vomFASS: a Franchise with Spirit(s)

by Toni Jacovec

“The best ideas come while sipping Rum” –Pavol Kazimir (rum expert and award-winning mixologist)

What better way to get into the “spirit” of vomFASS than to experience the ever-growing selection of sophisticated liquors, wines and liqueurs? The already impressive varieties available include at least 8 brandies; over 20 whiskies; absinthe; grappa; gin; vodka and well over 30 fruit and herbal liqueurs. To this impressive coterie of comestibles vomFASS is bringing three new Caribbean rums to the mix.

Although it’s easy to associate rum with the Caribbean and the colorful pirate culture, the origin of rum predates the new world by hundreds of years. Alcohol from sugar was already well known in China, India and even the middle-east. Sugar cane was not indigenous to the new world, but was introduced by Christopher Columbus. Distilleries began to appear in the early 1500’s.

“Drinking rum before 10am makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic”
–Earl Dibbles Jr. (Granger Smith, American country music singer & songwriter)

Rum was quickly appropriated by the British navy as the drink of choice in 1655. Prior to the dependable abundance of this new spirit, the British navy had relied on French brandy for the sailors’ rations. Once adopted, the navy was able to cut their dependence on the French, who all too often were enemies of the Brits. Rum was part of the British naval liFe until 1970, and is still used on ceremonial occasions.

vomFASS announces the addition of three spectacular Caribbean rums enhancing the already impressive array of spirits offered. A brief history of each rum follows.

Jamaica Rum, Worthy Park Distillery

Nestled in the Vale of Lluidas, or Lluidas Vale as it is commonly known, the landscaped greenery that encompasses Worthy Park offers a glimpse into a different side of Jamaica. Located in the central parish of St. Catherine, far from the white sand beaches and palm trees, a visit to Worthy Park is a trip back in time to the days of unspoiled landscapes and natural beauty that had given rise to Jamaica being known as the “Land of wood and water”. The Worthy Park Estate has remained this way since its inception in 1670. It was gifted to Lt. Francis Price for his services to Cromwell during the English capture of the island from the Spanish in 1655. It has expanded since then through the acquisition of neighboring properties.

Commercial production of cane and sugar began in 1720 and has continued unabated until this day. Since then it has only been under ownership by three families and has been in the hands of the Clarke family since 1918. This sugar factory has been rated #1 on the island for efficiency every year since 1968.

All rum produced in the distillery needs molasses; and it goes without saying that all of the molasses used comes from their sugar factory. The average annual molasses production is between 7,000-8,000 tons and 2015 was a record year producing 8,801 tons. This molasses is then piped 2.5 miles away to the distillery.

“All roads lead to rum.”
–W.C. Fields (American actor)

Worthy Park has been producing rum intermittently since the 1740’s. There was an oversupply of Jamaican Rum following World War II and under agreement with the Spirits Pool Association of Jamaica production ceased in 1962. Worthy Park was out of the rum business – but, thankfully, only temporarily.

The Clarke family decided in 2004 that there was room in the marketplace for another Jamaican rum. Made from quality ingredients in the Traditional Jamaican Pot-Still method, using state-of-the-art equipment, the newest distillery was complete in 2005. By 2007, the flagship brand of Rum-Bar Rum was launched and has forever changed the Jamaican rum industry.

Trinidad Rum, Angostura Distillery

Angostura is one of the Caribbean’s leading rum producers with a superb collection of rum brands and is the world’s market leader for bitters. Angostura’s international rums have won gold medals at many international competitions in the past decade and have been named ‘the world’s most awarded rum range’ by the Rum Masters.

The company was founded around 1830 in the Venezuelan town of Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar) by a German doctor, Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, Surgeon-General in Simon Bolivar’s army.

The House of Angostura has been in the bitters business since 1824, but didn’t enter the rum business until after their move to the island of Trinidad in 1875. At first they were dealing with bulk rums rather than distilling their own, but in 1945 they purchased their own distillery. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the profits from rum outsold those of bitters. In 1973 they purchased the Fernandes Distillery located next door and incorporated those brands (including Vat19) into their production.

In 1991 they had a production capacity of 22 million liters of alcohol per year, which has grown to 50 million liters. No sugar has been produced on the island since 2003, so all the molasses to make these rums is purchased on the open market.

For different rum products made at the distillery they use different strains of yeast. Their barrels are ex-bourbon barrels. These are reused to age rum three times before they’re discarded or recycled.

Barbados Rum, Foursquare Distillery

The Foursquare distillery is built on the site of the Foursquare sugar factory which was closed for many years before Richard Seale bought the estate and installed state of the art distilling equipment. A number of innovations are incorporated into the design in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the spirits distilled.

During fermentation, carbon dioxide is captured, filtered and sold to local gas bottlers. The distillery uses molasses as the raw ingredient for fermentation and there is no bagasse (the dry pulpy residue left after the extraction of juice from sugar cane, used as fuel for electricity generators, etc.) to burn to generate steam, so the cost of heating the wash is considerable. This multiple-column still operates below atmospheric pressure at a partial vacuum reducing the problem of waste heat as well as reducing the chance of fire associated with large boilers.

After distillation, the spent wash is aerated on a grid of plastic media reducing the oxygen load of the waste water, a common problem facing distillers.

These three exceptional additions to the already considerable vomFASS product line are great examples of the standards that vomFASS exemplifies. Extraordinary quality; artisanal methodology and exercising responsible environmental procedures.

Toni, our editor and author of many talents, is baking her beloved niece’s wedding cake today. Fortunately, we have many recipes on the vomFASS website, Facebook page, and Newsletter archives from which you can choose.

Calamansi Mojito

Ingredients:
Serves 4

  • 1 oz. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam 
  • mint leaves
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 oz. vomFASS Jamaican Rum
  • ginger ale
  • lime wedge

Directions:

  1. Place mint leaves and sugar into a glass with a small amount of Calamansi Balsam and muddle.
  2. Add ice, rum and remaining Calamansi Balsam.
  3. Top with ginger ale and garnish with lime.

Recipe may be doubled or tripled

 
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