Rum Season 2007 Started

“Rum Season” really started for me last night. My wife and I finally opened up the trailer at camp for the summer, and that meant that I got together with a friend, Phil, who’s been exploring rum with me the last few years. (He actually lets me do the exploring, but he does provide Ron Zacapa 15 & 23 regularly, so I can’t complain.)

Phil is noted for some rather large “campfires” that tend to border on the insane. He built a 5-foot-square “camp fire pit” surrounded on 3 sides by 2-foot tall rock walls, and it’s often half-full of burning wood, and occasionally completely full. Phil starts the fire, and when the logs are burning well he’ll throw on another 8 or 12 and then “get it going” with his leaf blower. That’s one hell of a way to get a fire roaring.

Phil’s fires make a nice backdrop for sampling rums, and we’ve been enjoying the combination of Fire & Rum for years now, sitting back, shooting the shit, and sipping some fine rums.

All Sorts Of Rums
I prepared for the long Memorial Day Weekend by bringing down 6 bottles of various stuff. I had also planned on experimenting with some “rum infusion enhancements” (more on this in the future) so I had a nice variety, and I wanted Phil’s opinions on some others. To my surprise I found 4 bottles that I had left last year – 2 uncracked. But I can now add them to my collection: Appleton Estates V/X, Pyrat Blanco, one of the Plantation rums (damned if I remember which one now), and a near-empty bottle of Pyrat XO.

After opening the camper and cleaning, I headed down to Phil’s campsite with 3 rums. I wanted variety, so I brought Flor de Caña 21, Foursquare Spiced, and Prichard’s Fine Rum. He also had a bottle of Pyrat XO on his picnic table, which appeared to have a different label than I remembered. I should have grabbed my bottle and checked, as I have heard that the Pyrat XO has changed recently. According to this post on Bilgemunky’s site, there is a difference – I’ll have to check it out next weekend.

Foursquare Spiced
After the normal hellos and quick “how have you been” chit chat, we got down to business. Rum. Phil’s an old Captain Morgan drinker (which is why I “took him under my wing” years ago) so I first poured the Foursquare Spiced. As a good rummy, Phil smelled the rum first. Alas, he practically stuck his nose into the bottle and inhaled, which probably burned out his sense of smell in the first second. I really need to get some proper drinking glasses at camp.

The Foursquare went over very well, and that was his favorite of the night. He loved the smell, and how it tasted “real” compared to the artificial taste of Captain Morgan. I think he poured himself 3 or 4 shots of the Foursquare by the end of the night. I certainly enjoyed it, too, though I’ve never been a fan of Captain Morgan from my first sip. But I love a complex rum, and this definitely has a number of flavors to be enjoyed. It’s a very nice rum – so different from Captain Morgan, and *so* much better.

Prichard’s Fine Rum
For the second round I we tried the Prichard’s Fine Rum. I think this is quite good (though too expensive), but Phil felt that there was “something odd” going on with that rum. There is a distinct taste that I can’t place, but I enjoyed it. He did not seem so enamored, though he did mention that it was smooth. I can’t wait to get him to try the Prichard’s Crystal.

Flor de Caña 21
Next came I broke out the Flor de Caña 21, poured 2 and then put it away. (Phil and I have killed bottles of Ron Zacapa 23 in a single night, several times, so it had to get put away immediately.) We both liked it quite a lot, though he kept mentioning that a single bottle of the Flor De Cana 21 would buy two bottles of Ron Zacapa 23…. Yes, it certainly will, but I’m not complaining about buying it – you can’t let yourself get stuck in a rut all the time, right? I sipped the Flor de Caña 21 slowly, enjoying it, letting it melt in my mouth and all the way down. I was again surprised by it’s small burn – even the Foursquare didn’t have any burn (though that had an icey cube). OK, it’s a very small sensation of a burn, but I always expect more smoothness for $75. Still, it was darn tasty…

Pyrat XO
For my fourth shot I grabbed Phil’s bottle of Pyrat XO. The Hoti medallion was missing, so I again mentioned my concerns that it was different. But it appears that Stelly had given the rum to Phil – making a “yucky” face and saying she didn’t like it – but kept the medallion. Friends are very good sometimes. Stelly can keep the medallion.

The first smell and sip were all about bitter orange, a taste I quickly recognized from doing my Orange Liqueur Throwdown comparison. This did NOT taste like the Pyrat XO I remembered! (But do you really remember a particular taste from a year ago? I couldn’t be sure if it actually was different.)

Wow, was that orange strong! It barely tasted like rum, though of course the “typical” rum tastes were present. But I distinctly remember talking about this rum – long before I kept tasting notes – and remarking about the complexity of this rum. I have to admit that Pyrat was the third excellent rum that I had ever tried, and that was about 3 years ago when I made those remarks about it’s complexity.

But I haven’t had it in about a year… My memory could be off… I don’t trust “taste memory” anyway…

I really have to compare this to my bottle, which was opened about 1.5 years ago. If Pyrat changed the formula then I’ll have a good comparison taste-test on my hands. (Though I definitely believe Bilgemunky, I have to try myself.)

Rum Talk
Phil and I chatted about a bunch of things, catching up on each other’s winters, and kept pouring and sipping. While chatting Phil kept hitting the Foursquare, and I kept hitting the Pyrat XO. (Hey, I love orange.) I snuck in another Flor de Caña 21, and he even tried the Prichard’s again.

Of course we talked about rum quite a bit, and he kept going back to the Ron Zacapa Centenario 23-year-old. OK, I admit that the Ron Z 23 is my favorite rum, easily, no challenge. But the same thing over and over gets stale. I kept steering the conversation away from Ron Z by trying to give him some insight into the varieties and variations in rum. I tried explaining a bit about agricole and cachaca, and even told him about the solera process used to blend the Ron Z. But I’ll have to start earlier next time – Phil was beyond caring about much after 7 or 8 shots. And he probably had a head-start on me, too, knowing him. And I had a decent glow.

All in all it was a good night of sampling some rums.

Links to Rums Sampled
Flor de Caña: http://www.flordecana.com/
Foursquare Spiced: http://www.foursquarerum.com/
Prichard’s Distillery: http://www.prichardsdistillery.com/
Pyrat: http://www.patronspirits.com/

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Prichard’s Fine Rum

I just finished tasting and reviewing Prichard’s Crystal Rum and my surprise quickly made me want to try the Fine Rum. Would the very high quality be present in the Fine Rum? Would have tastes more reminiscent of rum? Would the small-barrel aging bring out the flavors? I had to know, and I had to know now.

Prichard’s Distillery
Prichard’s Fine Rum is distilled in classic copper pot stills, and is aged in new 15-gallon charred white oak barrels. The smaller size of the barrel gives more rum-to-oak contact and is supposed to pass on the qualities quicker. It’s made from “the best premium, table grade molasses” – is that any different from the Crystal’s “finest, Louisiana, grade A fancy molasses” in any way? In any case both molasses sound good so maybe it’s just marketing. I guess it doesn’t matter if the final product is good.

This rum won a gold medal at the 2006 International Sugar Cane Spirits Festival and Tasting Competition, and another gold medal at the 2007 Cane Spirits Competition. It gets some very good reviews, and I’ve been looking to try it after having tried the high quality of the Crystal rum. I am just hoping this has more flavor.

The Bottle
From the bottle:
Using age old pot still techniques and premium molasses, this fine Tennessee Rum is a unique recreation of the original American spirit. The smooth, flavorful taste of Prichard’s Fine Rum is excellent for just sipping.

The word “flavorful” has my hopes up. But I thought applejack was the original American spirit? I could be wrong.

Initial Tastes
The rum is a light golden one, and hey, it smells like rum! Yay! Yes, is has a nice, hearty rum smell, with some molasses and heavy fruit smells. A touch of vanilla, too. Very pleasant.

The first sip is instantly sweet, and extremely tasty. Quite smooth, with a quick slight burn at the end, and a finish that lingers. A second larger sip smacks the mouth with tastes that are strong and pleasing. Definitely on the sweet side, but with enough balance to keep that from being a bad thing. The sweetness hits first and is replaced by some fruity tastes and some stronger, slightly bitter tastes. My mouth tingles a bit after swallowing, the tastes linger, and the burn is far from objectionable.

Well I let the last sip sit for some time while I perused the Web and caught up on some forums. The final sip… Hmmm, smells a bit sweeter, more fruit and less molasses. Very nice. I can’t say that any more tastes came out, but it sure was tasty.

Summary
In the end, I think this is a very fine rum. A little sweet but balanced, nicely fruity and more than smooth enough to sip neat. I see no need to put this over ice, but that certainly couldn’t hurt either. It seems like it would be a bit of a waste in most cocktails, though simpler ones that let rum stand out would be fine. Ginger ale and a touch of lime would be wonderful.

But at $36 this is on the edge of being worth it. Any cheaper and I’d grab it if I were you. Or grab it if you simply like good rums. Even at $36 you won’t be wasting your money if you buy a bottle of Prichard’s Fine Rum, but it probably won’t be the first bottle you want to grab when you sit down for a neat rum.

Prichard’s Distillery: http://www.prichardsdistillery.com/