Search Terms

Whenever I check the statistics for this blog I always check the Search Terms section. This lists various phrases that people have used in some search engine which somehow produced a link to this page. Checking this list gives me an idea of what some people are looking for. People often search for reviews of rums I have not yet tried but are listed on my List Of Rums. And that sometimes gives me incentive to try to post something about it. Alas, I don’t do that often enough so I thought I’d take up some space “answering” some of those searches as best as I can.

“coyopa rum review”
I bought a bottle of this recently and tried a little. I wasn’t very impressed – it’s decent enough but outrageously priced for what you get. I used it to mix a giant batch of Pina Coladas and it was very good, but $50 for a general mixer is insane.

“cruzan vs bacardi
Cruzan is better, and much cheaper. Check out my review of 5 White Rums.

“leather covered rum bottle”
That would be Ron Pampero Anniversario, which I’ve had numerous times but have not fully reviewed it. It’s excellent, and will certainly land in my Highly Recommended list.

“how much zacapa centenario”
About $35-$40, at least in Massachusetts, for the 23-year-old. The 15-year-old is a bit lower. Both are worth every penny.

“The best rum for a mojito”
So far, my vote is for Ron Matusalem Platino for an “authentic” Mojito. Jeffrey Morgenthaler recently posted an excellent article about Mojitos, and the Comments list a number of opinions about which rum to use.

“new rums to try”
Check out my Rum Rankings list and start from the top and go down.

“flor de cana in nyc”
I believe Astor’s Wines and Spirits carries it.

“how to drink rum neat”
I pretty much follow Edward Hamilton’s suggestions. They can be found here.

“solera process”
My review on Ron Zacapa 23-year-old describes it and this Wikipedia article gives some insight and history.

“sweetest rum”
I’d say the Pyrat Pistol from all of those that I’ve tasted. The Clément Créole Shrubb is *much* sweeter, but it’s not a rum, but rather a rum-based orange liqueur.

“rhum forum”
Ministry Of Rum forums.

“make bacardi superior taste good”
1oz Bacardi Superior
1/2 lime, cut & squeezed
2 liters Coke

“tasting note pyrat 1623”
I’ve had this rum, but it was some time ago and I didn’t take notes. It is fantastic, though. I seem to remember it being a more classic rum, nothing like their sweet and orangey XO or Pistol. It’s not cheap, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever pay $240+ for it, but it sure is nice…

“cruzan vs. malibu coconut rum”
What a coincidence! My plans for this weekend include a 3-way between the Cruzan, Malibu, and Parrot Bay coconut rums. Check back in a few days.

“how to open ron centenario rum”
You must have one of the old bottles that’s entirely covered in the straw wrapping. At the base of the “cap” – right on the “shoulder” of the bottle – you should find a thin red line. Find the beginning of that line, and pull around the bottle. It’s much like a pack of cigarettes. Once you’ve pulled all the way around the straw “cap” will lift straight up.

“what is the smoothest rum”
In my opinion, for 80-proof rums, the Ron Zacapa Centenario 23-year-old.

“hoti, saint”
According to Pyrat’s web site, Hoti is “the famous Zen patron saint and protector of little children, fortune tellers, and bartenders.” Checking the web I can’t find out much more about this, so believe at your own risk. Pyrat (and/or Patron) has woven some great stories about their rums…

“easy rum mojitos with lime concentrate”
Don’t do it! Mojitos are easy enough. Heck, I even tried the Stirrings Mojito Mixer, which is quite good but not nearly as good as the real thing and saves about 30 seconds per drink.

“is tommy bahama rum any good”
Not from what I’ve heard, but I did pick up a nip of each in order to do a review. I’m just not psyched to try it…

“lemon hart rum vs captain morgan”
There is no comparison. This is like comparing Brandy to Dr. Pepper. Lemon Hart is a demerara while Captain Morgan is a spiced rum.


Well, that’s about it for now. I did note a bunch of rum reviews that people where searching for, and I’ve made a mental note to push them up in the list. A lot of people are looking for info on Angostura, for instance, and I’d actually like to do a comparison on the 1824 and the 1919 sometimes soon so check back. Many of the other rums are not in my collection nor can I find them anywhere locally, so they’ll just have to wait. But if you see a rum on my lists and would like to get more info, or a full review, please leave a comment.


Infusions Of Grandeur

The mad scientists at Infusions Of Grandeur have, in my opinion, conducted a fantastic experiment. They made an apple-infused vodka using 4 different methods, and chose the best one in a (near) blind taste-test.

This is the type of experiment that brings infusions to another level. Read about it here: Results of the Big Experiment (finally!).

If you do infusions, especially if you are just starting, you should read their entire site. They don’t just try random recipes, but explore the methods and talk about the results in detail. The information they share is a great boon to the infusers of the world. I learned more in a day spent reading their site than several days reading two books on infusion. There is just no comparison. Highly recommended.

Mixology Monday: Blog Love

This round of Mixology Monday is dedicated to blogs, Bring On The Blog Love. After lurking many MxMo posts, I finally find that I have no excuse not to participate – especially considering some of the love my blog has received lately.

As asked, I figure that I cocktail is required, so I ended up sipping through two of Beachbum Berry’s Hundred Dollar Mai Tais.

1 oz Saint James 15-year Hors D’Age Rum
1 oz Appleton Estate Extra rum
1/2 oz Marie Brizard orange curacao (I used Senior Curacao)
1/4 oz Trader Vic orgeat syrup (I used Monin Almond Syrup – it’ OK)
1/4 oz Trader Vic rock candy syrup (I used home-made 2:1 sugar syrup)
1 oz Fresh-squeezed Lime Juice
1 sprig mint garnish (not for me, thanks)

I know, I know – this was supposed to be a drink from another’s blog, but I couldn’t help from sharing the recipe for what I think to be the best Mai Tai one can get today.

Paul also asked “Why’d you start crossing your cocktail shaker with your keyboard? What prompted you to take the inherently social act of mixing drinks and go all Web 2.0 with it? Who are all you people, anyway?”

To answer the last question: I’m a computer security geek who liked rum, got interested in cocktails (and found many of these blogs I read every day), found that I loved rum, and decided to share my tasting notes and some occasional rambles.

To answer the second question: It’s all Rick’s fault. See below.

To answer the first question:

I started drinking rum at a relatively early age, when an older cousin would often take me to a local Chinese restaurant and order drinks for me, or would share a Scorpion bowl or a Tiki Bowl. This started me off drinking rum, and it’s always been my spirit of choice over the years. While my buddies were nursing beers I could generally be found with a pint of Bacardi Gold, or – if we were serious – a bottle or Appleton V/X.

Eventually adulthood came and all the responsibilities came with it. I had all sorts of bills and I spent many years over-working myself in a computer career. I drank very very little for many years.

When I once again learned how to relax and enjoy life I found myself sitting around a camp fire with a bunch of beer-swilling fiends (whom I love to death) and I wished for a bottle of rum. I did a bunch of research on the Internet, and started buying some excellent rums. After a few years of this research I was sipping some fantastic rums.

Cocktails and Mixology
Last winter I decided that I wanted to drink better than I have previously, so I bought a copy of Dale Degroff’s book The Craft of the Cocktail and Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology. I was fascinated by both and read them both from cover to cover, marked off a bunch of recipes to try and collected the necessary ingredients. I was introduced to many great cocktails, and did my best to make them correctly. I sipped Aviations, fell in love with the Sidecar, tried a Jack Rose, and even tried a Cosmopolitan. Then I made a proper daiquiri, tried an El Presidente, and El Floridita #1, a Papa Doble and finally hit upon the favorite of my youth, the Mai Tai.

Neither of Gary’s Mai Tais hit me correctly, nor did Dale’s. So I went off in search of a “correct” Mai Tai and this research led me back and forth between cocktails and Tiki drinks. I lurked long and hard on many sites and learned a tremendous amount of mostly-unused information as I searched for the perfect Mai Tai. Of course, much of my research landed me on Tiki sites, and much of that browsing led to several Amazon purchases.

It was apparent that I had been lured away from cocktail by Tiki drinks, and as a result I careened away from mixology back into the land of rum.

Tiki Central
One of the sites I found while doing my Mai Tai research was the forums on Tiki Central, a site dedicated to “celebrating classic and modern Polynesian pop.” One of the forums they host is centered on Tiki Drinks and Food with a slew of knowledgeable and dedicated Tiki drinkers with a love of rum.

One thread on Tiki Central concerned Orange Liqueurs and the different tastes – the Orange Liquor Throwdown Challenge. As a result of my short-lived study of mixology I found that I had acquired 10 different orange liqueurs and I felt it was my duty to taste each one, compare them, and post that knowledge to the forum. Sharing that knowledge just seemed like the right thing to do after all the knowledge I had attained from this forum. I sipped, wrote, compared, and posted my thoughts on the different orange liqueurs I had available.

Kaiser Penguin
Some time later, while still researching the perfect Mai Tai, I stumbled across a post comparing a few different Mai Tai recipes. I found this on a blog with the crazy name of Kaiser Penguin. I was intrigued by this post and I searched around the site a bit, and stumbled across more of these Recipe Comparison posts. I found one on the Zombie, another on the Hurricane, and another on the Singapore Sling.

Even though I had read many blogs, for some reason Rick’s Mai Tai comparison post gave me a “brilliant” idea – why not start a blog about rum? I had decided to start keeping tasting noted about the rums I tried anyway. Information about rum is fairly difficult to come by – there are only a handful of sites that have much information about different rums. Another site about rum couldn’t hurt, right? So I fired up Google, searched a bit, and started a blog.

Many thanks for the inspiration Rick. Thanks for getting me off my butt, for getting me to take tasting notes, and for making me realize that sharing information is A Good Thing.

As a slightly humorous side-note, my very first post on my new blog about rum was my comparison about the orange liqueurs, my Orange Liqueur Throwdown post. Rum?

Blog Love
As I mentioned earlier, all my cocktail and mixology and Tiki and rum research found me reading a good many blogs. Some have stuck, and I read them religiously, always pleased when a new post is made. I’ve also found a few excellent forums, and even though this is Blog Love it wouldn’t be right to ignore them.

Rum Lovers @ the Ministry of Rum
The forum at Ed Hamilton’s Ministry Of Rum site. This forum is great place where some serious rum folks hang out.

eGullet Spirits & Cocktails Forum
A fantastic forum with some serious mixologists and cocktailians and spirit lovers.

The Art Of Drink
The blog from Darcy O’Neil, chemist-turned-mixologist. This blog is simply packed with great information ranging from individual spirits to cocktails to more “obscure” things like ice and mixers. Not to be missed, and guaranteed to be a good read.

Cocktail Chronicles
Another wealth of information, Paul posts on many different things concerning mixology and recipes and ingredients.

El Machete’s Rum Reviews
One of the few rum review sites on the web, and Orlando does a great job of reviewing them. He takes great care and dedication when sampling a rum, and I trust his opinions implicitly.

Infusions Of Grandeur
I love these two “mad scientists” and how they bring science to the art of infusion. Brendan and Wayland keep detailed notes about their infusions, and post all the knowledge they find. If you have any interest in making an infusion it would behoove you to read through this blog.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler
Jeffrey’s posts about bartending are priceless, from his advice to bartending myths to bartending information. Always interesting, always informative, always a good read.

Liquor Snob
Jake always has some great information and he’s forthcoming and prolific when sharing. And he loves cachaca, so how could I not mention his blog? I hit this blog frequently, always pleased with another tidbit or two of information.

Bilgemunky Rum Reviews
Though ostensibly a site about pirates, some fantastic reviews about rum are buried a few pages down. I find myself agreeing with him almost every time.
Adrian and Andy list a bunch of quick-hitting reviews on the rums they’ve tried, and they don’t pull any punches. Be sure to take a look at their two cookbooks – all the recipes contain rum.

Rum In Your Luggage

Flying to the islands? Bring back some rum? Want to get it home safely?

Thanks to new regulations on airlines, you can’t bring much in the way of liquids in your carry-on bags. It can be difficult to fly with that precious supply of hard-to-find rum in a manner that allows it to be consumed neatly once home. You can wrap it bubble-wrap and hope, or stuff it into carpet tubes, or find some other ingenious way to keep those liquids safe. And you can hope that your methods works.

Well, check out this article about a new way to package your rum so it flies safely. It describes the “Liquor Travel Safety Pack” that is designed to withstand 20-foot drops without breakage.

Damned if I can find a way to order one, but that should come soon. Keep an eye out for it.

Some Outstanding Rums

Last night my friend Phil and I sat back and sampled several outstanding rums.

We started with Gosling’s Family Reserve – heavy, dark. Very good but I’m not such a fan of dark rums like this.

Next came Appleton 21-year-old. Excellent stuff, quite complex, but the strongest burn of the bunch.

Then Santa Teresa 1796 – excellent, quite excellent. Definitely one of the top rums I’ve ever had.

We cracked the Zaya Gran Reserva next – oh, this is beautiful stuff. I have had it before, and I don’t remember it being this good. In fact I’ve considered it over-priced for some time, but last night it was magic in a bottle.

The Zaya reminded us both of the Ron Zacapa 23, so Phil grabbed his bottle from the fridge. Also fantastic, as usual. I really do love this stuff – sweet, smooth, rich, decently complex… great stuff.

But we couldn’t decide between the Zaya or the Ron Zacapa, so we went back and forth between the two several times, taking little sips, trying to decide which was better. After 6 or 8 little samples over time, neither of us could decide which was better. The Zacapa is a little lighter and sweeter, the Zaya a bit heavier and richer. Both are absolutely fantastic.

I know that I owe some full reviews on all of these rums – well, the Appleton 21-year-old has a review listed to the left. But I haven’t had time to sit each one down and give it a thorough tasting. There’s no doubt that all of these belong in the “Highly Recommended” category, but they also deserve an appropriate amount of time to discern all the subtleties.

I’ll also have to go back and compare the Ron Zacapa and Zaya again. Was it just last night? I don’t think so, though. We definitely spent some time sampling the two back to back… But a full review of each may bring out some things.

Platinum, Gold, Double Gold…

Let me make it clear that I do not take Spirits Competition awards – from anyone – at face value. I really have to wonder about a competition where 700 entrants win a total of 635 awards. It doesn’t seem right.

However, I still feel these lists can be useful if interpreted correctly. Let’s take a look at something…

An Example
I grabbed the list from the 2006 San Francisco Word Spirits Competition, which lists 593 winners out of an unknown number of spirits entered. There were approximately 74 Double Gold Winners, 120 Gold Winners, 250 Silver Winners and 162 Bronze Winners. (Yes, the total is off by a few – I’m not about to spend hours scouring this list for a simple example.)

Since almost half of the entrants won Silver awards, then I’d say that the Silver winners are just average. The Bronze winners… Winners? The Bronze “winners” are a list of spirits that ranked below average. And any spirit entered in such a competition which doesn’t get an award must be fairly bad. Too bad this list isn’t easily available, if at all.

Checking The Scores
So when looking at these lists I pay attention to the winners that placed at the top – Gold and particularly Double Gold in this case, though some competitions may use Platinum, or Platinum instead of Double Gold.

Next I will usually check these lists over the years, and check multiple such competitions. I try to pay particular attention to rums that consistently win top scores across multiple competitions, or across multiple years.

I get a little worried if a rum won Double Gold in someone’s competition but won Bronze in someone else’s competition. Or if a rum wins Platinum one year and Silver the next. Such results don’t ring true.

More Research
Now that I have a list of potential winners for purchase, I do some research. I’ve got 5 or 6 rum books handy, so I’ll flip through those.

The Internet, of course, gets used a lot. First I’ll check any of the sites that I consider worthwhile for rum reviews. (The list of sites is on the right.) Even then I have to consider who’s doing the reviewing, and what they’re saying. Sometimes you have to read between the lines.

If I haven’t made a decision yet, I go broad and search the entire Internet. Is anyone talking about this rum? If so, what are they saying? (Press releases and obvious comments-for-hire are worthless in my opinion.) Are many people talking, and do they agree?

Hopefully by this time I’ll have made a decision whether a particular rum gets put on my list, or not. If not, I may mentally mark it and research again later.

My List
You can see the current list of rums I want to try here.

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:
Foursquare Spiced:
Prichard’s Distillery: