Alongside the various bars and events that occurred during the London Cocktail Week between 2nd and 8th of October, Rumcask were invited to come along to the Pirates Grog masterclass held at the Smuggler’s Tavern pub in Fitzrovia. A great venue with a surprisingly wide array of rum on offer, with a room upstairs that seemed tailor made for masterclasses.
Upon arrival it was only right to enjoy the rum selection behind the bar before we got started and decided on well known Jamaican rum. After making our way upstairs we were warmly greeted by Gareth (Gaz) Noble who is vital to the rum’s inception in the UK and also the brand owner. We were sat at tables and given an introduction to the brand itself.
Pirate’s Grog was born in Roatán, just north of Honduras in Central America. The island has a rich history due to the fact that Pirates used to plunder in the Caribbean and then return to this island for safe keeping and trading. At certain points the island was inhabited by thousands of pirates as the light winds made it an ideal area where they could escape and hide. Therefore, when making a rum from this island, it made sense to stay true to its heritage and stick with a theme of pirates.
From here we moved onto tasting our first rum of the evening; ‘Pirate’s Grog Five Year’. The bottle has changed since its inception a few years ago. It is now an appealing, heavy glass bottomed bottle with a label reminiscent of a scroll opened up. This rum is a blend of different stills including a pot still alongside column stills. However all of the blends are aged for between three and five years in ex bourbon barrels. They are charred before being used and as a result help to impart some of the oak and vanilla notes that are present in the rum. Bottled at 37.5% ABV, this makes the rum a little smoother to drink. I am also assured by Gaz that the rum has no additives, sugar or colouring added to it. What you are drinking is pure rum.
Alongside the vanilla and oak notes, I got notes of Demerara sugar, raisins and molasses. I wasn’t able to spend much time tasting but from what I had gathered so far this seemed to be quite smooth. The rum doesn’t linger at the back of the throat and then leaves a slight spicy burn. Quite an enjoyable rum and definitely better than I was expecting!
Gaz and the team indicated they felt this could be an entry level sipping rum, but also a high end mixing rum. I could see this working very well in a daiquiri cocktail and even mixed with ginger beer to create a twist on the ‘Dark n Stormy’ cocktail. A nice introduction to the Pirate’s Grog range on offer.
From here we moved to the more premium ‘Pirate’s Grog No.13’. This is an award winning rum winning both Best Aged Rum in the UK and the Best Design Effectiveness at the World Drink Awards 2017. The bottle and label are truly well designed. As you can see the label has elements of the brand itself, with ships, skulls, treasure and all things pirate on it. It looks a very premium product indeed. They released a first batch of 777 bottles which quickly sold out and they are currently showcasing the second batch of No.13. The rum itself is a blend of around 65% 13 year old rum and around 35% of 8 year ages Pirate’s Grog. Once again I am told there are no additives, sugar or colouring added to it.
The blend here gives me notes of soft fruit such as apricots as its main point of difference. The finish is longer and more developed than the initial offering. A really nice tasty sipper that grows the longer you leave it waiting outside of the bottle. Probably not one to add to a cocktail, unless something along the lines of an old fashioned where there is very minimal added to the rum.
The final part of the masterclass was to introduce and use the ‘Black Ei8ht Coffee Rum.’ This liquor is a blend of cold blend Brazilian coffee and the five year old grog and has just 25% ABV. The bottle follows a similar approach to the five year grog, but this time it is black. A simple but elegant design.
The taste of this liquor is quite unique. There first taste on the tongue makes you believe there is about to be a sweet rush ahoy. However, from here we break into the taste of coffee blended with some dark chocolate and toffee. Any coffee drinker would really appreciate this.
From here we were handed cocktail sets and a recipe to make their “Espresso Rumtini.” The recipe for those who are interested (you will be interested!) is “Creamy, dangerous and delicious… It’s a sophisticated little devil.”
- 50ml Pirate’s Grog 5 year
- 25ml Pirate’s Grog Black Ei8ht Coffee Rum
- 25ml Espresson
- 25ml Vanilla Sugar Syrup.
Add the ingredients to a Boston Shaker and fill with ice. Shake hard and double strain into a chilled coupette glass. Garnish with coffee beans and/or chocolate dust.
After my great expertise in making cocktails, this was a breeze (I wish!). I was guided well however in the length of time the cocktail had to be shaken as well as how ferociously. The end result can be seen here and I must say was delicious, a cocktail I will be making in the future many times!
Overall, this masterclass was a great introduction to the Pirate’s Grog brand and team. From the Marketing and Events Director Beth, to Gary the sales manager through to Gaz himself, the entire team were very hospitable, knowledgeable, but more importantly actually were fun too! I look forward to seeing them all again soon.
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