The qualities possessed by something (or someone) can easily be overlooked when they are a constant companion. I think the term ‘taken for granted’ applies and whilst familiarity brings a relaxed vibe into a relationship, it’s nice once in a while to experience a bit of a break so that when you are reunited, all the fabulous qualities that drew you together in the first place are remembered!
Anyone who knows me will probably be thinking – Pete’s talking like he’s referring to rum... And of course you’d be right... When TheFloatingRumShack.com first set sail, Appleton V/X was a pretty regular companion, but once the collection starts to grow, the desire to look for something new takes over and so when I picked up a bottle the other week, I realised it’s been well over a year since I’d brought it last!
Various Appleton educational events have meant that I understand V/X is not an age statement [*], rather a reference to the number of rum distillates that are blended together to produce this amazingly character-full rum. In fact Joy Spence, the Appleton Master Blender may use between fifteen and twenty distinct rum distillates in order to keep the consistency of V/X under control. Ageing rum in the Caribbean is a process that can produce remarkable variation due to the extremes of tropical temperatures. Spirit from the same batch of pot or column still distillation, aged for the same time in supposedly comparable oak barrels can very easily taste and smell different after just a few years. Hence the need to blend rums in order to achieve the product you require.
Rum produced at the Appleton Estate in Jamaica could have come from any one of a number of pot or column stills. Each will produce a different distillate and each process can be tweaked to give different results. Each of these production variations can then be aged for different times before blending... I hope that this gives you an idea of just how complex the resulting product can be!
Despite all that, V/X is still marketed as a mixing rum. I’ve a glass of it with me while I write – it’s golden colour is inviting and brings with it sugary smells and rich flavourful taste. The little bit of burn I experience means that I know it’s not the oldest of rums and this is the saving grace that allows me to mix V/X safe in the knowledge that I’m not committing sacrilege...
For me, this rum comes alive when it’s mixed. Appleton would have you believe (quite rightly) that V/X is just at home in anyone of a number of rum cocktails as well as the ubiquitous long drink like a rum and coke. Pauline is making V/X daiquiris for us right now, whilst I finish my glass of V/X and coke and it was the oh-so-very humble rum and coke that made me think to write these scribblings down.
Shortly after we purchased the bottle of V/X, I poured a home measure (which turned out to be about 50ml) into my favourite rocks glass and then poured a small (150ml) can of Coca Cola on top. The result was a revelation! Thinking back, I’d realised that the healthy eating drive I’d been on for the last few months had pretty much wiped out high sugar content drinks from my life. In a glass containing nothing more than V/X rum and really cold coke I’d achieved the best thing ever. Of course a few more of those over the next couple of weeks (rather than same day) and the familiarity builds up: the memory of that divine moment is slowly lost.
The thing is it made me think about things. I remembered just how good V/X really is for the money. I remembered just how distinctly flavoured Jamaican rums can be and that once in a while a full fat coke and rum is an indulgence that really can hit the spot.
The daiquiri has arrived and I’m amazed by the balance it presents. The V/X seems to work so very well with the lime and sugar. The extremes of all three elements are rounded out a little and the result is harmonious – the rum is far from lost in this drink – the best parts of the rum come though and present themselves for enjoyment on your tongue – just sweet enough, hint of lime in the finish... This is really is a fabulous rum for mixing!
The moral of this article is? Don’t be a stranger – keep in touch with all the good things in life!
[*] In the good old days before WIRSPA came along, maybe a hint of an age statement could have been suggested or perhaps inferred. These days (thankfully) the back to front Roman numerals are taken to read as “15” and thus the minimum of fifteen blended rums has taken hold...