That You Do So Well
We know unequivocally that rum is NOT the next big thing. Despite an explosion in consumer interest and expertise, one simple truth will forever hold it back - the category follows the leaders. Sure there are bellwethers and pioneers, but until the big guys get on board the category (particularly the high quality portion) will always remain a niche. And that’s FANTASTIC. We don’t need to recreate the bourbon boom or Casamigos’ success (thank you by the grace of god that Mr. Clooney is ok by the way) with rum. The current state of the category is particularly advantageous for you because the small piece of the rum pie is only getting smaller as new interest arises. If the big guys were actively making and pushing things that we actually wanted, there’s no telling how small the pie might become. If you can’t get the products that are interesting because producers aren’t making enough what’s the point in getting into it in the first place? We’ll be thrust into a modified version the modern bourbon hunt, where so many of the new rum fans left their first corny love.
The glorious caveat of that depressing fact is that rum is so broad and complex, we have so much left to explore. When was the last time you found out about a new category of whisky that you’d never heard about? Uncharted territory is exciting. You never know quite what you might find. Occasionally you stumble upon hidden treasure, left off the map perhaps intentionally. To find the gems you must be open and ready to receive them. Like last year’s discovery of the incredible Paranubes Aguardiente de Cana from Sierra Mazateca. This secret Oaxacan specialty went seemingly unnoticed in ten years of importers scouring the Oaxacan highlands for Mezcal. It tastes like sin and pickles. This insanely flavorful pure cane distillate has won awards for its exquisite and unique character and is slowly becoming a requirement in high quality back bars everywhere. Suddenly, we’re starting to see more rum from Mexico often distilled from pure cane, but few have the deep intensity of the Paranubes and fewer still the soulful nearly spiritual quality of great Mezcal.
For me, it is this cross roads between quality and soulful authenticity that makes a good spirit truly great. It’s something that’s captured in the French term terroir, which English speakers claim to understand, but the French insist doesn’t have a proper translation. It’s not only about the physical qualities of the vineyard site or the technical specifications of the distillery; it’s about the holistic quality of a product. It’s the acceptance that this creation can only exist at this one place and time, inclusive of every potential variable. This is why so many great producers of wine and spirits describe what they do as art. Art requires passion, but great art is not just a function of the artist’s passions. It’s about technique, skill, expertise, experience and inspiration. But, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Master claim that their best work didn’t include something extra. Some indescribable, magical flame. That voodoo.
-David Othenin Girard