Original OFC Mashbill

There's a lot of history and 'lore' behind bourbon so discuss both here.

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Unread postby gillmang » Tue Aug 02, 2005 12:51 pm

I may bring that acquavit to Gazebo upcoming. Gary
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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Aug 03, 2005 6:05 pm

Gary,
That sounds good to me.
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Unread postby Strayed » Sat Nov 19, 2005 7:16 pm

Quoting from http://www.city.waterloo.on.ca/seagramcollection/index2.html wrote: During the 1950s and 1960s, the Seagram Company conducted extensive research into [methods of aging and barrel storage]... One was a sort of cradle, in which the barrels were continually rocked. The idea was to imitate the motion of a boat. People first realized that whisky improved with age back in the days of sailing ships when some observant drinkers noted that whisky tasted smoother after it spent a few months crossing the Atlantic in oak barrels. This experiment did in fact speed up the maturing process, but the cost of continuously rocking thousands of barrels ruled out any chance of implementation

As you know, my never-ending quest to find the origins of red likker has led me on a search for a single point of origin in America. Lately I've been looking at how New England rum may have contributed to this development. It's hard to find out much about New England rum, because the real McCoy vanished forever long before bottled and labeled liquor became popular. Prohibition created a huge cavern in the history of bourbon and rye whiskey, some might say a fatal history, as most brands that survived Prohibition did so only as familiar names. But there are examples still of pre-Prohibtion whiskey, and thanks to glass bottles, we can see (and sometimes taste) the differences. There is no post-Repeal New England rum, except an occasional use of that name on a label, but even pre-Pro New England rum was bogus as far as the real thing was concerned. The last of the real New England rum distilleries closed down sometime around 1825 or so, and all of their product was shipped wholesale in barrels (yes, I know WHERE they were shipped; but people drank it here, too).

But I recently learned a couple interesting things about it. For example, "New England rum" was actually a generic term for a certain TYPE of rum, as distinguished from just a particular brand or the location of distillery. New England rum could be made anywhere as long is was that kind of rum. And what was that type? I dunno. Couldn't find that out. Exactly.

But what I DID find out is that another name for "New England rum" was "Dock Rum". Now some folks would say, "Sure, that makes sense. After all, it would be rum found around where ships and docks and stuff are." And of course that's correct. But then, isn't EVERYTHING that's transported by ship sitting out on docks? And is there such a thing as "Wagon rum" or "Mule rum"? But if you listen just a little differently to that voice in your head as your read that, you might hear it as "Dark rum" (especially if you pahk your cah neah the dock). Sure enough, upon further searching I find that the bottled New England rum (made much later, of course) only came as dark rum; there wasn't any "silver" version. Perhaps it was New England rum that crossed the Atlantic, sloshing back and forth in oak barrels all the way (and back), not to Europe, but to Africa. Where the ship's captain, like any shrewd trader, would earn his "commission bonus" by attempting to purchase a ship-load of slaves with as few barrels of rum as possible. Whatever he didn't have to use was his. He could sell it in the West Indies, although he wouldn't get much for it there. But when he got back to Rhode Island those barrels were gold. I believe it was THIS rum, oxidized, red, and aged for anywhere from one to two years, that became so popular. In fact, the more-or-less uncommon habit of charring the insides might have had more to do with conditioning the barrel for sea travel than for adding flavor nuances.

Things that make ya go, "Hmmmm..."
Pop another o' them Lot No. 40's John
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Unread postby White Lightning » Sun Nov 20, 2005 9:18 am

Interesting thoughts posed here.

Kelt: (Cognac) is a well known sea adventurous spirit these days.
ψ£
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Unread postby Strayed » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:27 am

Strayed wrote:... I believe it was THIS rum, oxidized, red, and aged for anywhere from one to two years, that became so popular.

Of course, that would really only be ONE summer, but a very long one!
And if the return leg from the West Indies to New England were during the winter months (or even if the barrels were just stored in a warehouse over the winter after arrival) I'll bet three years' worth of "barrel oak" would be sucked out of those staves in just a few weeks.
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Unread postby MikeK » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:55 am

Rum is being made in New England these days. The Triple Eight Distillery, on Nantucket Island, distills a variety of products, among them "Hurricane Rum". (They are also working on a scotch style whiskey that should be out sometime soon)

I tried the rum at a tasting a few months back. They age it in used Jim Beam barrels and it is quite flavorful. Whether one considers this a traditional New England rum is another question.

http://ciscobrewers.com/distillery/index.htm

Cheers!

Mike
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Unread postby Strayed » Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:23 pm

Hi Mike,
That wouldn't be even close, but it still sounds like a fascinating rum. So far, Triple Eight's Hurricane Rum ("over-proofed to match the strength of the most recent hurricane that season") isn't available anywhere I can get to, but hopefully they'll be successful and expand.
I very much like the way they're marketing this rum.
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Unread postby gillmang » Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:36 pm

John. New England rum was also known as Medford rum, I believe Medford was (is) a locality in New England, probably Mass. Maybe it was Meford rum, or possibly one was a corruption of the other.

Medford rum was certainly dark, I saw a full bottle of same auctioned at the Getz a few years ago, for not that much money.

Dock rum, or London Dock, was dark naval rum of the type (in my opinion) derive from Demerara in South America. A rum called London Dock is sold to this day in Newfoundland and it is Demerara in style if not from there.

I don't know if production in Demerara resulted in a dark rum right away or whether distant transport in oak created the style, the latter sounds plausible, and the name London Dock gives weight to it, since when the rum landed at London it would have gained colour from the shipping. And we know too that coopers in London charred the insides of casks to clean them, 19th century encyclopaedias of household and practical management (available online) confirm this. London cooper's method was precisely a known way to sanitise casks.

So probably liquors like rum and brandy were shipped from early times in charred casks, at least in the British and Colonial trades, and took colour hastened as you said by rocking of the ship and temperature changes.

No doubt whiskey merchants in the U.S. noticed this and stored and shipped whiskey on water in part to obtain the same effects, this is likely in my view.

Gary
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Unread postby Strayed » Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:46 pm

Gary,
The brand "Medford Rum" was also distilled and sold by the New England Rum company, located in Covington, KY after Prohibition. It has no relationship to the rum distilleries of Rhode Island or the rest of New England.
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Unread postby MikeK » Sun Nov 20, 2005 8:20 pm

gillmang wrote:New England rum was also known as Medford rum, I believe Medford was (is) a locality in New England, probably Mass.


Medford is a town just a few miles north of Boston. Whether this is where the name came from I cannot say. They do have an excellent liquor store there though. :D

For some reason, the discussion of Rum and Boston has brought to my twisted little mind the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919. Yes this is a partial tangent, but it is a bizarre event that again shows that truth is stranger than fiction...

"A famous incident involving molasses was the Boston Molasses Disaster on January 15 1919, in which a large molasses storage tank burst and flooded a neighborhood of Boston, killing 21 and injuring 150." (We're talking about a 10 foot high wave of molasses traveling at 35mph, kids)

Details:
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/041231.html

Pictures from the Boston Public Library:
http://www.bpl.org/store/gallery.asp?page=1&gallid=47

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Unread postby Strayed » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:13 pm

It creeps,
and crawls,
and slides and slides across the floor,
right through the door,
and all around the walls;
a blotch,
a splotch,
be careful...

(let's see if I'm the only one who remembers...)

Oh, and the rum distillery I was thinking of (the New England Distilling Co. of Covington, KY and Clinton, MA) didn't make Medford; it made Mayflower (and Everett Spring). It was a Schenley plant.

The original rum from Medford, MA came from no less than four distilleries in that town! They were Hall (the first, built in 1715), Issac, Blanchard, and Bishop, and there wasn't really any "Medford" brand name. By 1824 all but one was closed. Daniel Lawrence bought the remaining Hall plant and eventually produced the Medford brand. It closed down in 1907. If there was a Medford Rum after Prohibition it would have been in name only. I think that was also true of the brands made in Covington by Schenley; they were probably well-known brands from before Prohibition, but which were themselves only imitations of a style that had vanished decades before.

BTW, I got the above info from a very good rum-based website operated by Petr Hlousek of the Czech Republic, http://www.rum.cz/index.html
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Unread postby gillmang » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:45 pm

Thanks, John, this confirms my recollection that Medford rum was a style of rum, the pre-eminent one associated with New England. Clearly this was dark rum (the bottle I saw at Getz was pre-Pro and was probably a Hall distillery product). Maybe by the early 1900's they figured out how to make it dark without shipping in charred casks (i.e., liberal use of the caramel jar). In any case Medford rum was the last surviving link of New England to the rum trade in the sense of imported molasses being used to found a thriving rum industry: after Prohibition, while rum continued (I am sure) to be made in the U.S. from sugar or molasses, it lost its association with New England as a specific regional product.

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Unread postby MikeK » Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:30 am

... of the Blob!

Mike
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Unread postby Strayed » Mon Nov 21, 2005 9:26 am

Bingo!
The orig. version -- Steve McQueen's first movie.

And (JoeBourbon will enjoy this) filmed in Phoenixville, PA.
As of the last time I was there (maybe 1992?) both the movie theater and the diner were still there.
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Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Mon Nov 21, 2005 11:29 am

Ah the Blob in Phoenixville. This is even better than Mothra in Bernville, and at a much lower budget.
Joe :lol:
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