The list of increduble experiences I had last fall while attending (and speaking at) the Bar Convent Berlin is a mile long, but up near the top of the list is the afternoon chat I had with Andreas Redlefsen, owner of St. Lucia’s Elements Eight rums.
Elements Eight is virtually unknown in this country, but occasionally you will hear of it whispered in hushed tones between rum aficionados as the brand has acquired a sort of mythical status. Fortunately there was plenty on hand to taste in Europe, and I had the man himself to tell me all about it.
Elements Eight begins with molasses made from Guyanese cane (cane production is no longer commercially viable in St. Lucia). The distillers then take that molasses and ferment it in three separate batches with three different yeast strains from the island. The resulting ‘beers’ are then distilled in three different stills, which results in nine unique rums.
The first is a traditional John Dore copper pot still, the ‘Rolls Royce’ of pot stills – creating a rum that is heavy bodied, pungent and full of flavor. This rum will gain complexity as it is aged and will impart a lot of depth and complexity into the final blend. Still Two is a Vendome pot still – originally constructed for American whiskey production. The end result is a lighter rum than that produced in the John Dore. Aaaaand, still number three is a column still. Very light rum.
Anyway, all of these different rums are hand-blended and aged in used Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels in St. Lucia, which provides a unique microclimate between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic ocean. The warm Caribbean climate helps expand the rum into the barrel, and the chilly Atlantic evenings contract the liquid and help wash that flavor from the wood.
Both rums are aged, the gold for a minimum of 6 years, the platinum for a minimum of 4 years. Yes, the platinum rum is then charcoal-filtered in order to remove the color before it is packaged and shipped.
And what about the flavor? Both are light, clean, buttery, sophisticated and delicate, with the gold providing a touch more richness and caramel than the crisper platinum. Sippable neat, but perfect for mixing in cocktails. I’ve made crisp mojitos, smooth, buttery rum old-fashioneds, light daiquiris and Mai Tais that defy the laws of gravity.
Already available in Europe, Elements Eight is slated for release in the States late this year or early 2010.