Liberty's hidden and rather spacious back room was a perfect setting. If you were there, you may recall (or may not recall) the leather couches, high ceilings accented by mood lighting and some background reggae music to set the tone. Liberty is located on 15th Avenue East in Capitol Hill. Their attentiveness to carrying a unique selection of rums among other distilled spirits is worth a trip there by itself. The bar doesn't end with selection either, their impromptu cocktails are brilliant. Don't hesitate to peruse their cocktail menu or strike up a conversation with either Keith Waldbauer or Andrew Friedman, Liberty's owners and spirit enthusiasts, about the latest cocktail news. For example, have you tried barrel aged cocktails made popular by Jeff Morganthaler? Go there and get started. The barrels are even made locally by our neighbors at the Woodinville Whiskey Co. Awesome!
The Rum Collective assembled to celebrate rum at Liberty and here is a brief account of the event. Barbados is the birthplace of rum, both in word and in deed. Ian Williams's Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776 and Wayne Curtis's And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails are two books, which provide compelling evidence-based arguments for this origin and were displayed as invaluable references for any rummie's library. It is fitting then, that rums from Barbados were the focus at the premier meeting. The Rum Collective's first website post, Barbados Rum: A Tour of Tours may be worth reviewing as some information discussed was referenced from there as well. The meeting commenced with a short introduction, meeting overview and philosophy of The Rum Collective. There was a strong showing in number of attendees who, from a variety of backgrounds, came together for a common interest. The Rum Collective appreciates diverse crowds and all those present were assimilated!
Three premium rums, Doorly's XO, Mount Gay Extra Old and Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection were tasted in that order. Doorly's XO is unique, rare in these parts and was well received. It was a pleasure to discuss and tease out the complex aromas and flavors gained from the second maturation in oak casks previously used to age Spanish Olorosso Sherry. Who doesn't love that Blue Hyacinth Macaw on the bottle? Topics such as Martin Doorly and the evolution of brands in Barbados in the early 20th century were highlighted. As we moved on to the second rum, aspects of tasting were brought up. The perspective on tasting rums that Dave Broom details in his award winning book Rum was described and suggested as a guide for those new to the experience. The next two rums that we enjoyed are from Mount Gay Rum, made by the oldest continuously operating rum distillery in the world. Over 300 years of craftsmanship was to be consumed. No spitting allowed! Tasting Mount Gay Extra Old and Mount Gay 1703 in sequence was a treat and offered a comparative view of the two prized blends. After sharing some history and facts about the brand, including the new bottle design, we sought to find Mount Gay Rum's reported key aromas including ripe bananas, sweet almonds, moka and vanilla. Where else can one suggest practice and patience and it be so well received. In addition, determining if and too what extent diluting the rum with water personalized the tasting experience was great fun. The comments on the overall flavor balance of the Mount Gay Extra Old and the complex, extended finish of the Mount Gay 1703 were noted from various individuals. The Mount Gay Extra Old and 1703 are both available in Seattle at select stores for those interested.
Finally, a cocktail to showcase the Mount Gay Extra Old was revealed. I will mention it was crafted and its name coined minutes prior to the meeting. "Cabin Fever" is its name and was inspired by Keith Waldbauer, co-owner of and rum aficionado at Liberty. He describes the recent months of Seattle's weather and without effort convinces us we need to go traveling some place tropical. No, this is not a fruit juice-based cocktail. We sip "Cabin Fever" and my thoughts linger, contemplating a trip back to the white sandy beaches in Barbados. Keith's "in the moment" palate, does not reveal the ingredient proportions, but brings forth an exquisite and well balanced libation complemented by the smiles of all those enjoying it. Delicious! A social reception follows...plus a bonus. Keith brings out a nice selection of agricole rums for tasting courtesy of Liberty. The Rum Collective afterparty continued at Liberty. Oh yeah!
|Back room at Liberty|
|Doorly's XO, Mount Gay Extra Old, Mount Gay 1703|
(left to right)
(by Keith Waldbauer)