time to appeal it.  I found this to be an interesting article worth reading.  How it came and went should be of interest to anyone that enjoys the freedom of choice here in America to have an alcoholic beverage.

     On January 20, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbade, "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors". It came into force exactly a year later, with the National Prohibition Act - usually known as the Volstead Act - setting out the detailed guidelines.  Prohibition had not come out of the blue. The Temperance Movement had been building strong support among the many churches since the early 1800s. Massachusetts was the first state to introduce anti-alcohol legislation in 1838, but it was short-lived. Maine did so more successfully in 1848.

     Prohibition was not a success.  Organized crime set up large smuggling operations across the Canadian and Mexican borders, as well as managing illegal shipping routes from the Caribbean. Domestic bootleggers began distilling vast quantities of homebrew, and medicinal and denatured alcohol were cut and washed for resale - sometimes with fatal consequences. All these products were pumped out through mob-controlled speakeasies and illicit drinking dens. In the space of only a few years, prohibition had given a new breed of gangsters undreamed of wealth and geographic reach. From this solid foundation, organized crime then diversified into narcotics, gambling, prostitution, and finance.

     Law enforcement agencies and organized crime gangs battled it out on the streets of American cities. The state's highpoint came in 1932 when Eliot Ness and his Untouchables from the Bureau of Prohibition succeeded in securing Al Capone's imprisonment for income tax offences. However, by this stage the tide had turned, and the whole violent experience of prohibition had killed off much popular support for the Temperance Movement.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What Kind of Drinker Are You?

     This is an interesting article that I ran across today.  I often question myself about this very question.  I seem to have different answers at different times in my life, but you need to read this article and see how it fits into your lifestyle.
     Emmanuel Kuntsche and Sarah Callinan are alcohol policy researchers at La Trobe University in Australia.   They explain even those who aren't dependent on alcohol should know their type.   Your reasons for drinking influence your physical and mental health generally.   It's easy to see alcohol consumption being a result of thousands of years of ritual and a lifetime of habit.   But have you ever stopped to consider why it is you choose to drink?   Knowing what motivates people to drink is important to better understanding their needs when it comes to encouraging them to drink less, or in a less harmful way. 
     Personally, everyone can come up with many reasons why he or she is drinking, which makes a scientific understanding of the reasons difficult.   But there is something called the motivational model of alcohol use, that argues we drink because we expect a change in how we feel after we do.   Originally developed to help treat alcohol dependence, the ideas described in the model led to a new understanding of what motivates people to drink.   More precisely, the model assumes people drink to increase positive feelings or decrease negative ones.   They're also motivated by internal rewards such as enhancement of a desired personal emotional state, or by external rewards such as social approval. 
      This results in all drinking motives falling into one of four categories: enhancement (because it's exciting), coping (to forget about my worries), social (to celebrate), and conformity (to fit in). Drinkers can be high or low in any number of drinking motives - people are not necessarily one type of drinker or the other.   All other factors - such as genetics, personality or environment - are just shaping our drinking motives, according to this model. So drinking motives are a final pathway to alcohol use. That is, they're the gateway through which all these other influences are channeled.

1. Social Drinking

To date, nearly all the research on drinking motives has been done on teens and young adults.   Across cultures and countries, social motives are the most common reason young people give for drinking alcohol.   In this model, social drinking may be about increasing the amount of fun you are having with your friends.   This fits in with the idea that drinking is mainly a social pastime. Drinking for social motives is associated with moderate alcohol use.

2. Drinking to Conform

When people only drink on social occasions because they want to fit in - not because it's a choice they would normally make - they drink less than those who drink mainly for other reasons.   These are the people who will sip a glass of champagne for a toast, or keep a wine in their hand to avoid feeling different from the drinkers around them.   In the last couple of years, programs like Hello Sunday Morning have been encouraging people to take a break from drinking.   And by making this more socially acceptable, they may also be decreasing the negative feedback some people receive for not drinking, although this is a theory that needs testing.

3. Drinking for Enhancement

Beyond simply drinking to socialize, there are two types of adolescents and young adults with a particular risky combination of personality and drinking motive preference.   First are those who drink for enhancement motives.   They are more likely to be extroverted, impulsive, and aggressive. These young people (often male) are more likely to actively seek to feel drunk - as well as other extreme sensations - and have a risk-taking personality.

4. Drinking to Cope

Second, those who drink mainly for coping motives have higher levels of neuroticism, low level of agreeableness and a negative view of the self. These drinkers may be using alcohol to cope with other problems in their life, particularly those related to anxiety and depression.   Coping drinkers are more likely to be female, drink more heavily and experience more alcohol-related problems than those who drink for other reasons.   While it may be effective in the short term, drinking to cope with problems leads to worse long-term consequences. This may be because the problems that led to the drinking in the first place are not being addressed.

Why It Matters

There is promising research that suggests knowing the motives of heavy drinkers can lead to interventions to reduce harmful drinking.   For instance, one study found that tailoring counselling sessions to drinking motives decreased consumption in young women, although there was no significant decrease in men.   This research stream is limited by the fact we really only know about the drinking motives of those in their teens and early 20s.   Our understanding of why adults are drinking is limited, something our research group is hoping to study in the future.

     Next time you have a drink, have a think about why you are choosing to do so. There are many people out there having a drink at night to relax. But if you're aiming to get drunk, you have a higher chance than most of experiencing harm.   Alternatively, if you are trying to drink your problems away, it's worth remembering those problems will still be there in the morning.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dos Maderas Luxus Rum Brand Renews Support to Help Save 3,000 Baby Turtles

Dos Maderas Rum Helping Baby Turtles

     Caribbean rum brand Ron Dos Maderas Luxus has renewed its collaboration with the Billion Baby Turtles campaign in a bid to help save 3,000 baby turtles from extinction.   Dos Maderas rum is supporting the Billion Baby Turtles campaign, a program by SEE Turtles, which has the support of SOS Nicaragua, works to protect baby turtles, which when fully grown play a fundamental role in the maintenance of the marine ecosystem of the Pacific coastal region, including coral reefs and seagrass meadows.

     The survival of the different species of turtle in these waters is in danger due to the poaching of their eggs, which are sold illegally on the black market, or the illegal use of their shells to make diverse objects.   Money donated to the campaign goes toward the protection of nesting beaches through organized beach patrols, ensuring that baby turtles are able to cross the sand and reach the sea without incident.

     Luxus, the top rum in the Dos Maderas range of rums produced by Williams & Humbert, is aged for 10 years in the Caribbean and five in the company’s Jerez winery in ex-20-year-old Don Guido Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks.   The range also includes Dos Maderas 5+3, which spends five years aging in the Caribbean and five years in Jerez, and Dos Maderas Selección, a blend of rums from selected casks of Dos Maderas 5+5 and the Caribbean rums used for Luxus.
Luxus is also the name of the first turtle adopted by the brand in 2014 in collaboration with ICAPO (Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative) with a donation being made for the adoption of Hawksbill turtles in danger of extinction.
Hatchings Headed to the Sea

     “This collaboration with the campaign Billion Baby Turtles originates from the desire of Bodegas Williams & Humbert to create closer ties between the region from which its range of rums originates and in which these species, which play such an important role in conserving the environment, are in danger of extinction,” the producer stated.  So far, the Billion Baby Turtles campaign has saved over a million turtles in danger of extinction, with more than 500 volunteers participating in over 4,000 conservation patrols and over 10,000 students receiving training in the subject.   The Dos Maderas brand’s support will help support the protection of 3,000 baby turtles in danger of extinction.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Yesterday We Had a Holiday, Presidents Day, or Was it?

George Washington

     Presidents’ Day, officially, GeorgWashington’s Birthday, in the United States, celebrated the third Monday in February, originally to celebrate George Washington and Abraham Lincolns’ birthdays.   The day is sometimes these days is understood as a celebration of the birthdays and lives of all U.S. presidents.  The real question is what is this holiday officially?

     The origin of Presidents’ Day lies in the 1880s, when the birthday of Washington—commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and the first President of the United States was first celebrated as a federal holiday.  In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which moved many federal holidays to be celebrated on Mondays. The change was designed to schedule certain holidays so that workers had several long weekends throughout the year, but it has been opposed by those who believe that those holidays should be celebrated on the dates they actually happened.   During debate on the bill, it was proposed that Washington’s Birthday be renamed Presidents’ Day to honor the birthdays of both Washington, February 22 and Lincoln, February 12.  Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was celebrated in many states, it was never an official federal holiday.  Following much discussion, Congress rejected the name change. After the bill went into effect in 1971, however, Presidents’ Day became the commonly accepted name, due in part to retailers’ use of that name to promote sales and the holiday’s proximity to Lincoln’s birthday. Presidents’ Day is usually marked by public ceremonies in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country.

Monday, February 19, 2018

2005 Finish Finition En Fût Du Château La Tour Blanche

     This wonderful expression, after spending 8 years aging in the traditions of  HSE Rhum, this 2005 vintage spends an additional 1 year maturing in Château la Tour Blanche casks.   One of HSE’s more unique expressions is particularly lovely, is the HSE Chateau La Tour Blanche Finish.   After eight years of aging in American oak barrels, it spent an additional year maturing in barrels that formerly housed Chateau La Tour Blanche, the famous Bommes-based dessert wine.

Master Taster’s Note

     The color is a classic golden amber, with a mild aroma of oak, caramel, brown sugar and a hint of dried apricot.   The flavor profile is marked by dried apricot, a hint of orange zest, black pepper, white wine, cane sugar, tropical fruit, even a hint of Moscato.   “the expressive bouquet delicately also projects acacia honey and passion fruit notes.   A few seconds of aeration awakens the scent of dried apricot and fig enhanced by a hint of gingerbread. The flavor has a captivating roundness and sublime sweet notes of dried fruit and Muscato.  Followed by an aromatic orange peel rounds it off beautifully. An extraordinary experience that lovers of unique products will adore.” This exquisite expression of AOC Martinique is Bottled at 41 % ABV.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dreaming of Getting Off or the Islands Again.

     It has been over a year since I've bee off of the island and basking in the Caribbean sun on a different tropical island.  I still have to wait until May, before we take off for a week in Grand Cayman and hanging out with so many friends there.  By the way, I don't count the day trip to Havana, it was over before I really knew that it had begun.  I had a great time, but it was a quick "wham - bam - thank you - ma'am" type of trip.   I can't wait to behanging out on those beautiful Beaches and feeding the Frigate Birds.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Looking at the Way Havana Has Cleaned Up Since 2012

2012 Downtown Havana
2018 Old Havana

     One of the really interesting things about wandering through
the streets of Havana and down into the historic districts is seeing how the locals actually live and interact with the tourists in Havana.  You hear about the abject poverty, but I don't see any more of this in Havana that I do in Miami.  Yes there are what look like homeless on the streets that are trying to hit you up for a hand out, but there no more of them than I see everyday here in Key West.

2012 El Capitolio
2018 El Capitolio
     I find most of the neighborhoods to be very clean and well kept.  The Cuban people are a great group and are proud of their heritage.  A lot of the media coverage seems to be as slanted as the media in the rest of the world.  With the return of tourists to Cuba, there is a noticeable change in the "eye-appeal" of the city with many of the old buildings that were dirty and falling down 5 years ago are totally restored today.  El Capitolio, and the National Theater are two examples of what I'm referring to.

2012 National Theater
2018 National Theater

Friday, February 16, 2018

What is a Refining or Spirits Run at the Distillery?

Output of a refining or spirit run
     A few weeks back, I covered the stripping run and why it is done, today we are going through the reasons for the refining run and why the two run process seems to be preferred by most rum makers.

     Why should I do a stripping run before a spirit or refining run?  The stripping run allows you to significantly reduce the volume of product that needs to be distilled during the spirit or refining run, significantly reducing distillation time.   It will also produce a better tasting alcohol.   For example, if we start with 300 Gallons of Wash we can strip this down to 60 to 90 Gallons of “high wines” and then run a single spirit run this will take much less time and makes it easier to make clean cuts giving you the spirit the flavor and texture that you are looking for.

     Stripping Run temperatures are very different from Refining Run Temperature.  In practice, most distillers collect high wines until the stripping run temperature reaches 208 to 212 degrees F or 98 to 100 degrees C. Remember you don’t make any cuts during this distillation the primary goal is to strip off the water, yeast and other solids that are a part of the wash.  In the refining or spirit run you begin by bringing the temperature in the boiler up slower and getting a better separation f the components that are coming off the still.

Reflux column helps with the refining or spirit run
     The purpose of the spirit or refining run is to give you a very clean final product that you can cut at exactly the right time and yield a higher proof clean product.  You can make your cuts at whatever point meets your personal needs and this will have an effect on the final proof of the spirit.  Some people like to let the cut wait until there are some tails in the blend and others rather have pure hearts with no tails.  This is the choice of the distiller, and yours if you are making the decision.  That is why the stripping run is done hot and fast, while the refining or spirit run is done with less heat allowing for more reflux action in the still and yielding a much cleaner and better tasting final product called the hearts.  Heads are discarded and the tails are retained to be added to the next stripping run giving you a chance to recover the remaining alcohol that is left behind during the refining or spirit run.

     All that is left now is to proof it down to the % ABV that you want to put your spirit into the barrel at.  Allow a suitable amount of time in the barrel and you are ready to set the final proof and bottle it.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Maggies Farm Rum Offers $1 to Animal Rescue Charities in the Area of Sale

Rescue a Dog Like This One
     Since February 1st, 2018, for every bottle of Maggie's Farm core rum sold, either White, Spiced, Single Barrel, or 50/50 Dark rums, $1 will be donated to animal rescue charities in the area of the sale.  The Story is denoted on labels for all bottles now rolling out into our current distribution markets. The monthly bottle sales to each market will be tallied and the funds donated directly to non-profit, no-kill animal shelters in the areas of distribution, whether in Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Baltimore, Delaware, Philadelphia, Nashville, or New York.  This includes all future markets as well.   Multiple, different charities in the areas of each city will be chosen each month with the best effort of spreading the donations around to benefit as many as possible.

   As Maggie's Farm continues to experience growth in production and sales, a desire to give back has come to fruition. With this ability, and without any product price increases, owners Tim and Layla Russell have decided to assist charities close to their hearts. "These are ones that benefit finding long-term homes for lost, neglected, or abused pets." As Layla has stated, "Family pets can be our greatest companions and truly depend on us, and in exchange provide us their unconditional love."

     This is a great idea for giving back to the community that support the rum company and a great way for you to help out in your community as well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Canadian Rum Sets Sail Around the World

     When it comes to aging rum there are as many ideas about how to make it happen as there are types of rum in the world.  Here is one that I have played with a bit as I have a couple of small casks on my boat that have spent the past year plus rocking and rolling with the boat even during Hurricane Irma.  I really interested in seeing how this is going to work out for The Ironworks Distillery.
Ironworks Distillery Rum Being Loaded Aboard the Picton Castle
     The Ironworks Distillery in Nova Scotia has loaded four casks of rum onto a tall ship to mature during the boat’s final round-the-world voyage.   Four casks of the Lunenburg-made rum will spend 15 months travelling around the world aboard the Picton Castle, before being bottled as part of a one-time release in May 2019.   Lynne MacKay, co-owner of Ironworks Distillery, said: “We are very excited to be working with the Barque Picton Castle on this project. We know that rum ages well in an oak barrel and if that barrel is riding the ocean, it will be even better.
     “The idea that our customers will be able to enjoy a Lunenburg-made rum knowing it has sailed around the world on a Lunenburg-based tall ship is quite simply very cool.”  The Picton Castle has made six round-the-world voyages over the years, but this will be the ship’s last adventure with captain Daniel Moreland.
     “This fine cane elixir from Ironworks Distillery, which makes a rum as excellent as any of the very best in the Caribbean, will be snug and secure in the cargo hold for all of our trade wind passages across the South Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans before hoisting it back ashore at our wharf in Lunenburg at the end of the voyage,” said Moreland.   Rum fans will be able to track the progress of the Picton Castle online, where they can also find reports from the ship’s crew as well as the captain’s log of the voyage.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What Every Girl Wants for Valentine’s Day

     It’s also not chocolates, flowers, or teddy bears. I know why these things start to look like a good idea: You’re at checkout at CVS and you see a Valentine’s Day–related article, and boom! You remember it’s February, which means that either you have just enough time to pull something together to try and impress her, or you messed up really bad. You forgot Valentine’s Day and she said nothing, which is worse than a fight. Just so you know, it’s the 14th; It’s always on the 14th.

     Sitting on the couch talking, and your girlfriend said, clear as a bell: no gifts for Valentine’s Day. But does she really mean no gifts? As in, no gifts no gifts? Was she even talking about Valentine’s Day?  It’s too hard to remember, It was a really or just showing you a way out in case you forgot.   But she has to want something. All girls do, right?   Or is it not right anymore to assume that a woman would want a gift for Valentine’s Day?  Then comes the question, is she getting you something?   Your stress is appropriate, Valentine’s Day is a holiday designed to make men look inadequate. But there is a cure-all—something that every woman wants.

      There are very few things I’d recommend giving to all women.  Cash is a seriously controversial gift, not to mention it is very cold.   Here is some advice that works for every couple.   In the seminal film The Break-Up, there is a scene where Jennifer Aniston, who is, bizarrely, dating Vince Vaughn, yells at him, exasperated, “I don’t want you to do the dishes. I want you to want to do the dishes.” “Why would I want to do dishes?”  No one wants to do the dishes. That means she doesn’t want to do the dishes either.  She does, however, want the dishes done. It’s of value to her to have the dishes done.   He doesn’t care that she values that.   She’s upset that she’s with someone who doesn’t want to do the work of being in a couple, and if she always has to ask him to do something, it doesn’t “count.” She’s still in charge of making sure the dishes get done, even though you volunteer to do them with being asked to.  This doesn't have to apply to only dishes, but almost any chore that she does on a regular basis.  If you do the laundry or grocery shopping without being asked it will be noticed and greatly appreciated.

     This doesn’t seem like much, but it will get a very welcomed reaction from your Valentine if you make the effort before being asked.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Vermont Bartenders are Petitioning to Change Rules on House-Infused Spirits

Bahama Bob's Barrel Juice, an Infused Rum
     Here in Florida, we have it pretty good as far as the freedom to create cocktails, even with the infusion of things into existing liquors.  All we have to do is use fully taxed and legal spirits.   I guess in Vermont, this is not the case.  There is a petition going around to get the rules changed.

     A petition circulated by local bartenders that seeks to amend a state liquor regulation has gained more than 400 signatures in 24 hours.   The petition is an effort to change a Vermont Department of Liquor Control regulation that prohibits adulterating or tampering with alcohol after its manufacture. In practical terms, this means a bartender cannot infuse spirits with ingredients, flavors, herbs or spices — a common practice that is part of mixing a craft cocktail.

     "Cocktails are cuisine," said Stewart Dunoskovic, a bartender at 
Leunig's Bistro & Cafe who signed the petition.  "A bartender is not unlike a chef in what they do. Anything that restricts what we can do with those products, restricts what you get to drink at the end of the day."  This is not good for tourism in Vermont, because limiting the ability of the barmen will lead to people going places where these rules don’t exist, like New Hampshire, Main, or Massachusetts.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Moving Back on to Sanity Too is Getting Closer

     After nearly 2 months of living on Lil' Sanity, our camper there is a light at the end of the tunnel to when we will be able to return to living on Sanity Too.  There is still some work to be done, but hopefully by the end of February she will be back in the water and we will be able to return to our "normal" living quarters and begin the return to living like before Irma.  She is already beginning to look whole again after the bottom work has been completed and the new swim platform arrived last week.  We've bee two months on the "camper" and ready to be able to wander around in a house with some space.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Drinking Alcohol in Moderation Can Clear Brain Waste

     It always seems to come back to the old adage, a little is great, but a lot can ruin you.  Like so many other things in this world anything in moderation can be a benefit.  I’ve always felt that alcohol has always been believed to have medicinal value, but overdoing it can kill you.

     If you're partial to a drink or two, you will love the results of a recent study; researchers have found that a "low" intake of alcohol may help to cleanse the brain.  In a mouse study, scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that drinking the equivalent to around 2.5 alcoholic drinks per day could reduce brain inflammation.  It was also found to increase the function of the glymphatic system, which is responsible for removing waste products from the brain.  High alcohol exposure, however, was found to impair glymphatic function and increase brain inflammation.

     Lead study author Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at URMC, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.  It should come as no surprise that excess alcohol intake can harm health. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) report that alcohol is a contributor to "more than 200 health conditions" and causes around 3.3 million deaths across the globe each year.  Increasingly, however, research has suggested that a little alcohol may do us good.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Top Selling Spirit Categories in the United States

        The Spirit Industry report is out and a huge surprise for me is the fact that Rum is #2 in a strong whiskey driven spirits year.  The strong sales of all of the spirit categories is impressive.

1.   Vodka

Volume sales: 71.34m cases
Percentage change: +2.2%
Value sales: US$6.22bn
Percentage change: +3%
The unmoved – and seemingly immovable – spirits leader in the US market is vodka. Growth remained subdued in 2017, but almost 50m cases separate it and its closest volume rival: rum. It’s growth is also all-the-more impressive considering the category continues to face creeping challenges from ‘trendy’ up-and-coming spirits.

2.   Rum

Volume sales: 24.64m cases
Percentage change: -0.4%
Value sales: US$2.32bn
Percentage change: -0.3%
Rum may be the second largest spirits category in the US, but it failed to record volume or value growth in 2017. Some of the largest rum players have struggled to keep up with other spirit types in a move upmarket, and it could be argued that the category has failed to achieve the same boost from the cocktail renaissance as that experience by gin and Bourbon. With American whiskey hot on its heels, might rum slide down the leaderboard in 2018? It remains to be seen.

3.   American Whiskey

Volume sales: 23.15m cases
Percentage change: +6.4%
Value sales: US$3.36bn
Percentage change: +8.1%
Americans’ enthusiasm for their domestic whiskeys – including Bourbon – continued unabated in 2017. The Distilled Spirits Council notes that there was strength across all price points in American whiskey – quite an achievement in this age of pervasive premiumization. The category also added 300,000 cases to sales of its flavored expressions, while rye whiskey proved to be the fastest growing spirit sub-category of 2017, with growth of +16.2% to US$175m, and 900,000 cases.

4.   Canadian Whiskey
Volume sales: 17.54m cases
Percentage change: +2.4%
Value sales: US$1.99bn
Percentage change: +2%
Canadian whisky may not quite be a household name internationally, but it has a dedicated consumer base in the US. The category is tantalizingly close to hitting sales of US$2bn, which it is sure to surpass this year if the current growth trajectory continues.

5.   Tequila and Mezcal

Volume sales: 17.2m cases
Percentage change: +8.5%
Value sales: US$2.7bn
Percentage change: +9.9%
Tequila is one of the hottest categories in the spirits world right now, and the US is its biggest market. The Distilled Spirits Council notes that the fastest rate of growth can be seen at the higher end of the spectrum – which is also evidenced by rampant acquisition activity in recent years. Just last month, Bacardi bought pioneering super-premium Patrón in a deal that values the company at US$5.1bn.

6.   Cognac and Brandy

Volume sales: 13.72m cases
Percentage change: +5.4%
Value sales: US$2.28bn
Percentage change: +7.5%
Cognac and brandy producers hailed solid gains in 2017, though the rate of growth in the states was slightly slower than the global picture. Last month, trade body the BNIC revealed that Cognac exports reached their ‘highest levels’ in 2017, growing by 11% in volume and 14% in value, largely thanks to rebounds in the emerging markets.

7.   Gin

Volume sales: 9.87m cases
Percentage change: -0.6%
Value sales: US$895m
Percentage change: +2.2%
Talk of the ‘gin boom’ is rife in the international spirits industry, but, surprisingly, the category’s volumes struggled in 2017 – could consumer thirst for the juniper spirit be waning? Super-premium craft players are the most likely cause of a 2.2% value gain, edging gin sales in the States close to the US$1bn mark.

8.   Blended Scotch

Volume sales: 7.17m cases
Percentage change: -3.3%
Value sales: US$1.39bn
Percentage change: +0.4%
Volume sales of blended Scotch whisky took a hit in 2017 – perhaps due to the challenge for consumer mindshare posed by its American and Irish cousins. However, value sales marginally increased, indicating premiumization continues to run through the category.

9.   Irish Whiskey

Volume sales: 4.25m cases

Percentage change: +11.3%
Value sales: US$897m
Percentage change: +12.8%
Irish whiskey is one of the US drinks market’s biggest success story and experienced the fastest rate of growth in terms of both value and volume sales of any spirit category in 2017. Of course, the success of Irish whiskey is inextricably linked to the soaring sales of category leader Jameson, but the sector is also receiving a boost from innovative new super-premium players that are piquing consumer interest.

10.  Single Malt Scotch

Volume sales: 2.11m cases
Percentage change: -1.2%
Value sales: US$771m
Percentage ch ange: +1.1%

It was a mixed picture for single malt Scotch in 2017 – while volumes declined, values increased, indicating consumers are drinking slightly less single malt expressions, but choosing more expensive varieties when they do.