Friday, November 12, 2010

A Blended Rum

Why blend rum?

This was the question that immediately crossed my mind when I was alerted to the existence of Banks 5 Island Rum, a new white rum that blends together the rums of five different islands. Now, I have nothing against blending, per se. But I sensed a cynical corporate attempt to carve out a stake in the growing rum market by concocted a bland, "international style" liquor that appealed to all palates. Even though I know that some of the blended Scotches are quite fine, when I have a choice between single malt Scotch and a blended, I tend to go for the more characterful single malt. 

My suspicions were unfounded, however, for I liked Banks from the first sip. The rums are from Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and, of all places, Java. It's full of character and quite distinctive, full of funky and unexpected notes of green pepper, coconut, grass and meaty tropical fruits. Viscous and pungent, yet clean and bright, with a nose very much like an Agricole rum. Unusual, in a word.

The blending idea makes perfect sense when you learn that Banks' master distiller, Arnaud de Trabuc, is a Cognac man. "I come from the wine business and I also have been in the whiskey and Cognac business," he said, "where things are blended. I thought since we were going to do a new rum, we had to do something a little bit different." 

He used his past contacts in the rum business to source many different rums. "It was extensive tasting over 18 months. We had to strike the right blend. We had to also use rums that we knew we could continue to produce, and produce them in commercial quantities."

The decided-upon mix actually contains 21 different rums, the foundation being a rum from Trinidad. The blend was then filtered to render it white. De Trabuc, says Banks is the first major blended rum. "You have a situation in the Caribbean where, on the islands where there is rum production, that rum dominates consumption there." Rum distilleries don't trade with one another, he said. "There is a chauvinistic approach." 

Banks is available in Germany, France, UK, Belgium, Russia and, since August, the U.S.

It’s named, by the way, after noted explorer Sir Joseph Banks. It's bottled at 43 percent alcohol content, with a suggested retail price of $25 to $28. 

1 comment:

frederic said...

If only Guyana was an island, the name would make sense.

It's a good rum blend, but a bit pricey for what you get. It has a strong vanilla note like El Dorado 3 Year (a great $13 rum) and a little bit of herbalness and spice.