Sommelier Jill Mott shares her thoughts about rum and rhum agricole:
On my most recent trip to Hawaii, it was the first time in more than a decade that my travels didn’t include grapevines. I thought rest and relaxation would rule my stay but I ended up enthralled by rum especially, the Mai Tai. Couple that with my stalwart dedication to the three-rum daiquiri and man, are those green lights for a summer of fun (& rum)! The history of the Tiki Bar goes back to the 1930s but we won’t dive too deep on that here, for potent cocktails await and what better spirit to celebrate summer than R(H)UM! Here’s to the perfect spirit for vernal cocktailing.
RUM V. RHUM AGRICOLE
Rum is a spirit distilled from cane sugar’s good renderings, usually molasses. Rhum Agricole is unique in that its distilled, pressed cane sugar, which sounds more pure but can result in a strong nectar that has a wild side ester-wise and a unique texture that’s not always as “smooth”. Rum itself is a grand mixer as it provides a lovely tropical backbone to most Tiki favorites but let me tell you, throw in a little Rhum Agricole and you’ll up your summer game ten fold. Their combination yin & yang, Libra, a balancing at that allows your cocktails to achieve higher levels of complexity and nuance. Think of sea salt on top of a chocolate chip cookie… Guests often muse, “Hot dang, why is this SO good?” Rum of course has a Caribbean-based history but can be made all over the world. Rhum Agricole is usually crafted in French-speaking nations like Martinique. Get ready for the Summer. Of. R(h)um.
RHUM J.M WHITE RHUM AGRICOLE | MARTINIQUE
Rhum J.M. is the last 100% estate grown sugar cane rum producer on the island of Martinique thus their raw material is at the fore. Their sugar cane is planted to volcanic soils giving the spirit edge and is aged in stainless steel to preserve the cane’s delicate yet sauvage nature. That said, it’s cut to 100 proof so this drinks with intensity. Pure bruised fruits brim with soul funk shine then almonds arrive on the finish making this enjoyable to taste on its own and brings Tiki drinks to an entirely new realm of possibilities.
DUQUESNE ELEVE SOUS BOIS RHUM AGRICOLE | MARTINIQUE
This underestimated Rhum Agricole was aged for 18 months in used bourbon and whiskey barrels which softens its feral core and gives it slightly sweet-smelling undertones of vanilla and maple and wood. On the palate, the rhum tones really shine through, as if you were biting into a pure sugar cane all while receiving tannin from the wood. Perfect for the “aged” r(hum) portion of a well-made Tiki drink and a nice sipper by the campfire.
TWO JAMES ‘DOCTOR BIRD’ RUM | MICHIGAN + JAMAICA
The folks at Two James made a showstopper when they blended this one. Hailing from Detroit (no sugar cane there!), they ship unique Jamaican rum to their distillery and finish it in Moscatel casks. The result is a gorgeously generous nose of wild figs, kumquat marmalade, spice, leather, cane sugar, and more! that will certainly give a Tiki drink some sass. This will bring your three rum daiquiri to the next level.
JILL‘S THREE RUM DAIQUARI
JILL‘S MAI TAI
Approx. 4.5 of which just under half is R(H)UM! I LOVE a combo of light agricole like the Rhum J.M. above and an aged smoother rum. Experiment because the sky’s the limit, especially if you start tossing in rums with notions of spice like the Two James! You’ll need fresh-squeezed lime juice (shy of one ounce). Many places use orgeat which is a almond milk nectar soaked with orange blossom water and a neutral spirit. I simply replace orgeat with 3/4 ounce of almond milk and 1/4 ounce of something like Grand Marnier which omits me needing to add Triple Sec later. Add less than 1/4 ounce of simple syrup and shake for a good 20-30 seconds or so. Again, taste before adding ice. If it’s a little too strong it’s likely perfect b/c the ice cubes will allow it to dilute to perfection. After you’ve put the Mai Tai on ice, gently pour a heavy 1/4 ounce of very strong r(h)um on top known as a float. An ocean coast just came to you!
– Jill Mott
Originally aired on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 on the Morning Show with Emily Reese.