Well, we haven’t done a full review for a while, so when the very kind people at Sinuate Media asked if we’d like to review Brugal’s signature white rum, the Especial Extra Dry, we couldn’t turn them down.
Brugal are a long established rum company, hailing from the Dominican Republic and established in 1888. Their rum is exceptionally popular in the Dominican, but if you recognise the name it’s likely because Brugal is increasing its presence in the European market, popping up in numerous bars and clubs but also stocked in a number of large supermarkets here in the UK.
In the UK market, the Especial Extra Dry is Brugal’s entry level white mixing rum. Priced at a reasonable £20, the Especial Extra Dry is branded as a step up from the other mixing rums on the market around this price. This is reflected in the packaging and styling of the bottle, with the Brugal signature string around the bottle and its crisp, clear branding helping it stand out on the shelf or bar back.
We’re told the Especial Extra Dry is a blend of rums aged for between 2 and 5 years and then triple filtered to remove any colouring. This slight longer aging than most white rums is noticeable, as the Especial Extra Dry is sippable with pleasant almond, coconut and vanilla flavours without too much burn, leaving a very dry and clean finish. We found the nose to be slightly too strong with alcohol, but this is to be expected from this age of spirit. It’s clear this rum is meant for mixing, and this is where the Dry part of the spirit really comes into play.
Although it certainly adds a nice depth to a rum and coke, we found the Especial Extra Dry really favoured classic cocktails. We made one of our favourite cocktails (and one we think best for testing white rums) – the Classic Daiquiri.
We used 50ml of Brugal Especial Extra Dry combined in a shaker with the juice from half a lime, 25ml of Sugar Syrup and a generous helping of crushed ice.
The dryness of this rum really helped add to the sharp kick you get when sipping a Daiquiri, and although the dryness might not be for everyone, we thought the coconut flavours combined with the lime made for a very delicious cocktail.
Country: Dominican Republic
We were looking forward to Rumfest this year with a mix of excitement and trepidation. It was no secret that there were a few issues with last year’s event, and all of us in the community were keen to see if these had been addressed. We were impressed by this year’s website which include the Etiquette Guidelines, which were aimed at reducing the “drink to get drunk” crowd. From the range of people we met and talked to across the two days, the overall behaviour was so much better than previous years. This was our third Rumfest and we think the best yet for crowd behaviour.
The ExCel Centre was once again the host although the event space was much more spacious than last year, but this mean that there was plenty space in between the stalls and stands and there were hardly any bottlenecks which really helped get around the different exhibitors, a massive improvement.
The main area had a great Carnival atmosphere, helped in no small part by the Plantation guys and their now infamous Tiki Hut, blaring out the tunes which went perfectly with their great cocktails. This was also the area the big boys of the Rum world were representing well. The Havana Club mojito stall was great and the Mount Gay stand was also continuously busy. We really liked the amount of Bar/Brand crossover stalls as well, with the guys from Lambs tying up with Rum & Sugar and El Dorado with Liar’s Club
The Connoisseurs Cove area was very well put together, with entry controlled by coloured wristbands and very attentive staff. Once inside this section (which had see-through panels so people outside could see what they were missing!) you were presented with a tasting glass (no Rumfest logo this year which considering the list price of the tickets was a real shame) and free to explore the large array of Rum vendors and drinks specialists. The Cove really felt where the real Rumfest was this year, with brand ambassadors and owners happy to spend the time explaining their products and history away (slightly) from the hustle and bustle of the main area.
Still our favourite part of Rumfest is the Boutique section. This is a tiny part of Rumfest but for us and many others it’s bar far the most important as it’s where new brands, smaller distiller’s and those without the huge marketing clout of others can show off their products and get honest feedback from those in the trade. Here is our quick overview of the ones to keep an eye out over the next year:
We were really impressed with this brand, from their image all the way through to the tasting. The name comes from the legendary Bill McCoy who was the most well-known Rum Runner during prohibition in the 1920s, known for never watering down his product and spawning the phrase “The Real McCoy”. The range comprises of a 3 year old, a 5 year old and 12 year old and between them have won a huge amount of awards in the last year, including the Gold (5) and Silver (3) Medals at this year’s New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. Already found in the US, their next focus is cracking the UK market, so keep your eyes peeled for the Real McCoy! Also keep a look out for a documentary due to air on the BBC soon about Bill McCoy and the history of Rum Running.
Created by The Poshmakers, Virgin Gorda is a delightful aged rum, blended from Trinidadian, Bajan and Jamaican rums between 5 and 8 years old. It’s very smooth considering the age and works exceptionally well in cocktails that bring out the vanilla and toffee flavours. Virgin Gorda won the Best New Rum at the Golden Barrel Awards too!
Santiago de Cuba
This is a brand we got to know well during our trip to Cuba in 2010 so we’re delighted that they’re setting their sights on a full re-launch in the UK and European market soon. They have a very respectable range including a white 3 year old, a 5 year old Anejo, an exceptional 12 year old, a refined 20 year old and to top off the range a stunning 25 year old too!
For us OpthimuS was the stand out star of the entire weekend. Although not a new brand, OpthimuS is almost unheard of in the UK, although is quite popular in France and other parts of Central Europe. Produced by Oliver & Oliver and Originally founded by Juanillo Oliver, a Cuban who brought to the Dominican Republic a large amount of old Cuban rum stock, they now have a very impressive range of 6 different rums under the OpthimuS brand. We tried their exceptional 15 year solera which has a delightful sweetness of it which rivalled the El Dorado 15, one of our all-time favourites. We were also fortunate enough to try the OpthimuS 25 year old Whisky Cask finish. This is their 25 year solera product shipped to Scotland and finished for 6 months in Tomatin whisky barrels. The result is outstanding and adds a genuine unique finish to anything we’ve tried before. They’re currently seeking a UK distribution deal, which we really hope they get as we think this would make a great addition to not only any rum bar’s collection, but also high end hotel bars.
A final honourable mention has to go to Wadworth. They were presenting their Swordfish Ale on the Pusser’s Rum stand. Swordfish includes Pusser’s 3 year old rum in the latter stages of production and although we only tried a tiny bit, we were very impressed by the lovely rich and smooth flavour. We will definitely be keeping an eye out for this in pubs when there’s limited rum on offer!
So Rumfest 2013 was everything we hoped it would be, improved atmosphere, better organisation all adding to the fantastic atmosphere and friendly people that come together each year to celebrate all things Rum. See you next year!
Yes folks it’s that time of year again, in just 4 days time, the ExCel centre in London will once again open its doors for 2 days of the greatest Rum show in Britain, Rumfest
Started by global rum ambassador Ian Burrell, this will be the seventh year of Rumfest, and we’re pleased to see it once again take over the halls of ExCel, which we thought suited the event perfectly last year.
You can find all the information you need below, and there really isn’t much more for us to say except if you love Rum you shouldn’t miss out, and if you happen to spot us on either day, do say hi as we’d love to stop for a chat.
Over 20 seminars will take place across the weekend, including a delicious Caymanas rum cake seminar hosted by Jonathan McCulloch, who will let audiences into the secret of how to make his popular rum cake. Brands such as Havana Club will be bringing their Mojito Embassy to the festival, teaching fans how to make the perfect, authentic Cuban Mojito using only the finest natural ingredients – a surefire hit for this popular drink! Diplomatico tasting will take place on Saturday 12th with Master Blender Tito Cordero, which will be offered on a first-come-first-served basis on the day. The Rum Experience University Masterclasses conducted by industry experts and master blenders top off a diverse and extensive rum program. As well as an afternoon of luxurious rum and cigar pairing courtesy of Amathus Drinks and C-Gars Ltd, aficionados can learn and create the perfect rum and chocolate match hosted by Havana Club and Rococo Chocolatiers.
We were very fortunate to be invited to the launch party of The Cooperage, a new cocktail bar opening in Greenwich.
Close to the station, The Cooperage is hard to miss with its bright blue canopy covering the staircase entrance to the cellar of Davy’s wine bar, where Nick Bolton and his team have done a fantastic job of converting a space previously used for everything from brewing beer to storing spirits.
The setting is perfect and really transports you back to a time of prohibition and speakeasy’s, with beautiful exposed brick work and amazing props in the form of barrels, vintage signs and display cases of bottles and books. The bar is long and thin but deceptively large, as because the space is so cavernous, there are tables further round the corner making it double the size we were expecting.
We were treated to cocktails and canapes throughout the night, giving us a sneak preview of The Cooperage’s small but inventive cocktail list.
Infusions is where The Cooperage have decided to focus their efforts, and it really shows, with 5 infusions all created on site based around the base spirits Tequila, Gin, Bourbon, Vodka and of course Rum.
You can order these infusions straight from the barrel for £5.50 or in a cocktail specially created to show off the infusions flavour and depth for £7.50.
We tried the Roast Pepper and Paprika tequila made into a very impressive Margarita, complete with paprika salt around the rim. It had all the classic flavours of a Margarita but with a delightful heat and smokiness to it and it would go perfectly with any of The Cooperage’s bar snacks.
Next up was the Cucumber and Elderflower Collins which was lovely and refreshing after the spice of the Margarita, the twist on the classic Tom Collins really allowed the elderflower notes to come out which complimented the gin very well.
Unfortunately the only infusion we didn’t immediately fall in love with was the Spiced Apple Rum Punch, but we put this down to first night nerves as the flavours were all there, it just lacked the finish that the other cocktails during the night had.
Although we didn’t try them, The Chilli and Lemongrass Moscow Mule and the Smoked Bacon Manhattan means we will definitely be making a return visit just to try these two.
The Cooperage haven’t neglected the rest of the cocktails menu however, with a mix of classics and newer concoctions all priced at £6.95 each, a very reasonable price for the quality of drinks we tasted. We definitely recommend the Kraken Sours if you pay a visit, and the Sidecar is also worth a taste.
And we couldn’t round out talk of cocktails without mentioning one of Nick’s favourite cocktails, his Rum Old Fashioned made with Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros. This wasn’t just any Old Fashioned though, the rum had been infusing in a specially prepared barrel rinsed with coffee and the result was absolutely out of this world. It’s not on the menu, but if you pay a visit, make sure to seek one of these out (mention we sent you – i’m sure Nick won’t mind!).
As great as the cocktail were (and they really were great), the real stand out stars of the evening were the staff, every one we spoke to was friendly and really excited to be part of this new venture in Greenwich, talking passionately about the different cocktails and really showing an enthusiasm which in most bars is sorely lacking.
The Cooperage is open now and can be found at 161 Greenwich High Road. They’re open Wednesday to Saturday 5pm till late, and currently have live music once a month.
Find out more about the Cooperage at www.davy.co.uk/cooperage
and you can follow them on Twitter @Cooperage_SE10
We’re really excited about this one. Davy’s wine bar has long been a Greenwich institution, but they’ve decided to branch out and make use of their amazing underground vault (previously used for spirit bottling and as a brewery), turning it into a cocktail bar called The Cooperage.
Opening on the 25th September, The Cooperage we hope will bring a well needed injection of quality cocktail making to Greenwich. We’ll get a sneak peek of the full cocktail menu at the opening but we’ve already heard about the infused spirits stored in old oak casks at the back of the bar and the apple spiced rum should make for a delightful treat as the nights start drawing in.
We’ll have a full review next week but for now here’s a look inside the bar
Find out more about the Cooperage at www.davy.co.uk/cooperage
and you can follow them on Twitter @Cooperage_SE10
The Cooperage 161 Greenwich High Road SE10 8JA