Copalli: Drinking Rum Never Felt So Good
Sadly, rum has picked up a bit of a bad reputation. Not only does it have a storied past associated with scallywags and the slave trade, but today it conjures up images of wild spring breaks and sweet juice mixers. As if that couldn’t kill any last semblance of prestige, much of the mass market rums today are made from molasses and filled with additives and coloring. But despite its shady past, we think the spirit has a bright future. That’s why we’re particularly excited about one of our new products, Copalli Rum, that defies all those preconceived notions. From the heart of the rainforest in Belize, this rum is all about refined taste, a sense of place, conservation and its community. Everything about this spirit feels good – from your taste buds to your conscience.
Copalli’s story starts with two individuals, Todd Robinson, a marine conservationist, and Anya Fernald of Belcampo, in a rural community in southern Belize. Robinson purchased the property in Punta Gorda along with 20,000 acres of surrounding rainforest in 2005. Since then, it has been a model of progressive conservation practices, supporting both the environment and the community. On site, they have a luxury eco-lodge, an organic farm and just recently they completed the distillery.
The Copal Tree lodge is an homage to its surroundings, folding itself seamlessly into the lush landscape between the verdant Mayan Mountains and the clear turquoise sea. A 3,000 acre organic farm surrounds the lodge, planted to local vegetables, cacoa, bananas, mango, dragonfruit, ginger, cinnamon and tumeric. In the community, the Copal Tree properties are regarded as one of the best (and biggest) employers in town, providing over a hundred clean and safe jobs. In order to grow their business, Robinson and Fernald recently decided to add the distillery, and rum seemed like a natural choice given the property’s history.
Following a similar sustainable model as the farm and the lodge, the distillery is a zero impact facility. They fondly refer to it as “farm to flask.” The rum is made from 100-percent single origin, estate-produced sugar cane that is hand harvested by local workers. Within two hours of picking, the juice is crushed away from the cane, and any remaining cane material is burned to fuel the pot stills. The water that is left over after making the rum is either made into liquid fertilizer or diverted to catchment ponds that filter and clean any harmful byproducts. In addition to the environmental benefits, the distillery is also a huge supporter of its community. All profits go back to the local people for educational scholarships and environmental activities.
Currently, they make two rums, the Copalli White and the Copalli Barrel Rested, both perfectly reflecting the site and thoughtfulness of their practices. They are made in an Argicole style from only three ingredients: organic sugar cane, canopy water and yeast. The result is an an extremely clean, elegant rum with distinct sugarcane character and fresh grassy notes. They describe it as “clean rum from the heart of the rainforest,” and it tastes just like that, displaying a unique typicity that embodies the spirit of the place.
The Copalli White Rum is a double distillation blend of column still, which gives a nice, light flavor, and pot still distillation, which lends more depth and texture. A long resting period in stainless steel tanks melds the flavors for a smooth taste. Aromas of fresh sugarcane jump from the glass, supported by soft herbal notes. This white rum is great for classing up your favorite rum cocktails. (They have a delicious recipe for a daiquiri that will have you rethinking any preconceived notions about this cocktail from your college days.)
In the Copalli Barrel Rested, the double distillation of the sugarcane is 100-percent pot still, then aged in bourbon barrels for five months. This creates incredibly smooth flavors, with mild tannins, slight woody character and strong sugarcane flavor. The rich, sweet flavors can be served neat or on ice. It adds nice depth and flavor to popular drinks like Mai Tai.
Without a doubt, the rum revolution is here, with a rising tide of craft distilleries just like Copalli. Shedding the spirit’s poor reputation, these new rums are truly exciting. Like Copalli, many of them display intensity of character and nuance of place. Copalli, however, takes it a step further, infusing their philosophy of conservation and sustainability in the bottle. Clean and pure, it not only tastes refined and delicious, but it’s simply something you can feel good about drinking.
Copalli White Belize Rum ($28.99)
Copalli Barrel Rested Belize Rum ($34.99)
2 oz Copalli White Rum
1 oz Ducky’s Mix (2:1 passion fruit to cinnamon syrup)
½ oz lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
L/H, double strain, coupe glass, garnish w/ lime wedge & flamed cinnamon sliver
2 oz Copalli Barrel Rested Rum
1 oz lime juice
½ oz dry curacao
½ oz orgeat
Build in shaker, whip with 1oz crushed ice, pour in glass, add crushed ice and swizzle to level, insert straw and mound crushed ice on top, garnish w/ edible orchid and mint bouquet. (optional powdered sugar dusting)