Under the guise of pursuing the spirit of learning, we decided to enroll into the educational rum program at Smuggler’s Cove: the Rumbustion Society. By the end of the program (Level 3), you will have sampled over 300 different rums and will travel with the Smuggler’s Cove owner (Martin Cate) to a private rum distillery tour.
It seems daunting, but we have a lot of time and a lot of liver cells to condition. This will be an ongoing updated review as we work our way through the rums.
Level 1: Chapters 1-3
We decided to begin our quest on the worst day possible: Saturday. We arrived 15 minutes after opening (5 pm), and found a healthy line already built up. The inside was packed with large groups of people - most notably a group of grey-haired couples that were drunkenly blowing through their straws in each other's’ ears and giggling.
The bar manager advised us to try coming back on a Sunday, but was gracious enough to give us the book and the card. Each chapter gets another punch on the card, and the price of each chapter ranged around $12-15.
We got down to business (even pulling out a notebook so it seemed a bit more “official”) and began reading while sipping.
Chapter 1: Introduction to Rums
The text reviews the difference between sugarcane rums (which are typically more grassy and “terroir”-driven) versus molasses rums (which do not inherit “terroir” but have a wide range of flavors). We sampled one molasses rum, the Wray & Nephew White Overproof, and one sugarcane rum, the Damoiseua Cane Rhum. The Wray & Nephew was spicy and sweet (definitely the preferred one) while the Damoiseu was silky, lightly sweet, and grassy.
Chapter 2: Batch (pot) Production.
Here we learn about batch still production, which is the oldest technique. It is inefficient but can create aroma and flavors not found in continuous distillation, which is why it is still used. The batch production rums tried are Owney’s New York Unaged (a bit agricole-y, vanilla with a slightly biting aftertaste) and Berkshire Mountain Ragged Mountain (buttery popcorn, vanilla, sweet bourbon-like, vanilla, and pure awesome).
Chapter 3: Column Still Production.
This process yields a lighter bodied and higher proof rum. The two we tried were both molasses-based rums in continuous stills: English Harbor 5 year (light, buttery, some hint of spice and crispy on the tongue) and D on Q Anejo, which was aged in Puerto Rico (very light, silky, soft, floral, and light sweet oak).
We left after Chapter 3 because we got hungry and our seats were jealously being eyed up by some other booze sharks, but we’ll be back rumming soon.