In the lead up to (a particularly rum focused) Tales of the Cocktail 2016, after many months of speculation, French producer Plantation Rum today announced their newest mainstream blended rum: O.F.T.D. The new offering is a blend of rums. The label says Jamaica, Guyana, and Barbados, coming in at a high octane 69 percent ABV (138 proof). Its predecessor, Original Dark Overproof, is composed of entirely Trinidad rums at 73 percent ABV, or 146 proof. Although the main label doesn’t explicitly say “Old Fashioned Traditional Dark,” a sticker on the label says “Old Fashioned Traditional Dark”. However, there’s an alternative meaning. Use your imagination! Or just check out my photos from the launch party.
The eye-catching label tells the story of a rogue’s gallery of well-known rum and Tiki celebrities who came together to influence its taste and character. From the bar world:
- Jeff Berry – Author and co-owner of Latitude 29 (New Orleans)
- Martin Cate – Author and co-owner of Smuggler’s Cove and Whitechapel (San Francisco)
- Paul McFadyen – Co-owner of Trailer Happiness (London) and brand ambassador for Cognac Ferrand
- Paul McGee – Co-owner of Lost Lake (Chicago)
- Scotty Schuder – Co-owner of Dirty Dick (Paris)
And joined by:
- David Wondrich – Cocktail historian and author
- Alexandre Gabriel – Master blender for Cognac Ferrand and Plantation Rums
How’s that for a (rum) celebrity endorsement? Given the people involved, it’s obvious Plantation is targeting this as a mixing rum aimed squarely at the Tiki and tropical drink market. (And it will feature prominently in my next Minimalist Tiki refresh.) You can bet whatever nickels you have handy that it’ll be featured prominently at Latitude 29, Smuggler’s Cove, Trailer Happiness, Lost Lake, and Dirty Dick – all iconic bars in the Tiki world. Martin even alluded to the new rum via the #OFTD hashtag in his lengthy comment on my Smuggler’s Cove book review.
The label tasting notes say: “It bursts with caramel cream, chocolate, and vanilla notes. It continues on with cinnamon, raisins, nutmeg, oak, and molasses with smoky accents.”
(Update: My OFTD review for distiller.com is here.)
The Plantation Original Dark story has evolved over the years. Long available in both a regular strength (80 proof) version, as well as an overproof version, both were a blend of Trinidad rums of different ages. As Alexandre Gabriel told me at his presentation at last year’s Tales of the Cocktail, the Trinidad-based Original Dark contains rums as young as five years, as well as heavy, pungent pot still rums of up to 20 years in age, most likely from the long-defunct Caroni distillery. As time went on, the supplies of the heavy, pot still rum have become scarce.
Seeing this potential shortage coming on, a year ago Plantation made the decision to change the formulation of the regular strength Original Dark to a blend of Trinidad and Jamaican rums, with the Jamaican component replacing the heavy, pot stilled Trinidad piece. However, the overproof version has until now remained an all-Trinidad rum. With the release of the O.F.T.D., the Trinidad rums are completely replaced with Jamaica, Guyana, and Barbados rums. Knowing this was coming, I’ve naturally stockpiled a few bottles of the Trinidad Overproof version for archival purposes, as rum wonks do. Being a multi-island blend (and given its proof), it will be interesting to put the new version head to head with similar high-proof, multi-island rums like Gunroom’s Navy rum.
Pricing at this point is given at $32 for a liter. Exact worldwide geographic availability is unknown. Given its launch at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, as well as TTB label approval, the U.S. should see it around September 2016. However, I was lucky to spot in on the backbar of Latitude 29 a few days prior to Tales of the Cocktail 2016, and managed to get up close and personal with it. The verdict from Mrs. Wonk and me: Delicious! A smoky start followed by a very Plantation-like finish. It looks like a winner from a very brief encounter with it.
Given the U.K. and French characters on the bottle, those countries are likely to get early arrivals. I myself can’t wait to get ahold of a bottle and try it out in classics like the Cobra’s Fang and Jet Pilot.