Yep, I figured there would be a part 2. I did not figure that I would continue with the Stirrings’ ginger ale. But there’s still a little bit of exploring to do. As I mentioned yesterday in Rum & Ginger Part 1, the Stirrings’ is pretty potent in ginger, and somewhat sweet. Tonight the plan is to try some rums that balance these points. Alas, I have one small bottle of Stirrings’ left, and it’s only enough for 3 “lowballs” so I hope that I planned my choice of rums well. We’ll see.
The rums planned for tonight are:
Mount Gay Eclipse – Chosen for its spiciness with a hope that this balances the ginger and keeps up with the sweetness.
Clément VSOP – Chosen for its dryness and bold taste. I actually don’t expect this to deal with the ginger as well as the Mount Gay should, but I’m hoping that the dryness does balance the sweetness of the Stirrings’.
Rhum J.M. VSOP – I haven’t tried this rum yet, but I’ve been looking for a reason to crack the bottle anyway. I’m expecting this to be a little bit dry like an aged agricole should be, but I’m also expecting a lot of flavors from this rhum. Given how the El Dorado 12 worked last night, I’m hoping that the J.M. will have enough complexity to work in a similar way. I am, of course, guessing at some of the aspects of the J.M. VSOP.
Another change planned for tonight is to reduce the lime. I think that some lime will be appropriate in this simple drink, but I think that I used too much last night. So I plan to reduce substantially, from 1/4 of a lime to a slice squeezed on top.
Rhum J.M VSOP
I cracked the bottle, so I had to try it, right? This rum smells a tiny bit of sweet, with some fruitiness, and some dark honey smells and a bit of barrel. I want to say that I smell some molasses, but since this is an agricole I just have to say that it has a great rum smell. The taste is certainly dry, even with all the sweet smells, with a good amount of barrel tastes mid-stream, and a fairly long, spicy finish with a mild burn. This has all the indications that this will be much better in 5 or 10 minutes, but I have no patience so I’m going to move on to the Rum & Gingers…
By the way, I’m a little worried that the barrel taste will conflict with the Stirrings’ in the same way the Cruzan did last night, but my initial expectations of this rhum as close to the experience. I’m not going to change my mind on this rum.
Mount Gay Eclipe & Stirrings’
Well, the Eclipse isn’t strong enough to overcome the Stirrings’, but it does balance it decently. This is a somewhat plain, but very refreshing, summertime drink that would disappear quickly on a hot day. It’s quite enjoyable, but not quite the taste I was looking for in this run of comparisons. It’s a bit too light, and the rum really doesn’t come through. I may, however, have found a new favorite for those nights where I feel like going beyond the rum and diving straight into the alcohol. Hey, it happens.
Clément VSOP and Stirrings’
The dryiness of the agricole balances the sweetness of the ginger ale, but those typical agricole tastes and smells come right through. Well this isn’t bad, it’s not a match, and the ginger ale does not suit the agricole tones of this rhum. A failure of my own making. But this failure taught me something, so it was not a failed experiment in that sense. And it taught me that a dry rum was a good idea, but something in the line of Flor De Cana rums might be a better choice. Dry, with a taste powerful enough to come through, but one without the distinct tastes of the agricole which clash.
Rhum J.M VSOP and Stirrings’
As I feared, the barrel does not match the ginger ale, and this, too, is a flop. I am, however, amazed at how much the ginger ale brings out those agricole flavors – which were not very apparent in the straight sipping of the J.M. The agricole doesn’t clash as much as the Clément, but that’s not surprisingly since the older J.M. is a bit subdued in these flavors. Instead, the ginger clashes with the barrel and the agricole tastes. This remains a better drink than the Clément, but it’s still not good enough to drink.
OK, I went to the opposite extreme with the lime tonight, mostly because of the fear of having my mouth pucker up like it did last night. The lime should be there, should be noticeable, but it should lie in the background complementing the rum and not be forceful enough to clash with the ginger ale. It does help the drink, but should be used in moderation here.
Coming back to this paragraph after a while, I have noticed that my mouth has that “puckered” feeling again. It was not the lime that did this last night, but must be the ginger – or the Stirrings’ type of ginger. I should find out more about this tomorrow night, or whenever I get to Part 3.
Update: I found a possible reason for this. According to Stirrings’ web site, “Our Ginger Ale is made with triple purified water, real ginger, Mexican lime and cane sugar.”
Eclipse, with it’s fairly strong rum tastes and somewhat excessive spiceness, was still not enough to stand up to the Stirrings’. I’m somewhat surprised that I have now tried 7 rums with this ginger ale and can’t find a match. Well, that’s a bit harsh, and I should say that I did not find a *perfect* match. The El Dorado made for a very interesting drink, and the Eclipse definitely makes for a nice summertime cooler. I guess that I was just hoping for more, like I always do.
The agricoles I chose were not very good matches. Now that the Eclipse Rum & Ginger is gone I’ve been sipping on the J.M. version. Even with all the ice melt it still doesn’t work too well, but it’s drinkable. The Clément just clashed. Chalk this lesson up to my needing more experience with agricoles.
The most obvious point of the night was that I am out of Stirrings’ Ginger Ale and must move on to another brand. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing because – as good as the Stirrings’ is, it’s a bit odd with its sweetness and unique ginger tastes. I did find yet another giner ale made with sugar cane, Boylan’s, which I got at Trader Joe’s. I drank a bottle today and have high hopes for it, since it seems to have more ginger taste than the Whole Foods 365 and certainly more than the Schweppes and Canda Dry. I say “seems” because I did not compare it directly to the others. Tomorrow night I plan to try the Boylan’s and 365 using some of the more standard gold rums. The Eclipse might be good with either of these, as might the Appleton V/X again. I’ll have to think a bit on this and make some decisions.