girl + rum

My partner recently hosted a rum tasting but beforehand he did a trial run at home with me for an audience. Just me and seven rums – not a bad way to finish a work day!

Rum? Yep. RUM!

My partner recently hosted a rum tasting but beforehand he did a trial run at home with me for an audience. Just me and seven rums – not a bad way to finish a work day.

He took me through the different rums via English, Spanish and French distilling history. I made Captain Jack Sparrow jokes that were less than helpful. He told me great stories of piracy, slave trading, barrel-aging and blending. For an ex-whisky ambassador he sure knows a lot about rum too!

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A line up of rum

My rum knowledge is pretty limited so it was interesting to sit down to a tasting where my mind and palate weren’t cluttered by my own expectations of what I should or shouldn’t be tasting. The variations from rum to rum were incredible and not unlike beer in terms of range and depth of flavour.

The Rum: Goslings Black Seal

Like sipping a Christmas cake, full of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. When I revisited my empty glass the aromas were more like burnt sugar, giving you the sense you’d left the Christmas cake in the oven for too long. Perhaps something like a Sierra Nevada Big Foot with it’s port, raisin and spicy fruit cake flavours could match up nicely.

The Rum: English Harbour

English Harbour is one of my partner’s favourite rums. I liked the soft yet assertive flavours with honey and spice. It was probably the more subtle pick of the bunch but still packed plenty of flavour. In a way it made me think of a Kolsch, a delicate beer that is still full flavoured and complex.

 

Rum, rum and more rum

 

The Rum: Clement Creole Shrubb & Clement VSOP

These two Clement rum represented the French part of this rum journey. The Clement VSOP (very special old pale) was a funny combination of apples, smoke and cured meat. It reminded me of the first time I tried Schlenkerla Marzen, finding those meaty flavours in a beer was very strange but in a really good way.

The other Clement was a liqueur called Creole Shrubb made with orange peel and there’s no mistaking the orange. From the first sniff I exclaimed “jaffas!” with child-like delight. It’s super smooth and delicate and not too sweet.

The Rum: Matusalem 15 and 23 year old

The effect of aging was no better shown than with the 15 and 23 year old Matusalem rums from the Dominican Republic. I think these two were my favourites, the 15 yo gave familiar honey and spice flavours but it was the dried apple aromas that I particularly enjoyed.

Stepping things up to the 23 year old added a richness that reminded me of a fresh tray of Anzac biscuits, albeit some very boozy ones. I love that aroma of Anzac biscuits in beers too, I’ve gotten it from beers like Garage Project Red Rocks Reserve and Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest 2013.

 

 

The Quiet American + Loud Food 1

The Quiet American is a damn fine beer bursting with flavour so you need some loud food to go with it

Being down south, things move at a slightly slower pace so it has taken me a few extra days to get my hands on the latest Single Batch release from Little Creatures, The Quiet American.

I first heard about it when we did a Little Creatures Beer + Food Event at Five Bar in February. We had been lucky enough to have along Andy, one of the Little Creatures brewers, who hinted at the upcoming release. So I’ve been keeping my eye out and now, having read all about it for the last week and no less than 4 trips to the bottle shop I finally got some. Of course I looked like an indecisive alcoholic on the first 3 trips as I stood staring at the fridge doors. The last trip resembled more of a Indiana Jones / Holy Grail style moment as I spotted the bottles on the shelf though I grabbed 6, not just 1.

I also picked up the copy of The Critics Choice Australian Best Beers I had on order so it was a very happy, beery day!

Beer + Beer Book
A Great Beer Day

For those who don’t have a copy here’s the Top 10 and Congratulations to everyone!

  1. Feral Hop Hog
  2. Stone & Wood Pacific Ale
  3. Little Creatures Pale Ale
  4. Holgate Temptress
  5. Bridge Road Brewers Chevalier Saison
  6. Little Creatures The Big Dipper
  7. Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale
  8. Knappstein Reserve Lager
  9. Mountain Goat Hightail Ale
  10. Murray’s Angry Man Pale Ale

Little Creatures describes The Quiet American as a hybrid style. I prefer to think of it as the bastard child of a one night stand. The two parent styles who stumbled drunkenly on to each other are a Belgian Strong Ale and an American IPA. The nose is unmistakably fresh American hops, aromatic and raging with grapefruit and as though someone put a dollop of honey in there too. We’re talking proper honey too, the type you’d find in some country shed, made by a kind old lady named Betty. The Quiet American tastes rich, spicy and bursting with sugared orange, maybe even a hint of vanilla somewhere in there and distinct hop bitterness that comes together in an oh-so-nice contrast.

I was dying to try a little home cooking + beer matching and cook a dish with a good amount of heat (but not so much you burn off your taste buds) to go with IPA elements and some spice to go with the Belgian yeast. It had to be a dish screaming with the right flavours (hence by title of ‘loud food’) … so we made Cayenne Pepper Spiced Hake Fillet with Butter & Garlic Leeks, Mushrooms, Red Onion and Capsicum.

Cayenne Pepper, Oregano & Black Pepper
Preparing the Hake Fillets

The Quiet American washed over the Cayenne Pepper with ease and that great Cascade and Chinook Hop bitterness somehow boosts and settles the flavour at the same time. The red onion slightly caramalised so it went really well with the rich orange flavours of the beer and the leeks provided delicate spice.

Cayenne Spiced Hake Fillet matched with The Quiet American

We sat back after dinner and somehow our bottle of Ron Zacapa XO made it to the table. A sip of this followed by The Quiet American and oh-my-god. It was good. It was damn good! They complimented each other extremely well, rich orange notes, spice and alcohol sweetness from a bigger than normal booze level in both the rum and the beer. Of course that booziness may have also contributed to the happy feeling I was having but we’ll forget that for now.

A Great Beer Day – Ron Zacapa XO with LC Quiet American & 2011 The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers

Cayenne Pepper Spiced Hake Fillet with Butter & Garlic Leeks, Mushrooms, Red Onion and Capsicum

  • 2 x Hake Fish Fillets
  • Butter
  • 2 x cloves Garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 Leek, sliced
  • Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 Red Onion, sliced into wedges
  • 1/2 Red Capsicum
  • Cayenne Pepper, Plain Flour, pinch of Oregano, crack of Black Pepper and Egg White for the light coating