Part 2 Gargano Classification: Distinction

I came of age in the seventies in way upstate New York, somewhere between the civilization of NYC and the wilds of Canada; far from the other big cities in the east, and even farther from the warm salty tropical islands. At the time, my parents ran a tavern where, just as in most of America, the choice of rum was limited… Light or dark. With the possible exception of the many Tiki Bars scattered across the country, not much was known about rum anywhere, and upstate New York was no exception. The shelves in our bar were typical; they contained some unknown well brand light rum while Bacardi sat on the top shelf. Myers and Bacardi 151 were the dark options That was it. The state of affairs for Whisky was a little better. Considering the times, our whiskey/whisky selection was much better than most. We carried 5 or 6 Canadian Whiskies and the same number of bourbon brands. As for scotch, as determined from some old photos, our selection was something like this:  Ballantines, Dewars, Johnny Walker Red, J & B, and  Cutty Sark. If my memory is working, which is always in question, Teacher’s was our well[…]

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On the Gargano Classification… Part I

I’m all in with the idea of the Gargano Classification of Rum or something similar. For those who are  somewhat knowledgeable, the system provides a decent description of what might be found in the bottle and describes the level of effort expended in making the rum. In other words it offers a basic and honest value proposition to all who are interested. Again… for those with a bit of knowledge. As a purist, I like artisanal rums and the idea of being able to identify them by their packaging. I appreciate having enough information on the label to allow me to judge for myself whether or not the bottle has “premium” potential. And, by the way, I am willing to pay a premium price for rum made by artisans making authentic sugar cane spirits, by the batch, using traditional methods. In those premium rums, the quality of the ingredients and their unique terroir combine with the skills of the master distillers and blenders to make high quality, memorable, and truly Premium expressions. Unfortunately, today’s labeling laws, coupled with non-existent enforcement, make that evaluation all but impossible for the vast majority of rum being sold. It is difficult to find good[…]

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Dosage: In Rum a Euphemism for Added Sugar

Liqueur tirage…    Dégorgement…    Dosage …    Liqueurs d’Expedition…     Brut…,   Extra Brut…   Sec…   Extra sec…   Demi-sec… are all terms describing the process and products of adding sugar to wine, most notably to Champagne.  It’s worthwhile when we aim to discuss the issue as it applies to rum to understand the history of adding sugar to alcohol, and in understanding the rationale for the suggestions I am making.

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On Meeting Alexandre Gabriel

It’s been over a week and I’ve finally decided to publish my thoughts on the terrific event last Thursday night at the Black Market in Indianapolis… An Evening With Alexandre Gabriel of Maison Ferrand.  Since the dinner my head has been full of thoughts that I have been trying  to organize and write, but that process has been taking too long in the world of Blogging, so it’s time to begin, and just let them organize themselves. Black Market is one of the great rum bars and restaurants in the country… certainly in the midwest… and everyone there can pat themselves on the back for hosting such a memorable evening.  Chef Micah Frank’s entire meal was superb, but I really wanted to call out his first course.  The Accra , a Caribbean Fritter, was fabulous.  I could have noshed on nothing but them all night. But as good as the food was, I’d be thoughtless if I didn’t remark on the cocktails, specifically the Citadelle Gin Cocktail that Heather Tomory served as a pairing for the Accra. I’m not a fan of Gin, and avoid it in all but the most special circumstance…  A bad experience over 40 years ago makes me[…]

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A Day of Mourning

On this day, forty-seven years ago, the last daily ration of rum was served to sailors in Her Majesty’s Navy. Then, sailors conducted mock funerals, wore black mourning bands and ceremonial Burials at Sea, to lament the loss of the rum ration. Today, around the world, rum lovers will mark the occasion by issuing themselves a tot or two of wonderful rum… and a lucky few will even enjoy a taste of the remnants of Her Majesty’s Rum which has been rebottled and sold as Black Tot The Last Consignment, a fine 40+ year old rum which is available at the Royal sum of $800 for a 700ml bottle. Not many people know the history of this rum, and many believe other brands are the authentic rum. A bit of Clever marketing, coupled with the fact that they bottle a nice selection of fine rums, gives many consumers the impression that Pusser’s Rum is THE Authentic Navy rum that was issued for at least part of the over 300 years of Royal Navy rum drinking tradition. It is, however only an impression.  Pusser’s is actually a Royal Navy style rum inspired by the Admiralty’s blending recipe  last used when the Royal[…]

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Good News from Jamaica

Jamaica’s  Long Pond Distillery has reopened, having solved its waste disposal issues which forced its closing in 2012.  The Cocktail Wonk was there last spring as part of the Authentic Caribbean Rum (ACR) Program and had the chance to roam all through the seemingly deserted facility while being guided by the Distillery’s Plant Manager.   I  really enjoyed his report of the experience and am amazed that it’s being reported as back in operation.  In judging the photos in Cocktail Wonk’s post, it’s amazingly good news that the dead looking place is back up and running.

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Splice the Mainbrace

I have a personal memory to celebrate today. It’s related to  a milestone that Rummies and veterans of Her Majesty’s Navy will commemorate next Monday.  I would  imagine that anyone finding their way to this  site knows the significance of “celebrating” Black Tot Day, which is of course the anniversary of the the last day that a daily tot of Rum was issued to sailors in the Royal Navy, infamously the Black Tot. In 1970 someone decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea for men to be operating sophisticated machinery while drinking Rum.  Although the daily  tot, was only, a half gill… an eighth of an Imperial pint… (2.5 oz), I suppose it was an understandable change.  Her Majesty issued that last taste of  daily Rum on July 31, 1970.  It wouldn’t be the last Royal issue of Rum though.   To celebrate special Royal Events, the Queen has given the order, “Splice the Mainbrace,” which translates to, “Issue the Fleet a tot of Rum!”  I was lucky enough to be assigned as an exchange officer as a pilot in 815 Squadron when that order was given.  So, thirty-one years ago, on July 23, 1986 I collected my tot of[…]

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