Before I talk about this rum, I just want to say that my spirits journey started with and has always felt like a weird summoning. From a sudden “click” in my brain that started my curiosity to explore beyond Johnnie Walker to single malt to cocktails to other spirits I’m currently into. This rum is a great example of how answering another weird summoning has rewarded me again.
As a cocktail geek, I first heard of St. George through their excellent gins. I’m sure most of the cocktail drinking North America based readers here are in the same boat as me. What fascinated me about St. George is that their 3 basic gins are very different from each other. Each gin has its own application. I’m a huge fan of their Dry Rye gin as it makes a very good and very different Negroni.
I was lucky to be able to tour their distillery in Alameda in July of 2018. In that tour, I learned more about a company that is only partially represented by its gin outside of the U.S. They also have vodka, liqueurs and eau de vie. I strongly feel that they deserve more attention outside of the U.S. St. George Spirits is credited to be the or one of the earliest starters of the craft distilling movement in the U.S. in the early 80s. Jorg Rupf, the founder, initially started with eau de vie. Eau de vie is basically unaged fruit distillate. He took advantage of the diverse fruit availability in California. I was told that most of Alameda used to be a navy base. The navy just packed up and left a lot of empty lots and infrastructure there. The distillery is housed in what looks like a plane hangar.
I remember being at the Proof Flat in Singapore when I first saw and tried this. The Proof Flat is owned by Proof & Co. Proof is largely responsible for the rise of the young yet amazing cocktail scene in Singapore. The flat looked like a living room that served as a retail/tasting/seminar space. I say served, because they moved out earlier this year. They are currently looking for a new location due to rising rental costs.
I just have to add that I love Singapore. The island city-state is a must for anyone who loves to eat and drink. It is often called the New York of the East due to similarities in the buying power and the progressive F&B scene. The whisky and cocktail game there is top notch. The whisky selection and quality of whisky bars there probably rival Japan. Notable whisky bars are Quaich Bar, The Single Cask and Swan Song. The cocktail game there is probably as good and as pricey as New York’s cocktail scene. The only downside is, alcohol there is highly taxed.
I went to the Proof Flat in search of a bottle of St. George single malt because they’re the distributors in Singapore. Being still mainly into single malt at that time, I was curious to try the only American single malt I had heard of at that time. Luckily for me they had it in stock because production is very limited. Beside the St. George single malt was this St. George California Agricole Rum. I will point out that I wasn’t into rum at that point. I also had not tried any agricole style rum yet. But something compelled me to try it. I am not sure if I was told how good this was in passing but whatever. The only thing I can say about that moment is it felt like a weird summoning. As if some unseen spirit whispered to me. I am thankful for moments like those.
I was lucky to find a detailed review by Inuakena to get me more info on this rum. The sugarcane is apparently from the Imperial Valley in California. Who knew California has sugarcane!? The cane are shipped to the distillery in one go. Then two shifts of contract workers are brought in to help the St. George team mill the sugarcane. The pressed juice is fermented. Then distilled in St. George’s hybrid stills. This bottle of 43% abv rum cost me around $150 SGD, that makes it around $115 USD. Expensive, due to Singapore tax and, for an unaged spirit? Yes. But totally worth the education.
St. George Sugarcane rum – review
On the nose: Robust scents of truffles, rubber and petrol just going at your face. There’s some earthiness mixed with faint notes of kiwi after. Sugarcane juice, chico fruit/sapodilla, and hints of rotten apples and pomegranate.
In the mouth: Surprisingly some cocoa notes. Shy pineapple rinds and lime peel oil. Petrol funk, truffles and rubber.
Sadly, what you get on the nose outshines what you get in the mouth. I used to love this rum. I remember this being more funky and expressive. But now it’s just uninspiring. This makes me wonder if my palate just wants more funky stuff now or if this bottle has been open for too long. It’s only been open for a couple of years.
For the sake of sentimental value, I guess I could say this is a good starter agricole-style rum. There’s not much green flavor in this compared to Caribbean French Island Agricole producers though. Blame it on California’s terroir? More experienced funk seekers won’t be impressed with this.