South Bay Rum- A New Discovery!

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August 19, 2014

It's got to be a pretty good reason for me to open a bottle of rum before noon, or even before ten in the morning.  But I swear that the air smelled just like rum this morning.  There was a sweet perfume that wafted into the window and all it said to me was salt air.  Hence my quandary.  What to do about that thirst.  It's infrequent that the smell of salt air comes this far from the sea.  It's almost 50 miles from the ocean and the wind usually blows west to east.  But this morning, all I perceived was the aroma of white flowers, lemon curd and salt air.  

Maybe I was dreaming the scent of the sea but I doubt it.  The salinity of the ocean rides up the air currents and goes up into the atmosphere; it then spills down over the lighter air from the west and all I smell is the ocean.  It's really uncanny.

I love the brackish ocean aromatics that are pouring into my nostrils right now.  And of course the smell of rum swirls around my head! 

The bottle of South Bay Rum that sits in front of my is stylistically a small batch rum.  Sure they have a superstar distiller; in this case Pedro Ramon Lopez Oliver is behind this Cuban Style rum.  It is distilled from molasses in the Dominican Republic.  What makes this "sipping" rum so fantastic is that the aging barrels are from assorted provenance.  Instead of using only used bourbon barrels, like many Caribbean rum distillers, South Bay chooses to use Scotch Whiskey, Port and even Sherry casks.  This method of using different wood for different periods of aging is exciting and it shows real care for flavor and not just for sales.  Making rum in this manner takes more time.  Add to the time in the barrel, the ambient temperature of the atmosphere makes this process faster, because of the heat.  Just like the salt air that is leaking into my nose, the all surrounding heat of the Dominican Republic hastens the process of aging.  Rum becomes something different because of the year round heat of the DR.  

They say in the marketing that this rum is made in a Cuban style.  I tend to agree to a point.  Sure it's got the dark chocolate nose and Spanish Saddle Leather grip, but it also smells like treacle molasses and long baked gingerbread.  There are exotic spices woven with vanilla flowers enrobed in caramel custard.  I poured a few drops into my tasting glass and swirled it around, not drinking yet- just letting the aromatics fill the room.

It's certainly beguiling stuff!

The bottle is handsome enough.  I've seen this shape before, Art in the Age uses this style of bottle for their passionately crafted spirits as does Templeton Rye Whiskey.  The broad shouldered bottle has a medium sized neck as well, making grabbing the bottle pretty easy, that is certainly appreciated when I'm rushed.  But you don't want to rush this rum.  This stuff is meant for contemplation. 

The label features a handcrafted look.  A sepia tone photograph graces the front of the bottle of a skiff or rowboat, missing its oars.  The label says Small Batch No. 18, Limited Edition, 40% Alc/Vol and an imitation sticker saying South Bay Artisan Rum.  

I created a cocktail named for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel: Treasure Island.

Treasure Island

2 oz. South Bay Rum 

1 oz. Fruitations Cranberry Soda and Cocktail Syrup 

3 oz. Seltzer Water

Fresh Nutmeg

El Guapo Mojo Cubano Bitters 

Lime Round


Add Ice to a Collins Glass

Pour South Bay Rum into the glass

Add the Fruitations Cranberry Syrup to the glass

Top with Seltzer

Scrape a bit of nutmeg over the top

Dot with the Mojo Cubano Bitters

Serve with a twist of lime


My second book, Whiskey Cocktails is being released in October 2014!