a bit like rocket science doesn't it? Of the 7,482,329 people
who religiously read my column irregularly, the survey says
that 8 of you are real honest to goodness, slide rule adapt,
pocket protector wearing NASA rocket scientists besides foodies
and lovers of fine spirits and would understand such a formula
if it were in fact rocket science. Let me explain, it's not
rocket science; it's the science behind the solera process
for aging rum as well as a few other wonderful consumables.
Since this article is about rum why don't we get off of our
rockets and dive into it?
Bay Rum comes from Santo Domingo in the Dominican
Republic, the second largest Caribbean nation behind Cuba
and they use the solera process to age their rum, let me explain.
In the solera process, a sequence of barrels are filled with,
in this case rum, over a series of equal aging intervals (usually
a year). One barrel is filled for each interval. At the end
of the interval after the last barrel is filled, the oldest
barrel in the solera is tapped for part of its content, which
is bottled. Then that barrel is refilled from the next oldest
barrel, and that one in succession from the second-oldest,
down to the youngest barrel, which is refilled with new product.
This procedure is repeated at the end of each aging interval.
The transferred product mixes with the older product in the
next barrel. And South Bay doesn't mess around about getting
maximum flavor out of their barrels as they use barrels that
formerly held wine, bourbon, sherry, port and single malt
barrel is ever drained, so some of the earlier product always
remains in each barrel. This remnant diminishes to a tiny
level, but there can be significant traces of rum much older
than the average, depending on the transfer fraction. In theory,
traces of the very first rum placed in the solera may be present
even after 50 or 100 cycles.
now here is the rocket science part. The age of the rum from
the first bottling is the number of barrels times the aging
interval. As the solera matures, the average age of the rum
approaches one plus the number of barrels (excluding the top
barrel) (K) divided by the fraction of a barrel transferred
or bottled (_), or (1 + K/_). You know when it's stated like
that it does in fact sound like rocket science but now you
know better and can flaunt your new found knowledge in the
faces of lesser uninformed mortals or you can just sit there
scratching your head while trying to figure out what in the
hell you just read. Time's a wasting, it's time for tasting!
nose is full of fruit starting with cherries, bananas and
papayas followed by the sweetness of sherry and port and finally
followed by the sugar of the rum and a hint of scotch, there's
quite a bit going on here. On the palate smokiness snakes
its way to the front followed by the sweetness of the rum
and then the oakiness of the scotch and bourbon. It is tastefully
oily in the mouth and coats the palate pleasantly. Each sip
seems to let the dominating different tastes rotate from first
to second to third to last and back again. This is a complex
rum worth sipping slowly and letting it lead the dance. The
finish is smoky and smooth with a long finish again allowing
the different tastes to vie for attention. On the rocks everything
mellows out a bit but the many nuances of the numerous flavors
are still quite discernible. The smokiness steps a bit to
the back and the sweetness of the rum and sherry and port
step up and still they are surrounded by the scotch and fruit
but to a lesser degree. The finish is lighter but just as
complex and just as tasty but now shortened slightly to medium
in length. OK, now I really get this whole solera process
thing, it really, really works and this South Bay rum is the
perfect example of its success.
Bay Rum is around $28.00 per 80 proof, 750 ML bottle
and you just can't go wrong at that price. It's well worth
it and after you've had several drinks you'll feel just like
a rocket scientist.
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