Category Archives: Rum

Tasting Zacapa 23 Rum, Step by Step

Recently I received a delightful little kit put together by the folks who make one of the best rums on the market, Zacapa 23. The idea: To taste what this complicated spirit is like at each step of its long production.

Zacapa is made using a solera process, a complex system where a spirit is bottled from the last barrels in a long line of casks, then topped up with rum from younger barrels. Those barrels are in turn filled from even younger barrels, and so on down the line, the effect being a neverending cascade of rum flowing from one barrel to the next. In Zacapa’s case, it’s even more complicated than that, as four different types of barrels are used, and those are all topped up with older rums, at each stage of the process. It ain’t easy to understand: The chart below may help to make some sense of it.

The tasting kit sent by Zacapa includes the rum at four stages — and years pass between each stage (23 years in all) — all at 7500 feet above sea level, in the mountains of Guatemala. I’ll outline them as we go, along with tasting notes.

Stage 1 – Here the rum (made not from molasses but rather first-press sugar cane juice) has gone through two initial stages, actually, spending time in ex-American whiskey barrels and then a second ex-whiskey barrel which has been re-charred. As you might expect, at this point the rum takes on a whiskey-like character, with a nose so filled with wood you would think, nosing it blind, it was actually Bourbon. The body reveals the sweetness of sugarcane, though, and while it’s tempered with wood, there’s a pleasant sugary character at the core.

Stage 2 – But the rum is clearly not ready for release, so, after blending with older rum stocks, it goes into ex-Oloroso sherry barrels for further aging. The rum takes on a much bigger citrus tone here. In fact, the sherry is almost overpowering with the citrus notes it imbues into the rum at this point. The nose is spot-on, but at this stage it’s just too sweet to go down easy.

Stage 3 – Again, old stock is added after this stage. Then, Pedro Ximenez (another sherry, intended for dessert and made in its own solera style) barrels are last on the list. Here, the rum has taken a turn for the dark, exhibiting deep chocolate character, plus raisins, dried figs, and some coffee notes. Spicy cinnamon and cloves play on the nose here, giving this stage of the rum a nearly-complete, and awfully complex, character.

Stage 4 – After a final addition of old stock, the rum is complete. This is actually the finished Zacapa 23 product, and here the sweetness has been dialed back up. The color, a gorgeous mahogany, secrets away all the flavors that have come before. Sherry is still big, with raisins, chocolate, figs, coffee, and cinnamon coming on after. Complex but delightful, there’s so much going on here that you’d think you’d be lost. But like a good dessert, it all comes together in perfect balance, a beautiful rum that shows what 23 years can do to sugar cane juice straight off the press.

zacaparum.com [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

 

Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes with Flor de Cana Rum and Frangelico

Now you can have your rum and eat it too! Recipes courtesy chef Eddy Van Damme, in honor of July being National Ice Cream Month.

Flor de cana ice cream sandwich 300x199 Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes with Flor de Cana Rum and FrangelicoFlor de Caña Rum Soaked Raisin Ice Cream Sandwich

½ cup Flor de Caña 7 Year Grand Reserve rum
¾ cup raisins
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup + 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon Flor de Caña 7 Year Grand Reserve rum

1. In a saucepan heat first-listed Flor de Caña until hot but not boiling. Pour onto raisins and ensure raisins are well covered. Seal with plastic food wrap and allow raisins to absorb Flor de Caña overnight at room temperature. Toss the mixture occasionally to ensure that raisins absorb all Rum.

2. Bring milk, cream and sugar to a full boil and remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and second listed Flor de Caña and cover with plastic food wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

3. If using an ice cream machine that uses a bowl which needs to be frozen place in freezer and set freezer on lowest setting.

4. Following day: Drain raisins and add any non absorbed Rum to ice cream mixture. Place raisins in freezer.

5. Churn ice cream mixture, when ice cream becomes thick and is nearly done add frozen raisins. Place ice cream in freezer.

6. Sandwich ice cream between your favorite two cookies.

*For best results soak raisins and prepare ice cream a day ahead of churning.

Frangelico ice cream sandwiches 1 300x199 Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes with Flor de Cana Rum and FrangelicoFrangelico Ice Cream Sandwich

1 ¾ cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup + 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
Pinch salt
½ cup + 2 tablespoon Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur

1. In saucepan whisk milk, cream, sugar and salt to a full boil and remove from heat. Place saucepan into bowl filled with ice to chill ice cream mixture.

2. Once cold add Frangelico and add a cup or more additional salt to ice bowl (salt in ice will make the ice cream mixture super cold and make churning more effective).

3. Churn ice cream according to ice cream machine manufacturer’s directions. Once churned, place ice cream in a very cold bowl and freeze.

4. Sandwich ice cream between your favorite two cookies.

Review: Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum

Spiced rum continues its move upmarket courtesy of that most massive of standbys: Captain Morgan.

The Captain saw a line expansion with a 100 proof version in 2008, and now comes the even bigger gun: Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum. This is actually an American rebranding of a product called Captain Morgan Black which the company has sold internationally since late 2011. The rum is a blend from Jamaica, Guyana, and Barbados (though the label notes only “the Caribbean”), spiced with cloves and cassia bark (we call it cinnamon!), and aged indeterminately in “double charred blackened oak” (whatever that means).

Ultra-dark and loaded with aromas — you can smell the vanilla when you crack open the bottle — it’s a clear competitor (and a worthy one) to the recent flood of high-end spiced rums, including Kraken and The Lash.

The emphasis here remains clearly on the sweet stuff. Vanilla and molasses, plus semi-sweet chocolate on the finish, it’s loaded with these dessert notes. Clove and cinnamon are present almost as afterthoughts, but you’ll catch them once your sweet tooth wears out. Finally, there’s a long, and surprisingly pleasant, finish, one which inspires one to consider girly-type cocktails but which begs to be consumed solo.

Captain Morgan has quite a winning spirit on its hands here, one which comes across at considerably lower proof than it is (and which can be awfully dangerous) and which elevates the Captain to the upper echelon of spiced rum makers. Well done.

94.6 proof.

A- / $22 / captainmorgan.com

Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum Bottle Shot Review: Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum

Review: Rums of Rhum J.M.

Along with Rhum Clement, Rhum J.M. (a sister distillery) is one of the biggest names in Martinique’s rhum agricole industry. Distilled from sugar cane juice instead of molasses, agricole has a distinctly different character than most rums you’re probably familiar with. Intense with fuel-like flavors when they’re young, agricoles often develop into remarkably complex, world-class spirits when they’ve been aged for a spell.

We finally got hold of four of J.M.’s rhums to review. Comments follow. (And be advised: While the prices below reflect 750ml bottles, you are more likely to find J.M. in one-liter bottles, with accordingly higher prices.)

Rhum J.M. Rhum Agricole Blanc  - J.M.’s white rum looks innocuous, and an idle sniff will reveal cachaca-like tones and petrol character. Take a sip, though, and you’ll find it’s bursting with tropical character: Bananas, pineapple, coconut, and a long vanilla finish. Hot as hell (in part because it’s bottled at 100 proof), but the complexity and balance in the fruit, dessert, and subtle spice flavors make it a real knockout among normally difficult white agricoles. A- / $30

Rhum J.M. Rhum Agricole Elevé Sous Bois – This is J.M.’s “gold rum,” (aka “Paille”), and the color is a perfect representation of that metal. The body is a lot like the blanc, with more vanilla brought to the forefront due to spending a full year in wood. The finish is a bit drying, though, which whisks away some of the natural fruit character you’ll find in the blanc. Most of the same components are still there, but here they take a bit of a back seat to the wood, which hasn’t come all the way to fruition yet. 100 proof. B+ / $36

Rhum J.M. Rhum Vieux Agricole VSOP – Spends four years in wood, and bottled at a slightly lower 90 proof. Now that agricole funk is seriously dialed back, as this VSOP takes on some of the more traditional notes you find with aged rums made from molasses. Big caramel and vanilla, lots of heavy wood especially in the finish, along with a curious black cherry/chocolate note. I like this a lot, seems bottled at just the right time. A- / $55

Rhum J.M. Rhum Vieux Agricole 1997 – Not to be confused with the above, this vintage rum spends a minimum of 10 years in oak before being bottled. That’s crazy in a world where a rum that’s been in oak for three years is considered ancient, and J.M. shows how incredibly wise and delicious that decision can be. Intense caramel, chocolate, and vanilla on this, with barely a hint of tropical fruit and banana on the finish. A real knockout of a rum, with a long and smooth finish, silky body, and a price to match. Gorgeous stuff. 96 proof. A / $130

rhum-jm.com

B005E7A20W

Review: Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine and Peach Brandy

Built atop the underground distilling and bootlegging operation of the gangster Dutch Schultz (and on family land now owned by co-founder Alex Adams), Dutch’s Spirits is a new New York-based distillery that’s attacking the spirits industry with some unexpected products — no gin or whiskey here, be warned!

We tasted Dutch’s two inaugural spirits. Thoughts on each follow.

Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine – This white spirit is a tribute to Schultz’s “own hooch,” a white spirit distilled from 100% Demerara sugar in copper pot stills. I wasn’t entirely sure how to classify this oddity, since it’s technically a rum (and a rhum agricole or cachaca at that) but isn’t branded as such. It is closest in style to a Puerto Rico-style white rum, with smoothed-over flavors of vanilla and a touch of chocolate to it. There’s none, however, of those gasoline flavors or raw alcohol notes you get with most cachaca and none of the burning heat of the typical corn-based moonshine. Moderate body with a lightly floral and herbal finish. The name may be a bit baffling, but the results are impressive if you’re a rum fan and are looking for something unique. A / $28

Dutch’s Spirits Peach Brandy – Americans are simply not drinking enough peach brandy. It’s a fact. I’m not sure that Dutch’s version of it is going to change that. While the nose offers lots of fresh fruit flavors — more apricot and apple than peach — the body is not nearly sweet enough to carry the day. Deeply bitter, the fruit notes are washed under the base alcohol’s astringency, though you can tell there are some deep and lush fruit flavors and brown sugar-sweetness just dying to get out. Much better as a cocktail flavoring agent (in small quantities) than on its own. C / $42

dutchsspirits.com

Review: Blackwell Jamaican Rum

Chris Blackwell made music (he founded Island Records in 1959 and exposed the world to reggae). Now he makes rum. Dark, dark rum, hailing from Jamaica.

Distilled at Appleton Estate, this is rum the color of cola, deep and dark. (Aging isn’t disclosed.) On the nose there’s that telltale scent of molasses, fresh and sugary, and perhaps some pineapple. On the palate, the rum kicks in with lots of smooth syrupy character, plus a big chewy coconut character. The finish is less sweet than you would expect, turning to charcoal embers and coconut husks, leaving you with a denouement that is a touch chalky, and leaving you with notes that are a bit bittersweet.

Quite engaging, and certainly worthwhile if you aren’t interested in a pure sugar bomb.

80 proof.

A- / $30 / blackwellrum.com

blackwell rum Review: Blackwell Jamaican Rum

Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2012

Kudos to Douglas Smith for putting together this event, easily the best installment of the Whiskies of the World show that I’ve experienced since I started this blog six years ago.

Loaded with whiskies you rarely see in the U.S. or even at whisky shows, WotW 2012 also had plenty of long-time favorites on hand to re-experience, as well. Interested in world whiskies from Australia, India, and other far-off places, like Utah? WotW had plenty of them to encounter here, along with plenty of food, a good-sized (but not overwhelming) crowd, and, mercifully, fewer bagpipes than ever (at least while I was in attendance). Lots of independent bottlers here too, some of whom (like Blackadder) I’ve never seen at a whisky show to date.

As for the whisky, there was plenty to enjoy, but of course there were some whiskys offering more enjoyment than others. Thoughts follow.

Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World San Francisco 2012

Scotland

Bruichladdich Black Art 2 21 Years Old / B+ / the most unique whisky of the night; dark, mushroomy, massive, with a Play-doh finish

Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten / A / great little caramel charmer; already winning awards left and right; full review to come next week

Blackadder Smoking Islay 11 Year Old Raw Cask / B+ / mild peat, oddly sweet finish

Chieftain’s Glenturret 21 Year Old Cask Strength / A / great body

Chieftain’s Mortlach 16 Year Old Sherry Cask Strength / A-

Balblair 1991 / B / rich and bittersweet, heavy peat, fudge finish

Balblair 1997 / B+ / better balance, sweeter

Douglas of Drumlanrig Breaval 11 Year Old / B / tastes young

Douglas of Drumlanrig Macallan 21 Year Old / B

Douglas of Drumlanrig Arran 13 Year Old / B-

GlenDronach 15 Year Old / A-

Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old / A- / better balance than the 37 Year Old

Glenglassaugh 37 Year Old / B+ / really malty, tannic edge; too long in wood

Glenglassaugh Revival / B- / heavy wood on this four year old whisky

Glenmorangie Artein / A- / this distillery’s latest, finished in Supertuscan wine casks; wine character is there, but lightly so

Isle of Arran Amarone Finish / A- / intense and powerful

Isle of Arran Sauternes Finish / B+ / edgy, light sweet on the finish

Kilchoman Sherry Cask Exclusive / A- / really rounded out thanks to that sherry finish

Kilchoman Vintage 2006 / B+ / punchy

Laphroaig Quarter Cask / B+ / always a standby

Muirhead’s Silver Seal Speyside 12 Years Old / B / malty

Muirhead’s Silver Seal Speyside 16 Years Old / B+

Muirhead’s Silver Seal Speyside 1987 25 Years Old / A- / nougat, mellow sweetness, good rounded whisky

Octomore 4.1 / A- / still winning, a smoke monster that doesn’t kill you

Old Pulteney 17 Year Old / A- / edgy and deep; miles away from OP 12 Year Old (which I think is out of balance)

Old Pulteney 21 Year Old / A- / very similar, but better balance

Old Pulteney 30 Year Old / A / lovely, a rich cookie dough character

Samaroli Caol Ila 1980 / A- / mellowed peat

Samaroli Evolution 2011 / A / one of my favorite whiskys ever; still solid and delicious (though not quite the A+ I’ve previously rated it)

Samaroli Glenburgie 1989 / A-

Samaroli Glenlivet 1977 / A

Samaroli Highland Park 1989 / B+ / doesn’t feel its age

Samaroli Linkwood 1983 / B+ / very fruity

Samaroli Tomintoul 1967 / A / another winner, with massive depth, a knockout

Speyburn Bradan Orach Edition / B / a younger (no age statement) version of Speyburn 10, tastes that way; limited character

Tomatin 30 Year Old / B+ / really clunky, malt and citrus not quite in balance

Tomintoul 31 Year Old Reserve Limited Edition / A / bit of spice, nutmeg and ginger, beautiful

Other Whiskies

High West Whiskey Son of Bourye / A- / lovely body

Pendleton 1910 Canadian Rye Whisky / A- / 10 year old rye (100%); big cherry notes

Amrut Sherry Intermediate Cask Strength Limited Edition / A- / great slug of sherry on the finish of this Indian dram

Amrut Kadhambam Single Malt / A- / aged in five different types of casks; lots of body, big finish

Sullivan’s Cove Single Malt 46% / B+ / an 11 year old Australian malt, super sweet

Other Spirits

Amrut Old Port Rum / B/ very sweet, lots of apple notes

Craft Distillers Maison Surrenne Cognac Distillerie Galtaud Unblended Borderies / A- / light fruit, long sweet finish

Craft Distillers Germain-Robin Small Blend no. 1 Brandy / A / great balance, a blend of brandies from a range of west coast wines dating back to 1983

Review: Rhum Clement Premiere Canne and Sirop de Canne

Today we take a fresh look at Rhum Clement, a Martinique-based producer of rhum agricole, which is rum made not from molasses (the norm) but of free-run sugar cane juice.  This year Clement celebrates its 125th anniversary, and it’s redesigning its packaging and adding a new product, Sirop de Canne (a bottled sugar syrup). We consider them both below.

Rhum Clement Premiere Canne - I last encountered this rum in 2008, and I find my feelings about it haven’t much changed. It’s very much like a better cachaca, fueled by gasoline character but tempered with loads of lemon, orange peel, and cut grass character. The sweetness is surprisingly mild for rum, a side effect of using sugar cane to distill the rum instead of molasses. Most rum drinkers will get knocked off the swing with this one, but enthusiasts will find real charm here. 80 proof. B+ / $35

Rhum Clement Sirop de Canne – A nonalcoholic sugar syrup the color of honey, and about the consistency of it, too. A lovely syrup, with the distinct flavor of gingerbread. Nutmeg and cloves on the back — and strong on the nose, too. Ingredients include “pure sugarcane, water, and natural aromas,” however that last bit works. Certainly not for straight consumption, but the holiday character here could really spice up a cocktail or punch. I’m into it. A- / $12

rhumclement.net

Review: Flipflop Rum – Silver and Spiced

Best known for its ultra-affordable, thong-friendly wine series, Flipflop (or all-lowercased flipflop, as they write it) is now branching into rum, with two equally affordable sugar-based spirits.

There’s not a lot of information on provenance available: They hail from “the Caribbean” and are four-times distilled, but that’s all the info provided. We tasted both of varieties, which are now shipping.

Flipflop Silver Rum is surprisingly clean and easy, with a traditional sugar-based nose and a finish with plenty of molasses in it and a lightly chalky, coconut and chocolate character. Very modest medicinal character on the finish, like a clean vodka. Amazing quality for the price. 80 proof. A-

Flipflop Spiced Rum is spiked with “spices and natural flavors,” which tinge the nose with a bit of orange character. A bigger body brings with it some typical spiced rum character — more clove than cinnamon, but both are evident — and a broader, vanilla-fueled finish. There’s unfortunately a quite bitter aftertaste, though, which spiced rum fanatics will not likely thrill to. 70 proof. B-

each $14 / flipfloprum.com

flipflop rums Review: Flipflop Rum   Silver and Spiced

Review: Malibu Red

On paper, Malibu Red is a terrible, terrible idea: Take standard Malibu (coconut-flavored rum), and add white tequila to it.

The brainchild of R&B artist Ne-Yo, I am here to tell you that, yes, Malibu Red is as bad as you think it will be.

Fundamentally these are two great tastes… that just don’t go together: Super-sweet coconut rum on the nose, muddled with sharp agave-heavy tequila. Like putting orange juice on your cereal, these flavors collide in an often angry, unsatisfying fashion, and it’s difficult to get a real handle on either one. The finish is cloying and muddy, leaving you desperate for one side to take hold. Neither does, and your mouth ends up coated in a syrupy, tangy, almost medicinal film.

70 proof.

D+ / $25 / malibu-rum.com

malibu red Review: Malibu Red

Review: Brugal Siglo de Oro Rum

It isn’t every day that we’re treated to products that aren’t even sold in the U.S., but our good friends at Brugal sent this, Brugal‘s Siglo de Oro (“Golden Century”), for our consideration. It’s Brugal’s most prized rum, so rare it  is produced only once a year and doesn’t even appear on Brugal’s website.

Fortunately, the company translated the all-Spanish information on the label and packaging to give me some details about this uncommon breed, recently repackaged from opaque blue bottles into clear decanters.

Originated in 1988, this rum is double distilled, then aged for up to 8 years in medium-toasted American oak barrels, then placed into new oak barrels for another 8 years, making this pretty ancient for a modern rum.

You can tell before pouring it: For a 16-year-old Dominican rum this is surprisingly light and clear, color-wise. Compared to other old rums, like the mahogany Zacapa 23, it’s practically the color of iced tea.

On the nose: Light as a feather, shocking, really. Some green herbs, wood, and traditionally sweet rum notes. Take a sip and you see how subtle this rum is. There’s none of the intense chocolate and cinnamon notes of, say, Zacapa, which I poured side by side for instructional purposes. Rather, it’s pure molten caramel, coffee, brewed tea, and a lightly bitter edge, like a green coffee bean. This is pure Brugal house style, just with more of an agricole-style funk. There’s petrol on the finish, surprising for something this old, but I have to chalk it up to all that time in wood.

Very drinkable, but I actually find the Extra Viejo’s richness and chocolate notes a bit more satisfying.

80 proof.

A- / about $120 (700ml bottle) / brugal-ron.com

brugal Siglo de Oro Review: Brugal Siglo de Oro Rum

Bacardi Celebrates 150th Anniversary

Go Bacardi, it’s your birthday.

Bacardi was founded in Santiago de Cuba on February 4, 1862, when Don Facundo Bacardí Massó purchased a small distillery. After years of experimenting, Bacardi revolutionized the spirits industry by adding steps never before used in rum-making.

Get the details at bacardilimited.com/150 — and if you pick up a bottle of the $2,000 limited edition celebratory bottling, let me know.

Review: Captain Morgan Tattoo Rum

For a good time, do a Google Image Search for “Captain Morgan Tattoo.” You’ll find plenty of pictures not of this spiced rum but of unique and ill-considered body art on all kinds of anatomical bits.

I’ve actually had a mini of Tattoo for years. It’s that mysterious. What’s it all about? Tattoo is a spiced, “extra dark” rum with additional flavoring agents added. It is said to have been developed as a Jagermeister competitor, and pouring a shot reveals how that works.

It’s dark to the point of near opacity, with a heady nose of citrus fruit, raspberries, and a touch of classic vanilla rum character. Promising, perhaps, but a sip offers a cacophony of flavors, from the rough rum body to the heavy allspice and clove finish. The middle is pure molasses, those citrus notes being largely drowned out by all the other stuff going on here. What’s missing? Any sort of balance. Tattoo is a mess of a spirit, almost liqueur like and just too overblown  with additives to be a serious rum.

But as an ice-cold shooter to prime college kids for a night out? Well, maybe I can see where the Captain is coming from.

70 proof.

B- / $18 / captainmorgan.com

captain morgan tattoo rum Review: Captain Morgan Tattoo Rum

Review: Denizen Rum

This new, white rum hails from Trinidad and Tobago (and Jamaica, if you believe the website), which is sent to Holland for blending and bottling. The final concoction includes some surprisingly old rums (up to five years old), all filtered back to a colorless white.

It’s quite a smooth operator, with most harsh characteristics well filtered out. At its core: Solid, with traditional caramel, vanilla, and light chocolate body. Coconut is a particularly strong as a secondary characteristic, but not in a heavy, Malibu-sorta way. The wood that Denizen spends so much time in makes an appearance here, too — namely in the finish, almost as an afterthought. When freshly poured, though, there’s a bit of fuel-like funk in the finish as well, a vaporous character that dissipates with time in the glass. That’s a minor complaint in an otherwise solid rum. Don’t let the cheap-looking bottle (and the cheap price, while we’re at it) fool you.

80 proof.

A- / $16 / denizenrum.com

Denizen Rum Review: Denizen Rum

Review: Whistling Andy Hibiscus-Coconut Rum

Coconut rum? Sure. Hibiscus-coconut rum? That’s a new one.

The evocatively named Whistling Andy is naturally flavored with both of the above and is imbued with a deep orange color. First things first: The rum (distilled in Bigfork, Montana from cane sugar) is extremely sweet, with a nose redolent of cookies, caramel, nougat, and — especially — honey. What you don’t particularly get is, surprisingly, coconut. That’s largely relegated to nuance somewhere in that cookie character.

Is it the interplay with the hibiscus that mutes the coconut? While it’s not particularly floral, there’s more flower character here than coconut, that’s for sure. But it’s the intense sugariness that just about stopped me in my tracks on this one. Yes, rum is sweet, but this is so wild in its intensity that I often had trouble swallowing baby sips. The flavor’s a knockout, but I’m about 10 years too old to be able to handle this kind of brix.

B / $26 / whistlingandy.com

whistling andy hibiscus coconut rum Review: Whistling Andy Hibiscus Coconut Rum

Review: Plantation Original Dark Overproof Rum

We last encountered Plantation in 2009, when its year 2000, single-island, vintage rums arrived on the scene. Now Plantation is showing off some new tricks, including this monster 73% alcohol overproof dark rum.

Most overproof rums tend to be unaged or only lightly aged, but Plantation Overproof is legitimately a “dark” rum, at least based on the color (time in barrel is not revealed). Hailing from Trinidad & Tobago, the 146-proof rum looks innocuous in the glass. Take a sip and the alcohol level quickly reveals itself. Amateurs will find themselves gasping for air, which is of course the entire point.

But beneath the burn you’ll find an awful lot of character. (Add water to bring it out a bit more clearly.) A mountain of caramel shows off classic darker rum textures,with cinnamon, cloves, raisins, and nutmeg in the finish. Lots of character, and with plenty of water it’s actually really easy to sip. In smaller quantities it’s a great choice for adding a unique spin to any number of cocktails.

A- / $30 (one liter) / plantationrum.com

plantation overproof rum Review: Plantation Original Dark Overproof Rum

Recipe: Drinkhacker Zombie Punch

The people have spoken!

This year, my holiday punch is based on rum, the results of a vote of attending guests that found the Caribbean favorite chosen 2 to 1 over everything else. My last punch didn’t work out so well, so I’ve spent the afternoon experimenting and tweaking this recipe to get it just right. And so here we go, with a punch inspired by the famous Zombie cocktail.

Drinkhacker Zombie Punch

2 cups orange juice
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups triple sec (I actually used Royal Combier)
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 oz. grenadine
4 cups dark rum (I used a variety of rums from all over Latin America)
2 cups white rum (I used Brugal)
1 cup overproof rum (I used 155-proof Da’Bomb)
1 cup Velvet Falernum

Add all ingredients to a punch bowl, stir, and add a block of ice. Garnish with cinnamon sticks (optional, they sink anyway). Serves about 30.

Serve with a bottle of high-quality absinthe on the side: Invite guests to spike their punch with it to taste. A splash — which the real Zombie has in it — takes the punch in a fun and exciting direction.

Update: This was a fantastic success, and most drinkers were sold on the absinthe float after a little encouragement. Within a couple of hours the bowl was utterly drained, to many compliments. Give it a whirl!

zombie punch Recipe: Drinkhacker Zombie Punch

Review: Malibu Winter

Malibu Rum, always one to experiment wildly with additional flavors and added tweaks, updates the classic coconut rum with this limited-release version: Malibu Winter.

The twist: Little flakes of real coconut are suspended in the liquid, giving the spirit the distinct look of snowfall and, for the first time ever, successfully associating the words “Malibu” and “holidays.”

There’s no change to the formula or proof level (42 proof), although this version seems slightly thicker (and a bit less clean) in the mouth. If that’s the case, it’s why the coconut flakes stay suspended absolutely perfectly in the rum. Unlike, say, Goldschlager, they don’t settle to the bottom. No shaking of the bottle required: Each pour has a healthy dose of white flakes suspended within. You can taste and feel them in your mouth, but just barely.

Otherwise, everything here is as expected for Malibu, though the bottle has a clear cut-out in the white frosting so you can long for the festivities inside.

A- / $14 / malibu-rum.com

malibu winter Review: Malibu Winter

Holiday Rum Drink Recipes

The weather outside is frightful, so cozy up with one of these rum-centric drinks from our pals at DonQ Rum.

Snowy Day Punch

Esteban Ordoñez, DonQ’s Corporate Mixologist and Brand Ambassador
1 liter DonQ Coco Rum
16 oz. DonQ Cristal Rum
16 oz. Coconut water
16 oz. Coconut milk
4 oz. Simple syrup
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 tbsp. dry unsweetened coconut flakes

Add rums, coconut water, coconut milk, simple syrup and nutmeg to a large pitcher or punch bowl. Whisk until completely mixed. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Dip the rim of the rocks glass in simple syrup, and then dip in coconut flakes. Serve punch in rocks glass over ice. Yields approximately 2 ½ liters.

Spiced Vanilla Daiquiri

2 oz BlackBeard Spiced Rum
¾ oz lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
3 drops pure vanilla extract
lime zest for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice, shake until well chilled, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, zest lime over the glass to scent and garnish.

Cohasset Punch #2

Mathias Simonis, Mixologist at Distil Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
1 ½ oz. DonQ Añejo Rum
1 ½ oz. Sweet vermouth
¾ oz. Cinnamon syrup (simple syrup with cinnamon added)
2 Dashes orange bitters
1 Lemon peel twist

Shake rum, vermouth, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, orange bitters and ice. Double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel twist.

El Yunque Cocktail

Julio Cabrera, Mixologist at Viceroy Hotel, Miami, FL
3 oz. DonQ Añejo Rum
½ oz. Grand Marnier liqueur
10-12 Fresh raspberries
1 oz. Fresh limejuice
1 oz. Simple syrup
1 Orange peel twist

Muddle raspberries gently until puréed. Add rum, liqueur, limejuice, simple syrup and ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with orange peel twist. Yields 2 drinks.

Coquito (Puerto Rican Eggnog)

16 oz. DonQ Cristal Rum
2 Cans coconut cream (30 oz.)
1 Can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
1 Can evaporated milk (12 oz.)
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
¼ tbsp. Ground cinnamon
1/8 tbsp. Ground nutmeg

Mix all ingredients in a blender at high speed. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Shake well before serving. Serve cold in a small glass. Garnish with cinnamon sticks.

Holiday Recipe: Cockspur Silver Belle

Cockspur Silver Belle 199x300 Holiday Recipe: Cockspur Silver BelleThis recipe comes to us from our friends at Cockspur, who promise it will provide a “Caribbean Christmas.” My fingers are already chilly. Sounds good to me.

Silver Belle

1.5 oz Cockspur Aged Rum
.25 oz maraschino liqueur
.75 oz earl grey tea
.75 oz hibiscus grenadine
.75 oz pineapple juice

Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. Optional: sugar coat rim.