Ah, London summers. The streets are filled with bewildered looking tourists, criss-crossing with their trolleys to a stand-still in the middle of the pavement. You’re sweating on the packed Tube but once outside you are getting drenched in your T-shirt. In the office you stare blankly at the screen and curse yourself for booking a holiday in October because it is cheaper out of season… Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an event to create that holiday feeling here in the city?
Luckily, Geronimo and Young Pubs have created the #SummerofRum to get you through the season. I attended a rum blending masterclass by the makers of the Duppy Share. In whiskey you have the Angel share, the share that evaporates to the Angels during the ageing process. In the Caribbean this share goes to the Duppies; ghosts who travel between the islands to steal the best share of the rum ageing in the barrels.
The master class is not a hard-sell: you get to taste rum and blend your own rum to take back home.
We were welcomed to Leman Street Tavern with a refreshing rum cocktail before being led into a room as a group. A rum-fact based quiz functioned as an icebreaker (You will be surprised to discover the size of the daily rum ration of the British Navy… It is a small miracle the Empire lasted as long as it did.) With a prize to be won, the competitive spirits ran high and any awkwardness between strangers evaporated.
We were introduced to the Taste Spider, a web-like drawing on which you rate rum on seven different qualities, like colour and sweetness, from 0-8. Once you connect the dots you get a picture of the rum tasted, which will help you create a unique blend to your liking at the end of the evening.
The tasting rums are 40% but needed to be watered down to 20% open up to taste the notes. We soon realised that taste is very subjective and despite Duppy’s Ryan attempts to guide us through the four different rums, the drawings look wildly different per person.
The first rum to test was the Jamaican rum, aged in a bourbon cask, usually used in a mix with lovely complex notes. Bajan rums are often drunk neat, thanks to the copper pot treatment they have lovely smooth finish but no other exciting taste notes. The third rum is a Navy rum, dark and full of molasses. It is an overpowering rum that needs care in the blending that is to come.
The last rum was the Duppy rum, itself already a blend of three year old Jamaican and 5 year old Barbados rum – perfect for mixers. When I drew the spider for my own rum, I realised to my surprise that the qualities I prefer in a rum almost mirrors the Duppy original taste spider! There were a few tweaks, a little more molasses and sweetness, less oakiness; so we got to work.
Mixing up to 50ml at the time, using Duppy as a base since it was very close, and feeding in the others I tried to get the rum exactly to my taste. Happy at 50ml, it was tricky to get it to the 200ml required for the bottle. Who knew basic math was so difficult at the end of a rum masterclass? (“So we double… no… add… I think.”)
Bottles filled, we got labels to name our own blend and a gift bag to take it home in. The evening felt like a kid’s party for adults! If summer doesn’t come to you this year, go and find it yourself at the #SummerofRum.
The next Duppy Share SummerOfRum masterclass is at The Canonbury (Islington) on 25th August
Tickets can be found here