Monday 11 July 2016

Flying Dutchman white rum - an unexpected winner

Dutch rum? It sounds like something you’d nick out of your parent’s booze cabinet when you were 16 to sneak down the park because you knew no-one would ever drink it. But step back from that and consider this is a triple copper pot distilled white rum, aged 12 months in heavily charred virgin American oak? That definitely sounds more like something in my wheel house.
Dutch rum, actually really good
The Netherlands haven’t much of a rum culture, their former colonial empire being based in the Asia as they could actually navigate unlike that Columbus guy meant that they weren’t as involved in the repugnant triangular trade that brought rum to the heart of the Anglo-Saxon world. In modern times however the Dutch have expanded their spirits offering from the standard Genever to premium vodkas and now a selection of rums.
An often overlooked, but yet key, part of any spirit is the yeast and the fermentation from that. Yes, soaring burnished copper stills and coopers charring casks before they’re rolled into a dark, secretive warehouse are all very sexy, but where’s the love for this humble microorganism?
There is huge variation in yeasts, with distillers (mostly) jealously guarding which strain they use. Yeast doesn't just produce ethanol, there's other alcoholic compounds produced as well as other reactions going on during fermentation, producing acids, congeners and esters (the compounds that give Jamaican rum its glorious funky flavour). Generally fermentation is like good barbecue, low and slow produces the most flavour. Now from what I've been able to glean online Zuidam have a two week fermentation of the wine that goes to make Flying Dutchman, this is a very long process and should produce something packed with flavour.

Unusually for a white rum this is pot distilled, and is distilled three times in small hand-made copper pot stills. Pot stills are inefficient compared to column stills but they do, again, produce a more full-bodied, flavoursome spirit. Once distilled this is aged in heavily charred virgin American oak barrels for at least twelve months at 60% ABV, then comes the filtration to bring this back to a white rum, which inevitably strips out some of the flavour that those poor wee yeast cells have spent so long creating.

As you might expect from all this carry on the liquid itself is quite special, it's fruity and floral on the nose with much more depth than a white rum has any right to have. Flavour wise there's a lot of subtle citrus-y notes going on along with summer fruits, praline and a deliciously creamy mouthfeel from that magnificently inefficient pot still. There's a little bit of a bite on the way down to remind you this is a very young rum but it's remarkably subtle for something this age.

While it's very pleasant on its own the test of any white rum is how it mixes, and using this in a Daiquiri (I favour Difford's 10:3:2 recipe makes for a very pleasant drink, the rum has enough body to stand up to the lime and enough flavour to not be wiped out by the combination of sugar and citrus. At £26 a bottle this is definitely one worth adding to your white rum line up.