Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Blackwell Black Gold

Christmas is a week away and many of you are scrambling to finish your shopping. Me? I’m eating roasted nuts and sipping rum. My shopping is sorted and there’s not much left to do but wrap gifts, write the cards and put on the bows. Now, if you’ve got a drinker on your list or a rum enthusiast, this installment of my Holiday Gift Guide is for you.

BlackwellFirst up, Blackwell Rum. Created by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and Island Outpost among many other things, Blackwell Black Gold Rum is your typical Jamaican rum: full-bodied. A dark rum, I first sampled Blackwell Rum on my most recent trip to Jamaica. I spotted the bottle while sitting at Dougie’s Bar at Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach one evening and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try something new. I’d heard good things about the rum and was not disappointed.

With its deep, dark, molasses-y look I did expect Blackwell Rum to be sweeter than it actually was. Don’t get me wrong, I did taste hints of molasses with the slightly bitter notes I associate with dark chocolate and coffee but it wasn’t cloying; the finish didn’t overstay its welcome and left me wanting more.

Blackwell Black Gold Rum goes for $29.95 at the LCBO and would make a fine tipple this holiday season. Check the following video courtesy the good people at for more info on this fine rum:


Holiday Gift Guide: My Favourite Gift and New Year’s Greetings

Christmas was good to me. Either my friends and family read my blog, my Holiday Gift Guide or they just know me really well because I received lots of rum this year. And not just any rum but excellent ones like Flor De Cana (7 year old) and El Dorado (15 year old).

But the best gift of all: An empty bottle of Angostura 1919 (that I had the pleasure of finishing) converted into a brown sugar soap dispenser (see the picture below). Washing my hands has never felt so hip and sophisticated. Many thanks to the Chinese Empress aka Ms. Choi for such a thoughtful gift.

Anyway, the New Year is upon us and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year. May 2011 bring you all that you desire or at the very least all that you deserve. Cheers!

Holiday Gift Giving Guide: English Harbour 5-Year Old Antigua Rum

So the New Year is a day or so away and you’re scrambling, trying to figure out what you’re going to do on the big night. Or you’ve known since November that you’re staying in/going to so and so’s party/attending a church service. Regardless, nothing gets you in the spirit like a fine spirit and today’s featured fine spirit is Antigua’s own English Harbour 5 year old rum.

Fittingly, for a gift-giving guide, this rum was given to me a couple weeks ago as an early Christmas gift. After sampling it I decided that it would be the final entry in my Holiday Gift Giving Guide. If you’re scoring at home that’s a win for Santa because English Harbour 5 year old rum has proven to be a fine addition to my rum collection.

After opening the bottle and pouring approximately two fingers worth of rum into my glass the nose was the first thing I noted. This rum possesses a fresh, slightly sweet aroma (honey?) that takes on a bit off a floral character. And like all the rums in my gift-giving guide, English Harbour 5 year old is medium bodied and well-suited for sipping. Each and every sip, each and every taste reveals something new; hints of fruit here, hints of spice there, with a little burn to boot; all of this without being too sweet, too spicy, too harsh or too fussy.

Having said all of that, I have good news and bad news. Good news; a 750ml bottle of English Harbour 5-year-old rum retails for about $35. Bad news; it is not available at the LCBO, so if you live in Ontario you better know somebody. I happen to be fortunate enough to have a friend who visits Antigua yearly. Sometimes it’s really good to be me.

Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof Rum

Simply put, Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof rum is a winner. Now, my rum drinking roots are firmly planted in the English speaking Caribbean, specifically Jamaica, but recent years have seen me expand my rum drinking horizons and frankly I leave no rum stone unturned (Not quite true. I’m known for my disdain for Bacardi and Captain Morgan rums, but that’s another story for another day). One of the joys of my broadened rum horizons is my appreciation for Spanish speaking rums (Think Brugal, Flor De Cana).

Everyone’s palate is different, but in my experience Spanish-speaking rums tend to have a woodsier character and pack a little more bite than their Anglo counterparts. This member of the Havana Club family manages a fine balance, staying true to its smoky, woodsy, oak-barreled roots on one hand while being smoother than crème brulee on the other. Medium bodied and amber in coloring, it is sweet without being cloying or tangy with a pleasing aftertaste that begs to be consumed neat.

According to their literature, Havana Club’s Cuban Barrel Proof rum “is an exquisite rum…bottled straight form the cask. This powerful, supremely smooth elixir can be sipped neat or over ice, as untainted as when it left the barrel”. I couldn’t agree more and with the New Year fast approaching this rum would make an excellent gift—assuming you are attending a party. Planning on staying home for the New Year’s festivities? Well, you could do a lot worse than sipping on this rum while ushering in the New Year. Feliz Ano Nuevo indeed!

**A 700ml bottle of the Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof rum retails for $44.20 at the LCBO

Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Doorly’s XO

How can I put this? Well, you have rums, good rums, really good rums and then you have Barbados’ own Doorly’s XO. This rum is off the charts good. One of the first things I noticed when I first cracked open the bottle was the aroma; unlike the seductively sweet nose of an El Dorado rum, Doorly’s was light and buttery. I don’t remember ever smelling a rum quite like it.

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Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Appleton Estate V/X

The holiday season is upon us and many are caught in the hustle and bustle that is holiday shopping. I myself have finely tuned my seasonal shopping habits in such a manner that it takes one or two outings at most to check every name from my list. My secret: highly personalized gift cards/baskets and fine spirits from the LCBO. I think the gift card/basket tactic is self explanatory, but the LCBO tactic may not be as obvious. But it should be. Unless you come from a family of teetotalers and/or all of your friends and acquaintances eschew alcohol, then the LCBO should be a no-brainer. Won’t you be attending countless parties and get-togethers after all? Isn’t alcohol the finest social lubricant?

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