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Old 10-28-2007, 03:43 AM   #1
Scottes
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Default Blending and spicing and infusing rums

In the "What did you drink last night...?" thread, Dood posted the following:
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Originally Posted by Dood View Post
Tonight, while I wait for people to get read for a Halloween party, I decided to finally take my vanilla rum infusion for a spin. I'm actually not too displeased with the results, although I know I can make it better. It's decent in a cocktail, but I think I can make it somewhat smoother so that the vanilla isn't so jarring.
So what did you do, and what do you think you would have done differently?


I have been reading up about spices a bit, prepared to spend some time creating my own infusions and/or spiced rums over the winter. I discovered 3 interesting opinions on vanilla:
1) Mexican beans reputedly "have a darker flavor [than Madagascar beans] that is perfect for vanilla liqueur and coffee drinks"

2) A chef says "
I use Mexican Vanilla, with its robust character in foods with a spicy nature, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and with herbal infusions."

These comments make Mexican sound better for spiced rum infusions.

3) When tasted in foods, a panel of chefs were evenly split over vanilla bean and vanilla extract. That is, half picked the version of the food made with vanilla beans and half picked the version made with vanilla extract.

It takes to infuse beans, and you take a chance with infusing too long and having it go bitter. Given this, I have to wonder if it makes sense to go directly with vanilla extract.

Of course, all this - Mexican vs Madagascar and Bean vs Extract - require some tests I'd say...



As for spices, in a thread on another forum, we began with a discussion of Bumbo, a blended & spiced rum concoction. Here's the recipe, courtesy of The Gnomon:

Quote:
Dildo's Bumbo

Ingredients

6 oz Appleton VX
3 oz Appleton Extra
3 oz Coruba
3 oz Wray & Nephew White Overproof
3 oz pomegranate juice
1 tbs grated fresh nutmeg
1 stick Ceylonese cinnamon
4 tbs raw sugar (turbinado, muscovado, or demerara)
? tbs more sugar
1 750 ml capacity bottle

How to Make

Part I

Combine the nutmeg with the W&N WO.
Combine the sugar with the pomegranate juice.
Drop the cinnamon stick down into the bottle and pour in the Extra.

Part II

Combine the nutmeg white rum with the Coruba.
Combine the sugar and pomegranate with the VX.

Part III

Pour the nutmeg white and dark into the bottle.
Pour the sugar and pomegranate rum into the bottle.
If there is more room in the bottle put more sugar to personal taste.
If it needs more sugar and there's no room, drink off enough to make room.
Cap it off and shake well.

Part IV

Basically, it's ready now, but the longer you wait to use it the better it gets. As it sits, more nutmeg and more cinnamon essence is extracted.

To chill, wrap a wet towel around the bottle and let it sit in a strong breeze OR place it in a net tied to a line and drop it into the cold sea for a bit.

Serves 12 landlubbers; or 4 scurvy dogs; or 1 pirate
I made a batch, and screwed up a little by using too much sugar and letting the fresh grated nutmeg infuse too long. (2 days would have been enough I think!) But it was quite good, damn near delicious, and 10 of 12 who sampled it liked it quite a bit.

So this got me to thinking about what spices make sense to use in rum, and got the following list so far:

Vanilla
Nutmeg
Allspice
Mace
Star Anise
Ceylon Cinnamon
Cardamom
Cloves
Ginger
Orange zest
Lime zest

NOTE: (not that I'd suggest all those are used at once, but that's a list I would draw from)



Does anyone have any other spices to add?
Any other tried & true spiced rum recipes?
Has anyone ever tried blending rums and been happy with the results? If so, care to share?
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Old 10-29-2007, 02:16 AM   #2
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As I've written before on this forum, overproof rums are better for making infusions since alcohol is a solvent and higher proof rums extract more of the essential oil from the spice or fruit.

As for vanilla vs. extract. A lot of people who have never eaten a fresh piece of corn prefer canned corn. Personally though extract is a lot easier to blend into rum, I prefer to use vanilla beans. Madagascar beans are more available in the islands, though more expensive than extract which contains a lot of alcohol.

I would add Star Apples to the list of infusion possibilities as well as raisins, and there are many varieties from which to choose. I sometimes add a little tamarind to my spiced rum.

For blended rums, I like to mix Cruzan Estate Diamond and Barbancourt 5 star 50/50. I also blend a number of other rums in a small cask on my boat, but you have to drink it pretty quickly so the oak barrel doesn't overpower the rum.
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Old 10-29-2007, 10:13 AM   #3
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Herbs are also a nice twist to add to infusions and are often overlooked. I visited the Balearic Islands many years ago and they made a brandy infused with local grown rosemary and thyme. I have tried this here with the local Recao del Monte (kinda like cilantro on steroids) and Recaito (a variant of Mexican oregano) with nice results. I infuse in overproof and then sweeten with local raw cane juice and then fractional add to a rum of choice( usually Barcelo Anjeo). I have also had nice results using the peel of local Limones, Naranja(bitter orange), and Limoncillo(lemon grass). Tamarind and prune is a favorite here also!
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Old 10-29-2007, 12:56 PM   #4
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Well, this vanilla infusion started out rather simply:

Appleton Special Gold
4 Vanilla Beans
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp "spice" (the resulting black death from a bottle of spice that my wife and I acquired on our honeymoon and got lost in the back of the liquor cabinet for 2 years, causing it to be a tad too spiced...a teaspoon added to a bottle of non-spiced rum is actually quite good).

That's how I started. I was trying to follow the various bits of advice that I found online for vanilla infusions which all seemed to indicate that it should sit for a few months to draw the flavor out of the bean.

I'm a big tinkerer with everything I do though, and I think I just went a tad too far as I got impatient. I added vanilla extract. I added a tsp of cocoa and a tsp of nutmeg. In retrospect, I should have started with 4-6 beans and never added the extract. It's actually the extract that I believe I'm tasting when I talk about a "jarring" flavor.

I plan on trying again with a high-proof rum and sticking with just beans this time and staying away from the extract.

The Dildo's Bumbo looks very interesting though...I'll have to look in to that for our next party.
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Old 10-29-2007, 11:02 PM   #5
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While a high-proof liquor will get more essentials oils out of the infused item, is this just a matter of time? Or will 126-proof get more oils than 80-proof ever could? I'd rather start with a decent rum to begin with, rather than use a not-so-great overproof and then try to "fix" the resulting concotion.

Star Apples sound very interesting... Now where to get them in Massachusetts??

Great call on the raisins! I love raisin taste in rum, and I obviously forgot.

And now I'm worried about vanilla extract. I'll have to try a small test, just to be sure.
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottes View Post
While a high-proof liquor will get more essentials oils out of the infused item, is this just a matter of time?
All chemical reactions proceed at a rate set by surface area and energy. Increase surface area and/or energy... then the time is reduced.
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Old 10-30-2007, 12:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottes View Post
While a high-proof liquor will get more essentials oils out of the infused item, is this just a matter of time? Or will 126-proof get more oils than 80-proof ever could?
A 126 proof spirit will extract more essential oils than a lower proof spirit since it is a stronger solvent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottes View Post
I'd rather start with a decent rum to begin with, rather than use a not-so-great overproof and then try to "fix" the resulting concotion.
The balance in the equation is to start with a good overproof, rather than trying to fix anything.
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
A 126 proof spirit will extract more essential oils than a lower proof spirit since it is a stronger solvent.
Both more extracted essences and more alcohol provide more surface areas for a faster chemical reaction.
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Old 10-30-2007, 02:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
good overproof
I fear that there's nothing I'd consider a good overproof, so I will most likely simply live with using more infused ingredients and/or longer infusion times.
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Old 10-30-2007, 03:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottes View Post
I fear that there's nothing I'd consider a good overproof, so I will most likely simply live with using more infused ingredients and/or longer infusion times.
Ah Scottes, there are good overproof rums, you just haven't had the good fortune to discover them yet. The 126 proof rum you mentioned earlier may not be the best rum to use for infusions since it has a distinctive flavor for which you haven't acquired a taste. The Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan uses Neisson Blanc at 100 proof to make infusions which are then blended to make a very good Spiced Rum Swizzle.

You might also consider filtering your suspect overproof through a Brita water filter. I've used one of these marvels on my boat for years to filter a lot more rum than water.
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