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Ministry of Rum: Unplugged

 
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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 2078
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:38 am    Post subject: Ministry of Rum: Unplugged Reply with quote

What's under the Preacher's robe?

Some of you may not remember that I was once a serious participant over at the Ministry, until I got into it with the consistently inconsistent, "It's all good" Preacher Ed. Over what you may ask?

Agricultural rum.

Actually these are no more or less than rums made primarily from relatively fresh cane juice (as opposed to rums made from the byproduct of sugar manufacture, ie molasses). Named in a self-serving manner by the French as "agricultural rums", made mostly in the former French Indies (but also a few other countries) and named to distinguish their cane juice rum from what they pejoratively called the "industrial rums" made from, ugh mon ami, molasses.

You see the Preacher is a BIG fan of the AOC, and close to being its head cheerleader. He promoted the AOC agri-rums as though it was the AOC who defined what is and is not cane juice rum. He denied that the world class agricultural rums from Haiti's Barbancourt are indeed agricultural, despite over 150 years of history to the contrary. On different occasions he stated that Barbancourt was made from "fresh cane juice" (his book), "sugar cane syrup" (his weblist of distilleries) and/or from "cane juice, syrup or molasses depending on availability" (in a thread at the Ministry).

He glibly put down respected authors Ian Williams and Dave Broom, both of whom disagreed with his fluctuating position on Barbancourt.

When I pointed out the superiority of Barbancourt's agriculturals to the AOC agriculturals of Martinique, noting the AOC rums inconsistency, relatively average quality and incredible and unjustified high prices - the Preacher erupted into a frothing attack filled with flippant one-liners and put downs. Of course I exited from the Ministry pronto - in toto - and simply deleted my posts. In the spirit of Hotel California, the proprietor Preacher just wouldn't let go.

It just didn't make sense! Until now.

I just learned that the dear Preacher is anything but unbiased. In leaving I'd noted that, like extreme right wing American churches, the Ministry is tied to its state/commercial sponsors and was hardly likely to allow real free speech. But I had no idea how bad it was. According to author Wayne Curtis' blog...

Quote:
Some of the other Martinique rums are imported by Ed Hamilton, who was instrumental in arranging last year's competition. But he and Dori Bryant, who organized the (Ybor City) fest this year, are communicating only through very low-tech means: lawyers. So Ed's rums – Niesson and La Favourite – weren't represented in the competition.


The Preacher was an importer of AOC Niesson and La Favourite rums! And apparently is no stranger to run-in's and controversies of the legal kind. There's no separation of church and state over at the Ministry.

Accordingly, it's no wonder that he put down competitor Barbancourt. It's no wonder that he deleted my posting of Dave Broom's comparative analysis of agriculturals. And it's no wonder that he defends the AOC as insuring quality, when the evidence is quite different. It all makes sense. The Ministry could not appear more biased. So in answer to the question "What's under the Minister's robe?"...

Apparently business contacts. But no cojones of which I am aware...



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Comparing Agriculturals
Capn Jimbo leaves the Ministry
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Last edited by Capn Jimbo on Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 2078
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 6:29 am    Post subject: Carribean Spirits Reply with quote

Carribean Spirits

Now we all know the Preacher as some kind of Ronny Caneyseed, a rum obsessed, wandering, self-described "researcher" who spends his time living aboard, drinking plenty of rum, and sailing from one Carribean distillery to another whilst gettin ready to publish another book on rum. And promoting his "Ministry" as a labor of love in the public service.

Quote:
"It's been fifteen years since I bought Tafia (which was shipwrecked in 2001 and replaced with Triton. I've cruised continuously through most of those years, with only a few months ashore now and again to do things like publishing a book or two. Gathering data on rum history and manufacturers and publishing books about them is a slow process. You don't have much credibility looking for a publisher for a book on rum when you're sailing in the Caribbean drinking the best rums you can find in the name of research. Most people just didn't take me seriously that there was even a need for a book on rum. It took quite a while to get things rolling."


Yup, the life of Riley. How romantic. Seemingly missing from the website is much mention of another enterprise: "Carribean Spirits". This is the company behind author Wayne Curtis' mention of the Preacher's apparent other life: importing rum, namely AOC's Neisson and La Favorite, and organizing big time rum tastings.

Quote:
(From the Carribean Spirits website)
Rhum Agricole from the French West Indies

"After sailing the Caribbean for more than a decade and discovering the finest expression of the distiller's art I was frustrated when I couldn't share some of my favorite drinks with friends back home.

Now you can enjoy these award-winning spirits in the US. Here's where you can buy them."

Cheers,
Edward Hamilton

Link to Carribean Spirits

The website appears to be an importer's website, and the importer appears to be the Preacher. Can it be true?

It sure is.

In an article about agricole, quoting Wine & Spirits Magazine:

Quote:
"Likewise, when Ed "Minister of Rum" Hamilton... starts importing rare rums from the French Antilles, it's a good bet they'll be worth examining... That said, with rums as good as La Favorite and Neisson, the two brands Hamilton is offering, it's easy to..."


Enough said. This is exactly why all of my websites are scrupulously non-commercial. It is impossible to be objective when you have a dog - in this case two bow wows - in the fight. The Preacher wants you to believe his Ministry is "Dedicated to the Understanding and Appreciation of the Noble Spirit - RUM".

Sure. The next time you hear the Preacher claiming his mission is to promote the appreciation of "Carribean Spirits" you'll know what he's talking about....
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Last edited by Capn Jimbo on Tue May 27, 2008 4:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 2078
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 4:08 am    Post subject: Apparently I'm not alone... Reply with quote

Apparently I'm not alone...

Just got an email from another rum lover who claims he too was "liberated" from the Ministry, and for pretty much the same reason. Apparently there was a discussion of the French use of the term "industriell" as a perjorative (insult) when used to refer to molasses based rums. Another poster had claimed the term was used by the French:

Quote:
"...to designate the difference in their own rums, it has nothing to do with the rest of the world's rum. It has been written that the name and the AOC was an act of snobbery, and that is just not true."


Our rum lover - who by the way says he's a former teacher - had quoted a French website which made pretty clear that the term "industriell" was indeed applied to all molasses rums everywhere, and which referred to molasses rums as inferior.

Simply another point of view, and a French one at that. And the response?

Yup, you guessed it! In this case our good AOC-representing Preacher was actually consistent and "liberated" our surprised rum lover:

Quote:
"My post was really pretty tame and intended only to point out, in their own words, that the French labeling of rum as either their own agricole or the molasses rum of others as 'industrial' was done as negative form of marketing. To be fair I also pointed out that WIRSPA has engaged in a similar, but more positive scheme to promote Carribean rums. I was careful not to take sides.

In retrospect, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but was I ever. As a former teacher I have a dedication to truth and open discussion, but I guess his website is not the place. What can I say, really..."


Yes, what can you say? Not much, especially when it refers to our Preacher's commercial interests...
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RT
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Joined: 08 Dec 2008
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Location: great white north

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been a long time participant on the MOR forums, and was there in the front row (with a large bucket of popcorn) for the AOC smackdown.

I've gotta say, when I joined there it didn't take long to realize there was a bit more to the site than simple rum evangelism. There's a ton of useful information there, but you do have to keep the salt shaker by your side (and not for mixing with the rum, either).

Let's face it, some pigs aren't helped by lipstick, and some rums aren't even improved by diet coke. Striving to throw a favorable light on nearly every rum product in the marketplace, ultimately can confuse and disappoint the consumer trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. But in that environment, to then nearly categorically disdain non-AOC French-style rums, is pretty clear evidence of a bias.

It should be quite simple, really. Agricole (with a capital A) does and should refer to the rums produced on the islands of Martinique in accordance with a specific set of government regulations. Alternately, agricole style (no caps) can and should refer to rums produced anywhere from fresh cane, and in a manner more-or-less in accordance with those regulations.

My personal opinion is that strict adherence to the AOC regulations doesn't necessarily produce a great rum. And it also isn't necessary to strictly adhere to those same regulations in order to create a rum that fits the agricole style.

I have tried for quite a while to develop a more of a taste for agricole style rums. So far, the AOC's haven't really stood out for me, I like the Barbancourt rums better than the Clement or JM rums. When I can find some Niesson or La Favorite, I will try them also and perhaps alter my tune.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:31 am    Post subject: A Case for "Cane Juice" Rums Reply with quote

A Case for "Cane Juice" Rums

Actually, it's hard to expect anything other than near universal acclaim from a commercial entity that either represents rums and/or promotes "competitions" that depend on the participation of many distillers.

Quite a balancing act.

The term "agricole" (whether capitalized or not) is generic, and is simply the French term for cane juice rums. It has been in use for 150 years and means no more or less than that ("cane juice rums"). Personally (and like Barbancourt) I prefer the term "cane juice rums" for three simple reasons.

1. It's accurate.
2. I am English speaking.
3. It avoids buying into the Martinique myth.

The one and only term that specifies cane juice rums from Martinique was created in 1996 and is "Rhum Agricole A.O.C. Martinique". To refer to those rums, this term must be used in its entirety.

"Rhum Agricole A.O.C. Martinique" is a subset of "Agricole/agricole", rather than the reverse. As far as Barbancourt goes, there has never been any love lost between Haiti and France. Haiti was their first possesion to gain their freedom via slave revolt - bless them - and Napolean left no stone unturned to keep them in poverty.

Thus, it is of little surprise that while Barbancourt clearly states that it is made "from fresh cane juice", that they scrupulously avoid the hated French word "agricole". Going back even further, the term first appeared as a negative or pejorative intended to make little of the early Haitian "clarin" which was made from cane juice.

That the French later used the term to communicate alleged superiority is a delicious contradiction. The A.O.C products from Martinique are not particularly consistent but they are very, very expensive.

Barbancourt is just the opposite - consisent, inexpensive and world class. I've tasted all the St. James products and Clement VSOP,as well as number of cane juice rums produced outside of Martinique including "10 Cane" and Montecristo.

The VSOP especially, and the Montecristo cane juice rums may be to your liking.
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RT
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I said Agricole (with a capital A), it was my intention to be referring informally to the full designation "Rhum Agricole A.O.C. Martinique." So I think we are in very close agreement here.

I studied French for 4 years and still cannot pronounce the most basic words correctly, so I like your idea of using the words "cane juice rums" instead, to refer to the general product category.

Ive had the VSOP and Montecristo, both good but not great IMHO, 7.5 and 8 respectively on my personal tasting scale, vs. 8.5 for the Barbancourt 15 (and still looking for some 5 star).
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