From Foodista

Rum, Please Forgive Me!

November 13, 2012
Rum: Please forgive me.  I didn’t forget you to bourbon, nor gin.  Certainly you haven’t seen me review or even discuss candy flavored vodka- why is that so popular?  I didn’t forget you to Scotch, nor did I give you up for Cognac or dare I say some Biodynamic wine.  No rum, I didn’t forget you.  You were and are my first love.  The first time that I tasted you down in the British Virgin Islands at  Soggy Dollar Bar stirred in a “Painkiller” (for I was filled with pain down in the islands) or woven into a Bushwacker- oh don’t ask what was in it.  I know it was rum and crushed ice, cream de cacao and more rum.  Well, that’s for another day.I don’t make a habit of drinking to excess.  My friend Ed Hamilton of the Ministry of Rum taught me drink better/drink less.  This is true- yet there is a fine line between mere inebriation and the puncheon.  I know to beware that.  You should too.  It only comes in a Listerine container.  A very small one at that. Poteen comes to mind.  Hell in a bottle is next.

Down in St. Barth they make punch in the traditional French, island style restaurants that line the harbor of Gustavia. That means tropical fruits and rum.

Yachts moor stern in like in St. Tropez.  French is spoken.  Rum is the language as well as Champagne.  Sometimes they collide with horrid results to the inexperienced and jaded alike.   The roads are too steep and not well marked.  I suggest not testing the flimsy guard rails and 1000 foot, nearly sheer drops.

It was on St. Barth that I first tried the Bacardi Ron Solera.  I’d just spent the better part of two weeks on a yacht and was in a state of constant thirst for new flavors, new textures.  If I knew then what I know today (next to nothing) about rum, I’d have brought more of the exotics back home.  There is an incredible diversity of flavor in rum.

The Bacardi is not anything like any rum I had ever tasted from Bacardi.  For a bar in St. Barth to stock Bacardi- it had to be something incredible- with all the rums of the world available to be purchased.  I feel that the Ron Solera is one of the finest little (I say little next to the big brother in Puerto Rico, they don’t even exist on the radar) rum around anywhere.  This is a labor of love for the distiller.  Made in Mexico, not Puerto Rico, the Solera is like a secret still, unknown to most.

I think this would make a most honorable Christmas gift.

Ron Solera is produced in the Solera method. Like making Sherry.  This is, quite simply removing a portion of the rum from a cask and adding a bit younger (or older) samples of rum directly to the barrel.  There is a marriage of sorts in the barrel, an alchemy.  Some old rum, some quite old and some new- all aging harmoniously.  Lovely thought.

How does Bacardi, a company that makes millions of cases of rum per year, switch gears and create a passionate, limited production item like the Solera?  I’m really not sure.  But the proof is in the bottle.  Open the top.  The scent of charred vanilla greets the nose.  It’s creamy and full bodied.  I detect immediately dark, bittersweet chocolate maybe 75% bitter.  It’s suddenly deeply warming on my mouth and the depth becomes profound.  I want to put some in a snifter and sit, quite still in front of the wood burning stove.  It’s truly gorgeous stuff.

Get a bottle and serenade your emotions deeply with the Ron Solera.  If you add anything to your glass of the Ron Solera make it a perfect ice cube from your Williams-Sonoma 2” silicone ice cube tray.  Filter your water first using the Mavea “Inspired Water” pitcher first… (essential!)

Tasting Notes:

Sweet oranges give way to creamy chocolate and pain grille notes.  A buzz of alcohol straightens out your mind, you can feel the spark and warmth adding a nice fuzzy feeling to my throat.  I love this rum!

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The Serralles DonQ Gran Anejo

The sturdy box that holds this important rum is padded in gold satin.  I say important because everything about this rum is impressive.  Not just the packaging, but the flavor.  Glistening Wheat in hue and tinged with a shimmer from the oily oak- this rum is meant to be savored.  It’s a very soft slurp in mouth-feel.  It doesn’t have the richness of the Ron Solera from Barcardi, yet it reminds me much more of real Cuban Rum.  Restrained, enrobed in threads of salted caramel, this rum is important to behold.  The bottle is a decanter, handsome and masculine.  It’s reminiscent of Bourbon.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the casks were used Bourbon oak.  I can taste the char and smoke deeply.  If you add anything to this rum, make it a single cube of coconut water ice.

White flowers give way to charred stone fruits and the taste of wet stones.  Lick a stone and see what I mean.  The finish is dry, salty from the sea and jagged from the cask.  I want to drink this in a snifter with a slice of grilled orange on the side for tasting.

The Serralles DonQ Gran Anejo is world class, just as the Bacardi Ron Solera is as well.  They are both historic brands with passion in the driver’s seat.  I tasted them side by side with wheat crackers for balance.  These are powerful reminders that gigantic companies can also produce passionate liquors that truly speak volumes of the craft of making spirits.  Someone need to have their hand shaken for their vision!

This is rum for the boardroom!