S(rum)mmer In The City
There are a number of words that could describe the past winter. And though the expletives used to do so may be as colourful and varied as tiki drinks, the feeling that the never-ending polar crapshow ushered in was pretty unanimous, with any variation on total depression sufficing.
If you weren’t lucky enough to make it down to the Caribbean (as I was), perhaps you were at least able to ride out the storm(s) with some warm, rum-spiked drinks. As with most spirits, the quality and variety of rum has been escalating. I’ll be taking a closer look at snifter-suitable, fireside rums in the November issue of Quench. Right now, though, nothing says summer like a refreshing cocktail, with rums of the white (silver) and amber varieties as the base fitting the bill perfectly in most cases.
Rums that fall into the “perfect for mixing” category include the likes of Mount Gay Silver and Mount Gay Eclipse (now, along with the XO, sporting a fresh new look) from Barbados; Brugal Extra Dry (a new entry in Canada that joins the familiar Brugal Añejo and the also new Brugal 1888, and all with packaging makeovers), the venerable Appleton Estate V/X, and the award-wining, blended in Bermuda, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. While these work beautifully in the included cocktails, they can also be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
Appleton Estate V/X (750mL, 40% ABV, $26.00)
A blend of 15 different oak-aged rums, the so-called “entry level” member of the Appleton lineup shows surprising complexity. A bouquet of orange flavoured chocolate, marmalade, ginger, treacle and polished wood gives way to flavours of marzipan, clove, vanilla and, interestingly enough, blackberry. Sweet oak and dried apricot on the finish.
Brugal Especial Extra Dry (750mL, 40% ABV, $28.00)
Using a special distillation process and cask-aging regime, Brugal crafts rums with a distinctly dry flavour profile. Though cask-aged, its Especial Extra Dry remains clear via activated charcoal filtration. Hints of sweet oak and white pepper, a whiff of tropical fruit, and a dash of anise, and a pinch of herbs greet the nose. Very well-balanced in the mouth, with zesty, spicy, caramel notes and a crisp, dry finish.
Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (750mL, 40% ABV, $27.00)
Bermuda’s top export certainly doesn’t fall into either the silver or amber categories. In fact, its colour is similar to a tawny port, with a captivating, slightly reddish hue. The aromatics are quite unique, with nuances of caramel, dried fruit/Christmas cake, vanilla, clove and floral tones. Rich, with fruitcake, sultana, baking spices and molasses all intermingle on the palate and trail off into a long sweet/spicy, molasses final note.
Mount Gay Silver (750mL, 40% ABV, $29.00)
From the world’s oldest rum distillery founded by Sir John Gay in 1703. A distinct cocoa powder opening note is followed up with subtle aromas of mint, white pepper, herbs, and a very mild earthiness. Smooth, viscous and warm on the long finish that trails off with a slight fruitiness.
Mount Gay Eclipse (750mL, 40% ABV, $32.00)
Eclipse is the flagship rum of the Mount Gay distillery. The combination of Barbados’ coral-filtered water, locally harvested sugar cane, and the skill of Master Blender Allan Smith results in rum that is often considered a benchmark for quality. Expect aromas of dried apricot, caramel, and vanilla with hints of banana. There’s a hint of smoky/toasty oak in the mouth with floral/fruity overtones that leave the palate with a warm, mildly spicy impression.
Dark ‘n Stormy:
A proprietary (read: trademarked) cocktail from Gosling’s that’s as simple as it is tasty.
Fill a highball glass with ice
Add 1.5 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Top up with gingerbeer
Garnish with lemon wedge (optional)
If you can’t find gingerbeer, swap it with ginger ale and a couple dashes of Angostura bitters (the Dark ‘n Stormy now becomes a Partly Cloudy). Another option is to pick up the Gosling’s premixed Dark ‘n Stormy 4-pak. No fuss. No muss.
– Courtesy of Gosling’s Rum.
1 oz Mount Gay Eclipse
.25 oz blackberry liqueur
.25 oz crème de banana liqueur
2 oz orange juice
.5 oz grenadine
8 oz of crushed ice
Pour ingredients and crushed ice in a blender. Blend until slushy and pour into hurricane glass.
– Courtesy of Mount Gay Rum.
The Exceptional Mojito:
Using Appleton V/X brings added complexity to this 100-year old classic.
3 – 4 mint sprigs
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup or 2 tsp. cane sugar
1.5 oz Appleton V/X
Bruise/tear mint sprigs. Add to highball glass along with lime juice and sugar/simple syrup. Muddle together. Fill glass with ice and add rum. Top with soda water. Stir well and garnish with additional mint sprigs.
– Courtesy of Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.
2 oz Brugal Extra Dry
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon superfine (aka caster) sugar
3 dashes Angostura bitters
5 fresh mint leaves
Combine all ingredients, except bitters and soda water, and shake with ice. Pour into a Collins glass, top with soda water and float 3 dashes of bitters. Garnish with a mint sprig.
– Courtesy of Brugal Rum.