Archive for the ‘Tastings and comparisons’ Category

Guatemalan Rum: Zacapa versus Botran

Sunday, March 21st, 2010


While offering pleasant sojourning, the Guatemalan rum landscape does not exactly excite with its variety. Everything comes from a single company, Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala, though that company produces at least two labels – Zacapa and Botran.

Zacapa represents the glamorous international face of Guatemalan rum: attractive, commercialized, definitely expensive, and while it makes for exceedingly pleasant company, you can’t help suppressing the occasional yawn and wondering how thick that make up is. Botran in contrast is the slightly homely stay-at-home sister, working a nine-to-five job and hurrying home to cook instead of mixing with high society, and generally getting taken for granted by all and sundry. Zacapa smugly preens itself from little clusters of high priced bottles in duty free stores and on the top shelves of smarter bars, while Botran runs itself ragged covering the shelves of local supermarkets and bars, where it jostles for attention with the anise liqueur that is ubiquitous in Latin America.The question then is this: does Zacapa deserve to be Guatemala’s Ambassador of Rum?

Being a rebel, and a fan of rum with a glow to it, I’m going to support the underdog and say I rather like Botran.

Exhibits A through E follow.


Brugal Siglo de Oro Tasting

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Yesterday was supposed to see me head from Sosua to Puerto Plata to tour the Brugal Distillery.  Unfortunately a hurricane blowing across the island messed up my plans.  The heavens opened during breakfast, and leaving the hotel suddenly seemed a very bad idea.  Even leaving the restaurant was going to mean getting very wet. The Brugal tour would have to wait until Monday.

The weather settled a little in the afternoon, and I took advantage of the break in the rain to hop in a shared taxi to Caberete, a smaller settlement several kilometers down the road.  I had heard a rumor that beside the Caberete petrol station was a shop stocking Siglo de Oro and selling it at non-extortionate prices.



Brugal Rum Tasting: Live from the Dominican Republic!

Friday, August 15th, 2008




I first tasted Brugal rum in Shanghai, when Austrian mixologist Markus Bernthaler (formerly of Taras) all too briefly had a bottle of the Extra Viejo stashed on his top shelf. The Brugal Extra Viejo proved amazingly smooth and cognacy.  It was a rum unlike anything I had tasted before. I dropped back a couple of times with friends so they could have a taste too, and before long the bottle was gone. (more…)

Santo Domingo Rum Flight: Zacapa Centenario 23 Anos, Karukera 1995, and J.M. Martin

Thursday, August 7th, 2008



I dropped by Sofitel in Santo Domingo a few days ago trying to track down Brugal Siglo de Oro. I did not find the Siglo de Oro, but I did see they were offering interesting rum flights. I went back last night for their “Rums of the Caribbean” flight, comprising Zacapa 23 Anos, Karukera 1995, and J.M. Martin. I have no idea why Ron Zacapa, a Guatemalan rum produced near the Pacific, is included in a Caribbean rum flight. Maybe someone in the Caribbean is feeling jealous?





G’vine Gin Mini Tasting

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

My Tales of the Cocktail swag bag contained a miniature bottle of G’vine gin from France.  Time for a mini tasting. . .

I am sitting in a hotel room in the Caribbean with nothing besides the rest of my Tales of the Cocktail swag bag mini-bar, a maxi-bottle of Beefeater that came with the Tales of the Cocktail goodies, and some little bottles of Dominican Republic rum.  OK, and I also have my computer, clothes, toothbrush, etc.  What I was really getting at, in my typically convoluted manner, is that this post is not going to contain the words “double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with three drops of orange bitters and a lemon twist”.  I don’t even have ice handy.  I’ll drink the gin straight, then with tonic water.  No lemons or limes will be hurt in this tasting. (more…)

A Rum Brugal Festival and Tasting Ron Barcelo Imperial

Thursday, July 24th, 2008




I am now in the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo to be precise. Santo Domingo is a rough-around-the-edges sort of a place. The initial impression was lousy. Who appreciates arriving near midnight after delayed flights with no hotel booked, getting dumped by a taxi driver in a run-down area of town with no street lighting, discovering nobody speaks English and your Spanish teachers were a pack of lousy scam artists, and finally ending up in a roach-infested doss house called “El Refugio de Pirata”. No, really. That’s what it was called. I couldn’t make this stuff up. (more…)

Bruichladdich Tasting

Thursday, June 26th, 2008


Last night I headed to another of the monthly whiskey tastings put on by Glengarry’s. The focus was Bruichladdich, an Islay distillery I am not too familiar with.


Two Unusual Quinquinas: RinQuinQuin and Orange Colombo

Sunday, June 15th, 2008


To assist my anticipatory salivation ahead of Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown’s Tales of the Cocktail presentation on “The Cafes of Paris”, I have been taking a look at a few lesser known French aperitifs. Several weeks ago I took a look at Pineau des Charentes. Today I focus on a pair of fruit quinquinas.


Sketches from the Gin Palace: Being a Mixological Gin Comparison

Thursday, May 29th, 2008


The aim of this post is to compare different gins, and thus to learn about their character and uses in cocktails. Understanding the nuances of different gins is crucial to making good gin-based drinks, so the exercise of comparing gins is highly educational. The gins examined here represent a reasonably comprehensive snapshot of the ‘upper end’ of gins currently available in New Zealand, as well as a fair swathe of what is available internationally. (more…)

Genever, Geneva or Jenever? History and Product Comparison

Sunday, May 11th, 2008


Genever, the original gin, is a true old worldly spirit.

Genever was the original gin. Genever’s old fashioned credentials are highlighted by the way its producers play fast and loose with spelling. You can buy genever, geneva, genievre, jenever, jeniever, junever, and probably more; in English you might also find it called ‘Holland gin’ or ‘square gin’. Mark Twain once said he felt nothing but contempt for a man who could only spell a word one way. We can only imagine the esteem in which Mark Twain would have held genever producers. Genever was the popular gin style in the United States throughout most of the 19th Century, so Mark Twain surely found frequent occasion to reflect upon the orthographical creativity of its distillers. (more…)