Wait! This is a Wine Blog, right? So what's all this about Rum?
It's about expansion, it's about education, but mostly it's about meeting a co-owner of an artisanal Rum Producer, "The Real McCoy."
Always looking to both learn and, to be totally honest, drink. I found myself attending a seminar on Rum production while also meeting Linda Lofstrom, Co-Owner and Regional V.P. of Sales for "The Real McCoy" Rum Company.
Since I have the column about "Meet the Winemaker/Owner", I thought that I could incorporate this post even though it is about Rum. There are a number of similarities between spirit production and wine production. Plus, you never know when having a bit more knowledge on a particular subject may come in handy. Such was the case in attending this seminar.
Linda took us through all the phases of Rum production, from harvesting the Sugar Cane, then to fermentation, distillation, maturation and finally the blending to create a final wonderful spirit. At each step, Linda pointed out the similarities, and more importantly, the differences, "The Real McCoy" uses in their handiwork. From their use of quality Blackstrap Molasses, to the use of old copper pot stills being used to this day, the oak aging and blending being done under the watchful eye of the 4th Generation family distillery in Barbados.
Let us not forget the importance of Barbados. While Rum is produced in a fairly large number of countries, and under very little regulations, the importance of Rum production in the Caribbeans cannot be overlooked. As Linda explained, the higher heat in Barbados accounts for a high rate of evaporation (the Angel's Share) while aging in barrels, up to 7% a year. This is compared to Scotch and Whiskey that accounts for about 1 to 3% a year. Over 10 years, that means Rum from Barbados can lose up to 70% of the original liquid!
Here's where Linda pointed out sort of a "consumer alert" about aging. While some aged products will use a number on the bottle, that number could represent different things. Maybe the "average" age of the liquid or the oldest age of a certain percentage of the liquid. "The Real McCoy" Rums use the term "Aged XX Years." XX is the number of years (like 3, 5 and 12 their current selection). Thank goodness they don't have a 100-year-old Rum yet, then I would have had to use "Aged XXX Years", giving way to folks thinking I'm moving into porn or something....
Direct from "The Real McCoy" website, here's a little information on who Bill McCoy was and a video to go along with it: "Crafted in the prohibition tradition of America’s pioneer rum runner, Bill McCoy, The Real McCoy's suite of artisan-crafted aged rum from Barbados is made using only the finest molasses and purest spring water. Produced via a rare combination of column and pot stills, the product is then aged in American Oak whiskey barrels the old fashioned way, resulting in a smooth and fragrant rum. Unlike other rum producers, there are no additives of any sort. This multi-award winning line consists of 3-year-aged, 5-year-aged, and 12-year-aged rum. Perfect for sipping or mixing, it’s the Real McCoy!"
Fast forward to the twenty first century, Founder and CEO, Bailey Pryor, came up with the idea to make "The Real McCoy®" Rum while producing a documentary film about Bill McCoy for Public Television in the United States.
During his research for the film, Bailey traveled to the Caribbean island of Barbados, where he met Richard Seale, the 4th generation Master Distiller at his family-owned Foursquare Distillery.
This is another video of the documentary Baily Pryor made leading to his discovery. Due to privacy settings, you will be directed to Vimeo to watch. One item, it's about an hour long!
What about the Rum? Not that I've had a lot of Rums, but I can tell you that the 3, 5 12 and a special 10 year, were all excellent. Smooth, without any burn and wonderful flavors on them all. Linda pointed out, and I would totally agree, that the 5 Year is the most universal of them. Since you know how I like Scores and reviews, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the 3, 5 and 12 Year Rums were rated 93, 92 and 94 Points respectfully by the Beverage Tasting Institute/Tasting.com. Pricing was what I would consider inline for an artisanal product of this sort, coming in at $19, $27 and $40 respectfully.
What a fun time I had at this seminar. I would have said what a gas, but the young-ins out there would probably think that I'm having gastric issues! Linda was great as she was knowledgeable and entertaining. She even made us a special cocktail. I could tell you but (here's where you think I'm going to say "but I'd have to kill you", no) I didn't write it down properly....