The Cocktail Wonk Comprehensive Caribbean Rum Tour: Bottles $45 or Less

There’s no shortage of rum listicles lately. Rum is a hot topic du jour and publications push them out with abandon: “Nine Rums I Found at My Local Bar” or “Seven Rums Too Expensive for You.”

All too frequently these stories elicit groans from rum enthusiasts, because the author only dabbles in rum, thus providing well-intentioned but often misguided recommendations. Equally wince-inducing are lists without a unifying theme, or those that rely on outdated and discredited rum categories such as silver, gold, and dark.

Yes, I cast a suspicious eye toward most rum listicles, preferring a more nuanced approach to rum writing. Yet here I am with a rum list of my own. What gives? And why is my list any better?

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Beyond Jamaican Funk – Next Level Hogo

With the current era of rum gathering steam toward a golden age, an exciting by-product is the ready availability of full-throated, hogo-licious Jamaican rums. The intense, overripe banana and pineapple notes of Jamaican rum are bewitching and, truth be told, trigger a subconscious recognition of something primal. Names like Hampden Estate, Long Pond, and Worthy Park roll off the tongues of hardcore Jamaican enthusiasts, who collect dozens of special bottlings for their rum bunkers.

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The Cocktail Wonk Top Ten Stories of 2017

As 2017 draws nigh, it’s time for the traditional year end wrap-up, summarizing the highlights of what appeared here over the last 12 months. Some of what follows could be called self-indulgent navel-gazing; reflections on how my writing has evolved. But I contend there’s also value to you, the reader – it provides a broader context for what the site has become. And who knows, you might have missed a relevant post as the world speeds by.

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California Rum Festival 2017 in Pictures

A quick post to share some photos from The Rum Lab’s 2017 California Rum Festival, recently held in San Francisco on September 8th.

A pre-show party at Pagan Idol the evening before featured Spiribam rums, and called together numerous rum industry influencers, including Foursquare Rum Distillery’s Richard Seale, Benoît Bail and Jerry Gitany of The Rum Embassy, as well as many hardcore California Tiki scene enthusiasts.

Benoît Bail, Cocktail Wonk and Jerry Gitany of The Rum Embassy, California Rum Festival 2017
Benoît Bail, Cocktail Wonk and Jerry Gitany of The Rum Embassy, California Rum Festival 2017

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Rum Has No Rules – Neither Do Whiskey & Brandy

What if I told you that whiskey has no regulations?

Smart person that you are, you’d reply “Of course whiskey has regulations! Straight bourbon must be made in America and start with at least 51% corn in the mash. Aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years. And Scotch whiskey must be made from barley, pot distilled and aged in Scotland.”

But I press on: Brandy has no regulations.

You’d think I’ve lost my marbles. Obviously Cognac is limited to certain grapes from certain regions of France, and it must be pot stilled. Peruvian pisco is also confined to certain grape varietals, and can only be distilled once in a copper pot still.

And yet if I said “Rum has no regulations”, many people would nod in agreement. I could point out countless articles saying the same thing.

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The Unabridged, English Language Martinique Rhum Agricole 2014 AOC

I’ve been on a French rhum excursion as of late, writing in detail about the history, production and regulations of rhum made on the French islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante. To bring the series to completion, I present the present day regulations governing Martinique rhum labeled with the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – better known as the “AOC”. Not in a neat synopsis of the high points though. No… The entire official AOC document, translated from its native French into English.

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