Rum is the language of the British Virgin Islands. I discovered this while seeking both while sailing just off Jost Van Dyke, a rum soaked island in these waters. During the 1980's I sailed extensively through the liquid that surrounded these islands seeking flavor. My families boat, a magnificent Little Harbor sailboat, hand built and crafted using the best available equipment, served as the platform for my dreams that would eventually turn into my career.
Rum and sailing yachts hold a place in history for as long as ships have plied the cerulean blue water in the BVI.
They've been making rum around these parts for hundreds of years, not all of it drinkable! Fortunately there is good rum to be found and that is the stuff that I remember. Not the firewater that ages scarcely as long as it takes to travel from the still to the deck of your yacht, but a generous slurp. Rum in my memory was not the fourth pina colada of the day, but an elegant sip out of a brandy snifter for dessert. I appreciate good rum and reward the restaurant that holds this digestive as an important part of the meal as the wine and the meal itself.
Each island in the BVI has their fine food supplemented by the finest in liquid comestibles. Rum may start the meal as an Agricole-style in a Ti Punch or carefully spun into sour and fizzes with freshly squeezed tropical juices. These are my memories. There are carts that sit by displays of desserts, brimming with Cognac, Armagnac, more bottles of Rhum Agricole and what caught my young eye, dark rums from plantations in the BVI and elsewhere in the islands.
These were not the Booze Cruise varieties, but the finest drinks that money could buy!
Richland Rum to my palate reminds me of these dinners. With its handsome shape that brings to mind a pot still, or perhaps a section of the sugar cane itself, what is inside the bottle means much more.
This is one of the best rums from the United States or anywhere for that matter. Best meaning, true to the flavor of the cane. Because Richland Rum is made with sugar cane syrup and water.
There are no spices, nor caramel coloring, nor artificial flavoring agents. This is rum as true as my memories of sailing and the dreams that come to light whenever I drink rum of this quality. For Richland Rum is quality rum. It may be better than anything you have ever tasted prior.
But what is that on the label? Georgia Rum? Yes my friends. This rum is distilled in small batches in a copper pot still, located not in the islands of the Caribbean, but in Georgia! Richland, Georgia is pretty far from the Caribbean the last time that I glanced at an atlas. Yet it tastes as pure and determined as any of the finer rums from the Caribbean islands, if not better!
I would treat this rum with as much reverence as you are able. That means in a glass that resonates with you and if you choose to mix with Richland Rum, use great ice. Not smelling like last week's garlic pasta that is still lurking in the recesses of the fridge!
If I was asked what to do with Richland Rum, I'd have to say very little.
Spanish Saddle leather in the nose gives way to deeper aromatics of freshly minced pipe tobacco enrobed in dark chocolate pastilles. This is sophisticated stuff and it is worthy of your finest crystal snifter that belonged to your grandfather.
There are crushed wet stones and cedar cigar box that reveal themselves in the finish. This moves into a beguiling swirl of toasty brown butter and sea salt sprinkled, chocolate dipped espresso beans.
Richland Rum is dessert in the glass, but not for a second is this a sugary sweet dessert. I'm moving closer to butterscotch pudding (finished with Scotch Whisky) or brown bread pudding, soaked in hard sauce and flamed with more of this excellent rum.
If you should choose to mix a cocktail with Richland Rum, may I suggest slightly charring your fruit before juicing it?
I'd take a pineapple, slice it into rounds and char them over the flame of a charcoal brazier. A cast iron pan works too. Let cool and then juice. I'd finish with some El Guapo Holiday Pie Bitters if you can find them.
All good stuff.
Old Cigar Boxes
2 oz. Richland Rum
2 oz. Grilled (and cooled) Pineapple juice
1 oz. seltzer water
4 drops El Guapo Holiday Pie Cocktail Bitters
To a tall glass, pack with crushed ice
Add the Richland Rum and the grilled pineapple juice
Add the seltzer- just a splash really
Add the El Guapo Bitters
Add a tall straw and serve...