The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2013

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Page 76 of 152

Rum Resurgent! THE SUGARCANE SPIRIT IS CLOSING THE GAP ON VODKA by Robert Plotkin E verything that you might have heard about rum being the next hot spirit is true. In the past ive years, rum sales have signiicantly cut into what once seemed like vodka's seemingly insurmountable lead. The category now accounts for 13.2% of all distilled spirits sold in the U.S. Why is rum shooting up the charts? One explanation is that it is a dynamic and diverse spirit with a "fun in the sun" image. Rums are made in exotic places in a broad range of styles— from clear and light-bodied to dark and full-lavored. It is also a spirit that adapts well to barrel aging, and unlike vodka, rums are graced with brilliant hues and captivating aromas. Its approachable taste proile means that there's no learning curve necessary to enjoy rum. Rum is also relatively inexpensive, another advantage it enjoys over other spirit categories. But the shared attributes that put rum on the map are their mixability and universally popular lavor. "Rum can be used in any cocktail that calls for either whiskey or vodka, only the resulting drink will likely taste better," says Aidan Demarest, master mixologist and owner of Neat in Los Angeles. "Premium rums have a taste and aroma that lifts it head and shoulders above most other light liquors when it comes to drink-making. Rum brings with it an attitude of fun, relaxation and enjoyment. It has an easy going, laid-back persona that most everyone can relate to." With the resurgence of the cocktail and strengthening sales of spirits 76 / the tasting panel / january 2013 on-premise, the category is a natural beneiciary. "The primary market segments for rum are men and women between the ages of 21 and 29. Its rich lavors, mixability and affordability make the whole category attractive to consumers," observes Kim Brandi, CEO of Iconic Brands, importer of recently released Deadhead Rum, Apocalypto Tequila and Flashbang Spirits. "Traditional on-premise consumers, empowered with more disposable income and knowledge as they mature, are now buying rum at retail outlets as well, further driving overall category sales." "Look for the super-premium segment of the rum category to continue growing rapidly," contends Julie Reiner, owner of New York's famed Flatiron Lounge and The Clover Club. "For a brand of luxury rum, its consumers are 'opting out' of other spirit categories and switching from other super-premium brands. As more upper-echelon rums become available, expect to see a signiicant exodus of consumers from the other spirit categories. Top-shelf rums are one of the few luxury items that most people can easily afford." Another propelling force in rum's climb to stardom is the American consumer's continuing education into the differences between the various spirits. Enthusiasts and aicionados are becoming more knowledgeable about rum, the nuances between the different appellations and quality factors such as methods of distillation, water source and aging styles. Up and Coming Brands Caliche Caliche (pronounced kah-LEE-chay) is an artisanal blend of four molasses-based, columndistilled rums by Destilería Serrallés in Puerto Rico. Three of the rums were aged in charred American oak barrels for three, four and ive years. The fourth rum was solera-aged. After blending, the rums are iltered for essential purity and to remove the color obtained during barrel aging. Caliche has a mesmerizing bouquet and the long-lasting lavors of caramel, bananas, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla beans. Serrallés USA Clément V.S.O.P. Rhum Vieux Agricole Estate-produced Clément is one of Martinique's preeminent agricole rhums, a traditional style of rum distilled from fresh cane juice rather than molasses. Clément V.S.O.P. is made from a blend of column-distilled agricole rhums and aged for a minimum of 3 years in re-charred bourbon barrels. It is then continues on page 78

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