Spirits of Calgary: Flor de Caña Tasting @ Murrieta’s

3 07 2018

By Tyler Derksen

Last Thursday I had the privilege of attending a Flor de Caña rum tasting at Murrieta’s, hosted by enthusiastic Brand Ambassador Jeffrey Meyers.  I’m going to level with you:  I’m relatively new to the world of rum.  Until recently, much of my experience has been limited to highballs, but I am thoroughly enjoying learning more about this surprisingly complex sugar cane-based spirit.  For whatever reason, I have generally associated rum with two things:  the Pirates of the Caribbean movie and the Caribbean islands (although now that I write this, I’m guessing the former informs the latter).  Flor de Caña, however, is produced in the Central American country of Nicaragua, most definitely not an island or a Disney franchise of any kind.

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If you look closely, you’ll see the volcano…  (Photo Credit: The Whisky Exchange)

Flor de Caña traces its roots back 125 years, when was founded by the Pellas family, who moved to Nicaragua from Italy in 1875.  Originally intending to found a sugar cane plantation, the family began to distill spirit to celebrate the end of the harvest season with the area’s farmers.  Their distillation facility is located at the base of the San Cristobal volcano, which is featured prominently on its label.  Despite producing rum for local farmers for many years previous, it was not until 1937 that product from Flor de Caña became available for purchase by the public, and even then it was only in Nicaragua.  The company now exports internationally, remains family-owned and is now on its fifth generation of rum producers, which is a remarkable feat in today’s age of beverage conglomerations.

The name Flor de Caña translates to “flower of the cane”, which is a tip-of-the-hat to the practice of harvesting the sugar cane for rum distillation when the flowers that grow on it bloom.  Jeffrey Meyers took great pride in the Flor de Caña production process and emphasized that the distillery uses 100% molasses (a byproduct of the sugar refining process) for the production of its rum and does not use any added already-refined sugar.  Before being aged in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels, the spirit is distilled five times (which is, I think, the most that I have heard of a spirit being distilled and would almost surely result in a nearly neutral spirit pre-barrel maturation).  So, how does it taste? Read the rest of this entry »

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KWM Whisky Advent Calendar 2017: Day 16

16 12 2017

Two important beliefs that help make up my worldview are:  (1) Rum is delicious.  (2) Things soaked or aged in rum invariably taste better.  As such, I’ve wondered why there’s a relative dearth of rum cask whiskies out there, at least in comparison to the Bourbon Barrels and the (continual eternal string of) Oloroso Sherry Casks out there.  Thankfully, tonight, The Balvenie comes to the rescue…well, sort of, at least.  This is the first ever Balvenie calendar whisky that I’ve come across in 4 years, and it’s into the We’re Getting Serious portion of Advent, clocking in at $107 for a full-sized bottle.  It sells its rum influence hard, naming itself the “Caribbean Cask” and trumpeting that it is “Extra Matured In Rum Casks” (yes, “extra-matured” makes a second 2017 calendar appearance); a more careful review both brings that into some question and turns The Balvenie into a modern-day rum runner.

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Why is the rum gone?

This is stated to be a 14 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky.  The Balvenie’s website states that this whisky was first aged in traditional American oak whisky casks for…14 years before being transferred to Caribbean rum casks for finishing.  I’m no math expert, but obviously the time spent in rum could not be measured in years given the variables before us.  But the actual brevity of the entire marketing core of this whisky is forgiven by the best cask story I’ve come across in 4 years of calendars.  Most whiskies aged in other booze casks obtain used barrels from wine or spirit producers for their new use in whisky maturation.  Instead of obtaining used rum casks (which surely exist), however, The Balvenie opted to take their own American oak casks and FILL THEM UP WITH RUM (a West Indies blend of their own selection), only to then empty out the rum and fill the drained casks back up with the whisky for a brief aging interlude.  The ideal, and completely true, epilogue of the story:  The Balvenie then RE-SOLD the rum at a profit because now it too was extra-matured.

The resulting sort-of-rum-aged concoction is a rich amber colour that certainly suggests extended maturation, and a resplendently rummy nose that makes me feel bad I questioned its Caribbean bona fides above:  cinnamon buns, nutmeg, gingerbread, pumpkin and honey create a combination I could keep smelling for a long time.  Languid yet spicy on the tongue, it prickles the palate with a cedary tangy bite, all the while unfolding confectionary charms in a carefree, leisurely manner.  White chocolate, peach, mocha, treacle and hot sand aren’t quite as rum-influenced as the aromas, but they are no less delicious.  It’s basically impossible to drink this whisky and be unhappy.








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