I’ve recently found myself energized and enthusiastic about the many varieties of sugar cane distillates. I stumbled onto some Haitian Clairin, which led me to some Mexican rums and, of course, the Jamaican funky stuff.
I’m still a total novice, but I find these spirits extremely weird, exciting, and delicious and I feel like more people should be on board this train.
How random- I stopped by Ramirez Liquor in Pico Rivera today because I was in the neighborhood and hadn’t been to that location. I texted my brother (a bartender) a picture of some Oaxacan rum they had on the shelf asking what the deal was.
Apparently Mexican rum is something being pushed right now. He said he didn’t love the Urupan one he’s tried but wouldn’t mind trying the one in the picture. Oddly, it was on the shelf next to a bacanora and sotol so they all seem to be in a “miscellaneous” category right now (at least while shelf space is in short supply at that location).
From a broader point of view I recall him saying some years ago that rum is a fairly unregulated spirit internationally so it’s a bit wild west. My very loose understanding is that there may be established brands and standards, of course, but overall it’s more vague and there are also libations not labeled as rum that are basically the same type of liquor. I’m sure I’m getting more than a few things very wrong but it seems like an interesting corner of the booze world.
Also, I think I’ve said this before but Ramirez Liquor really is one of the best liquor stores we’ve found in LA. We don’t frequent a ton of them but they have an impressively wide and varying selection, especially for south of the border stuff.
Rhum agricole is distilled from sugar cane juice. Totally different flavor.
My favorite rum is Havana Club blanco. I used to get it in Mexico but haven’t found it there in a few years, only the aged ones.
Have yet to try a Mexican rum I liked enough to make note of the brand.
The Clairin Sajous are fun albeit bracing. Brings me back to Haiti trips. These feel like mezcal’s slept on cousin.
Agreed on the mezcal comparison! Spontaneous fermentation of local flora distilled with traditional and often eccentric technique. I just hope trends (and prices) don’t go the way they’ve gone with mezcal.
I started with Clairin Vaval, which rules if you like black olive savory and frankly pretty abrasive funk. Tasted a few Mexican rums at Mirate in Los Feliz (the above Camazotz among them) and then picked up a bottle of my favorite (Dakabend) at Ramirez a little while ago. I also got the Uruapan ‘single agricola’ there, which I like a little less than Dakabend but notably more than the general uruapan.
Collection has only grown since, but the more I dig the more I uncover - there’s a whole complex world of ester measurements and specific Jamaican marques with varying reputations from the same distillery and all of that. In LA, K&L wine seems (unsurprisingly) to be the place to go for the best selection.
I need to do a little more exploring! Will check out K&L. And my favorite thing about Mirate was the bar program.
Re: Clairin, my guess is supply, combined with its intensity, keeps it under the radar. The political situation in Haiti makes it hard to export. But for their sake I hope it can be a source of wealth and stability.
I’m a sucker for old dark rums like El Dorado 12, 15, and 21. I could drink a whole bottle in one sitting.
I don’t like Rhum Agricole but I respect people who do because it is definitely more complex and interesting.