gillmang wrote:Interesting. I would love to try some sometime since New England rum is kind of a legendary American drink, stretching back (with applejack) to the origins of domestic beverage alcohol production.
bourbonv wrote:Gary, Trust me in this case - you do not want to try this rum.
cowdery wrote:Gary's tolerance for tasting something he's never had before is pretty high.
gillmang wrote:Well, that's how I discovered straight rye.
I loved this conversation!!
I mean, isn't that just like all of us?
"New England Rum" shares with "Monongahela" and "Bourbon" a strong, if vaguely defined, sense of character (or is it regionality?)(no, style)(no, wait, location)(well... SOMETHING, anyway). The generic roots of all three extend deep into the misty past before there were bottles and labels and such. Anyone with any experience of whiskeys made in the 1930s through the 70s will readily confirm that whatever similiarity they might happen to share with brands using those names today, is either imaginary or completely accidental. A sampling of whiskeys bearing names such as "J. W. Dant" or "Old Taylor" today will provide not the slightest clue as to what those brands of whiskeys tasted like forty years ago. The same is true of "Old Fitzgerald" and "Old Crow". It's certainly true of brands such as Beam's Old Overholt (which at least emulates the National Distillers product of the late 1980s) or Heaven Hill's Pikesville, which isn't even close to what Baltimore's Majestic Distillers was producing in the '60s.
And all of the whiskeys I mentioned above were, themselves, only post-repeal "imitations" of fine old brands that had earned a reputation for excellence a half-century earlier, in another era. Some of us have had the pleasure (in many cases; in others, at least the satisfaction of curiosity) of sampling the products of the 1880s-19teens whiskeys bearing those names (and others). Some were called "Bourbon"; some were called "Monongahela". There were "New England Rums", then, too, but we've never had the opportunity to try any. The examples Mike mentions would probably have been from this period, or at least the very later years of it.
But those samples of Monongahela, and the Bourbon, and the New England Rum weren't The Real Thing, either. Like the later ones, they were just contemporary brands using a familiar name to make themselves seem as though they were revered products from their own past. The origins of Bourbon and Monongahela date back a hundred years before Prohibition, and there are no examples of bottles from that time, since spirits were shipped and sold in barrels only. It was a LONG hundred years, too. Absolutely everything about distilling, about storage, transportation, marketing, and probably even grain agriculture, changed dramatically during that time. And the last true New England rum barrel was filled even further back than that. The triangle trade, upon which the once thriving New England rum industry was based, was dealt a mortal blow with its legal collapse in the late 1770s and practical dissolution by about 1810. New England Rum has been an object of fantasy ever since, although whether that fantasy was about how wonderful it was or how horrible is open to discussion. A LOT of discussion. Monongahela shares much of that same nature, as does Bourbon for those willing to give up the silly notion that it once resembled, in any way, the product we call "bourbon" today.