Spirited’s third edition of Unbottled returns to rums, and explores two extremely unconventional rums that have been matured in rather different ways.
Experimental cask maturation tend to be the domain of Scotch whisky; these days one often finds both single malt and blended Scotch whiskies aged in cask profiles of varying provenance, particularly in the use of cask finishing.
On the other hand, rum producers tend to rely almost exclusively on used bourbon barrels to age their rums. They employ used barrels from American distilleries making bourbon and other whiskeys, which tend to be cheaper than other sources because, by law, those distilleries can only use those barrels once.
But recently we’ve encountered two interesting rums – the Mount Gay Andean Oak Cask and the Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Smoky Formula – that are aged in rather unorthodox ways.
Here’s our deep dive in these two unconventional rums.
Mount Gay Andean Oak Cask matures the Barbadian rum in non-traditional Andean oak
Rémy Cointreau-owned, Barbados-based Mount Gay may be known as the world’s oldest commercial maker of rum, but that doesn’t stop them from having some fun with their rums when they feel like it. An example of their more experimental rums is their Master Blender Collection, the first of which – the XO The Peat Smoke Expression – was further aged in casks that previously held peated Islay whisky.
The fourth and latest in that series, the Mount Gay Andean Oak Cask, takes a slightly different tack. It’s gone for a totally non-traditional wood choice this time – casks made from Andean oak. Here award-winning Mount Gay master blender Trudiann Branker sourced and utilised casks that have been made using Andean oak from the mountainous ranges of the Colombian Andes. Use of Andean oak, or Quercus Humboldtii, in aging spirits is far less common as compared to American oak (Quercus Alba), French oak (Quercus Robur), or Spanish oak (Quercus Falcata), and is only nominally used in aging pisco or wine in winemaking regions across South America.
The influence of Andean oak on rum in this case, therefore, is a real treat. A further maturation of eleven months in Andean oak results in a rum that – according to Mount Gay – treads a fine balance between delicateness and opulence. On the nose is smoked sweet spices – cinnamon, cassia bark, and vanilla – but rich toasted coconut and a touch of incense too. The palate offers much of the same, but tinged with rich stewed orchard fruit as well.
If you’d like a rare taste of this oak, note that this fourth Master Blender Collection edition – bottled at 48% ABV – is limited to 2,760 bottles globally.
The Mount Gay Andean Oak Cask is available in Singapore Rémy Cointreau’s official store on Amazon at a retail price of S$240. The limited-edition rum is also available in top Singapore cocktail bars and rum destinations including Sugarhall, Lime House, Low Tide and The Bar at 15 Stamford.
Plantation Rum Stiggins’ Fancy Smoky Formula is pineapple rum aged in peated Irish whiskey casks
For a totally different kind of rum with a quirky cask ageing regime, there’s the Plantation Rum Stiggins’ Fancy Smoky Formula.
For those unfamiliar with Plantation Rum, the Cognac Ferrand-owned rum brand produces rums from different Caribbean countries but also owns the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados. Those rums rum are distilled and aged in those countries, but some of it is also shipped back to France for additional maturation in Cognac. One of Plantation’s most popular products is their Plantation Pineapple Rum – also known as the Plantation Rum Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple, named after a character in a Charles Dickens book – which takes the Plantation Original Dark Rum and infuses it with pineapple fruit.
But Plantation Rum Stiggins’ Fancy Smoky Formula takes that even further. It further ages that pineapple flavoured rum in barrels that once held peated Irish whiskey. In particular, peated single malt Irish whiskey from Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey Distillery. Maison Ferrand owner and Plantation Rum master blender Alexandre Gabriel once met Teeling master distiller and blender Alex Chasko and they decided to swop some barrels.
This fun rum is the result, and Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple now had a smokier, richer cousin. This special edition is sweet, rich and robust like the original pineapple rum, but now had a touch of wood ash and alluring smoke notes to round out those flavours. We can totally see it used in various rum cocktails – a Mai Tai or a Rum Old Fashioned come to mind – but it’ll be great served over ice as well.
The Plantation Rum Stiggins’ Fancy Smoky Formula – which comes in at 40% ABV – is available exclusively in limited quantities on EC Proof at a retail price of $108. This rum can also be found in all good rum-focused bars in Singapore.
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