Wednesday, November 12, 2014
23 Year Old Encounter
I had an encounter with a 23 year old last evening, and it was everything I had hoped for. Let me rephrase that, because I know that some of you have dirty minds. I am talking about rum here, not a twenty something millenial. There are occasions when a great sipping rum punctuates that perfect evening, and last evening was one of those times. Cooler weather and clearing skies during the day gave way to one of those perfect evenings, and as the sun started to slip away, the high clouds to the West turned those beautiful shades of amber and red that signal the end of the day, and the beginning of night. It is that time of day that is neither day, or night, and with a nice breeze and perfect temperature, it seemed right to "See the Day Out" with a sip of something really special. I have a very good friend who was my next door neighbor once, before he and his beautiful wife disappeared one day for a better life in the Bahamas. His name is Steve, and it is this former neighbor that extolled onto me the virtues of a truly great sip of rum. Now I am not talking about rum in volumes here. The idea is that a great rum is sipped and enjoyed, maybe a shot or even a half a shot is plenty. It is all about the flavors and aromas. Oh, and Steve swears that a shot of rum now and then aids in digestion, by helping dissolve foods. Not sure on that one. Anyway, Steve and I sampled our way through different rums through the years, some were too sweet. Some harsh and bitter. Some rum just tastes like, well you know. But, a really great rum is something to be enjoyed, and Ron Zacapa Solera is about as good as they get. Ron Zacapa is a first class Guatemalan rum, that is made from a process where sugar cane is pressed, and the rum is made from these first pressings. No molasses is used, as molasses is actually a by-product of sugar refining. This watery sugar is boiled down to a honey, a thickened sugar that is more pure than dark molasses. This results in a very pure rum, finer and sweeter and more refined than a molasses rum. The rum is aged in a process known as the Solera method, and it is a slow process where the rum is aged in different oak barrels. The idea is that the rum is transferred from one barrel to another, and another, over time. Only half of the rum is ever removed from any barrel during this transfer process, and this helps "age" the additional newer rum that is added to top it back up. By the time the rum has been aged and moved four times in this cascading process, the rum has become very smooth and has taken on the wonderful aromas and subtle tastes of the sherry and wine barrels that are used. It has been described as a mahogony and copper, orange peel, citrus and clove and even honey like taste explosion. I am not that discerning, I just know it tastes good and the finish is pleasant and smooth. 23 years is a really long time, perfection can be a slow process. It was 1991, eggs were 85 cents and a gallon of gas was $1.12. The DOW topped 3000 for the first time, and operation Desert Storm was underway. Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, passed way from AIDS. Rodney King was arrested and beaten on film. The 911 system was tested for very first time. A million people are now on the internet. Thelma and Louise and Terminator 2, Judgement Day are in theaters. And, thankfully, in Guatemala, they are crushing sugarcane for my own bottle of Ron Zacapa Solera. So, go get some and try it for yourself. Or not, just means more for me. About 39 dollars a 750 ml bottle.