Deep insights into rum, whisk(e)y, brandy, tiki and bars
The Rum Collective December 2014 Plantation Single Casks Tasting Event in Seattle
Last week, I attended a tasting event at Wine World and Spirits in Seattle, introducing two new special-edition Plantation rums to the local market. Nicholas Feris, founder of the Rum Collective (a Seattle-based rum society) hosted over forty people for the event. Nicholas is an internationally known rum expert, blogger, and advocate, as well as a founding member of the International Rum Council (IRC). There’s no way I’d miss this event as I’m a big fan and collector of Plantation rums as well as their parent company, Cognac Ferrand.
For their regular line of rums, Plantation sources already aged barrels of rum from around the Caribbean and Central America, shipping them to their facilities in France for additional aging. This is frequently but not always in done with used Pierre Ferrand cognac casks, giving the rums a distinct flavor and finish that’s wildly popular with rum aficionados. Plantation also experiments with small batches for yet a third or sometimes fourth round of aging in casks previously used for things like sherry, Pineau des Charentes (a sweet French aperitif), or Sauternes, a sweet wine.
Rather than overwhelming distributors with numerous unique offerings of a few hundred bottles, Plantation sells the bottling of an entire cask (or set of casks). A custom, distinctive black label highlights the purchaser (typically a liquor store or bar). These are single-cask products, meaning multiple casks aren’t blended together prior to bottling. So far in my travels I’ve spotted exclusive bottlings for Hi-Time Wine Cellars, Gerry’s Wine and Spirits, Bibendum, and Smuggler’s Cove.
Rocky Yeh, Nicholas Feris
Recently, Nicholas worked with Plantation to select two new special cask bottlings, labeled “Selected by The Rum Collective”; these bottles are imported by American Northwest Import and Distributors and sold exclusively at retail by Wine World & Spirits in Seattle. The first of these is from Guatemala, at 40% ABV with an XO rather than an age designation. Nicholas tells me it was aged in used bourbon barrels in Guatemala for six years, then 18 months in cognac barrels before finishing in Sauternes casks for six months. The second rum is from Panama, at 43% ABV. It was aged for seven years in a used bourbon barrel in Panama, then spent a year finishing in a Pineau des Charentes cask.
Assisting Nicholas at the event was Rocky Yeh, spirits portfolio ambassador for American Northwest Import. Like Nicholas, Rocky has very close ties to the Pierre Ferrand folks. Throughout the event, Nicholas and Rocky traded off speaking duties and answering queries. Rocky shared numerous anecdotes about Plantation’s special approach – I’d heard many of them a few months back when Alexandre Gabriel, master distiller at Cognac Ferrand, hosted a tasting at Rumba.
The tasting kicked off with the Plantation 20thAnniversary edition, from Barbados. I’ve owned and enjoyed a bottle for a while now, so this was a nice start but just a warmup for the main event. Second on the agenda was the Guatemala XO. I found it to be readily in the Plantation style, a bit sweet and somewhat similar to my Guatemala XO from Hi-Time Wine, although they have different finishes – Pineau versus Sauternes. The final rum was the Panama 8, by far my favorite of the evening. Although the normal Plantation level of sweetness was present, it still had a nice bit of “edge” to it, likely due in part to not undergoing the typical cognac barrel step.
Plantation Single Cask rums at Wine World & Spirits
All three rums price out in the $75 to $80 range, although event attendees received a 10% discount. As the event wound down and the last stragglers filtered out, I noticed that most of the bottles on display had been snapped up. Evidently the rums were a hit with the crowd, and it was good to see these special editions get off to a good start.