Top Shelf Mai Tai with Hampden Great House

This new expression from Jamaica’s Hampden Estate is a long-aged rum said to be in the style preferred historically at the estate. Bottled at cask strength at 59% ABV and featuring the high ester count that Hampden is famous for, this is a rum that is so full of flavor that it might be difficult to sip neat. I found that just a small ice cube smoothed out some of the rough edges.

Some would say that an expensive rum like this should be never used in a cocktail, but as someone who enjoys Mai Tais with bold, flavorful rums I can’t think of a better choice for a rum to employ in this rum-forward cocktail. And if it ain’t cheap, well, I’m worth it!

Indeed, this rum shines in a Mai Tai! Thick and rich flavors are still present but are done in a way that’s so much more approachable. One of the best Mai Tais I’ve ever made at home.

It’s possible you might be able to recreate a similar taste profile using a combination of less-expensive Jamaican rums, such as Appleton 12 along with Hampden’s Rum Fire. But I feel no guilt going straight to the top shelf.

Hampden Great House is becoming available in the United State this month. Check your local or online craft liquor store. Get it now, before it’s gone.

Plantation Xaymaca Rum

Running low on my Plantation Xaymaca so had to make sure I have a replacement ready. Even better there was a $3 off coupon at Total Wine so this bottle was just $16. Such a great value for a wonderful 100% Pot Still Rum from Jamaica. I like the new label and the straw tie will be removed once I crack it open to use.

An excellent “gold Jamaican rum” for cocktails, neat, or in a Mai Tai.

Appleton Estate Extra 12

Picked up this vintage bottle at a local liquor store, to pair with the more recent Appleton 12 Rare Blend and Appleton 12 Rare Casks releases in my collection. This bottle has a Campari label so would have been from sometime after 2012.

I don’t believe in holding rum without trying it so I cracked it open. Tastes like Appleton 12, wouldn’t you believe it? My favorite rum. So easy to drink, without added sugar. And great in cocktails. Appleton 12 remains my recommended one-rum Mai Tai.

My Favorite Rum for National Rum Day

For the post today I thought I’d highlight my favorite rum: Appleton 12.

Back ten years ago, before I got deeply into rum, Appleton was my go-to answer for a rum to be gifted. Later, as I started to explore rum I saw that Appleton 12 was specifically called for in Mai Tai recipes from Beachbum Berry and Martin Cate. I obtained this expression myself and never looked back.

I’ve tried hundreds of rum since, and enjoyed most of them. Yet Appleton 12 remains my favorite for its rich, smooth taste, wide availability, and attainable price point. It is delightful when sampled neat. But not so expensive that you feel like you’re wasting money when you put it into a Mai Tai. It is my go-to “one rum” Mai Tai rum when ordering at a bar, and it remains an important part of my four-rum Ultimate Mai Tai rum blend.

Pictures are the last several vintages of this rum. The new Rare Casks edition continues the tradition wonderfully but I did make it a point to buy two bottles of the precious Rare Blend for safe keeping.

Happy National Rum Day, rum family.

Jamaican Independence Day

Jamaica won independance on August 6, 1962, so what better way for me to celebrate than with a Planter’s Punch with three of Jamaica’s finest rums? The Planter’s Punch is a historical cocktail but largely ignored in the native country these days (where overproof rum with Ting soda is far more popular). But, it is one of my favorites. Especially this recipe that Jeff “Beachbum” Berry shared in the Beachbum Berry Remixed book and in the Total Tiki app for iOS/iPadOS.

Rather than just the single rum called in the original recipe, Coruba, I split the base and added some higher end Jamaican rums.

Stephen Remsberg Planter’s Punch
¾ oz Lime Juice
1 oz Sugar Syrup
1 oz Coruba Dark rum
1 oz Appleton 12 Rare Casks rum
1 oz Hampden Estate Pure Single Jamaican rum
3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Serve in a tall glass. Refreshing!

Glassware by The Reef Palm Springs

Better Than You Think

It is fashionable among rum nerds to naysay Myers’s but this White Jamaican rum ain’t bad for the price. Way better than the unaged Puerto Rican rums to me. Don’t get me wrong though, this is a mixer not a sipper.

It made a very nice Daiquiri.

Mai Tai Rums

What kind of rum should you use in a Mai Tai? We discuss the history of Mai Tai rums and offer some suggestions for making great Mai Tais at home.

New Appleton 8 Year Old Reserve

Appleton Reserve is the “middle tier” of Appleton’s mainstream rum brands, sitting in between the lightly aged Appleton Signature and the long aged Appleton 12 Rare Casks. It’s a longer aged rum but is still generally positioned as a mixing rum.

The new edition is an updated blend at 43% ABV (up from 40%) and confers a full 8-year age statement. As with all Jamaican rums, the age statement is the minimum number of years for the rums blended in the finished bottle.

I loved the old Appleton Reserve and it’s wonderful in a Pampanito cocktail from Smuggler’s Cove, and of course in a 1944 Mai Tai. But the new blend definitely is more suited for sipping. I’m tasting a bit more of the vanilla and caramel typically seen in rum aged in oak.

I’m really happy with the new Appleton 8 Year Old Reserve release.

New Appleton 12

Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rum has been my favored rum for a 1 rum Mai Tai for a while now. Previously known as “Rare Blend,” it’s now called “Rare Casks” as part of the new label and bottle style that is moving across all three of the mainstream Appleton rum brands (Signature, Reserve 8, and 12 Rare). While the Reserve 8 is a assuredly a new blend (the ABV goes from 40 to 43), supposedly the 12 is not changing. But I heard from some people online that it was different.

In the Mai Tai: I prepared two Mai Tais identical except for the rum. I could not taste the difference.

In the glass: tasting the two rums neat, I do taste a slight difference. The older Rare Blend has more of an oak barrel taste, whereas the Rare Casks does have a hint more of a Jamaican funk present. Very slight differences. It’s still a great rum that’s available widely for a very good price ($33 at Costco, mid-$40s at fine liquor stores). Go out and get it.

The new bottle takes up a bit less surface area in my liquor cabinet, and now features a cork (!). It still features the gold and black color scheme and now more prominently displays the signature of master blender Joy Spence. I’m totally liking this new bottle style.