East Africa is not renowned for their craft rum. Mauritius may be your closest, that at least i’m aware of, but there’s a brand to look out for now that uses heavy East African influence. Welcome to Matugga.
Although not rich in history as it’s a relatively new brand to hit the UK, it doesn’t stop itself from delving into the African heart. Matugga uses the rich, red soils of East Africa that provide high-quality sugar cane and its molasses, resulting in a small batch fermentation and copper pot still distillation process.
The resulting spirit is then matured in English oak casks, but in the case of the Spiced expression, it is also the time to infuse six ingredients and fragrant natural spices, all crafted within the UK.
So how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Plenty of fruitcake on the nose, with hints of the molasses blending with tropical fruits and sultanas. Bold flavours of raisin upon the palate, followed by banana, toffee and caramelised fruits that results in a lingering, soft finish.
Matugga Spiced – 42%
Soft cinnamon bark on the nose, with quinquina and spiced cherry notes coming through. Bold notes of fudge, black pepper and liquorice, creating a warm, relatively smooth finish that offers a punchy end.
Some tasty liquid to sip on a Summer’s evening, but if you’re looking to mix –
50 ml Matugga Golden Rum
30 ml Passion fruit juice
15 ml Fresh lime juice
15 ml Sugar syrup
To garnish: fresh passion fruit.
Combine the golden rum, passion fruit juice, lime juice and sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Fine strain into a chilled coupette glass and serve garnished with half of fresh passion fruit, placing seeds on the top.
If you’re into your rums, this is one for the cabinet for sure. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to sip, yet can create a cracking cocktail base too, Matugga is for you. Enjoy!
Everyone loves something that’s award-winning, and there are many out there that can call themselves that. But to win at three of the major award ceremonies in the world, ‘Best in Class’ in the 2008 IWSC awards, Gold in the 2007 Drinks International Rum Challenge and Double Gold at the 2008 San Francisco Worlds Spirits Competition, as well as the distillery itself being recognised as a nominee in the category of ‘Excellence in Craftmanship’, you know your onto a winner (pun fully intended). That’s the story of Chairman’s Reserve. The golden rum that set the bartending world alight when it was introduced back in 1999, but how did it all come about? Well lets take a look –
Chairman’s Reserve hails from St. Lucia in the West Indies and created by the St. Lucia Distillers within the walls of the Roseau Valley Distillery. Crafted using naturally filtered rainforest water, six rums are individually aged in ex bourbon barrels including Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s and Buffalo Trace for 5 years, and then, using artesian distillation techniques, the rum is triple distilled using a Coffey Column Still, John Dore Copper Pot Still and a Kentucky Bourbon Vendome Pot Still. After the final distillation, the individual distilled rums are married together and then reintroduced to oak barrels for a further six to nine months.
So a rather unique craft to create the Chairman’s Reserve, but how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Chairman’s Reserve– 40%
A vanilla and honey nose with ripe exotic fruits pushing their way through. On the palate it gives off subtle sweet characteristics of spice with the vanilla being slightly more potent. Slight kick follows, but it leaves a mellow after-taste soon after.
Chairman’s Reserve White Label– 40%
A blend of three to four year rums, gently filtered to remove colour. Subtle citrus and raisin notes on the nose, with a smooth offering that turns into a developing pepper spice on the palate. Sweet notes of vanilla come through, a creamy texture is present and a fresh citrus finish completes. Hints of dry spice lingers.
Chairman’s Reserve Spiced– 40%
Contains local spices and fruits including cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, coconut, all spice, lemon and orange.Also has Richeria Grandis – known locally as “Bois Bande” – a bark renowned in the Caribbean as a potent aphrodisiac to give an added kick to the rum.
Dry spice on the nose, with the orange and nutmeg coming through. Reminds me of rich Christmas pudding. Very smooth on the palate, with a a smooth offering of spice and sweet flavours. Orange dominates to the long finish. A little dry.
Chairman’s Reserve Forgotten Casks – 40%
On May 2nd 2007 St. Lucia Distillers was struck by a major fire and suffered great problems with storage space for their casks. In the melee that followed the cellar master, Mr. Cyril Mangal, was forced to find space for ageing casks in the most unusual places. Having done so, the cellar team had a memory lapse and forgot the casks that had been laid down and were only recently discovered. A blend of rums ranging from seven to twelve years in age.
Intense nose of coffee, raisins and vanilla on the nose, blending well. Rich spice on the palate, with sweet honey, toffee, glazed fruits and hints of coffee all present. Well-balanced, with a great finish of raisin.
Some great sipping rums, with instant realisation of why this brand has won awards. Bartenders love it too, creating recipes such as this –
60 ml Chairman’s Reserve
25 ml Fresh lime juice
25 ml Simple syrup
5/6 Mint leaves
Gently muddle the mint leaves with the simple syrup and lime juice in the bottom of the glass. Add Chairman’s Reserve rum and ice and top with soda. Stir and garnish with a mint sprig.
Simple and refreshing, two words you wish to hear when it comes to a rum based cocktail. A great addition to any night out, or indeed your own night in. Oh, and it’s award-winning too. Chairman’s Reserve received the Rum Trophy at the International Spirits Challenge this year and, with 4 gold medals out of 6 rums entered, was also awarded the trophy for best individual distillery – ahead of all the malt whiskies, cognacs etc. And to cap it off, at Ian Burrell’s Golden Rum Barrel Awards 2013, Laurie Barnard, the eponymous chairman who sadly passed away last year, was elected to the Hall of Fame. Raise a glass.