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Rum Review: Charbay Tropical Islands Cane Rum

 
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How do you rate Charbay Tropical Island Cane Rum (five is best)?
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Total Votes : 1

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3445
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:18 pm    Post subject: Rum Review: Charbay Tropical Islands Cane Rum Reply with quote

Charbay Tropical Islands Cane Rum: Peppery Anise Pitzels

It is rare for me to quote the distiller so completely, but in this case I will do exactly that...

Quote:
"Charbay Rum - The Cutting Edge

Allow me to introduce you to Domaine Charbay and explain to you our process of winemaking and distillation. The four of us, my wife Susan, our son Marko, our daughter Lara, and I handle the entire operation.. Our primary expertise and interests are in fermentation, distillation and personal hospitality. Before we get into details of Domaine Charbay
winemaking and distillation let me first fill you in on a little bit of history of distillation.

Charbay Winery & Distillery is owned and operated by Miles, Susan, Lara and Marko Karakasevic. Since 1983, the family has been known for small, handcrafted releases of luxury wines, ports, brandies, spirits and liqueurs. Miles, a European-trained professional Winemaker and Master Distiller, traces his family tradition back over 250 years to 1751 in former Yugoslavia. He has been involved with winemaking and distilling since he was a child.

Marko, following a classical European apprenticeship with his father, is the family's 13th generation to carry on the tradition of winemaking and distilling. Marko's vision ignited CHARBAY Vodka and CHARBAY Whiskey. He has been distilling since he was 10.

The "Still on the Hill" is where the family lives and works—amidst peaceful pine trees on Spring Mountain, overlooking the Napa Valley ...where you'd expect a Still to be. Creativity is grounded with a powerful professional background. The family is committed to exception quality ingredients and fermenting/distilling techniques. The main production still, a classic Alambic Charentais Pot Still, is located an hour north, in Mendocino County."


Some of you may have heard of this rum, an alleged super premium. After Tommy Bahama , or 10 Cane I'd hope that you have more than a healthy skepticism over any rum making such a claim. Except for one thing...

This one deserves it.

The Karakasevic family - five in number (soon to be seven) - has been involved in distilling since the mid 1700's in their native Yugoslavia. These five constitute the entire company! Their simple website details the handmade quality of all their products, which include whiskey, liqueurs, pastis, grappa, apertifs, port and cabernet, vodka and rum. Their methods are completely traditional, labor intensive and are centered around their classic copper Charentis alambic still.



All of their products are double or triple distilled to achieve incredible purity and quality that is very difficult to achieve in continuous distillation. To be fair, the Charentis still is actually a kind of semi-continous process. A wash is placed in the onion-domed pot still, where it is heated and vaporized. The hot vapor passes directly through the second device, which is nothing more or less than a preheater. The wash in the preheater is later fed to the pot still when it is empty. It then passes to a copper coil in a classic, open topped condenser, which is simply filled with cool water. The vapor condenses, and the various fractions, or cuts, are drawn off.

The first distillation or pass is divided into three fractions, and the middle portion or heart is run again. And yet again in the case of rum. The second and third runs are again fractioned and the end product is sort of a heart-of-hearts-of hearts. You can be sure modest amounts of the heads and tails may be added, or else the cuts are fairly broad.

Needless to say this is a very expensive and labor intensive process. Pot stills are used only sparingly by almost all distillers for this reason, despite the flavorful output of the pot still. Hand fermentation and stirring, must pumps, French Limosin oak and hand bottling are well known to the Karakasevics. And why all this time and trouble? Simply...

Incomparable quality.

Triple distilled rums are rare, rare indeed. But like many home or truly artisan rums, this time pays off by producing a young rum that demonstrates the light and fragrant aromas of youth, with the smoothness and purity of a well aged rum. This is the kind of rum that you almost have to make yourself.

Charbay saves you the trouble, and certainly the expertise even the skilled home distiller may lack. But let's get to this rum.


Quote:
"Hawaiian sugar cane syrup is triple-distilled in our classical Alambic Pot Still to create a magically silky smooth & floral rum. The Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum is made with our distillers' own extraction of pure beans. As with all Charbay wines & spirits, no colors, essences or so-called "natural flavors" are ever added."


I'd pay very close attention to this statement. Like Richard Seale, this family believes in purity. What you will taste is the result of a master distiller, and not some corporate taste engineer with his tanks of additives, adulterants and faux flavors. Enough! The envelope please...

Before I start, you are all free to send your well wishes to Sue Sue, who has apologized profusely for her allergies and completly clogged sinuses. She made a yeoman's effort to taste this rum, but stopped after the aroma phase, and asked me to apologize to you for not being able to continue. I admire her dedication to accuracy. I will attempt to reflect some of the issues she likes to cover.

Me: Charbay Tropical Islands Cane Rum comes in a very classy fogged glass, heavy bottle. The labeling almost appears etched (it is not) and presents a clean, modern-classic appearance. It accurately reflects the product within.

Charbay is correctly a cane juice rum, Preacher Ed's ranting notwithstanding. The Karakasevic family wisely leaves the growing and production of its raw materials - in this case cane juice to the experts. They seek and find top quality fermentables, here cane juice syrup from Hawaii.

You can be sure the cane juice syrup is concentrated only enough to facilitate successful shipping and receipt. I'd have to guess they use a semi-syrup of some kind. The cane juice is then triple distilled as described and the pour is a lustrous clear rum. No coloring whatever. Now of course this would lead almost any of us to gird our loins for what this appearance would indicate a young, unsippable mixing rum.

How wrong that would be!

Charbay's aroma is simply lovely and presents as sweetly caney/reedy over a black licorice, smoke and a bit of tar. Exquisite, honestly. Tasters will be reminded of Wray & Nephews Overproof and its dunder. The taste does not disappoint and is entirely consistent. The entry palate is smooth and sweet and transitions to a growing peppery licorice and a lovely warming peppery, long finish.

Sue Sea would surely add a consistent pepper-licorice aftertaste and lasting exhale. This is indicative of a truly fine rum, and in my opinion this young rum may well become one of the top cane juice rums in the world.

I hesitate to speculate on what even some modest aging may accomplish in terms of additional complexity. It could really be outstanding, and I await this product. I may even buy and age a couple bottles myself using some toasted oak chips.

In sum, Charbay's Tropical Islands Cane Rum is a rare find. I have seen it advertised for $36.99, but available at my favorite rum shop for - are you seated - $9.99. I will surely buy a few more for friends.

Note: Sue Sea later recovered from her cold enough to finally add her notes. Here they are.

Sue Sea:

Quote:
Jim actually did pretty well without me, let's give him a hand! Ha! Seriously, he really did anticipate my reaction. The Charbay was well presented in its beautiful, modern classic kind of frosted bottle. Understated, sophisticated and exuding quality. When poured I was taken aback by its crystal clear near colorless appearance. The word lustrous comes to mind.

On first nosing I immediately identified Charbar as a cane juice rum. The opening aroma is, of course, light smooth cane, reedy and licorice over what I'd call anise pitzel and something I want to call a high, elusive peanut!! Honest! The body is light and the palate is consistent throughout. It is almost liquerlike, and reminded me of an Asian sake rice wine. Charbay is a very difficult rum to place and identify and is quite different - in an extremely pleasant way. The finish is warm and peppery as Jim described and leaves a kind of lemony/limey aftertaste.

I feel that Charbay Tropical Islands Cane Rum would be great with Asian food, or on the rocks as well. It is an intriguing sipper that kept me interested. And in the same way it was hard to identify, it was hard to rate. I do believe that Charbay's triple distillation resulted in a very distinctive cane juice rum of quality.

I very much liked it.


Rating (10 is best): Sue Sea - 7.5, Jim - 8.
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