As an avid Tiki-hound home bartender, I am always seeking out the next unusual recipe twist that gets me excited. And while Tiki draws from a very broad palette, there’s really only so many combinations of citrus, syrups, spices, and rum you can concoct before you’re essentially riffing on variations of the classics. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
After many years of impatient waiting, rums from Italy’s Velier S.p.A. have finally landed in the U.S. market. Long considered the premiere independent bottler of rum, the company has had massive success with European rum-wonks due to its near-legendary releases from distilleries like Hampden Estate, Foursquare, Demerara Distillers Limited, and Caroni. Meanwhile, American rum aficionados could only salivate over Facebook photos or, if they were lucky, squirrel away a few bottles in their suitcaes on European jaunts.
I came across a Facebook post recently:
“I’ve been dabbling with aging my own rum. I put a couple liters of the overproof unaged Wray & Nephew into a two-liter oak cask. Anyone have an idea how long it should sit before it mimics the 17-year Wray & Nephew used in the original 1944 Mai Tai?”
After removing my palm from my forehead, I realized it was time to fire up Ye Olde Reality Generator and shed some light on this all-too-common question.
At this point in my Tiki journey, it’s much harder to come across a flavor combination I haven’t encountered before and which knock my socks off. The Banana Life, from the crew at San Francisco’s Pagan Idol, is the first drink I’ve had in a while that accomplishes this feat.
Mrs. Wonk and I recently spent a long weekend in New York City. While the stated reason was for the La Maison & Velier U.S. launch, the unofficial reason was to blaze through as many of top-rated cocktail bars as possible in four nights.
Idyllic images come to mind when picturing rum: Sweeping Caribbean cane fields, historic pot and column stills. Barrels slowly maturing in the hot sun for decades. A master blender wandering the warehouse, carefully selecting barrels to produce the perfect blend, bottled and transported to your local bar or liquor store. While this narrative may be somewhat true for brands like Bacardi, Mount Gay, Appleton, or Havana Club, distillery-driven brands are a relatively modern concept – rarely seen prior to the middle of the twentieth century. The vast majority of rum brands operate in a different universe, much as they did a century or more ago: the world of bulk rum, merchants, and blenders. Continue reading “Liquid & Logistics: Inside E&A Scheer, Master Bulk Rum Blenders”