Tuesday, July 31, 2018

E&J Gallo to Distribute Diplomático in the United States

     E. & J. Gallo Winery announced today that it will be the exclusive U.S. importer for luxury rum brand Diplomático, a super-premium rum recognized and awarded around the world for its superior taste, quality, and mixability, and garnering numerous 90-plus point scores.   The deal will see E&J Gallo import three collections: The Tradition Range $26.99 to $42.99, which includes Reserva Exclusiva; the Distillery Collection $79.99; and the Prestige Range $129.99 to $269.99. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.   Produced by Destilerías Unidas SA, the Diplomático Distillery, which sits at the foot of the Andes Mountains, has been producing rum since 1959.
     “Diplomático has built an incredible following among the leading mixologists and thought-leading bars and restaurants, and we look forward to continuing that direction as more and more Americans are introduced to luxury rum.”
   José Rafael Ballesteros Meléndez, Diplomático Rum’s president, said: “As a family business, we are honored to partner with the Gallo family. We appreciate their long-term view to building brands, and their commitment to continue growing Diplomático’s popularity in the US.”  “We are excited to become the US partner for Diplomático, and look forward to adding their ultra-premium rums to our growing luxury spirits portfolio,” said Bill Roberts, vice president and general manager for Gallo Spirits.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Announces 12th Annual Spirited Awards® Winners

     Held during Tales of the Cocktail 2018, the Spirited Awards honors the world's top bars, bartenders, writers and cocktail experts.   Following an impressive pool of nominees and months of deliberation from a global panel of renowned judges in the spirits and cocktail industries, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is honored to announce the winners of the 12th Annual Spirited Awards®.

      The 2018 class of winners has been recognized amongst peers and supporters tonight at the awards ceremony hosted at the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail. In addition to the winners selected by judges, Tales also has awarded the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award to John Lermayer.

     "As someone who has been on the other side of the Spirited Awards and has been nominated over the course of many years, I know how significant it is for an owner, operator, bartender or spirits professional to be recognized by his or her peers," said Neal Bodenheimer, Co-Chair of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. "Congratulations to this year's winners who represent a global group of talent setting the bar incredibly high for our industry."

     The sponsors of the 12th Annual Spirited Awards® are The House of Angostura, Bacardi US, BarSmarts, Cocktail Kingdom, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, William Grant & Sons, Gra'it Grappa, Italicus, Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, Mandarine Napoleon, Maverick Drinks, G.H. Mumm, Peroni, Pernod Ricard USA, Rutte, VinePair and Woodford Reserve.

2018 Spirited Award® Recipients

American Categories
Best American Bar Team: Presented by William Grant & Sons, Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co., Miami, FL
American Bartender of the Year :Presented by Bacardi USA, Yael Vengroff, The Spare Room, Los Angeles, CA
Best American Brand Ambassador: Presented by VinePair, Anne Louise Marquis, Campari America
Best American Cocktail Bar: Presented by Pernod Ricard USA, Lost Lake, Chicago, IL
Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar: Presented by William Grant & Sons, The NoMad Bar, New York City
Best American Hotel Bar: Presented by Bacardi USA, The Broken Shaker Miami at The Freehand, Miami, FL
Best American Restaurant Bar: Presented by Woodford Reserve, Clyde Common, Portland, OR
Best New American Cocktail Bar: Presented by Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Navy Strength, Seattle, WA

International Categories
Best International Bar Team: Presented by The House of Angostura, The American Bar, The Savoy, London
International Bartender of the Year: Presented by Bacardi USA, Joe Schofield, Tippling Club, Singapore
Best International Brand Ambassador: Presented by G.H. Mumm, Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador
Best International Cocktail Bar: Presented by Pernod Ricard USA, Happiness Forgets, London
Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar: Presented by Rutte, The Clumsies, Athens
Best International Hotel Bar: Presented by Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Associaton, The American Bar, The Savoy, London
Best International Restaurant Bar: Presented by Mandarine Napoléon, Sager & Wilde, London
Best New International Cocktail Bar: Presented by Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Coupette, London

Writing Categories
Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication: Presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, The Daily Beast, Half Full Section
Best Cocktail & Spirits Writer: Presented by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, M. Carrie Allan, The Washington Post, Imbibe, and more
Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book: Presented by Gra'it Grappa, Meehan's Bartender Manual by Jim Meehan
Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History or Spirits: Presented by Cocktail Kingdom, By the Smoke and the Smell by Thad Vogler
Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series: Presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, Life Behind Bars

Global Categories
Best Bar Mentor: Presented by BarSmarts, Andy Seymour, Liquid Productions
Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient: Presented by Maverick Drinks, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal Jabali
World's Best Cocktail Menu: Presented by Peroni, Dandelyan, London
World's Best Spirit Selection: Presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co., Miami, FL
World's Best Bar: Presented by Italicus, The American Bar at The Savoy, London
Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Presented by William Grant & Sons, John Lermayer

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Westerhall Distillery on Grenada

     My visit to Grenada a few years back has left  indelible images in my mind.  The very old and basic distilleries that are on the island that go back to the earliest days of rum in the Caribbean.  This water wheel that is sitting on the hill behind the now closed Westerhall Distillery is a great example of the rum history that is so much a part of Grenada.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Renegade Spirits Has a Groundbreaking New Rum Distillery in Grenada

Renegade Rum Company

      London-based distiller Renegade Spirits has begun work on its groundbreaking new rum distillery in Grenada.  Located near Pearl, on the north-eastern side of the island, the new distillery will cost $20 million, being both technologically advanced and environmentally sound. Designed to produce up to 1 million liters of spirit each year it will be one of the most significant rum distilleries in the Caribbean.
     The Renegade Rum project has already created 50 jobs locally, with a further 100 jobs requiring a wide range of skill levels to be created over the next year, all in a rural area of high unemployment. The aim of the Renegade Rum Distillery is to distill and mature the most compelling rum the world has ever seen.
Still Parts Arrive
     Using the latest techniques and equipment, together with an innovative, industry-challenging philosophy, Renegade Rum believes this is a landmark rum project that will raise the bar worldwide.  Drawing on experience from both the Scotch and Irish whisky industries, as well as the wine world, Renegade Rum is the brainchild of CEO Mark Reynier, who runs Waterford single malt whisky distillery in Ireland, and who was behind the renaissance of the famous Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, Scotland, in 2001.  Reynier said: “This project has been completely back to front: we’ve had to propagate cane first, and only then build a distillery.
     “I had been looking for a home for this project for over a decade before I found Grenada, but after my first trip around the island it was clear there was no cane left, just bush. We would have to start with a blank canvas, to prove there is enough cane potential to make it worthwhile building a distillery.   “And that’s where we are now today. During those three years we have been designing the distillery, taking advantage of the latest ideas from the top engineers in the business, while simultaneously planting cane lands.”
Mark Reynier CEO and Dr. Keith Mitchell Prime Minister
 Break Ground for New Renegade Rum Distillery in Grenada
     Prime minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell, said, “When I first heard about this project I was not entirely convinced that it could be brought to fruition but standing here today and learning of its many unique facets, I must say it is historic in every sense. The project will not only help boost the agriculture sector and enable diversification of the economy, it will also provide invaluable promotion of Grenada as the origin of this unique blend.   “The location of the project will have a remarkable impact on this rural community, spurring significant development outside of areas usually targeted for business operations. I commend Mark and his team for staying the course, for their determination to forge ahead with the evolution of this concept into a reality and most importantly, for choosing Grenada. This is a project all of Grenada can be truly proud of. I believe its reputation will spread far and wide, along with that of our beloved island.” 
CaneCo Sugar Cane Fields in Grenada
     Renegade Rum Distillery will use exclusively sugar cane reintroduced to Grenada in 2016 during the first phase of the project. The remote greenfield site will be surrounded by cane fields with the mill, utilities and distillery buildings located on three terraces overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to the east, extensive water meadows to the south, and a saltwater mangrove lake to the north.  With the main equipment coming from Scotland, Ireland, Brazil, America, and South Africa, there is a global context. The rum – made by Grenadians with Grenadian cane – once matured and bottled, will go back out across the seas to global markets.
Special Locally Grown Sugarcane
     Renegade Rum Distillery has a close partnership with CaneCo, its agricultural supply company that was set up three years ago to propagate, cultivate and harvest super-premium sugar cane to supply the distillery. Taking a terroir driven approach to rum production, numerous varieties of cane are grown across the island on varying soils and altitudes to maximize flavor differences.  The harvest from each field of cane will be milled and distilled in isolation – from field to barrel. This will allow Renegade Rum Distillery to capture in its distillates the numerous expressions gleaned from Grenada’s unique soils and micro climates. With such attention to detail, it will be able to create a rum of unparalleled complexity. Renegade Rum’s distillate will be matured in oak barrels, before being brought to market around 2021/2022.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Plantation Rum Launches Preservation Initiative

Home of the Ferrand Plantation Foundation
     Plantation Rum has outlined plans for its new center dedicated to the research and preservation of   In 2017, Plantation Rum owner Maison Ferrand purchased an 18th-century estate in France, with plans to transform the site into a permanent home for the Ferrand Plantation Foundation, the brand’s foundation dedicated to the preservation of rum.   This estate will become a location dedicated entirely to rum research and education. It will include vintage documents, books and papers amassed by Maison Ferrand founder Alexandre Gabriel.
rum, as well as unveiling a new limited edition expression.

     Currently undergoing extensive refurbishment by a team of artists, once open, the Ferrand Plantation Foundation will welcome rum aficionados, collectors, scholars and fans.   As well as unveiling details of the foundation, Plantation Rum today announced the release of a new expression created in collaboration with rum collector Steve Remsberg.

     Plantation The Collector Jamaican Rum has been produced using rum made at the Long Pond Distillery in Jamaica.   The expression was created after Remsberg challenged Gabriel to recreate the flavors of a rare bottling in his collection, which had been out of production for several years.   Gabriel said: “I had the great fortune to explore Steve’s extraordinary collection, sharing with him his favorite, the mythical old Jamaica, which he asked me to recreate.   When Steve finally tasted my sample, I was nervously waiting for his comment. This extremely rare edition is my gift to my dear friend Steve.”   Just 999 bottles of The Collector will be released in the US and Europe, and all proceeds from its sale will be donated to the newly established foundation.

     Remsberg, who is known for having one of the largest private collections of premium and rare rum in the world, will be donating his rare rum collection in its entirety to the Ferrand Plantation Foundation.   Within the foundation’s home in France, a room will be dedicated to the collection, offering visitors the chance to watch videos of Remsberg explaining the history of each bottle and how they were acquired.   Remsberg said: “I’m very excited about Alexandre’s plans and dreams for this Foundation.  “My intention in putting together the collection, for the last 25 or so years anyway, has been that somebody in the future could use if for research into rum history or rum heritage. So I’m very, very optimistic. I know that Alexandre is committed to it, to keep it in one piece and what more of a heritage could anybody ask.”

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Bahama Bob's Honey Wind

     Summertime is for minty fun cocktails.  This is the time for a "sweetart" kind of drink that is refreshing and fun.  Give this one a try for your weekend get together on the patio or the boat, you will enjoy it.  I always enjoy the summer cocktail fare.

Bahama Bob's Honey Winds
  • 1 1/2 Doorly’s XO Rum
  • 8 Mint Leaves
  • ½ oz. Bahama Bob’s Honey Syrup 
  • Top with Sparkling Ice Pink Grapefruit
  • 5 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters

     Combine Doorly’s XO Rum, mint leaves and honey syrup in a shaker tin with ½ filled with ice and give it a quickly shake to bruise the mint. Pour into a glass tumbler add ice to the top and top up with Sparkling Ice Pink Grapefruit and more ice if needed. Dash the bitters on top, slap the mint sprigs with your hands to bring out the oilsand place in the glass as a garnish.

Bahama Bob’s Honey Syrup

     In a sauce pan, place equal parts of honey and water, bring it to a biol, stirring until the honey is all dissolved. turn down and simmer for about two to three minutes.   Allow to cool and place in a suitable container and keep refrigerated until you use it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Rum Lab Releases the Launch of The Miami Rum Congress

     The Rum Lab has announced their newest event called the Miami Rum Congress that will take place on February 7th and 8th, 2019. With the intention to continue promoting the education and premiumization of rum; the event will be divided into two parts.   Part one will take place on February 7th and will be straightforward industry symposiums tailored to rum producers, distillers, importers and other supply chain professionals.   The second part of the event will take place on Saturday, February 8th, 2019 tailored for rum aficionados that want to indulge in premium rum tasting and seminars.   The goal with the events is to feature more than 40 premium rum brand expressions from around the world, accommodate members of the beverage trade with intimate access to brand representatives, tastings, seminars and educational breakout sessions.

     Attendees have the opportunity to participate in amazing seminars with world-renown industry guest speakers such as: Richard Seale - Fourth Generation Master Distiller, Foursquare Distillery, Barbados.  Daniele Blondoe - North Americas Director for La Maison & Velier  .  Ian Burrell - Global Rum Ambassador, Celebrity Judge and producer of the UK Rum Fest.  Bailey Pryor - 5 times Emmy Award-winning documentary film producer and CEO of The Real McCoy Rum.

For more information on each event visit www.therumlab.com or www.miamirumcongress.com

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

United States Craft Distillery Operations Rises by 26%

     In 2016 there were 1,315 active distillers in the United States, that has risen to 1,589 in 2017, according to the data compiled by the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), Park Street Imports, and the IWSR.   A craft spirits producer is defined by the ACSA as a producer that has not removed from more that 750,000 proof gallons from bond.  It also markets itself as craft; is not openly controlled by a large supplier and has no proven violation of the ACSA Code of Ethics.

     The West boasts the largest number of distilleries, some 32.7 %, but the South with classic spirits states like Texas, North Carolina and Kentucky, comes a close second with 29.3%. The Midwest accounts for 19.1% and the Northeast 18.9%.  California is the state with the most distilleries: a total of 148, which makes up 9.3% of the nation's total. This is followed by New York, Washington, Texas and Colorado.  On average, more than half of a craft spirit producer's US sales come from within its home state (18% at the facility and 34% outside its premises).  "Nearly one-fifth of all sales take place at the production facility, underscoring the importance of tasting rooms and on-site retail to the bottom line,"? says ACSA in its 2017 annual report.

     Working at the Hemingway Rum Distillery in Key West is great to be a part of the growth of the past year.  Here in Key West, we have three craft distilleries, which is a lot for a two by four mile island.   The strength of the craft distillery, especially in a place where there are a large number of tourists is staggering.  The interest in how spirits are made and being to get up close and personal with the fermentation tanks and stills make the experience even more special.  The purchase of a bottle of spirits that the distiller can sign for you give the place a personal feel that you can take back home with you.

     "The legislative action has helped level the playing field for spirits within the broader craft beverage space, putting distillers on par with breweries and wineries. Prior to the law's enactment, a craft spirits producer had paid 5.4 times more FET than a craft brewer and 16.4 times more FET than a small winery, for equal quantities of beverage alcohol.?  "While it certainly is a time to celebrate, our work is only just beginning. ACSA's priority now is to ensure that Congress votes to make the tax relief permanent."?   The American Craft Spirits Association is a registered non-profit trade group representing the U.S. craft spirits industry.

Read More at beveragedaily.com

Monday, July 23, 2018

Fire at Long Pond Distillery Destroys 65,000 Liters of Rum Reserves

     Jamaica’s Long Pond Distillery has lost more than 65,000 liters of rum in a fire which began in the producer’s cane fields.  The fire started in cane fields near the Long Pond distillery, midday on Monday 16 July, and spread to parts of the fermentation room and the fresh rum stocks, destroying 65,000 liters of Long Pond’s reserves.  The distillery itself and the stills were unaffected, and no staff members were injured in the fire.
     The distillery said that firefighters were called to the blaze at 1:30 pm on Monday.   Fire of unknown origin destroyed the distillery storage area at the Long Pond Sugar Factory in Trelawny on Monday afternoon of July 16th.  The fire which workers at the estate say started in a section of a cane field at the estate, burned through the cane field and engulfed the distillery room where the main stock of rum is kept. 
     A large reserve of rum in Long Pond Sugar Factory's distillery storage in Trelawny Parish was destroyed after a pile of bagasse from the sugar cane field caught fire and quickly spread to the distillery area, the Jamaica Observer reported.  Firefighters responded to the fast-moving fire and were able to contain it, but were not able to save the storage area of the distillery.  "Basically, what is happening here is that the fire is confined to the main store area. One area stores alcohol and the other section stores mainly raw material to make rum," Deputy Superintendent Roland Walters, divisional commander for the Trelawny Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, told the Jamaica Observer.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

This Morning, Havana Came to Mind

I've had Havana on my mind here lately, It has been a while since my last visit to this enchanted city.  I ran across this picture of the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana and it sparked a desire to go there again soon.  The good news is that I still have all of my pictures from my previous visits and can enjoy them at any time.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Happy Birthday to Ernest Hemingway

Ernest and Pauline at Home in Key West

     Happy Birthday to Ernest Hemingway, the man that Papa's Pilar Rum's back story is based upon.
 The man, his fishing yacht, and his persona have added so much to our world.  Whether you like his writings or not, this larger than life man has had some effect on you somewhere in your mind.

       I had very little knowledge of his life before moving to Key West.  I knew who he was, but very
little about him.  I hate to admit it, but I have never read any of his writings, but the man and his way of life have really drawn me in.   His life here in Key West and all of the legends of him here on the island only made me more interested in the man and the locals and places that he  hung out with and at are legendary.  People like Josie Russel owner of Sloppy Joe's in  Key West, Boxing at the Old Coca Cola Bottling Plant, To his house and wife.  You can hardly move anywhere in this town without some reference to Ernest Hemingway.

     My first visit to Havana, Cuba is where his life was brought to the forefront for me.  Hemingway's life in Cuba is felt is so many places as you travel around there.  Starting with the Ambros Mundos Hotel that he lived and completed For Whom the Bells Toll when he first moved to Havana in 1939 to the El Floridita where he spent a lot of time drinking.  His famed home Finca la Vigia in San Francisco de Paula outside of Havana and the village of Cojimar to the east of Havana where he kept his beloved fishing yacht, Pilar and spent so much time at the La Terraza where Hemingway and Gregorio Fuente, the captain of Pilar would dine and drink after a day of fishing on Pilar.

     Today as a distiller at the Hemingway Rum Company his presence has become a daily part of my life.  Happy Birthday to this amazing man.

Friday, July 20, 2018

What's in Your Rum

     There is a rum blogger out there known as “The Fat Rum Pirate”, who has taken the time to test a whole load of rums for their sugar content.  This list takes a lot of the question out of who is telling the truth and who is lying about adding things to their rum.  As I’ve said before, I have no issue with people adding things to their rum, just let us know that you have.  Here are the results of the “Fat Rum Pirate’s” testing.

     Visit the site and you will see his complete list and find what is in you favorite rum.  This is a very enlightening experience.  There are many rums out there that have more added than advertised, and others that are just nothing but pure rum.  The choice becomes yours.

 Read More at http://thefatrumpirate.com/hydrometer-tests-2

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Drinks Business Joins Forces with The Spirits Business to Launch The Wine And Spirits Show

The team behind The City Wine Show and Spirited London is thrilled to announce the launch of The Wine & Spirits Show, which will bring together the world’s very best wine and spirits under one roof.
     The event will be open to both the trade and consumers and will take place over two days from 12-13th October in the heart of London at One Whitehall Place, part of the five-star hotel the Royal Horseguards. Targeting wine enthusiasts based in London, around 2,000 members of the general public are expected to attend, alongside members wine and spirits trade.   The event will open from 1pm to 9pm on Friday, and from 1pm to 8pm on Saturday. To register for the trade event, which will run from 1pm to 5pm on Friday.
     The Wine & Spirits Show will offer one hall dedicated to wines, and another that will be focused entirely on spirits.   Producers already set to exhibit in The Wine Hall include Consorzio Tutela Vini, Wine Trail Wales, Sud de France, Ledbury Wine and New Zealand Wine Growers.  The Wine Hall will also feature the Global Masters Zone, showcasing the top medal-winning wines judged throughout the years in the drinks business Global Masters Series.
     The Spirits Hall will feature everything from gin and whisky to Tequila, rum and Mezcal, with Amber Glen Scotch, HMS Spirits and Angus Dundee Distillers already set to take part. This hall will also host The Spirits Masters Zone, which will be manned by the spirits business team and showcase the Spirits Masters competition medalists.  
     Both halls will feature a dedicated New Products Zone for both wines and spirits, which will showcase the hottest wines and spirits launched within the last 12 months, keeping guests up to speed on emerging trends and releases. Consumers will be asked to vote for their favorite new wine of spirits, with the winning brand set to receive a profile page in the magazine.
     A Global Beer Tour zone will also offer guests the chance to sample a wide range of brews to have been judged by our expert panel as part of the Global Beer Masters, which will take place in August.
     As well as hundreds on wines and spirits available to sample, the event will also offer a series of expert masterclasses, on both wines and spirits.   Not only do these sessions offer consumers the chance to learn more about wine or spirits, but for wine and spirits brands to showcase their products in front of an interested and engaged audience of wine and spirits lovers.   A full schedule of masterclasses, which will be offered FREE on a first come first served basis, will be announced in due course.  We still have a few stands available for those wishing to take part. To enquire about taking part in the show, please email Chloe.Beral@unionpress.co.uk

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Captain Morgan Surpasses Bacardi as Britain's Biggest Rum Brand

     Sales across Captain Morgan's portfolio of rums surged by $10,319,371.31 over the past 12 months, our Britain's Biggest Alcohol Brands 2018 report reveals Brits' love of spiced rums has sent Captain Morgan sailing past Bacardi to become the nation's favorite rum brand.

     Sales across Captain Morgan's portfolio of rums surged by £7.8m to £123.2m over the past 12 months, with £6.9m of that growth coming from its Spiced flavor, our Britain's Biggest Alcohol Brands 2018 report reveals. Which makes Captain Morgan not only the nation's favorite rum but Britain's 24th biggest alcohol brand.  Bacardi's sales, meanwhile, have fallen £6m to £111.3m, with £4.5m disappearing from its flagship Carta Blanca SKU.

     Rum sales have skyrocketed over the past year. According to WSTA figures, sales in the UK broke the £1bn mark over the 12 months to 24 March 2017, while value and volume sales rose 31% and 16% respectively over the past four years.  Yet nearly all the growth has come from spiced or 'golden' rums such as Captain Morgan, which are up 15% to £132m. White rum sales have fallen 2% to £137m [WSTA].  The market had "delivered challenges", admitted Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands MD Amanda Almond. However, she stressed the brand "enjoyed growth thanks to the launch of new products" such as posh spiced rum Bacardi Añejo Cuatro and Bacardi Raspberry. "Bacardi rum has been in existence for over 155 years and we fully intend to add at least another 155 years."

     The category had been "given a boost by the nation's thirst for craft cocktails", said WSTA CEO Miles Beale. "Ten years ago there were only 50 rum brands on the UK market, which has now increased to over 150. There are 315 distilleries across the UK making world-class gins and whiskeys and now many are adding rum."

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Forget the Caribbean: Was Rum Invented in India?

      Newly discovered evidence suggests that rum production predates the Caribbean by at least 1,000 years and may began in South East Asia.  Dave Wondrich’s article says that rum may have conceived years before the Caribbean even got its first sugarcane.

     Which brings us to rum. The start line for the spirit's History has traditionally been drawn on the Caribbean island of Barbados in 1645, give or take a year, with English colonists responsible for its invention. A few modern historians take a somewhat wider view. Frederick H. Smith, in his groundbreaking 2005 study Caribbean Rum, observes that cane distillation was recorded in Martinique in 1640, and that it may have been brought to both that island and Barbados by Dutch colonists fleeing the Portuguese reconquest of northern Brazil, occupied by the Dutch since 1630. The Dutch may have started the practice there or picked it up from the Portuguese colonists.

     This doesn’t really surprise me, considering that sugarcane had its beginning in different locations in Southeast Asia.  Sugarcane originated in tropical South Asia and Southeast Asia. Different species likely originated in different locations with S. barberi originating in India and S. edule and S. officinarum coming from New Guinea. Originally, people chewed sugarcane raw to extract its sweetness.

     Reaching yet further into that murk, and further by quite a bit, and highlight a few documents that have not been generally included in the History of rum. They come not from the Caribbean, or the New World at all, but from Asia. In the absence of a comprehensive history of distillation in that vast, and vastly diverse, continent, they are widely scattered and lacking in context, but that does not mean they should be left out of the History of rum, as thus far most have been.

     The first is a section of the Ain-i-Akbari, the "Constitution of Akbar," a work (in Persian) compiled around 1590 by Abu'l Fazl ibn Mubarak, Grand Vizier to Akbar, the Moghul Emperor of India, whose realm, encompassing northern India, parts of Afghanistan and the eastern parts of Iran, held a fifth of the world's population. In a survey of all the useful plants to be found in that empire, Abu'l Fazl includes a section on sugar cane. After briefly discussing the types of cane and their cultivation, he adds (in H. Blochmann's 1873 translation) that "sugarcane is also used for the preparation of intoxicating liquor."

     First, he explains, the cane is pounded together with acacia bark (here, I believe, as preservative) and then the juice is fermented for a week or longer. Sometimes unrefined sugar is added, or other aromatics, or even pieces of meat. Then the liquid is strained and sometimes drunk as is. However, as Abu'l Fazl adds, "it is mostly employed for the preparation of arrack."

Like "salsa," "arrack," also written as "rack," is one of those words that, though they have perfectly clear equivalents in English, are rarely translated, thus making the things they designate sound exotic. In this case, the word means simply "distilled spirit" and is applied to local spirits from the Eastern Mediterranean all the way to the Indonesian archipelago, encompassing a variety of liquors as different from each other as mezcal and Cherry Heering. In India alone, in the 1500s, it could be made from, among other things, palm sap, cashew fruit, mahua-tree leaves or, as in this case, sugar cane.
Abu'l Fazl then goes on to describe precisely how this cane arrack is made, detailing-and quite accurately-the three different kinds of still used (to modern students of the history of distillation these are known as the "Gandharan," for which see below, the "Mongolian" and the "Chinese") and adding that "some distil the arrack twice, when it is called Duátasha, or twice burned; it is very strong."  The geography part, at least, is easy: although cane was grown in various parts of the Indian subcontinent, its historical heartland was a broad swath of territory running along the Himalayas from Kandahar, in what is now Afghanistan, all the way through Lahore and Delhi and Calcutta to the Bay of Bengal. By the 1500s, the industry was centered in the province of Bengal-modern Bangladesh.  As for its consumption, we know one thing: its use need not have been confined to the empire's non-Muslim subjects. The Moghuls were imperfect Muslims in this respect, and alcohol was frequently consumed at all levels of Moghul society, right up to the very Emperors themselves, all of whom were topers, and some of them to notorious excess.

     This is only a short synopsis of the article, that if you are interested in can be read in its entirety at

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Willy T Will Return

The Willy T Before Irma
     We are finally well on our way here in key west in our repairs after Irma.  I often think about the other island that were in her path and so many wonderful places that were destroyed Throughout the Caribbean.  One of these was the William Thornton, better known as the Willy T.  Great news out of the British Virgin Islands recently, the new Willy T will be in the same place very soon.

     The William Thornton (Willy-T) Floating Bar & Restaurant, which is known for its lure of adventure-seekers, is expected to be back in operation this month.  The restaurant which usually operates on the south-west corner of The Bight off Norman Island was ‘an absolute right off’ following last year’s hurricanes, Manager Ewan Anderson said.
     In an exclusive interview with BVI News, Anderson said the replacement vessel will be almost an exact replica of the previous steel boat.  He said the remains of the old vessel are still on the beach and will be removed and sold for scraps soon.  “We are building a new Willy T,” he said. “It is the same kind of ship [but] a bit larger and it will be in the same place.”  “We are going to drive it down next month,” he added.
New Boat Costly
     The vessel was sourced in the United States and is currently being retrofitted.  And while remaining tight-lipped on the overall cost of the undertaking, Anderson admitted that it is costly.  “We are putting a lot of money back into it. Willy T will be back at a vast expense,” he noted.
Willy-T Coming Back Important
     Anderson said his family, which has been operating the unique business for more than 35 years, believes “it’s absolutely tantamount” to restore Willy T.  “It is one of the top ten attractions in the BVI. It’s a big tourist attraction,” he stressed.  He said fans of the restaurant are eagerly awaiting its return

     There are no pictures of the new Willy T at this time,.but I hope one will be made available soon 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bahia Honda Marina,The One Place That Hasn't Reopened at the State Park

     One of Marta's and my favorite places to head to when we want to get away for a couple of days is the Bahia Honda Marina.  We pull in and spend a couple of days in our "Aqua-camper" and relax and enjoy kayaking, and sitting in the open water area just outside of the marina entrance and enjoy our cocktail hour as the sun sets.  I just hope that they can get it operating again soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bacardi Aims to Eliminate 1 Billion Plastic Straws By 2020
     Bacardi has teamed up with environmental charity Lonely Whale to clamp down on single-use plastic and eradicate one billion plastic straws by 2020.  The latest collaboration from the drinks group, called The Future Doesn’t Suck, will also see Bacardi remove “non-essential”, non-recyclable single-use plastic across its global supply chain.  The campaign will feature numerous corporate and brand collaborations, events and global calls-to-action, and will also encourage consumers to join the movement and share ideas online via the hashtag #TheFutureDoesntSuck.   Rick Wilson, senior vice president of corporate responsibility for Bacardi, said: “Engaging our accounts and our consumers in the reduction of single-use plastic is a critical next step in helping to put an end to plastic pollution.
     “Single-use plastic items are among the most collected pieces of trash in our oceans, and we are urging our consumers to add ‘no plastic straw, please’ to every drink order so together we can make an impactful change.” The Future Doesn’t Suck campaign will initially launch in London, where Bacardi and Lonely Whale will work with consumers and businesses to help them cut down on their plastic straw usage.  A number of illustrations will accompany the campaign, depicting the “devastating” impact of single-use plastic straws on oceans. Bacardi will no longer be serving single-use plastic straws at branded events, music activations or the Bacardi Rum Truck, and will also be introducing biodegradable paper cups across its UK activations.
     Furthermore, Bacardi has launched a new training program at its global headquarters in Bermuda, designed to educate distributor partners and on-trade venues about plastic straw alternatives.  John Burke, chief marketing officer for Bacardi globally, said: “Our focus for the past two years has been leading the industry charge with our #NoStraws pledge and now is the time to review the larger issue of single-use plastic in the greater Bacardi world to determine how and where we can truly make a bigger difference and continue leading the charge to build a more sustainable future.  “I believe through collaborations like this one with Lonely Whale, where we can bring society and business together, we can make impactful change to ensure ‘the future doesn’t suck’.”  People keen to get involved in the campaign can learn more and commit to the cause by visiting thefuturedoesntsuck.org.