Rum Review: Mount Gay Origin Series Copper Stills vol 2

I picked up this two-pack of Mount Gay rums at the “bottle shop” at The Kon-Tiki in Oakland and have really enjoyed it. The release is from a few years back and limited to 7200 bottles, but I’m surprised there are still bottles in the market. The release includes two Mount Gay rums made from the same materials, and aged in the same barrels. The difference is that one bottle was distilled in the Copper Double Pot Still and the other in Mount Gay’s Copper Column Still. An included booklet goes into further details about the methods of distillation.

This was really interesting to me, having had more than my fair share of Barbados rums in the last year or two. The ABV for these releases is 43%, so while these aren’t cask strength releases you do gain an appreciation of how the method of distillation truly makes a meaningful difference in the end result. Most notably for me is that when I try each rum just by itself I do taste some of individual flavors that I remember from when I try a blended Barbados rum release from Mount Gay. Both rums are quite good, though the Copper Pot is not nearly as bold and funky as the recent (and much pricer) 48% ABV Pot Still Rum release from Mount Gay (one of my favorite rums). As always, Mount Gay does a good job with the packaging. I think any rum enthusiast would enjoy comparing these two rums, and both have appeal.

As is the tradition here, we made a Mai Tai with these rums. But I was curious if I’d prefer each release on their own, or a blended release with equal parts of each rum. So, it was umtshootout” time and a blind taste test.

The verdict?

Blind taste preference was as follows:
First Place: Pot Still
Second Place: Blend
Third Place: Column

So, I’m still a Pot Still Rum man, but honestly all of these Mai Tais were quite delicious. But the Pot Still just had a deeper and more satisfying flavor.

Worthy Park Blind Taste Test

I posted this to my Instagram stories and it seems to have drawn some interest.

When I posted about Worthy Park 109 a couple days ago, I mentioned that this new black rum from Jamaica tasted more like a Demerara rum from Guyana than the funky rums that Worthy Park is most famous for. Those Worthy Park rums are most notably expressed with Rum-Bar Overproof, but also many of the Hamilton rums that use Worthy Park distillate as their base. And then some people said that 109 didn’t taste anything like a Demerara and I was only looking at the color. Well, I’ll never turn down a challenge.

Hence the blind taste test with some Jamaican, Demerara, and blended rums. I compared the WP109 to Hamilton 86 from Guyana, Blackwell Black Gold from Jamaica, and the new Hamilton Zombie Blend that is a blend of rums from Jamaica and Guyana.

Tasting Notes

To me, the 109 tasted most similar to Hamilton 86. I know that caramel coloring is present in both and in theory does not impart taste, but to me these were very close. The 109 being 100% pot still and higher ABV did have a better mouthfeel and a richer taste.

The Blackwell was a poor choice for this comparison, since it was so clearly not really in the same league as the others. Beside the lower ABV (40%) there definitely was a sugary taste that made it stand out. The color isn’t that black either. I should have maybe tried Coruba instead. I find the Hamilton Pot Still Black to be quite funky (using Worthy Park distillate) so that wouldn’t really have been a good comparison either. In other words, Worthy Park 109 isn’t just a higher proof “black Jamaican” but something a bit different.

As for the true Demerara/Jamaican hybrid, I found the funky notes in the Hamilton Zombie Blend to be quite forward. While delicious and wonderful (and easily sippable at 59% ABV) it too didn’t really taste like the Worthy Park 109.

As I mentioned in my post the other day, I found the rich and heavy and boozy characteristics of the Worthy Park 109 to be delightful in a Mai Tai where I’m looking for rich and heavy and boozy. This one is a keeper.

Painkiller Navy Rum Shootout

I had some Valencia oranges so was looking for a recipe only using OJ. Why not a Painkiller?

And why not experiment with the rum?

As has been well-documented (and well-litigated!) the Painkiller is supposed to be made with Pusser’s Navy-Style rum. They have a trademark on it, too.

There is nothing wrong with a Pusser’s Painkiller, and I prefer the higher percentage ABV of Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof for any of my Pussers-based cocktails. But since I had some extra OJ I thought I’d try giving the Gunpowder Proof a challenge but making one with Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum to compare to. Their ABVs are similar, but how about the taste?

Verdict: Everything is better with Jamaican rum!

It wasn’t even close; the Painkiller made with Smith & Cross was so much more flavorful and satisfying than the one made with Gunpowder Proof. I know I’m totally biased for Jamaican rum, but honestly I think anyone would prefer this.

Don’t Sue Me Painkiller
3 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Coconut Creme
2½ oz Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum

Glassware by Trader Vic’s and B-Rex. I like this blue color on this style glass.

Tres Puntos y una Raya and Three Dots and a Dash

I was challenged by @alxfritch to make a Three Dots with Tequila replacing the rums. It is pretty good but we still prefer the version with rum. Not a bad choice if you’re looking for something beyond the usual Margarita cocktail using Tequila.

I’m always up for the experiment.

Three Dots and a Dash by Don the Beachcomber
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Orange Juice
½ oz Honey Syrup
¼ oz Falernum
¼ oz Pimento Dram
1½ oz Aged Martinique Rhum
½ oz Demerara Rum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
6 oz Crushed Ice
Flash blend and garnish with three cherries (three dots) and a pineapple (and a dash)

Two Half-Sized Mai Tais

There is no rest at Ultimate Mai Tai HQ where we continuously strive to refine the best version of the world’s greatest cocktail.

Nothing to announce yet. Also, perfection is difficult, especially when sociopolitical and price factors come into play.

Painkiller Experiment

I’m always in the mood for a good recipe shootout/taste test, and Friday night seems like a great time for Painkillers.

I like a Painkiller from time to time, and Mrs. Mai Tai enjoys them frequently along with other coconut-forward cocktails. We both love the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum at Trader Sam’s which is basically a Painkiller.

Most recipes I’ve seen call for 4 oz of Pineapple Juice, but neither of us thought it should be that much forward with the Pineapple Juice, so we didn’t attempt that one. Instead, I made three variants with different ratios of Pineapple and Orange Juice.

All Painkillers feature the following:
1½ oz Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum
1 oz Lemon Hart 1804 Demerara Rum
1 oz Coconut Creme (Coco Real)

Version 1: left
3 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
Notice the froth on top

Version 2: center
1½ oz Pineapple Juice
1½ oz Orange Juice

Version 3: right
1 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Orange Juice



Verdict:
I was quite sure I wouldn’t like the first version with the most Pineapple Juice but it actually was my favorite. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mai Tai preferred the version with a higher amount of Orange Juice. So, I guess I’ll have both recipes on hand.

Ultimate Painkiller
1½ oz Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum
1 oz Lemon Hart 1804 Demerara Rum
1 oz Coconut Creme (Coco Real)
3 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Orange Juice

Mrs Mai Tai’s Painkiller
1½ oz Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum
1 oz Lemon Hart 1804 Demerara Rum
1 oz Coconut Creme (Coco Real)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Orange Juice

Glassware by The Kon-Tiki in Oakland

Orgeat Shootout

I’m always ready to give a new Orgeat a try. I’ve been on the record recommending the Latitude 29 Orgeat for some time, and in the past I’ve also liked BG Reynolds. This time I’m comparing Latitude 29 to the craft brand Liquid Alchemist and the mainstream brand Torani. The Mai Tais were made according to the 1944 recipe with Denizen Merchants Reserve rum.

Liquid Alchemist
I really liked their Coconut Syrup, so was eager to try the Orgeat. This has a very strong Almond Milk flavor, since that’s the primary ingredient. The Orgeat also contains Sugar, Sea Salt, Santham Gum, and Sunflower Leeithin. I used this in several cocktails and it seemed fine in some cocktails, but for me I don’t love the Almond Milk-forward flavor in the Mai Tai. So this was actually my least favorite of these three, though if you love Almond Milk your milage may vary.

Torani
This is a very mainstream syrup brand, often used for a sweetening coffee. Torani’s Almond/Orgeat Syrup contains Pure Cane Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Acacia Gum, Ester Gum, and preservatives. It has a sweet almond flavor, and while it’s nice to not see Corn Syrup there’s also no real almond either. The Mai Tai had a nice sweet flavor but definitely a with an artificial aftertaste. I’ve had worse Orgeat before, and Torani is very inexpensive. But we think that spending more on a higher quality Orgeat is worth it.

Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat
Still the reigning champion. Contains Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Almonds, Orange Blossom Water, Rose Water, and Organic Almond Essence. It’s got a wonderful Almond-forward flavor that’s just the right level of sweetness, and my Mai Tai was perfect. You can order this from www.orgeatworks.com.

Congrats to Latitude 29 for their 6th year anniversary of doing business in New Orleans. Loved my visit there a couple years ago. I had a trip to NOLA scrapped this year, but I hope to return soon.

Blue Curacao: Giffard vs. Senior

So many thanks to local tikiphile Cathie Wartelle for donating some of her Senior Blue Curacao for another shootout comparison with our reigning champion Giffard Curacao Bleu.

Last week we compared Giffard to the much cheaper Drillaud, and so this week it’s a more even playing field since the Senior is priced similarly (or in many places even higher). Once again, we did this in our Blue Hawai-Tai cocktail – though this time I did switch up the rums. We have Rum-Bar White Overproof and Denizen Aged White Rum for standing in this week.

In the glass: I found the Giffard to be a deeper shade of blue, and heavier and more complex on the tongue. The Senior is pleasant but just lacks a bit of depth – though it is 31% ABV compared to 25% for the Giffard. 

In the cocktail: The Senior Blue Curacao mixes well in the cocktail, and for sure helps this cocktail go down easy. The sweetness of Senior is similar to the Giffard, but once again the Giffard just has a little extra complexity in the cocktail that is a notable difference.

The verdict: unlike last time, price differences aren’t a factor, so Giffard is still our winner. If you’re at a liquor store and you had to choose between some $7 low-end Blue Curacao and Senior, should you feel bad going upscale? Absolutely not. The Senior Blue Curacao is a good liqueur. But pound for pound, the Giffard is better in our opinion.

Blue Hawai-Tai by Kevin Crossman
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz White Overproof Jamaican Rum
½ oz Aged White Rum
½ oz Orgeat
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Blue Curacao

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice.