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Old 01-03-2010, 12:21 PM   #1
erickaye
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Default Papa Zouk - Antiguan rum mecca, with tasting notes

Made a pilgrimage/tasting trip last night to Papa Zouk, an outstanding local restaurant with over 200 rums on hand. It's run by an expat German scuba diver named Bert Kirchner, along with his Antiguan wife, Fay. Bert is one of the most hospitable fellows anywhere. If any rum lover finds himself within 50 miles of Antigua, it's well worth a visit to Papa Zouk. A quick google search will give you plenty of info on the place. I guarantee you will encounter rums you've never seen before. While the food was outstanding, I was more interested in tasting a few rarities. Here are my notes on the 14 I tasted, all new to me.
Keep in mind, I have no way of knowing how long some of these bottles have been open, so I'm not sure what role, if any, oxidation may play.

The light rums
---------------

-Montebello Rhum Agricole - a 100 proof agricole from Guadaloupe. A bit on the strong side for my tastes, with a lot of bite. Redolent of paint thinner. This is a rhum meant to be mixed.

-Damoiseau Rhum Blanc - another Guadaloupe white agricole. This was much more palatable. Had strong hints of oaky smokiness. Smoother than the Montebello, and probably my preferred rhum of the two.

-Bushy's Special Old Rum - This was a homemade light rum made by Angelo "Bushy" Barreto, the Bolans postmaster in Antigua. It is not currently available by him, but was fantastically smooth and delicious. Much tastier than the darker rum he's currently making.

-Pyrat Superior Blanco - Apparently no longer in production, this was a smooth, fruity-sweet white, with the typical hint of orange found in all other Pyrats. If you like the Pyrat XO, you'll probably enjoy this if you can find a bottle. There appear to still be some around online.

-Bambu - Antigua This was a nice suprise to me. Made by the family who makes SKYY Vodka, they were going for a similar beverage in a rum. The Bambu is 4x distilled and 3x filtered, to give an unbelievable smooth sipping rum. Not the most complex of the bunch, but incredibly pleasing to drink. Bert seems to think it's almost impossible to find, but there appear to be a few places online that carry it. Might just be impossible to find in Antigua, as it appears to have been created for the US market.


The dark rums
------------
- Mocambo Art Edition 20 Years Single Barrel - Mexico - Rich and very oaky. You could almost taste the barrel. I had no idea Mexico even made rum, let alone a superb rum such as this.

- Elements 8 - a triple distilled gold rum from St. Lucia, aged 6 years. This was nothing more than a nice simple gold rum. Very little complexity, not aftertaste. Was hard to make notes on it as the taste disappeared so quickly.

- Tanduay - A very credible dark rum from the Philippines, another nice surprise. Lots of molasses with hits of banana. Very dry. Most enjoyable

- Clement 15 Ans - Well crafted 15 year agricole from Martinique. Hints of caramel. Still has a bit too much of that agricole "bite" for my personal taste

- Trigo Reserva Aсeja - As far as Puerto Rican rums go, it's one of the better ones, but that's not saying much. Aged for 12 years, it's a peppery rum, with hints of banana and nutmeg. A little bite to the finish. I still haven't found a convincing reason to drink rums from Puerto Rico.

- Meyers Legend - 10 years - Similar to Myers, except much much better. Beautiful brown color, smooth, oaky with a strong molasses aroma. This one is also supposedly discontinued. A shame, since I would drink this over Myers hand down. A definite winner in the dark rum class.

- Fajou Rhum Vieux - Another agricole from Guadaloupe, this one from Charles Simonnet. Typical agricole, although a bit strong at 100 proof, nice hints of clove. Not my style, but I'm not the most unbiased judge of agricoles.

- Stroh 80 - This is unlike anything I've ever tasted. A 160 proof rum made in Austria. A bitingly strong spiced rum from the alps, with an intense and lengthy afterbite. Surprised that something with such a high alcohol content had so much flavor. Very strong herbal taste. Definitely not for everyone.


- CLEMENT 1952 Tres Vieux- After successfully going through the 13 previous rums and comparing tasting notes with Bert, he disappeared into the back and returned with a bottle from his back stores. "The Clement again? Didn't we try that already?" - "Not this one" was his reply. He revealed a bottle of the 70cl Clement 1952. It was as if I had passed the initiation and was worthy of sampling the nectar of the Gods. He related how he came across 4 bottles once in the stocks of an older lady and bought all 4. One is kept at Papa Zouk, one at home, and he's saving one each for his two children. This is without a doubt the best agricole I have tasted, and one of the best rums I've tasted period. I don't think I'd necessarily spend $1500 on a bottle, but were money no object, I would stock my cabinets to the hilt. Incredibly complex, rich and distinguished. This is a grown-up rum.

It went down wonderfully mixed with some cherry coke and grenadine.

I can't recommend Papa Zouk's enough, both for the chance to try at least a dozen or two rums you've likely never tried, and can't thank Bert enough for picking such a varied and interesting selection to taste.

Attached a a few small pics of a fraction of the selection.
What a great way to start off 2010....
Attached Images
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:06 PM   #2
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Very interesting notes. The only thing that surprises me is that you would put cherry coke and grenadine in a rum that is almost 60 years old and goes for $1500 a bottle. A lot of French rhums in the selection where there seems to be few on the shelves. There are so many to choose from though compared to other islands.
I have only spent a day in Antigua but it is on my list of islands to revisit. Nelson's Dockyard was amazing, as was my first experience of curried conch.
What did you decide to smuggle back??
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Old 01-03-2010, 07:16 PM   #3
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I'm glad you made it to Papa Zouk's, I've only been there a few times over the years. Like TheRumelier, at first glance I was surprised that you'd mix an old agricole with anything but a bit of water, but then you're in Antigua. That would never happen in Martinique.

Though that bottle of old rum was distilled? bottled? in 1952, it was probably on the order of 3 to 5 years old when it was bottled.
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Old 01-03-2010, 08:29 PM   #4
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That cherry coke and grenadine thing was a joke, guys....

So far I'm bringing home a bottle of the English Harbor 10 year and Bushy's Bolanda "Best Matured Rum". Those are 2 Antiguan rums that I definitely can't get in the States. I'll see if they have any more surprises at the airport tomorrow.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:14 PM   #5
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I've seen stranger things with my own eyes. Glad you enjoyed Antigua.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:36 AM   #6
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I doubt it, but does papa zouk's have an internet site? I'd love to bookmark it for when I eventually visit.
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:01 AM   #7
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I've never seen a website for Papa Zouks, I used to communicate with Bert via a yahoo.com email address but that's been some time ago. There are, however, plenty of references to the restaurant on the internet. It's located outside St John's the capitol of Antigua & Barbuda.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:44 AM   #8
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Thanks Ed and Erick, I will have to check this place out when I get there
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