Monday, May 19th, 2014

How to Beat the Whiskey Shortage

8259420783_d21256b8f3_zAre you a casual fan of distilled spirits that have been placed into a large barrel and left to sit in a warehouse for years, possibly many of them, so that over time, the wood transforms the harsh, clear liquid into something that is sort of brown and tastes mellower and rounder and deliciouser and expensiver? Are you therefore afraid of the whiskey shortage that the major whiskey companies are warning you will mean higher prices and empty shelves and unchecked sobriety, so buy now, buy all you can, before it's all gone?

Drink rum instead. You can buy some old-ass rum, which, after being distilled from molasses or sugar cane, has sat around in barrels for long periods of time, for relatively small sums of money: El Dorado 15 is, as you might expect, made with a blend of rums that have sat in a barrel for at least fifteen years. Is it slightly sweet and rounded with a "full nose packed with dark coffee, candied orange, almonds, dark chocolate, pepper and rich vanilla." It is only thirty-six dollars. Barbancourt 15 is kind of soft and woody and fruity and other things you might say about a bourbon, but instead of corn it's like molasses. It's about forty bucks. Ron Zacapa 23, which is a blend of rums between six and twenty three years old, is probably the first rum that made a lot of people go, "Oh, rum isn't just that stuff that goes in a daiquiri or a mojito or that made me vomit pieces of my intestines into a urinal while I was wearing a silver crown." Here are some tasting notes for it: "Nose full or apricots, citrus fruits, vanilla, cocoa and bourbon." It runs around forty to forty-five dollars. You could also buy some older, more expensive rum, for the same reasons you might buy an older, expensiver whiskey, to show have you have t a s t e, like the Dictador 20 Year Old for sixty bucks, or El Dorado 21 Year Old for ninetyish dollars or a rare twenty-five-year-old rum from English Harbour for four hundred dollars.

(But, you say, whiskey—bourbon—is the most American of all spirits. It's America in a Solo cup. It's what this country was built on. This is incorrect. Our colonial working stiff forefathers, the non-rich ones, they drank rum—awful, rank, cheap rum. Whiskey didn't really come around in the colonies until after rum, so you could even say it's kind of a poseur?)

What should you do with this old-ass rum that has been sitting around in a barrel for a while? A lot of the same things you would do with a whiskey or other mature spirits: You can drink it neat or with an ice cube or as an old fashioned (an old fashioned is just a spirit, sugar, water, bitters and MAYBE a lemon peel, though you might want to use demerara sugar?) or in like a Manhattanish thing with sweet vermouth, probably Carpano Antica or Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. Drink it and stop worrying about the whiskey shortage, or that you won't be displaying a sufficient level of sophistication in your liquor choices because when literally everybody else is talking about how much they loooove whiskey, you? You appreciate fine aged rum.

Photo by Far Enough

14 Comments / Post A Comment

Wake me when there's a rye shortage.

Alternate take : The thought of a rum Manhattan makes my teeth cringe.

Matt Buchanan (#232,205)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose They're coming for the Rye next.

@Matt Buchanan : You're just trying to get me to do one of my patented "First they came for the …" pastiches, aren't you.

I had an El Presidente at Lot 2 in Brooklyn last night that was 15 year Barbancourt, sweet vermouth, bitters and a lemon twist and it was outstanding. Huge fan of Ron del Barrilito as well.

And I'm an unabashed whiskey guy who's pissed at all of the Johnny Come Latelys on Wall Street making me hoard the WL Weller 12 year because I can't even find that any more.

Moxie (#81,363)

Slap him, Balk.

Dunno how I feel about this pro-rum Awl.

Well, if there's a whiskey shortage afoot, thank goodness it's almost Memorial Day — Negroni Season is almost here!

@Captain Bringdown Dark and Stormy season too.

Mr. B (#10,093)

This seems like a good place to ask what the current editorial position on shorts is. Well?

John Herrman (#8,286)

@Mr. B deeply divided

Ryan Tate (#5,672)

Rhum Clément is really, really good, but so mellow it's practically a cognac.

Anonymoose (#235,202)

Nevermind that the rum industry was only made possible by the most brutal and horrific form of slavery to ever exist on the face of the earth, while whiskey was distilled by noble, free frontiersmen.

Go ahead, drink your rum. Scumbag slaver.

holdup!holdmyphone! (#274,038)

I like rum.

Check out Due North Rum (made in Brooklyn).

Also read "And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails" by Wayne Curtis.

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