The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2018

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Something is stirring in the world of drinks. While gin has gone crazy and whisk(e)y is looking to its laurels, I sense a thunder in the dunder: Rum is definitely having a moment in the sun. No longer a neglected member of the spirits world after years in the doldrums, rum's stunning recovery now ranks it amongst the most fashionable of categories in bars around the world today. Rum is once again, quite decidedly, a thing. But with so many styles, what sort of thing? Do you, for example, prefer your rum in the Spanish, French, or even the British style? Aged, spiced, or both? Do you refer to it by color? White (or silver, as some would have it), gold, or dark might be your guide. And where should one stand on the vexed question of added sugar: Is it a sweet benediction or the work of the devil? Does rum even have to come from the Caribbean? As I discovered while researching my new book, 101 Rums to Try Before You Die, the answer to that is a resounding "no." Internationally, and especially in the U.S., a new generation of craft distillers is experimenting freely with this classic spirit as established dis- tillers continue to release exciting new expressions, aged spirits, and tasty flavored rums. Old clichés about parties and pirates, meanwhile, are being left behind—savvy connoisseurs are picking out great rums for the sake of their taste and value; skilled mixologists are exploring rum's depth of character; and shrewd investors are tucking away rare bottles in anticipation of future profit. It's a new horizon for an old favorite. Enjoy! —Ian Buxton A Rum for Everyone: Mezan Rums Mezan's line of vintage expressions come from collections of discovered rums; each hails from a single distillery, some of which are no longer in operation. Without adding any color or flavoring, the Cellar Master takes these rums and ages them in casks until they reach the ideal maturation level. "Consumers are looking for more transparency, especially in the rum category where there is very little regulation," says Justine Charlemagne, Spirits Brand Manager for Mezan Rum. "We provide unchill-filtered rums without any addition of sugar or coloring syrups to preserve the authentic flavors." The dry taste profile of Mezan's Jamaica XO ($30) makes a beautiful base for high-end cocktails. Panama 2006 ($46) ages twice in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels, while the Guyana 2005 features more complexity from its distillation in the double-wooden pot still originally housed in the Port Mourant Estate, founded in 1732. "That's why our collection of rare vintages is a real advantage," Charlemagne adds. "The consumer can easily find one Mezan that fits their taste!" Tasting Notes Mezan 2005 Guyana ($54), with its pale straw hue, offers a delectable and gorgeous bouquet that travels from the sublime to the savory. Honey wheat bread, mango, lemongrass, green olive, and wet stone layer the scent-o-meter. The palate is dotted with white pepper and the green olive returns for an encore with key lime. With hints of sweet notes delivered by ripe pineapple and candied ginger, this rum has an alluring presence. 95 —Meridith May Mezan 2006 Panama ($46) is amber/bronze in color and indulges the senses with a delicately smoky nose that brings up dried apricots, dates, and butterscotch. The palate is packed with flavor: layer upon layer from pecans to leather. Lush, semi-dry notes of burnt almonds stay to the lengthy finish. 95 —M.M. NICHE IMPORTS Rum report The RuM RENAISSANCE EXPRESSIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD ELEVATE THE CATEGORY TO NEW HEIGHTS BY EMILY COLEMAN AND IAN BUXTON june 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  87

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