Recently I stopped by the home of a young rum couple that has amassed quite the rum collection. Indeed, the organizers of Miami’s own Rum Festival are actually a family of a massive collection of rum. On this evening, I was overwhelmed with the choices and I was happy that Mr. Rob’s Rum Guide himself, Rum Scout, lent a guiding hand as to what I should try first. Imagine being a kid in a candy store or Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. You want to pick wisely.
First was the Havana Club 7 year rum. I’m pretty sure I had this before in Peru some years ago but it was after a whole day of drinking on a boat sailing the Amazon to the remote town of Pevas. I remember sitting in the small private club of a local artist and having rum and beers; probably too many. So on this evening, I was handed the Havana Club from Cuba, not to be mistaken with the Bacardi’s Puerto Rican version. There is essentially a rum war with Bacardi and Cuba fighting for the name. No need to get into the specifics but just know that there are two Havana Club rums and they are not the same. I was handed a sample of the Cuban version which to my surprise, was smoother than expected. With just a bit of toffee, banana, and dried fruit, I found this to be just the right sweetness for a sipping rum. I also would be welcome to having it in a ginger beer as I don’t think you would be completely frowned upon for doing so.
Next up was the Plantation Pineapple rum. I’m not into fruity rums but the Plantation was different. You get a very natural taste of pineapple within the rum, but not the artificial overpowering flavor you would find in a flavored spirit. Check out the New York Times article from when the rum was released and you get some of the back story of how this was not meant to be a full production product. It was well received and I can see why it was just too good not to share. I’m sorry I haven’t had it in a cocktail yet but that can easily be remedied over the holiday season.
Next up, Allegheny Distilling Maggie’s Farm Queen’s Share Rye Oak Aged. What a mouthful! Hailing from Pennsylvania and the state’s first rum distillery since Prohibition, Maggie’s Farm is a young company coming out with a bang. My rum guide for the night advised me some weeks prior about this company and I was so happy to get the chance to get a sample. This rum was smooth and while I can’t say I’ve had more than a taste of rye in my entire lifetime, when rum comes from the northern part of the United States, you recognize the flavors will differ significantly; with or without the rye oak finish.
The good news is that this rum was blind tested and won Double Gold at the 2016 New York International Spirits Competition. It is a dry, balanced, woody rum with just enough sweetness that won’t allow you to forget that it is rum. I enjoyed the opportunity to have this winner of a rum and I look forward to trying more Maggie’s Farm going forward. The bad news? It’s freaking hard to find. Obviously not impossible and living in the Pittsburg area would help. Allegheny Distilling also makes a Queen’s Share Double Oak that also won Double Gold which I would assume is just as good. Winter is coming which means someone from Pittsburg should probably bring a bottle to the sunnier and warmer side of South Florida.
Stay tuned for Part II.