Friday, April 25, 2014

Introducing Admiral Rodney and The Forgotten Casks to Seattle: A Chairman's Education and Afterparty

Admiral Rodney and Chairman's Reserve Finest - The Forgotten Casks
The Rum Collective's launch party at Wine World & Spirits, September 2013
The time was long overdue and the patience of rum connoisseurs around the US ran aground years ago. In fact, many had simply given up on seeing Admiral Rodney stateside. Would the trademark trial over its comparison to Admiral Nelson be resolved? Would the US market hold enough interest to foster passage of The Forgotten Casks Rum? Last September, things done changed! Not only were they approved, (yes, the USPTO has officially accepted that there was more than one admiral in the British Royal Navy!) but these world class rums were launched in three cities in the US. Seattle, with its rum-loving community, was one the chosen few along with Washington, DC and New York. For those of you who attended the launch party, the following should stoke the fire of fond memories gained (or lost) that night. For those that missed it, you can now taste these rums, as bottles have just arrived and will be available (finally!) at select locations in Seattle later this week.

Admiral Rodney Box
The excitement and suspense surrounding the launch party events in Seattle complimented these two rums' turbulent history. First, legislation had just went into effect a week prior allowing liquor retailers to hold spirit tastings in Washington State. So, this launch was to be a Washington premiere, not only for these two gems of the rum world, but also of legally "sampling" rum in a retail liquor store in our now privatized state. Second, Clyde Davis Jr., the gentlemen largely responsible for their US entrance and success, was flying in for the events. Wine World, a liquor retailer with spacious event rooms and a solid selection of rum, was an ideal location. That evening, guests continually arrived even after the seats filled for a taste of what was coming. The invitation made clear to RSVP, but the love for rum overcame electronic formalities and many were content with standing, or should I say, sipping room only. Rumantic! The educational, guided tasting through the majority of St. Lucia Distiller's finest rums had begun...

We discussed the rum's early beginnings, originating in 1931 at the Barnard Family-owned distillery (Dennery Factory Co.) up until the recent passing of their Managing Director and 3rd Generation family member Laurie Barnard in 2012. Just as many of the Caribbean islands have gone, by the 1950's, the forces influencing the consolidation of rum producers were winning and only two distilleries, the Dennery Distillery (Barnard Family) and the Roseau Bay Distillery (Geest Family), remained. Today, rum making continues at the distillery in Roseau Bay only. As the majority of the cultivated land was converted to a banana from a sugarcane-based crop in the 1960's, the Dennery Factory Co. was forced to import molasses due to lack of availability on the island. Later in 1972, their merger with the Geest Family (Dutch Banana Co.) and formation of the St. Lucia Group consolidated the local distilleries, later branding their own rums, like Denros Bounty Rum. Chairman's Reserve was on the horizon.

Chairman's Reserve Finest - The Forgotten Casks Box
Today, the family directed process and vision hasn't changed. Their rums are made from molasses, which is imported from Guyana and fermented by a separated yeast process for 24-30 hours. To achieve the distinct flavor marques, they employ four stills in their distillation process: three pots (two John Dore and one Vendome) and one single continuous column still. It's a pleasure to taste through the entire line at once, beginning with the Chairman's Reserve Silver. The Silver is a blend of column and pot still rums aged 3-4 years and is charcoal filtered (don't let the transparency fool you!) revealing a medium bodied, dry mixing rum with a mild sweetness and subtle hints of banana. Chairman's Reserve Rum was next up. It was conceived by the late Laurie Barnard in 1999, also a pot and column still blend that shows off a bit more of its aged maturity (~5 yr) with balanced aromas of baking spices, light hints of cocoa and vanilla arising underneath a more aromatic pot still hogo and oakiness. Clyde has many stories to share and gives a important perspective on importing and raising a brand in the US. We then entered The Forgotten Casks, which is a similar blend of rums as the Reserve Rum, but unintentionally* aged an average of 7-12 years. The Forgotten Casks reveals, without much effort, some of those deeper passionate notes; boasting raisins, chocolate and tobacco with hints of citrus under the nose and silky mouth-feel resonating soft sultans and toffee on the palate. The Chairman's Reserve Spiced needs little introduction here. A leader in the spiced rum category that can be sipped or mixed. It stands up anyway you want it, with or without the help it's unique aphrodisiac-laden infusion of Bois Bande. Finally, we experience Admiral Rodney. It is also a blend of rums with an average of 12 years, however, in contrast to the others, it is from column still only. Well balanced and decorated with all the charms you would expect of a premium product. Needless to say, those who sipped it voiced their "oh, wows" and "yums" beckoning for more. While The Forgotten Casks won't let you soon forget what you've tasted, Admiral Rodney, will have you surrendering and quite possibly declaring it as your next favorite rum. I will state here, as I have stated about the Chairman's Reserve Rums before - they're undervalued and remain a great buy. Everyone knows the formula; high quality spirit divided by low cost equals great value. This is one of those rums where you can do the math and feel good knowing the answer!

*So what is the story behind the name, The Forgotten Casks?

On May 2nd, 2007, a devastating fire set by arsonists, destroyed the blending, laboratory and administrative buildings on site. The cellar master, Cyril Mangal, had problems finding storage places for safeguarding the rums. Many of the once-used bourbon casks, held a blend of pot and column still rums. Some of the casks were placed in locations where they would be forgotten about for some time before being discovered.
Hence, the name The Forgotten Casks...

After tasting it, you'll want St. Lucia Distiller's to keep forgetting them!

Where did Chairman's Reserve get its name? 

Instead of re-writing it here, get the full story from our good friends at Uncommon Caribbean!

Onward to....

The Afterparty at Rob Roy!

If you have been to Rob Roy, one of Seattle's favorite cocktail bars or have witnessed the talent of the owner, Anu Apte, then you are aware of the enjoyment that follows after ordering there. An exclusive menu of cocktails featuring Chairman's Reserve Rums was created for the event. Let's have a look!

Gunpowder Punch
Chairman's Reserve Rum
Turbinado Sugar 
Old World Spices

Rummin' with the Devil
Chairman's Reserve Finest - The Forgotten Casks
Orange Bitters

Islands in the Stream
Chairman's Reserve Rum
Dry Vermouth
Creme de Cassis
Orange Blossom Flower Water

St. Lucia Oriole
Chairman's Reserve Finest - The Forgotten Casks
Apricot Liquer


 If you want to buy The Forgotten Casks and/or Admiral Rodney, they are now available in limited quantities at Wine World & Spirits.

A big thank you to Wine World for their support and providing the event space!

Cheers to Anu Apte and the barstaff at Rob Roy for a brilliant menu of delicious rum cocktails!! 

Finally, thank you to everyone who attended to make this one of The Rum Collective's most historic events!!


  1. I'm split between these two possibilities for my Legal Thesis Topics On the one hand, I wish to write about Admiral Rodney's remarkable life and career as one of the most influential and essential people in British naval history. On the other side, I'd want to bring The Forgotten Casks, a hidden treasure of a whiskey distillery, to the Seattle region.

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  6. "First off, hats off to the introduction of Admiral Rodney and The Forgotten Casks to Seattle! It's exhilarating to see such unique brands finding their footing in our city. It’s a bit like discovering those cherished backup devices you had forgotten about and realizing they hold some of your most treasured memories. Both the rums and backup devices have a story to tell, a history that has been overlooked, but deserves recognition. I genuinely hope that just as we realize the importance of backing up our data, we also come to value and appreciate the rich legacy and flavor profiles of these rums. Here's to more treasures unearthed in both our glasses and our devices!"

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