Monday, January 9, 2012

Some Rye, Some Rum, and the Rose Bowl

Having returned from a sunny land where rum and golf were plentiful, it was a harsh reality to return to my apartment and find that not only was there no golf to be had (expected), there was also no rum!  This tends to happen to me rather frequently, because I forget that I really like rum.  I spend too much of my time buying bourbon, and not enough time on its sugar based, yet equally complex, cousin.  So in my first liquor store(s) run after returning to tepid Somerville, I picked up three necessities for the Rose Bowl festivities.

First, I couldn't pass up a bottle of the Willett Distillery 3 year Single Barrel Rye Whiskey which has quickly become one of my go-to bourbons/ryes.  While I am a Bourbon enthusiast by birth and heritage, there are times when I am more in the mood for the extra pepperiness that Rye brings to the table.  It has a slightly sharper flavor profile and can be more assertive than Bourbon, where the rye content is mellowed with wheat and corn.  For the legal differences between the two, you can look here for rye, and here for bourbon.  The CliffNotes version: Rye whiskey must be at least 51% rye, and Bourbon Whiskey must be at least 51% corn.

This is a fantastic whiskey, and it's available in local stores (such as Cambridge Wine and Sprits in Fresh Pond) for about $30-$35/bottle, which counts as an extraordinary value in my book.  This is a whiskey that will likely command twice that price once Willett becomes more established as a brand.  I've been drinking this neat with one rock and find that it has strong caramel flavors as well as leather and toasted oak.  I'd hesitate to mix this with anything, but I suspect that you could make one hell of a manhattan or sazerac with it.

The second necessity that I picked up was a bottle of Rhum Barbancourt 4 Year.  Barbancourt makes an excellent range of rums, and are unique in that they are one of the only, if not the only, Haitian rum available in the USA.  Though Haiti obviously has a centuries long tradition of cultivating sugar cane, and therefore rum production, their products rarely leave the country itself.  Barbancourt is reasonably easy to find, and the most common are the 4-year and the 8-year.  The 4-year will run you about $20 for a bottle, and is an absurd value.  The Barbancourt rums are unique in that they see extensive oak aging, which adds a whiskey-like taste to the finish.  I find this delicious and enjoy that it is not as cloying as many rums are.  I suggest this as a sipping rum, served on the rocks with a wedge of lime.  While you certainly could mix it, it won't bring the expected sweetness to a mixed drink.  I could imagine making a sort of mint julep with it would be wonderful though.  In fact, I must remember to try this when the mint starts popping up in my mother's garden this spring.

The final necessity that I picked up at the liquor store was more directly related to the football game taking place that night.  I needed beer and it didn't take long for me to make a decision when I saw a beautiful case of 24 Schlitz TallBoys sitting right beside the rum section.  Call me nostalgic, but nothing refreshes me like a cold Schlitz.  Of all the trendy retro/hipster brews (also including Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lone Star, and Narragansett), Schlitz is my favorite.  It's the only one that has a slightly different taste than your average Bud Light or Coors Original.  Plus it's just awesome to be drinking Schlitz.  Needless to say, the guests enjoyed many a Schlitz, and movements have been made in an attempt to secure a keg of Schlitz for next year's summer party.

Happy Monday everyone, and enjoy LSU/'Bama tonight.

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