The Revolution Will Be Pot Distilled


There are few moments more significant than the arrival of the new Habitation Velier rums for a category that’s in the midst upheaval. We’re bringing the heat like never before with cask strength Faultline and Golden Devil offerings, but very few in the industry are keeping up with us. Certainly some of the Scottish independent bottlers remain a key source of exceptional albeit rare offerings from rum distillers across the world, but few of the big guys are paying attention to what’s really going on. Much of the stock available IBs is linked to the Dutch rum blending giant, E.A. Scheer (giant being a relative term all things considered), and his almost entirely aged and blended in Europe. This exceptional operation supplies a number of the great brands we sell today and through their UK operations they facilitate the vast majority of the amazing single cask offerings that have been available over the last several decades.

And we’re grateful for the link they’ve established between the exceptional distillers of rum and the Scottish bottlers who offer us stock, but if not for the vision of a few Italian importers, that might be the end of the story. Enter Luca Gargano of the exceptional Velier Co in Genoa. He began visiting and buying directly from distillers in the Caribbean nearly 30 years ago and along with companies like Silver Seal, Samaroli, Moon Imports, the Italian’s were really the first created a market for high quality unadulterated small batch and single barrel rum. They’ve been responsible for sourcing and bottling the greatest modern rums and have been integral in partnering with exceptional distilleries that are hard to find in unadulterated form. 

The American market is only now beginning to catch up to the trailblazing Italians, facilited by another important partnership. LA Maison du Whisky, together with Velier have collaborated to introduce our market to a veritable plethora of unbelievable products including several new lines of rum that have previously only been available on the other side of the Atlantic. One is the Transcontinental Rum Line, designed to highlight the influence of Continental aging -its historical significance as well as the intricacies of aging in Europe. The result is a series of relatively affordable and delicious rums that exemplify the nuance and elegance of the modern high quality rum trade. This is the Maison’s baby.

By contrast, Luca and the Velier guys have built a line of incredible tropically aged rums. These highlight the outrageous angel’s share that exists when aging in the islands and represent some of the only tropical aged cask strength rums available today. They have not seen any addition or correction before bottling and move into a quality and character class yet to be explored. Part of the huge cost that goes into the production of rum is the incredible loss in volume due to the intense heat and humidity. If you are aging more like brandy as is typical with Agricole Rhum, topping up, blending, reduction etc. a huge amount of that cost is mitigated as is the intensity of flavor achieved through ridiculous amounts of evaporation. If your warehouse management looks more like Scotch or Bourbon (fill a cask and forget about it), your loss on a volume basis will be enormous and the extraction and concentration of flavor nearly unfathomable.

Velier has somehow made it all work with the incredible Habitation Velier line. Using his incredible connections and good will that he’s developed in the Caribbean over the last 3 decades, Luca has secured some of the most exciting stocks of rum we’ve ever seen. This is only the tip of the iceberg and while it’s said his access to the very deep warehouses at DDL in Guyana has been cutoff, there’s no questions that Mr Gargano has amassed one of the most incredible selections of tropically aged rums in the world. We’re extremely lucky to offer these wonderful rums to the California market and while I technically don’t have any exclusive right to the stuff, I plan to buy every single drop I can cause it’s just that good. This is just the beginning. How sweet (and so damn dry) it tastes.

David Othenin-Girard