Rum Fest New York 2018

 

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On September 29th, the Rum Lab.com held their 2nd annual rum festival in New York City. They have produced similar festivals in Puerto Rico, California, the Midwest and Seattle. The Rum Lab is “focused on becoming the official rum expo throughout the northern east coast.”

Rum is made around the world but most associated with the Caribbean. Generally, there are three principle styles of rum in the Caribbean that reflect the terroir, climate and who colonized the country. There is the Spanish style ron which is molasses based and are generally lighter in body, the English style rum which are also molasses based and tend to be bolder, and the French style rhum agricole which are based on sugar cane juice and have many of the place of origin rules that wine have, they tend to taste of herbs and the earth.

The event was held at Sounds of Brazil, a music venue located at 204 Varick Street in lower Manhattan. There were a good selection of rum from around the world and since I enjoy aged rum, I began the tasting by trying whatever was the oldest rum at the table.

Some of what I sampled:

Montanya (Colorado): Oro, Exclusiva, Anniversaria.

Owney’s (New York City) Distiller’s Reserve, Superior Quality.

English Harbor Reserve (Antigua): 5yr, 10yr, port cask finish, sherry cask finish.

Chairmans’ Reserve (St. Lucia): The forgotten cask, 1931.

Ron Barcelo (Dominican Republic): 30yr Anniversary Reserve, Imperial.

J Bally (Martinique): 2002.

Clairin (Haiti): Sajous, Vaval, Casimir.

Diplomatico  (Venezuela): Single vineyard 2002, Ambassador.

Plantation Rum (Barbados): XO 20th Anniversary.

Clement Rhum (Martinique) VSOP, XO.

Flor de Cana (Nicaragua): 18yr, 25yr.

Rhum JM (Martinique): 1999 Reserve.

Denizen (Jamaica): 3yr, 8yr.

Barcardi (Puerto Rico): Limitada.

Boukman (Haiti): Botanical Rhum.

 

 

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Mexico In A Bottle

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Mexico In A Bottle is a website founded in 2014 by Susan Coss and Max Garrone that celebrates “food, art, mezcal, life”. They sponsor North America’s biggest agave spirit tasting, an annual tasting and celebration of more than 500 years of Mezcal history and culture. In 2018 the tour has stopped and will stop in Washington DC, San Diego, Chicago and San Francisco and on September 16th, Mexican Independence Day, the tour stopped in New York City.

The event took place at the House of Yes, a nightclub, performing arts space and event venue located at 2 Wychoff Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Over 50 brands were represented and considering that Mezcal, unlike Tequila which can be made with only with blue agave, Mezcal can be made from up to 30 varieties of agave which means that many producers make a wide range of Mezcal from different varietals as well as from different villages. There were a staggering quantity of spirits at this event. .

I recognized a handful of producers but for the most part many of the producers were “mom and pop” operations that still make Mezcal in the traditional way and most of the labels were unknown to me. Most had the signature smokiness that Mezcal are known for but many had more nuanced flavors of grass, herbs, butter, stone fruit. I would have loved to pick two or three producers and go through their line to taste the differences in the types of agave used. Personally, unlike rum, I like my Mezcal/Tequila joven, clear instead of aged. Interesting food item at the event were crispy Chapulin (aka grasshopper).

Some of what I sampled:

Erstwhile Espadin, Cuishe, Espadin Limited Edition

Los Amantes Joven, Reposado

Wahaka Ensamble, Reposado con Gusano

Amaras Espadin, Cupreata

5 Sentidos Papalomentl, Sierra Negra

Mezcal Union El Viejo

Nuestra Soleda Del Rio, 3 Mezquitos

Los Siete Misterios Coyote, Barril

Mezcal Vago Tobala, Espadin

Nobile Coyote Jabali, Coyote

Mezcal Nacional Tobala, Ciral

Los Nahuales Espadin

Mezcal De Leyenda San Luis Potosi

Amormata Masparillo de La Cruz

Mezcal Los Javis Espadin

Ancho Reyes Chile Ancho Liqueur, Chile Poblano Liqueur

Blue Nectar Tequila Silver

 

Bacon & Bourbon At Astor Center

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The Astor Center is the event space of Astor Wine & Spirits which is located at 399 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. Throughout the year they hold all sorts of spirits, cocktails and wine events and classes at the Center.

On February 17th they held their 10th annual Bacon & Bourbon event. It was a walk-around tasting of over 60 All-American whiskey that was accompanied by copious amounts of bacon and bacon infused snacks (including ice cream). Many of the well-known whiskey companies were in attendance pouring their small production (and expensive) specialty whiskey as well as smaller not as well known producers many of which produced proprietary whiskey for Astor.  The event was open to the consumer and there were two sessions. I attended the afternoon session and it was a nice way to spend a snowy afternoon.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Jim Beam Masterpiece Bourbon

Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon

Maker’s Mark Astor Private Select Bourbon

Knob Creek 25th Anniversary Cask Strength Single Barrel (121°-125°)

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Bourbon

Booker’s Sip Awhile’ Small Batch Bourbon

Four Roses Astor Cask Strength Single Barrel Bourbon (122.2°)

Smooth Ambler Contradiction Bourbon

Barrell Bourbon Batch #12 Bourbon

Barrell Bourbon Full Proof Astor Barrel (126° 174 bottles produced)

Black Dirt Bourbon

Black Dirt Single Barrel Bourbon

Charles Medley 12yr Old Kentucky Bourbon

Kings County Distillery Peated Bourbon

Balcones Brimstone Smoked Corn Whisky

Balcones Texas Old Single Malt Whisky

Pikesville Straight Rye

Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye

A.D. Laws Straight Rye

A.D. Laws Bottled In Bond Rye

 

 

Cider On Long Island

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Cider was once a staple of the early American diet. New laws promoting craft beverages is creating a cider renaissance in New York State, the second largest producers of apples in the United States.

On the north fork long island wine country, a couple of wineries bottle cider and a couple of cider houses opened showcasing cider made from local and New York State apples.

 

Lieb Cellars  13050 Oregon Road, Cutchogue. The tasting room is in a converted barn.

Rumor Mill sparkling cider: Made from east end apples, yellow with tints with green apples and mowed grass on the nose.

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Woodside Orchard  729 Main Road, Aquebogue. Not only do they make hard cider but pies and doughnuts as well.

Traditional Cider: Pale yellow, fizzy when poured with greenish tints, crisp off dry with tart apple and ginger notes.

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Riverhead Cider House  2711 Sound Avenue Calverton. New place that opened recently. On a slow superbowl Sunday they had a good crowd. Large room with entertainment and a deli. Large selection of local beer and cider.

Prickly Pear Rosé Cider: I asked for the driest cider and this is what they poured me, amber in color, cotton candy on the nose, off dry with cherry candy notes on the fruit.

 

Rum Fest New York

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The 1st annual New York Rum Festival was held on September 30th.  The event showcased over 40 rums from large, micro and boutique distilleries   including producers from various countries in the Caribbean, South America and the United States. The event was produced by the Rum Lab which hosted similar events in Chicago and San Francisco.

The Fest was held at S. O. B.’s (Sounds of Brazil), a live music venue at 204 Varick Street in the SoHo district of lower Manhattan which was an appropriate venue to host a rum event since they specialize in Afro-Latino music acts.

The event had a good mix of styles of rum from various countries and with this overwhelming amount of spirits to sample, I stayed away from white Rums and fruity cocktails and focused on aged rums which in my opinion are some of the most underrated spirits in the world. It was a good crowd of people enjoying the afternoon sipping on rum.

Seminar: Don Q Rum Master Class with Jaiker Soto (Puerto Rico)

Añejo: 3-8 year old rums, amber with grassy and oak notes on the finish.

151°: 3-5 year old rums, grassy, oily nose, big hit of alcohol with some honey notes on the finish.

Single Barrel: 9 year old rum, light amber, closed nose, dry finish with oak notes.

Spiced: 3-6 year old rums, light amber, vanilla on the nose, subtle flavors with a hit of heat at the finish, 90°.

Gran Añejo: 9-12year old rums, light amber, unusual sweet cotton candy and chocolate on the nose with chocolate notes on the finish.

Some of what I sampled:

Lost Spirits (California) Navy Style Rum

Montanya (Colorado) Oro

Boukman  (Haiti) Botanical Rum

Chairman’s Reserve (St. Lucia) The Forgotten Casks

Foursquare Distillery (Barbados) 2004, Criterion, Zinfandel Cask Blend

Mount Gay (Barbados) Black Barrel, XO

Plantation (Barbados) 20th Anniversary

Plantation (Jamaica) 2002

Denizen’s Merchant’s Reserve (Jamaica) 8 year

Rhum J.M. (Martinique) V.O., V.S.O.P.

Clement (Martinique) Select Barrel, 10 year

Brugal (Dominican Republic) Gran Reserva  888

Abuelo (Panama) XV

Parce Rum (Columbia) 8 year, 12 year

Flor de Caña (Nicaragua) 12 year, 18 year

Diplomatico  (Venezuela) Mantuano Extra Aged, Reserva Exclusiva

Don Pappa (Philippines) Small Batch