A glorious liquid history both past and present.
Caña Brava Rum is part of a portfolio from the newly formed 86 CO. ( Company ) a group of adventurous ( and in some cases obstreperous ) individuals with extremely strong backgrounds in strong drink. Simon Ford formerly of Pernod Ricard, Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas of Employees Only a bar the stuff of legends, and Speakeasy Cocktails, an excellent book on Cocktails, are some of the players in this new venture. Rather than become brand ambassadors for someone else’s products ( depressingly commonplace career move/fate for top shelf talent in the drinks industry) they have decided to strike out on their own to bring us the best products they can find, make, or call into being. Their portfolio includes Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Tequila Cabeza , Fords Gin and this, the Caña Brava Rum at present.
Notes: An interesting sort of a hybrid type of rum.There has been great demand of late for a clear but aged rum – one that combines the subtlety and complexity you find with good distillation and aging but with no color so as to not effect the color of a drink, but not filtered enough to remove the hard won characteristics and subtlety of age. A number of people have attempted this, a few have succeeded, but no one till now has achieved these goals at this kind of price, nor this quality. To Be able to do all of this in one bottle is a singular achievement by the blending not only of the rum but the talent involved. As I mentioned before the team that sourced these spirits are some of the best around, they also had the wisdom to chose one of the best rum experts in the world as their distiller,blender and possible alchemist. I speak of Francisco “Don Pancho” J. Fernandez currently of Las Cabres Distillery of Panama. The Padron ( as I call him) has been the father of more rums than I can comfortably remember, and all of them were wonderful. He started at Havana Club in Cuba years ago putting in 35 years there before moving to Panama in the 1990’s. Since then he has been involved distilling and blending a number of brands, and probably knows about every barrel of rum in the world, what it tastes like, and how he could blend it with any other barrel to produce exactly what he wanted to create. It is because of this that a few years ago I recommended him to this guy by the name of Simon, who had a friend looking for some rum, and was wondering if I knew anybody that might have some rum, etc., this eventually led to this the Cana Brava Rum.
While I have no personal interest financially ,or otherwise ( I wish I did) in this project I have to say that the collaboration did extremely well and glad it all worked out. I enjoy being useful from time to time but this in no way effects my reviews. For a fullwrite up on many of the facets of this complex rum and all the players please go to: http://www.the86co.com/pdf/CanaBravaRum-Fact-Sheet.pdf .
I’ll try to do some Cliffs type notes here ;
The cane is a wild sugar cane (Caña Brava) from the region around the distillery in a volcanic area fed by equally mineral rich mountain springs in the central province of Herrera, Panama. Don Pancho uses the molasses from the cane and his own pineapple yeast to ferment the molasses which is then distilled through 4 copper lined column stills and then a 5th, solid copper still. The rum is aged in multiple woods, the first being uncharred American oak barrels for 18-24 months, proof is reduced, then it is rebarreled into used American Whiskey and Tennessee Whisky barrels for another 12-24 months. It is then blended with older rums to ensure a consistent profile and add depth and complexity. The rum is then filtered to create the Carta Blanca style rum that it is or as the Padron says “rum as that we drunk in Cuba when I was a young man”
Appearance: Faultlessly clear, with the merest whisper of color, very palest of yellow, almost a very light champagne coloration. Nice edgeline forming on the glass on swirling with multiple tears, then legs
First Impression: Cane/grassy with cane honey, cacoa alkali, volcanic mineral/stone notes with an overly of citrus and oily butter/coconut notes.
Taste: Very slightly sweet start, with a pleasing slightly oily entry and slightly weighty mouthfeel, lovely mineral and chocolate,vanilla bean and touches of citrus,with oak being present but not overwhelming the rum. Finish is drying and medium to long – as the Japanese say shiripin – it has a tail.
Drinks: We did some extensive field trials and found it was excellent in virtually all the classics using citrus as it played and balanced well without stepping on the citrus – a delicate task. Only negative we found was it could not stand up to heavier dark rums in blends but it was not designed to do that ( I think anyway) It couldn’t do that and have the subtlety it does – so more of a mixing note than a fault. Use other rums for those drinks and don’t waste this one.
Bottle: Clear glass with easy to open foil type screw cap closure. Attractive old style graphics on paper labels make the bottle easy to spot by both customers and bartenders. Interesting graphics on reverse of labels ( look through the run) showing reproductions a number of Panamanian postal stamps. Company trademark is embossed on the bottom of the bottle. All the bottles are designed from the ground up optimized for bartenders see http://www.the86co.com/pdf/the86co-Ergonomic-Bottle.pdf for an obsessively detailed guide on features. Feature they do not mention are that the bottle is nicely tall or long with an easy to grip neck making it the bottle to reach for in a bar fight also – or at least they don’t mention that point in the design specifications sheet.
Other: No added esters, aldehydes,macerations or other tricks to influence the taste or color profile, just unparalleled skill and experience to produce an honest and delicious rum.
Cigars : Use this rum to cleanse and refresh your palate after a good spicy and oily cigar like a Joya de Nicaragua, or a good Cuban if you can find one.
Final Thoughts: A glorious liquid history both past and present.
The company website, straightforward and slightly amusing, easy to navigate.
Brand Website :http://www.canabravarum.com
Placeholder at the moment, real page when they get a chance.