One of the new additions to the Rumfest 2017 show was the members’ enclosure – an area for private and informal tastings, over six sessions hosted by bloggers and rum writers.
Saturday saw half-hour sessions hosted by Tatu Kaarlas of Refined Vices, Matt Pietrek of Cocktail Wonk and Simon Johnson of Rum Shop Boy. On Sunday there was Steven James from Rum Diaries Blog, yours truly, and John Coelho-Charles from Rum@Charlosa.
Each session host had to choose six rums to present from a selection of about a dozen, mainly new launches or relatively unknown rums for the UK market. We wanted to choose a set that represented our interests in rum and showed what we’re about as a blog.
There were some obvious picks for us. With Chris hailing from Mauritius, the two offerings from the island were straight into the lineup. First was the Bougainville white, which is a molasses base and very light to open up proceedings. Next was the Chamarel XO, which uses sugar cane juice – cue fact that Mauritius is one of the few places to produce both molasses and cane juice rum – and is aged six years.
As big agricole fans, and following our trip to the French Caribbean last year where we purchased it, the Rhum JM calvados cask finish was also a clear choice. It’s aged for eight years in French oak and then finished for a few months in ex-calvados barrels. It forms part of what we think of as JM’s French finishes range that also includes the use of ex-cognac and armagnac barrels.
We then wanted to give those coming to our session a chance to taste something they probably hadn’t come across. We’d tasted the Bonpland rums quite late in the day at Imbibe and thought a Chardonnay wine finish on a large blend of rums from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana, French West Indies and Java brought something new.
The fifth was Don Q single barrel 2007 vintage, chosen as it was not ‘on the counter’ on the general Don Q stand at the festival.
The final rum was a curveball for us – Dos Maderos Seleccion. It’s a blend of Guyanese and Bajan rums tropical aged for 10 years and then shipped to Jerez in Spain for further ageing in the sherry solera system. The syrupy sweetness suggested this was rather wet PX casks, but we recognise some drinkers do like the sweeter style of rums. It contrasted the five drier ones in our selection quite nicely and opened the conversation up to the “honesty” of rum producers.
This was the first session we’d led and weren’t sure what to expect. But we had a friendly group we were keen to interact with on how they liked the rums, or not. And 30 minutes goes really fast…
Until next time, keep rumming!