Tuesday 2 June 2015

Dark Matter Spiced Rum - science for the win!

Spiced rum, the creator of myriad student hangovers, a drink that somehow takes the word "spiced" to mean "a ton of synthetic vanilla".  With a few, very few, honourable exceptions I'm not a fan of the breed.  Into this market, dominated as it is by the nautical themed behemoths that are Captain Morgan's Spiced and Kraken comes Dark Matter.

Founded by brothers Jim and John Ewen this new micro-distillery based in Banchory in North-East Scotland is about as far as you can get from the "yo-ho-ho" "but why is the rum gone?" marketing that predominates in the rum world both in approach and geography.

Taking a scientific approach to the rum making process the brothers spent two years experimenting with different yeast strains and indeed isolated a local wild strain of yeast in an effort to perfect their product. After changes to the tax laws made micro-distilleries more economically viable they spotted that while new gin distilleries are popping up everywhere there was no-one else distilling their own rum.  

Working with a custom still that is designed to give lots of lovely copper contact to the liquid the brothers have started their portfolio with this spiced rum at £35 for a 70cl bottle at 40% ABV. Made using the highest purity molasses available in a custom built distillery this is obviously going for a more discerning drinker, the type of consumer that has helped fuel the craft beer and micro-distilling explosion in recent years.  

Firstly I have to say I love the bottle design, it's simple, it's clean and it's distinctive bearing the statement:
"Our curiosity drives us while science inspires us. Combining knowledge and imagination we obsessively pursue flavour through systematic study, observation and experiment."

Now many a lovely bottle has been let down by a poor liquid but opening a bottle of Dark Matter you're immediately hit by, well, spice. Ginger and cloves mixed with stewed fruits give an immediate warmth.

That ginger comes to the fore on the first sip followed by pepper and a soft chilli and the fruit mellows everything out to create a very well balanced drink. 

There's a very pleasant lingering aftertaste and this goes down very, very smoothly for a rum that must be very young indeed given their first distillation was only in April.

Some of the depth and complexity of flavour comes from borrowing a technique from the bourbon world. As the molasses is fermented some of the liquid that is left in the still after distillation is added back to increase the complexity of flavours produced, bourbon fans will recognise this as "sour mashing".

This is a very, very impressive rum indeed, a spiced rum that is truly spicy, that can be sipped easily.  Innovation and craft like this should be applauded. 

What a rum aged in the Aberdeenshire climate will turn out like I'm very keen to find out and also look forward to the white rum that is in the pipeline.

This is an excellent purchase that I truly did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. 

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