One rum down, three more to go in my quest to complete the entire line of rums from Celebration Distillation. I had planned to do the entire line before the end of August, but that’s beginning to look a tad unlikely. So good news for the New Orleans-o-philes: the August Spotlight will continue to shine on through the first week of September! Today I’m checking off Old New Orleans Amber Rum.
Made using the same 500 gallon, small-batch process as used for all Old New Orleans Rums, the Amber is a blend of rums aged at least 3 years. It’s bottled at 80 proof (40% abv), and wears a black label with the “Aged 3 Years” age statement near the bottom of the label. The inside-back of the bottle carries the signature artwork of the brand, although it’s a tad harder to see when the rum is in the bottle – adding extra incentive to get the rum out. You’re not drinking, you’re conducting an Art Appreciation Course.
The amber rum is made with blackstrap molasses, and is flavored with caramel. Celebration Distillation actually produce the caramel for their rum in the distillery. The employees struggle through this arduous task by taking spoonfuls of the sticky substance and waving the spoons around to aid with cooling. If the image of a group of grown adults digging caramel out of a big pot, and then waving caramel-covered spoons in the air before sampling their wares (quality control being the foremost concern at this point) and then mixing in to the rum doesn’t capture the spirit of this distillery, I’m not sure what does.
Old New Orleans Amber Rum is aptly named. The rum is a light amber color, reminiscent of honey. Giving the spirit a swirl in my glass reveals legs that form very quickly and run rapidly back into the bowl.
The first aroma that hits your nose is that of molasses. This is followed by notes of vanilla and alcohol vapor. I was a little surprised at the strength of the alcohol smell considering how mild it had been in the Crystal. There was a faint odor of caramel at the end of the nose.
I gave the rum a little more time in the glass to open up and then renosed it (RumDood.com: Inventing words since 2007). The extra time was well-worth it. The caramel aromas were much stronger – actually dominating the nose of the spirit. More of the alcohol vapors had dissipated, and the nose became very, very inviting.
The first flavor on your tongue is that of the molasses, followed quickly by notes of caramel and vanilla. There isn’t a lot of complexity to this rum. The mid-palate has a peppery spice to it, and the body is fairly light. There also isn’t a lot of subtlety, as there is a good deal of burn on the finish. The amount of the burn wasn’t too surprising considering the alcohol aromas in the nose. With only 3 years spent in the barrel, the spirit doesn’t get a great deal of time to mellow, and it shows.
I wouldn’t recommend this as a sipping rum. The burn on the finish is just too much for this to really be sippable. There are some nice elements to it, to be sure, but this particular rum is much better suited to rest in a cocktail than in a glass by itself.
The “rough-around-the-edges” quality and the peppery notes at the mid-palate are what I typically look for in a good mixing rum. This is because the stronger, bolder flavors stand up well to stronger, bolder mixers like ginger beer or cola. The same qualities that might make a rum a little too harsh for sipping tend to – in my experience – make it ideal for a lot of different cocktails.
If you’re a fan of a spicy rum and ginger, this rum is an excellent choice. I wanted to be a tad more adventurous with my cocktail though.
I really wanted to try out the Swaggerac cocktail that the guys at FlyBoyzNYC had submitted for July’s Mixology Monday. It just looks so tasty. Unfortunately I lack the Fee Brother’s whiskey barrel aged bitters that the recipe calls for, and I don’t really have a suitable replacement. Undaunted, I borrowed from the New Orleans Rum webpage and whipped up an Old New Orleans Amber Sazerac.
Old New Orleans Amber Sazerac
2 oz. Old New Orleans Amber Rum
7 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 tsp sugar
Chill a rocks glass, and then rinse with absinthe of your choice. In a mixing glass, stir rum, sugar, and bitters, strain into rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
Those of you who are familiar with the recipe from the New Orleans Rum website will probably notice pretty quickly that I’ve modified the recipe by adding sugar. I made the recipe according to the site the first time and found it a tad too bitter/spicy for my tastes. Adding just a little sugar balanced the drink out and made it much smoother. All in all, a very enjoyable drink…although I might up the lemon or decrease the Peychaud’s next time around.
The Long & The Short Of It
In the Old New Orleans Amber you have what I would call a very good mixing rum. It has the sugary and spicy notes that work well in numerous cocktails, and the burn to let you know that your drink has some liquor in it. I don’t want to belabor the whole “it’s not a sipper” point, but if you want to maximize your enjoyment of the bottle, pour yourself a few cocktails in lieu of straight slugs.
If you can’t find a bottle in your local liquor store, you can always count on DrinkUpNY to have some in-stock for around $35.
Dood’s Rating: 3 Bottles of Rum Out of 5