Tuesday 28 July 2015

Rum Blender - bespoke rum

The idea of blending rum conjurs images of dark, humid warehouses, barrels racked up as the angel's share escapes over the years while flavours mature and secrets passed down from blender to blender over the years. Much as I like that idea I live in Edinburgh so without a lottery win I'll not be in one of those warehouses any time soon.

Typical tourist, full of booze
Taking a deceptively simple concept and making it easy for your average drinker to make their own unique rum from the comfort of their couch (or on their smartphone while having a wee skive from work - sorry boss) rumblender  are a fascinating new entry into the rum world.

A company run by two of my fellow countrymen who already have a  whisky blending website and who have now expanded into the world of rum.

As this is a bit different to a standard rum write up I'll separate this into two sections: blending & buying the rum and the actual booze itself.

Blending & buying the rum - how hard can it be?

The website endeared itself to me immediately by just asking if I was old enough to be looking at it, rather than asking for my date of birth, which country I'm from and what I had for lunch. We're all adults and it's good to be treated as one.

Once you're in you're presented with a virtual empty bottle exactly like the one you'll receive and a choice of 7 different distillates you blend to fill it, 10ml at a time. Each has simple tasting notes ranging from the white rum named Buttered Strumpet to the smokier, heavier Smoke and a Pancake, the age and provenance of the distillates themselves are kept secret, understandably though there are apparently 218,618,933 different possible combinations!

Now, given this is the Internet you're obviously not able to taste it beforehand so there are six pre-chosen blends you can choose from and then tweak if you're not feeling brave enough to start from scratch. I went with the Heavy Stuff option as my previous attempts at rum creation did not end well.

After a wee bit of tweaking I finalised my blend.  I love big, bold flavours and thought upping the smoky proportion would work nicely, as I modified things the price of the bottle changed with it and I could always see what I was going to be paying.

Once I had finalised the blend it was time to name my rum, as a life-long fan of Hunter S Thompson I always loved the line uttered during Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo's hallucinatory drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400
"We can't stop here, this is bat country!"
After that it was a simple matter of paying and sitting back and waiting. One touch I very much like is that all blends are stored on-line and you can share it with anyone who might like to order it or tweak it and make it their own.

Now, to what is the first, and almost certainly the last, mention of logistics on this website. Anyone who orders goods on-line knows the vagaries of courier companies, just search for Yodel and see the apoplectic rage induced by them if you don't believe me. With rumblender their courier sent me emails and texts when the order was dispatched which let me re-direct to a shop near work so I could pick it up rather than have to trek to an industrial estate in the backside of nowhere and told me once it had been delivered. It may be a small thing but it makes a huge difference to the customer experience.

Also worthy of note is that I ordered my bottle on a Thursday afternoon and was picking it up by Tuesday lunchtime, a very fast turnaround indeed, I have to say the customer experience is absolutely flawless.

The rum itself

On to the actual booze itself, which came in a beautiful, understated presentation box that was a little extra at checkout but I'm a sucker for good packaging. 

Simple, elegant packaging
On opening you have a wee certificate of blending and the decanter itself, it's a lovely shape, nice and solid and feels very premium in the hand.

A small thing perhaps, and indefinable, but this bottle has a very satisfying cork-sound.

Now, to the liquid itself, it's bottled at 40% ABV, personally I find an extra 2-3% can really make a difference but I understand why companies prefer to keep it to 40%.

This is a somewhat odd review, given I'm the eejit/genius responsible for this rum so I'll try to be as objective as possible.

Pouring a glass and giving it a swirl there are good, thick legs to it suggesting a good amount of pot-still rum.  On the nose it's full and rich, with some Jamaican/Agricole style funk coming through along with the promised smokiness. Taking a sip you get a pleasing dryness with woody, leathery notes blending with light hints of vanilla and dark chocolate before the smokiness comes through strong but not overpowering.

On the way down it's smooth and you're left with a refreshing dryness and an almost meaty flavour. Overall I'm very happy with this, at a guess I'd say there's maybe Jamaican and Trinidadian rums in the mix here for the funky, earthy notes and the light but dry notes but whatever it is I sure as hell enjoyed it.  Personally I loved the big,bold flavours from the "Smoke & a pancake" but a little does go a long way so tread lightly if adding it to your own blend.

Overall this was a fast,easy and enjoyable experience that let me create my own unique rum, something I've always wanted to do but have never had the mechanism to do so before. Yes there is the risk that you won't like what you create but there is that risk with any bottle you buy and at least with this you can pour someone a glass of a rum that is uniquely and unmistakeably your own.