November 28, 2016

Stolen Smoked Rum

As a writer and judge of spirits and wines for several decades, it is not unusual to receive  products for review that are being marketed with all sorts of angles -- oddly-shaped bottles, glitzy presentation boxes, etc.

I thought I had seen it all. But, the other day the UPS guy dropped off a package containing a police evidence bag. Well, what looks like an actual evidence bag (see accompanying photo), certainly a first in my experience.

Inside was a sample bottle of Stolen Smoked Rum, the latest product from a New Zealand company that was formed in 2010 and has been marketing a limited edition, six-year-old Jamaican pot still product called Stolen Overproof  Rum (123 proof). They like to create labels that appear to have a brand name obscured by a Sharpie pen, plus plays on the "stolen" theme.

The company says this is the first smoked rum in the world. I'll take them at their word, but considering that rum is second only to vodka in how many places around the globe it is made there is a chance someone somewhere has tried the smoking trick before.

Attention-getting marketing ploy
Stolen Smoked Rum is made from rum distilled in Trinidad from both sugar cane and molasses, fermented with a proprietary yeast strain, then aged for up to two years in used American oak whiskey barrels. It is infused with Colombian-grown Arabica coffee from same-day roasted beans, as well as with Madagascan vanilla beans and Moroccan fenugreek, then finished off by being exposed to wood smoke.

On first approach, the smoky notes hit the nose before those of the rum, but on the palate they are more balanced. While the smoke stays evident from nosing through aftertaste, the quality of the rum is not obscured -- all the preferred caramel vanilla notes, plus a touch of the char and the coffee, with the signature warmth of rum on the tongue and back of the throat.

I would not recommend drinking it straight, as I would with many other rums, but it would make a good base for cocktails, particularly those with citrusy elements. There are a number of recipes available on the company website.

Stolen Smoked Rum, bottled at 42% abv (84 proof), carries a suggested retail price of $19.99 for the 750ml bottle. It currently is available in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee.

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