Barbancourt 150!

When pushed to choose, I usually call Barbancourt 15 my favorite!


Haiti’s Rhum Barbancourt Celebrates 150 Years With Special Edition

December 24, 2012 | 2:10 pm | Print

Above: the Cuvee 150 Ans

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti’s Rhum Barbancourt is launching a new special edition to mark the company’s 150th anniversary, the company announced.

Barbancourt’s Cuvee 150 Ans is a special blend in an art deco bottle developed in partnership with international designer Mickael Kramer.

Each crystal bottle will have its own unique number and a sandblasted Rhum Barbancourt anniversary logo.

While it will initially be available only in Haiti, the company said it would soon be expanding its availability to the United States and Canada.

Barbancourt has been produced continuously since 1862 (coincidentally, the same year that Don Facundo Bacardi started operations in Cuba), with the exception of a period following Haiti’s earthquake in 2010.

Readings in Rum

Tolstoy, Dickens, Chesterton, rum permeates literature globally – Rumpundit

Scholar to Discuss Rum as a Symbol in Literature

Dr. Jennifer Nesbitt

Dr. Jennifer Nesbitt will share her research findings concerning rum as a symbol in literature.
3/30/2011 —

Jennifer Nesbitt, Ph.D., associate professor of English at Penn State York, will give a lecture entitled “Rum Histories: Drinking in the Past Postcolonial Atlantic Literature and Culture,” on Thursday, March 31 at University Park. Nesbitt, an Institute of Arts and Humanities (IAH) Resident Scholar for 2010-11, will speak at noon in Sparks Building, room 124. This is the first time a faculty member from York has been named an IAH Resident Scholar since the program began in 2003-04.

The IAH Resident Scholar program is jointly sponsored with the College of Arts and Architecture, the College of the Liberal Arts, and the commonwealth campuses. The program provides up to nine faculty members per year with one semester of release time from teaching, a $1,000 mini-grant for research expenses and/or materials, and the use of an office in Ihlseng Cottage at University Park.

Nesbitt joined the Penn State faculty in 2003. She specializes in 20th Century British literature, postcolonial literature, and women’s literature. She earned an undergraduate degree in History and Literature in 1987 from Harvard University, Cambridge, Ma., and a doctorate in English with a certificate in women’s studies in 1999 from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. She is originally from Winchester, Ma.

“This project has allowed me to look at the ways popular texts—everything from 1950s tour guides to cookbooks to the film “Pirates of the Caribbean”—inform the way rum works as a symbol in literature,” said Nesbitt. “Even the song “Rum and Coca-Cola” has a really interesting story behind it,” she said.

A distilled controversy

Lowland Scots would not have been seen dead in a kilt until Walter Scott romanticised with all that Rob Roy stuff. And Rabbie Burns drank rum as well – Rumpundit.

Row breaks out over rum advert making fun of Scotsmen in kilts

Feb 7 2011 By Charlie Gall

A ROW has broken out over a booze advert that pokes fun at Scotsmen in kilts.

Angostura rum-makers in Trinidad and Tobago launched a bid to woo whisky drinkers with a series of ads showing a man in a kilt dancing a Highland Fling.

But he fails to impress a mini-skirted beauty in heels as the billboards proclaim: “In Scotland, men dance in skirts. In Trinidad, men dance with WOMEN in skirts.”

The campaign is Angostura’s bid to lure locals away from whisky.

But it has sparked an angry backlash from Scots around the world.

Hugh Statham, of Geoffrey Tailor Kiltmaker, fumed: “It’s misleading – a kilt is not a skirt. And people who refer to kilts as skirts are just being idiots.

“It’s a cheap jibe and disrespectful to Scotland.”

One angry expat in the Caribbean said: “They’re saying something against a people and a nation and that’s crossing a boundary.”

Another added: “People come from all over the world and they’re going to see this.”

Yesterday, Angostura spokesman Brian Woods defended the ads. He said: “They’re light-hearted and there was certainly no desire to cause offence.”

Campbell Evans, of the Scotch Whisky Association, shrugged off the row.

He said: “Scotsmen and Scotch whisky are both self-assured and that quality is recognised, sought after and appreciated around the world.”

Pusser’s Pride!

Charles Tobias, the toast of all rumlovers, has just been made an MBE, Member of the order of the British Empire, in the New Year’s honour’s list.

Charles, who rescued Navy Rum from the bottom of the Admiralty’s Davey Jones filing cabinet to which it was consigned after Black Tot day in 1970, was honoured for his work for the Royal Navy, whose welfare fund gets dibs on each bottle of Pusser’s sold, and for his work for the BVI.

He should be honoured also, of course, for his work for rum – but it is somehow fitting that his residence on one of the last pocket handkerchief remnants of the empire that was in some measure built on Navy Rum should be recognised.

A toast to him and all who make and drink his product!


Rumbullion in India!

Chill out, enough rum, don’t riot

Pooja Kashyap, TNN, Jan 6, 2011, 05.41am IST

Good to see people taking the  “global spirit with its warm beating heart in the Caribbean” seriously! -Rumpundit

Times of India
PATNA: Bihar won’t see riots for rum, any more. Bihar State Beverage Corporation Limited (BSBCL) has made special arrangements to ensure sufficient supply of the liquor just in case more and more Bacchus lovers go “rumming” to banish the winter chill in these cold wave conditions.

BSBCL sources said various liquor manufacturing companies have been alerted in advance to ensure adequate supply of rum to the state in the wake of the cold spell. “To cope with the increasing demand, exports have been banned while attempts have been made to import rum from other parts of the country,” said BSBCL managing director Vinay Kumar.
Last winter, in January, to be precise, parts of the state witnessed riots for rum. Police had to resort to lathicharge at a few places to disperse violent “rummers”.

“Because of the prolonged cold wave conditions then, the demand went up while the supply remained static,” recalled another BSBCL official.

A recent survey, commissioned by a liquor major, revealed that the consumption of rum is the highest in eastern India. While whisky is the most-preferred tipple of North Indians, vodka or brandy is the south Indians’ fave. “Rum is cheaper and, hence, more popular in these parts of the country,” said Ramashish, a Patna liquor shop retailer.

There is, usually, minimal deficit between supply and demand in case of Indian made foreign liquor. “Whatever deficit is there, it is in case of rum and, that too, for a particular brand,” Kumar told TOI and claimed that this deficit would be almost nil this winter.

In case of beer, however, the corporation does face shortage in supply, especially during summer. “The peak-time gap is of 10 bottles; that is, we manage to supply 90 bottles against a demand of every 100 bottles,” Kumar said.
There is only one beer plant in the state. Located at Bihta on the outskirts of Patna, this plant exports most of its produce to other states for profit maximisation.

To compensate for the short supply, BSBCL has started importing beer from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Goa as well.

In case of countrymade liquor, the demand is matched by supply. But the challenge before the BSBCL is the illegal market of countrymade liquor. According to earlier estimates, 200-odd countrymade liquor bottles sold illegally against every 100 bottles sold legally. The illegal sales figures have come down to 50 now, sources claimed.

Read more: Chill out, enough rum, don’t riot – The Times of India

Just What the DR Ordered

Got to doubt the bit about distillation since Christopher Columbus! But he did plant the first sugar cane in the Western Hemisphere there! – Rumpundit.

Notitas De Noticias

Tuesday December 28, 2010

‘Dominican Rum’ Must be Made from Sugar Cane Says Dominican Officials or Its Not Our Rum


Published at 9:56 am, December 28, 2010

Rum manufacturers have been actively defending the collective “Dominican rum” brand, and its requirements of being manufactured from sugar cane.

Rum, or ron as its known throughout Latin America, is the national drink of the country and has been distilled there since Christopher Columbus first brought sugarcane from Spain.  Dominican Rum is recognized as the oldest in the Americas.

Rum manufacturers back the decision of the government entities, namely the Department of Taxes, Customs Department and the Department of Norms and Quality Control Systems (Digenor) that have rejected rum products that do not follow the sugar cane requirement as well as other distilling requirements and still designate themselves as Dominican rum, and use that name in their marketing.

Digenor issued Resolution Digenor-10 XII-RTD 447 on December 22, 2010, rejecting alternative products that may position themselves as Dominican rum, as is the case of Ron Punta Cana, a rum-flavored drink.

Fizzy Zombie! Halloween Special

I found a great reception for this concoction when I tried it a few weeks ago.. in two variants.
Those who can remember it say they loved it. Those that can’t obviously loved it not wisely, but two well.

Equal portions of Barbancourt’s Pango and Dry Champagne, with ice was the basic mix

But later, the Pango having all gone, for extra vitamin C for the winter

Equal portions of Barbancourt 4 year old with Dry Champagne, and a liberal splash of Blackcurrant juice.

Go join the living dead for Halloween!

Rum Origins

In the Spirit of Scholarship, Rumpundit offers this posting from Oxford University Press

which includes some fun details. I will also post later an essay written in Guyana in the 19th century which I am going to share with Liberman!

The Rum History of the Word “Rum”

By Anatoly Liberman
The idea of this post, as of several others before it, has been suggested by a query from a correspondent.  A detailed answer would have exceeded the space permitted for the entire set of monthly gleanings, so here comes an essay on the word rum, written on the first rather than the last Wednesday of October.  But before I get to the point, I would like to make a remark on the amnesia that afflicts students of word origins.  Etymology is perhaps the only completely anonymous branch of linguistics.  When people look up a word, they hardly ever ask who reconstructed its history.  Surround seems to be related to round, but it is not.  On the other hand, soot does not make us think of sit; yet the two are allied.  Obviously, neither conclusion is trivial.  Even specialists rarely know the names of the discoverers (for those are hard to trace).  Unlike Ohm’s Law or Newton’s laws, etymological knowledge easily becomes faceless common property, a plateau without a single hill to obstruct the view.  To be sure, we have great authorities, such as the OED and Skeat, but Murray, Bradley (the OED’s first great editors) and Skeat authored only some of the statements they made.  In many cases they depended on the findings of their predecessors.  What then was their input?  All is either forgotten or falsely ascribed to them.  Murray could defend his authorship very well.  Skeat, too, in countless letters to the editor, strove (strived: take your pick) for recognition and kept rubbing in the fact that he, rather than somebody else, had elucidated the derivation of this or that word.  Rarely, very rarely do dictionaries celebrate individual discovery.  Thus, pedigree (which French “lent” to English) means “foot of a crane,” from a three-line mark, like the broad arrow used in denoting succession in pedigrees.  This was explained by C. Sweet (no relative of Henry Sweet, the famous philologist and the prototype of Dr. Higgins; I could not find any information on him), and Skeat gave the exact reference to his publication.  Something similar, though less spectacular (because the conclusion is still debatable), happened when language historians began to research the history of the noun rum.
The most universal law of etymology is that we cannot explain the origin of a word unless we have a reasonably good idea of what the thing designated by the word means.  For quite some time people pointed to India as the land in which rum was first consumed and did not realize that in other European languages rum was a borrowing from English.  The misleading French spelling rhum suggested a connection with Greek rheum “stream, flow” (as in rheumatism).  According to other old conjectures, rum is derived from aroma or saccharum.  India led researchers to Sanskrit roma “water” as the word’s etymon, and this is what many otherwise solid 19th-century dictionaries said.  Webster gave the vague, even meaningless reference “American,” but on the whole, the choice appeared to be between East and West Indies.  Skeat, in the first edition of his dictionary (1882), suggested Malayan origins (from beram “alcoholic drink,” with the loss of the first syllable) and used his habitual eloquence to boost this hypothesis.
Then The Academy, a periodical that enjoyed well-deserved popularity throughout the forty years of its existence (1869-1910), published the following paragraph.  (The Imperial Dictionary [not A Universal Dictionary of the English Language, as Spitzer says] gives it in full, but I suspect that few of our readers have access to or ever use it and will therefore reproduce the paragraph.) The Academy, September 5, 1885, p. 155:  “Mr. N. Darnell Davis has put forth a derivation of the word rum, which gives the only probable history of it.  It came from Barbados, where the planters first distilled it, somewhere between 1640 and 1645.  A MS. ‘Description of Barbados’ in Trinity College, Dublin, written about 1651, says: ‘the chief fudling (sic) they make in the Island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil (sic), and this is made of sugar-canes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor.’  G. Warren’s description of Surinam, 1661, shows the word in its present short form: ‘Rum is a spirit extracted from the juice,…called Kill-Devil in New England!’  ‘Rumbullion’, is a Devonshire word meaning ‘a great tumult,’ and may have been adopted from some of the Devonshire settlers in Barbados; at any rate, little doubt can exist that it has given rise to our word rum, and the longer name rumbowling, which sailors give to their grog.”  Also in 1885, berummaged “confused” was recorded on Dartmoor, and still later it became clear that French guildive is a “corruption” of Engl. kill-devil.  According to Halliwell’s Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, many of the settlers in Barbados, at the time when sugar making was being established there, came from Devonshire.  I have no way to check the reliability of this statement.
Skeat accepted Davis’s etymology unconditionally, and since that time it has become commonplace.  However, some dictionaries, including the OED, show caution, supply the explanation with a question mark, or even say that the origin or rum is “uncertain.”  The etymology of rumbullion will concern us here only in so far as it may be a combination of the adjective rum and French boullion “hot drink.”  That adjective has been rather convincingly traced to Romany rom “male” (= “Gypsy man, good man”), a once ubiquitous cant word.  Romeville (that is, Rumville) was London, and so on.  Hensleigh Wedgwood, the main etymologist of the pre-Skeat era, thought that rum is a curtailed form of rum booze “great drink.”  Indeed, in 1567 wine was called rum booze in Elizabethan slang.
In this context it will be proper to mention an article whose title promises nothing to word lovers but that contains numerous ingenious etymologies (John P. Hughes, “On ‘h’ for ‘r’ in English Proper Names”, The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 53, 1954, 601-12).  A strong bond unites h and r in the history of all the Germanic languages. Alternations of the Hob ~ Rob type are the thin edge of a big, heavy wedge.  Hughes suggests that rum booze was taken for a plural (rumboes); then the new singular rumbo “strong punch” allegedly came up, from which rum would be a shortened form.  Rumbo was attested only in the middle of the 18th century, but slang words may exist for a long time before they make their way into print.  A curious thing is that hum “alcoholic drink” has been recorded too; in Hughes’s opinion, it is a stub of humbooze and a doublet of rumbooze or rum booze.
The way to rum from rum booze is shorter than from rumbullion (or rumbustion, also “tumult, hubbub, etc.”), but the fact remains that rum reached England from Barbados.  It is, however, not improbable that the phrase rum booze had existed in the speech of the English settlers on the Caribbean island and was taken overseas.  If so, rumbullion, from rum (adjective) and French boullion “hot drink,” was a verbal joke, a pun.  (In England, rum was known very little, if at all, before 1685, when after the battle of Sedgemoor the Duke of Monmouth tasted the drink.  It must have been one of the last pleasures the rebellious duke enjoyed before his execution.)  In any case, rum “a drink” and rum “odd” cannot be separated.  There was quite a fashion for rum- coinages in the 18th century: compare rumgumption, from which we have the abbreviated form gumption “common sense” (originally perhaps “rough common sense”), while rumbustious “boisterous, violent” sounds suspiciously like rambunctious “mischievous, self-asserting.”  Leo Spitzer believed that the French argot word rogomme “strong drink” goes back to Engl. rumgumption.  Some details remain hidden, but one thing is clear: excessive consumption of rum results in violent behavior.

Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to him care of; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”

Dave Wondrich gets his Hogo Working

ugust 27, 2010, 12:15 PM

The Way Rum Used to Taste

Which is to say, pretty funky. But in a delicious way.

By David Wondrich

Best New Caribbean Rums

F. Martin Ramin/Studio D

Rum has come a long way since 1724, when Ned Ward, a London writer-turned-bar-owner — so not a dumb man, our Mr. Ward — labeled it “damn’d Devil’s piss.” These days if you pick up a bottle of, say, Angostura 1919 or Appleton Estate 12 Year Old and pour some in a glass, you’ll have a hard time finding even a hint of, uh, “piss.” Smooth, rich, clean, and tasty, it’s about as pleasant a spirit as you can hope to find. But back when it was young, rum was possessed of a certain “hogo.”

Derived from the French phrase for the “high taste” game meats develop when they’re hung up to mature before cooking — and by “mature,” we mean “rot” — hogo used to be a term of art in the rum trade to describe the sulfurous, funky tang that raw-sugarcane spirits throw off. For 300 years, rum distillers have sought ways first to tame and then to eliminate it: high-proof distillation (more alcohol equals less hogo), filtering, tweaking the fermentation, long aging in barrels — all very effective, particularly when used in combination. Perhaps too effective.

There’s always been another way of taming that hogo, and it begins with limes and sugar. While they’re not miracle workers, in all but the most extreme cases — the bottle of raw Haitian busthead we once purchased in deepest Brooklyn comes to mind — they have an amazing ability to turn that funk around, to make ugly sexy. They’re like beer goggles for rum. In fact, mixed with sugar and lime juice, a rough, funky rum is often better than a smooth, pleasant one. Mixed up in the traditional way, suave, hogoless sipping rums can be distinctly underwhelming, and some rum drinkers are beginning to recognize that, as the new popularity in cocktail circles of rhum agricole from Martinique and cachaça from Brazil, both traditionally hogo-rich styles, attests.

Until recently, the distillers in the English-speaking parts of the Caribbean were moving in the other direction, toward smooth sipping, not spicy mixing. But that’s starting to change. Here are four new rums from the region that don’t fight the funk, in order of hogosity. (If that wasn’t a word before, it is now.) We didn’t worry about tasting them straight, although the first two are more than sippable, but went straight to the daiquiri test, in which we shook them up with lime juice, sugar, and ice. (See below.)

1. El Dorado 15 Year Old (Guyana), $40.

The Demerara River region of Guyana has a long history of making big, pungent rums. Even after 15 years in the wood, this one retains a dry tang that peeks through the layers of vanilla and brown sugar that cushion it, making for a daiquiri that’s like liquid gingerbread and a dynamite old-fashioned.

2. Plantation Grande Reserve (Barbados), $20.

The funk here is subtle, just enough to add a little depth and spice to a drink. The most balanced of the daiquiris, clean and soft.

3. Banks 5 Island (a blend of rums from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana, and Indonesia), $28.

Plenty of hogo, and a daiquiri that’s crisp, bright, and juicy. Dark chocolate, smoke, habanero pepper. Wild.

4. Smith & Cross (Jamaica), $29.

An attempt to bring back the huge, intense rums for which Jamaica was once famous, this one clocks in at a stiff 114 proof, the traditional strength for Navy rum. A daiquiri mixed with this — well, it starts off almost too intense, just plain wrong. But then you find yourself taking another sip, and another, and another.


Give any rum-loving bartender a new bottle to play with and the first thing it’s subjected to is the daiquiri test. Because the daiquiri doesn’t lie: Three ingredients, each of them essential, combine to form a perfect synergy. If a rum can’t hold up its end, there’s little point in giving it further play. If it comes through, you’ve got something that you can work with. Here’s how:

Put 0.5 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Stir in ½ tsp superfine sugar, or a little more if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Add 2 oz rum. Fill the shaker with ice, cover, shake hard, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Evaluate.

Read more:

Black Tot Day! 31 July 1970-2010 RIP

Ian Williams, Rumpundit, commiserates Black Tot Day.

Saturday  31 July is the 40th Anniversary of Black Tot Day when the Royal Navy abandoned the daily grog ration for its sailors. Do hoist  a dark rum to mark the occasion. The British decision to abandon a centuries-old tradition of high octane fighting spirit and replace it with high megaton Trident submarines has proven to be a financial and naval disaster. When it waived the rum rules, Britannia abandoned all pretension of ruling the waves!

The first reference to Navy rum was by Samuel Pepys, who although best known for confiding his sex life to his diary, was the civil servant in charge of the Navy. He authorized the Navy in the Caribbean to issue rations of rum to the sailors based in Jamaica.

Soon, however, rum was a major constituent of the Navy’s fuel supply. Admiral Vernon, after whom George Washington’s home Mount Vernon was named, decided that it was better for the health and safety of his ships and crew to mix the rum with water before issuing it, and to issue the half pint in two servings. He was known as  “Old Grog” because he wore a waterproof cloak made of “grogram,” a mixed fabric that served before oil-skins and that gave the name to the mixture.

His orders were that the grog was to be mixed in a “scuttled butt.” The idea that scuttlebutt was sailor’s chat around the water cask is a post-Prohibitionist invention. It was the rum barrel that loosened the tongues of the eagerly waiting tars.

Navy regulations insisted that once the grog had been mixed, it had to be served promptly, otherwise it would thrown overboard, because it went “flat.” I’ve experimented with Pussers, still made to the original recipe, and it’s true! While the rum is in a colloidal suspension in the water the droplets of rum hit the tastebuds and taste as strong as normal spirits but once they are dissolved it tastes like watered rum!

The US Navy initially adopted British grog rations but then under influence from the growing whiskey industry, swapped over to what was presented as a more patriotic spirit after 1806. During the Civil War, the US Navy abolished the ration completely, perhaps taking advantage of the connection between abolitionism and prohibitionism, both of them gaining the upper hand with the departure of Confederate personnel. However it was only the ratings who were deprived.  It was not until 1913 that officers were coerced into official abstinence.

In contrast, the British Admiralty was frankly scared of the mutinous consequences  of depriving ratings of their historical entitlement, and it kept issuing Royal Navy rum, until 1970, when they overcame public nostalgia by breathalyzing the pilot of  a nuclear submarine after he had drunk his ration.

In fact, for centuries, the Royal Navy had maintained naval supremacy despite often inferior technology compared with its Spanish and French rivals, because its crews, pressganged or volunteers, outfought their enemies. And looking at it analytically, the major observable difference was the rum ration, which is why wanabee naval powers like Czarist Russia and Japan also served up rum.

British captains and admirals still have the discretion to order “Splice the mainbrace!” for special occasions, however, and naval lore is still steeped in rum, which in Britain was known as “Nelson’s blood,” since allegedly the devoted tars donated their rations to bring the Admiral’s body back from Trafalgar to London.

I checked it out in the Gibraltar library in the contemporary newspapers, and sadly,  the Admiral’s body was carried back to London pickled in Spanish Brandy, aguardiente. Perhaps the tars did not want to waste the good stuff… but I have not been able to prove or disprove the story that the coffin was drained by the time it arrived in Britain. The tars might have preferred rum – but any spirit in a drought was long-standing tradition.

This week Sukhinder Singh of Speciality Drinks in London launched Black Tot – an exclusive bottling of Navy Rum over 40 years old – a find for rum-drinkers equivalent to discovering Tutankhamen’s pickled stiff, except the archaeologists never brought the young pharoah back to life, while the old rum has indeed been revived. It  was in sealed ceramic flagons allowing its unique biochemistry to play out over almost half a century.

In the Admiralty, the most coveted job was to sit on the committee that each year assessed what proportions of Jamaica, Trinidad and Demerara rums was consistent to maintain the formula, and Speciality’s experts have topped up the work of all of those departed palates to ensure that the bottles live up to expectations.

If you can’t get some, then up spirits on Saturday with any dark rum and shed a tear for bygone glory!