Back again for more about Rum and Ginger Ale, but first I have to review another ginger ale. This one is Boylan’s, which I found in a local Trader Joe’s.
Boylan’s Ginger Ale
Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, citrus oils, natural ginger flavors, citric acid, caramel color, sodium benzoate
I bought a 4-pack at Trader Joe’s and seem to remember it being about $4, though it could have been $4.50. This is in line with most others in this area, like the Outrageous. This company from New Jersey makes a number of sodas made with cane sugar, and also produces a small line called “The Natural Kind” without artificial flavors, artificial colors, or preservatives. Alas, no ginger ale in this line. http://www.boylanbottling.com/
Small bubbles, but crisp. A bit sweet but not bad. Decent ginger taste, but still milder than I’d like. It has a much milder taste than the Whole Foods’ 365, but the Boylan’s does taste a bit more natural. The bubbles in the Boylan’s are much better though, which isn’t too difficult against the 365. The Boylan’s has noticeably more taste than the Schweppes, and actually has better bubbles, too. This is quite good, actually, and might be preferred by many since it tastes more like a typical ginger ale than the other cane sugar ales.
Back to the Rum & Ginger
I had planned on using the 365 for tonight’s comparison, but the Boylan’s beats it so I’ll try that instead. I opened a Schweppes and a 365 for the above comparison, so they might get thrown in if the mood strikes me.
Due to comments from Hank and Adam, I’ll be trying the Appleton V/X and the Appleton Extra tonight. Hank has mentioned that he enjoys the V?X with ginger ale, while Adam says that the “Appleton VX is very hard to play with.” And he suggest the Appleton Extra while I’m a bit worried about the barrel/smoke in this rum. We’ll see. I’m also going to through in a couple high-end rums that aren’t overly bold like the El Dorado I tried a few nights ago. A comment from Angelsword made me think about the Vizcaya VXOP, and once I grabbed that I revealed a bottle of Flor De Caña 18-year-old. What the heck.
Same lowball recipe as before – 1oz rum, 2oz ginger ale, a bit of lime. I’m going somewhere in between with the lime tonight – a gentle squeeze of a wedge. Since I found that the Stirrings’ already contained lime flavorings I’ll probably need a little bit more tonight.
Appleton V/X And Boylan’s
The rum and ginger ale have fused into a whole new taste, but not quite a pleasant one. The first part of the sip is simply odd, a bit of rum comes up and is followed by some ginger. Alas, neither really make themselves known, but rather pass quickly by. This is a bit dry. A bit more lime might help… and it does get better. It’s not odd any more, but it’s not great.
Appleton Extra and Boylan’s
I hit this with a bit more lime to start, hoping that it has an effect like it did on the V/X. This is decent, it seems. The rum comes through quite a bit, and the lime just a touch, but I’m wishing there was more ginger in here. Overall, it’s a little bit too rummy so another splash of ginger ale goes in, and it’s better. But still, the ginger itself is lost. It’s decent, but not a great balance of flavors.
Vizcaya VXOP and Boylan’s
I have no idea what made me pick this rum tonight, but I did want to try some high-end rums in this comparison, and this is such a damned nice rum. In a Rum & Ginger, this works fairly well, but it’s a little different than I had expected. It reminds me of my mistrials with the agricoles last night, which might be because of the Vizcaya’s sugar syrup origins. This drink doesn’t have those agricole tastes, but it does have some unexpected floral notes. Another sip, and it’s growing on me. Though it’s not quite perfect, it does let some of the rum tastes out without them obliterating the ginger like the Appleton Extra did.
I came back to this a few more times while tasting the mixtures below. In the end, this combination doesn’t work. Near the end of the glass, after some ice melt, this tastes more and more odd.
Flor De Caña 18-year-old and Boylan’s
There’s a nagging little voice that is telling me that mixing an 18-year-old rum with anything is a sin. But I’ve been known to sin, and have thus discovered some of the better things in life. This drink is pretty darned good, and a nice balance of all flavors involved. The rum comes through a bit, as does the ginger, and everyone plays together nicely. But it’s a bit too plain, though luckily not boring. The Vizcaya mix is certainly more interesting, but maybe a little too different, while the Flor De Caña is good in a somewhat plain way. Good, not great. Entertaining, but not enthralling. Attractive, but not quite beautiful. This is a safe mix.
Appleton Extra and 365
Since I’m not quite done yet, I thought I’d try one more. I sipped through the ginger ales again, and felt that the 365 deserved a quick test. In ways, the flavors in the 365 remind me of the Appleton Extra, so I thought that I’d give that a try. I came close to trying the 365 and Vizcaya, but as I kept sipping the 365 the Appleton kept coming into my head.
A quick sip shows that the Appleton is too powerful for this ginger ale, so I added some more bring it up to a 2½-to-1 ratio. This is more drinkable, but again not very exciting. Well, a couple more sips prove that it is quite drinkable, and has a nice balance. I’m just not excited about it.
Boylan’s is a good ginger ale in a style close to the more typical mass-market brands like Canada Dry. It is, however, made of quality ingredients and is certainly better than these HFCS concoctions.
None of the Rum & Gingers did much for me tonight. None were bad, but none were great. The Vizcaya is the only that I would not recommend, since it just came off too odd. The Flor De Caña was probably the best of the night, but not worth such a fine rum. And it’s not a contender when compared against mixing Stirrings’ with either Mount Gay Eclipse or El Dorado 12.
I am enjoying finding all these differences, and particularly pleased finding out how the ginger ale brings out flavors that are otherwise subtle, or even non-existent. Those odds taste with the Vizcaya simply do not exist without ginger ale – much like the agricole flavors that came out last night with the J.M. VSOP. The simple act of mixing ginger ale and rum is not as simple as it might seem.