Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Spirit that Carried Colonial America to a Revolution

Christopher Columbus Voyages
     Sugar culture in the Americas in turn began with Columbus who brought sugar cane to the Caribbean in 1493. where, it flourished.  The popular and profitable sugar refineries had two major problems: rats and molasses. Rats, whose sweet teeth could do in up to 5 percent of a given sugar crop per year, were variously dealt with by poison, ferrets, dogs, and slaves armed with clubs.   Molasses, though less damaging, was messier. It was a by-product of the sugar-making process: the boiled cane syrup was cooled and cured in clay pots with drainage holes in the bottom; as the syrup crystallized to form sugar, the leftovers–in the form of dark, caramelized goo that oozed out of the holes. 

Barbados Sugar Plantation Circa 1600"s
     On average, about one pound of molasses was made for every two pounds of sugar, and nobody knew what to do with it. Some was fed to slaves and livestock; some was mixed with lime and horsehair to make mortar; and some was used to concoct a very ineffective treatment for syphilis. Most, however, to the tune of millions of gallons a year, was simply tossed into the sea.     No one knows who first noticed that molasses could be fermented to generate alcohol, but the breakthrough may have occurred on Barbados, a tiny pear-shaped island at the tail end of the Lesser Antilles. There, in 1647, a chatty visitor named Richard Ligon attended a party at which he was treated to a feast that included suckling pig, pineapple, and a throat-searing drink known as “kill-devil,” an early moniker for rum.   Though undeniably alcoholic, “Kill Devil” doesn’t seem to have been tasty, even the perennially upbeat Ligon describes it as “not very pleasant.”   More forthright critics called it “rough and disagreeable” or “hot, hellish, and terrible.” Nevertheless, it sold like hotcakes.

Medford, Mass Ship Building and Rum Distillery of Colonial Times
    Pirates, traditionally, accounted for a lot of it; excavations at Port Royal, Jamaica, a famous pirate hideaway  that was once dubbed “the wickedest city in the world”, turned up hundreds of rum bottles.   Even more was sold to the North American colonies. In 1699, a British observer commented that rum was “much loved by the American English” as “the Comforter of their Souls, the Preserver of their Bodies, the Remover of their Cares, and Promoter of their Mirth.” It was also a sovereign remedy, he added, for “Grumbling of the Guts” and chilblains.      By the early 18th century, nearly all the rum exported from the West Indies went straight to North America, between 1726 and 1730, Barbados and Antigua alone shipped out over 900,000 gallons.    American colonists were not only importing rum; they were distilling their own.  As of 1770, there were over 150 rum distilleries in New England, and the colonists, collectively, were importing 6.5 million gallons of West Indian molasses, and turning it into five million gallons of rum. One estimate from the time of the Revolutionary War puts American rum consumption at nearly four gallons per person per year. Unfortunately, most of it wasn’t very good, but it did have the advantage of being cheap.
      The Molasses Act of 1763 had called for a tax of sixpence per gallon on non-British sugar and molasses imported into the North American colonies. This measure had been proposed by sugar growers in the British West Indies who wanted Parliament’s assistance to force the colonies to buy their produce, not the less expensive sugar of the competing Spanish and French islands. The sixpence tax was high and, if strictly enforced, would have caused severe hardship for the New England distilleries. Rum was a great social lubricant of the day and was much in demand throughout the colonies, but heavy taxation could put the beverage out of the reach of many in the lower reaches of society.  The problem with this Sugar Act was they could not really enforce it.  The colonists were smuggling the non-British molasses into the country.  Later, the Sugar Act of 1764 was passed.   The ever-frugal New Englanders worked their way around the tax by bribing customs officials.   British enforcement officers were aware of what was happening, but followed the “salutary neglect" of the colonies. Merchants on both sides of the Atlantic were prospering, so why rock the boat?  
     It would be these kind of taxes that would eventually lead the colonies to war with the British.  Even the start of the war began with rum.  Did you know that during his ride Revere made a little pit stop in Medford, Massachusetts at the home of Captain Isaac Hall. Captain Hall happened to be a distiller of rum, and Medford happened to be the rum capital of America at the time. Being a good host, Captain Hall started pouring flagons of rum, and the rest, as they say, is history.   By the time Revere saddled up again, he’d "sampled his fair share" of Captain
Paul Revere's Ride 1775
Hall’s hospitality and “he who came a silent horseman, departed a virile and vociferous crusader, with a cry of defiance and not of fear.” Not surprisingly, Revere was “pulled over” by the authorities (Redcoats) and detained for an hour before being released.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Atlantico Introduces a Bold New Look for the Line

      Atlantico Rum, from the Dominican Republic, is introducing a bold new look. It is inspired by classic ceramic tiles found throughout the Caribbean, creating a fresh, distinct design that clearly stands out from other rums. 
     "We love the Caribbean, particularly our home in the Dominican Republic. The people, food, culture and lifestyle are simply incredible. We wanted to find a way to capture the vibrancy and flavor of the Caribbean in our packaging while doing it in a classy way that is different than any other rum," said Brandon Lieb, Atlantico's Co-Founder. "With our new look, we are communicating Atlantico's hand-crafted credentials, unique process and flavor notes while transporting the imagination as much as the palate," adds fellow Co-Founder Aleco Azqueta.
     Atlantico sourced materials from all over the world to achieve its design goals.  The bottles, produced in France, are rounded with a heavy glass base. The wood and cork closures come from Portugal and are debossed with an updated Atlantico logo. All labels come from Northern California and include tasting notes, raw material information, barrel types used, individual bottle numbers and the signatures of the two founders. The designs are the work of Los Angeles-based luxury design firm M+.    "I couldn't be happier with the new design," adds singer Enrique Iglesiaswho is a partner in Atlantico. "It has a timeless, sexy look that captures the spirit of the Caribbean." 

Travel Day to Boston then Mooresville

Mom Leonard
     Today is a travel day for me, I'm heading to Boston and then drive down to Taunton to visit for the day with my Mother.  I make this trip every year to spend a little time with my mother and catch up on what is going on with her.

     She turned 96 last February and is doing very well, she still lives alone and manages everything for herself.  I'm very proud of her and her stubbornness to live life on her own terms.  Determined to make 100, it is always a joy to travel up and spend some time with here each year at this time.

     It isn't a bad thing either for me to get off of the rock for a few days either.   After a visit with mom, it is off to Mooresville, North Carolina for a few days to take care of some issues at the house.  There are a couple of things that I need to take care of to help make it more salable in the current market.  Once I get the work done there it will be back to Key West on Friday and back to work on Saturday.  Looking forward to a fun and productive trip.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ron Barceló And Artist Ruben Ubiera Launch Limited Edition Bottle for Barceló Añejo Rum

Ruben Ubiera
     Announcing a first-time collaboration for the Dominican Rum producer as part of an artist series.   Blending art, spirit and the proud Dominican heritage.   Ron Barcelo has partnered with neo-figurative artist Ruben Ubiera who has created the first of the limited edition bottle for Barceló Añejo Rum.   Inspired by his own personal experiences, the Dominican born, New York raised and Miami based artist created this energized design on a metallic gold background in his signature Postgraffism style.

     The interpretation best personifies Ron Barceló Añejo, a golden, amber rum whose bold, rich notes hold woody aromas of butterscotch and toffee with flavors of vanilla, caramel and spice.  The Ruben Ubiera Limited Edition Barcelo Añejo 750ml bottle is now available at retail stores in the east coast markets of Florida, New Jersey and New York.   It will begin rolling out in other U.S. markets by July 2017.   Quantities of the Ruben Ubiera bottle are very limited; only 1,000 cases will be available for the U.S.

     Special bottles like this that bring out the taste of good rum with the heritage is a great thing not only for the brand and the artist, but brings an opportunity to share it with the world.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Beautiful Day on the Water at Bahia Honda

     This week for the first time in over a month we got to return to Baja Honda State park.   It was a beautiful sunny day that we spent out on the Kayak and the boat just soaking up the sun and the sea.  I just wish that schedules and weather would get back to normal soon and we can spend more time out on the water and specifically at Baja Honda.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Antigua Distillery Hit by 2500 Metric Ton Molasses Spill

Molasses Flows Down into the Streets
    Antigua Distillery, producer of English Harbour Rum, Cavalier Rum and Kokocaribe Rum, discovered the molasses leaking from the distillery’s 2500 metric ton capacity storage tank, which was delivered the previous day. A thick layer of foam had formed on top of the molasses and was found to be leaking through the vents under the roof of the tank.   The ship was then immediately notified to stop pumping.  Once the overflow of foam subsided, pumping resumed and was completed by 10.30 pm.
    Sunday morning, the main storage tank located at the deep-water harbor began foaming over again. The foaming later subsided after a vacuum truck removed the spill-over molasses and additional truckloads of backfill were brought in.  Efforts to remove the spill have been underway since Saturday evening. Truckloads of backfill and a backhoe have been brought in to spread the fill, and to absorb the excess molasses both inside the distillery compound, and on the main road in front of the distillery.
     A water truck was also brought in to wash the main road of any residual molasses that may have traveled onto it from the storage tank.   The primary concern is the pungent odor emitted by the spill. The distillery is working to ensure that the situation will be fully contained by this weekend.  The distillery’s managing director Anthony Bento admitted “full responsibility” for the “unusual” incident, which is the first of its kind in the company’s 85-year history.
     “The company has always placed an emphasis on ensuring the environment is not endangered as a result of our activities.   For the past two years, the company has been involved in a pilot study with a US biotechnology firm to find ways of managing its effluent. This is a Caribbean-wide problem in the rum industry.”  Antigua Distillery are currently conducting further investigations into what caused the accident.

     Molasses spills are rare but can be incredibly serious, not only for the environment, but to people close by.   The most famous molasses-related incident is the Great Molasses Flood, also known as the Boston Molasses Disaster, which happened on 15 January, 1919 at the Purity Distilling Company in Boston, Massachusetts.  A large molasses storage tank burst spewing forth a wave of molasses through the streets at an estimated 35 mph, killing 21 and injuring 150. Almost a century after the incident, residents still claim that on hot summer days the area still smells of molasses.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The One That Lost the Least is the Winner!

Bacardi Takes Back the Number One Sales Position for Rum
     Bacardí has reclaimed its title as the world’s best-selling rum brand.   The Spirit Business has released its The Brand Champions 2017 data, which ranks the world’s best-selling rum brands. Bacardí’s sales fell 1.09% in  to 17.23 million cases, however it was still enough to return the brand to the top spot.  Philippines-made rum Tanduay is the world’s second-largest rum brand, recording sales of 16.6 million cases in 2016.   Mc Dowell’s No. 1 Celebration finished third with sales of 14.9 million cases.  It is not a good omen for the category that the company with the smallest decline in sales becomes the sales champion.

     McDowell’s No.1 Celebration – owned by Diageo subsidiary United Spirits Limited (USL) – took the top title from Bacardi in 2014, but figures now show that McDowell’s took an 8% drop – making it the world’s third best-selling rum brand.   USL was hit by the complete ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in India's Bihar region as well as operating model changes.

     William Grant & Sons has confirmed that Sailor Jerry rum passed the mark of one million cases sales mark for the first time in 2016, a volume sales increase of 3.8% making it the second best-selling spiced rum after Captain Morgan. “The US remains our biggest market and they have done a great job in growing our share of the spiced rum category through consistent visibility in the off trade, grass root partnerships led by our local brand ambassadors, and impactful experiential partnerships,” said Chin Ru Foo, global brand director, Sailor Jerry, told the spirits business.

     Earlier this week, global rum ambassador Ian Burrell told Drinks International the rum category would benefit from having regulated classifications around the world.   There is no regulated classification of rum, even though some areas do have their own rules and regulations on the spirit".   There are lots of different interpretations of what can be called rum.   Rum has an old man stigma, a pirate’s drink which can only be drunk with coke.  But some of the rum cocktails produced here have been amazing and that can only help the image of the category.   The one area of growth in the category is the premium and ultra-premium expressions.