Fate is a funny thing and certainly not something anyone should take for granted. As a rum blogger (I hate that term) based in the North East of England rum “events” don’t come along very often.
I had originally planned to make my first public appearance as “thefatrumpirate” back in October 2015 at the London Rumfest. However the news that I was to become a father meant such shenanigans were put on hold.
So with our wonderful baby daughter safely here I was able to twist my equally wonderful wife’s arm and I was allowed “out to play”.
In a wonderful twist of coincidence the first event which was “doable” was an afternoon in the company of Dave Marsland (Drinks Enthusiast) and Chairman’s Reserve/St Lucia Distillers. Now whilst Dave might be Emporia Brands official UK ambassador for Chairman’s Reserve – I am in my mind, through this very website the unofficial UK and cyberspace Chairman’s Reserve/St Lucia Distillers ambassador. Barely a review goes by without me mentioning them and I’ve typed Chairman’s Reserve more times than I could ever re-count.
So it was with quite a bit of excitement that I trotted along to the very lovely Tiger Hornsby’s on Newcastle’s Quayside (it used to be Julie’s nightclub back in the day when I still needed ID to get turned away) for an afternoon with Dave and some of the brightest lights in Newcastle’s bar scene.
I arrived early and watched Dave and his co-host Jordan set up – the bar was empty as it wasn’t actually open to the public.
Slightly relieved that Dave knew who I was I settled on a pew and I was served my first drink of the day.
Prior to taking my first drink I spoke with Dave about Chairman’s Reserve and how it was gaining a bit of a foothold and a reputation in the UK.
I mentioned the idea that Chairman’s was perhaps in need of a “mixer” to make the rum really make a breakthrough. Thinking along the lines of Gosling’s and Ginger Beer, J Wray and Nephew and Ting but perhaps not Bacardi’s ill fated attempt at “Oak and Coke” – the loathsome Bacardi Oakheart with well Coke or Cola.
The conversation proved very fitting as my opening drink in the tasting was a very generous pour of Chairman’s Reserve “original/gold” a 100% coconut water drink called Jax Coco and a twist of lime. Very tasty it was too.
As the others arrived we all took a perch around the bar and Dave poured everyone a Chairman’s Reserve and Jax Coco opening drink. The drinks were favourably received and Dave went onto explain that the Jax Coco is as close to fresh coconut water as you will get in the UK. No additives or fuss in Jax Coco and a really good alternative for the traditional St Lucia half coconut with rum poured in which simply isn’t achievable here in the UK.
With everyone seated Dave opened the talk in with some great background regarding Chairman’s Reserve as a brand and the St Lucia Distillery. Over the past few years I’ve done quite a lot of research into St Lucia Distillers and it was great to hear someone who was both knowledgable and passionate talk about one of my favourite rum brands and distilleries.
We tasted Chairman’s White Label, Original/Gold and the Spiced Chairman’s – all were well received and I was able to identify the 6th missing spice in the Chairman’s – Bois Bande – sometimes my research can pay off and impress people! Dave made a point of how aged each rum in the Chairman’s range is and gave really good background for each one.
We then moved onto the Chairman’s Reserve Forgotten Casks. Dave cleared up the fact that they never seem to run out of these “Forgotten Casks” which were salvaged when the Distillery caught fire, subsequently left in parts of the distillery and forgotten about until they had aged for around 10 years! The current run of “Forgotten Casks” is not the old forgotten stock it is your regular Chairman’s which is now deliberately being aged for 10 years as it makes a bloody good rum!
After trying the 4 Chairman’s Reserve rums we were treated to a bit of a palate cleanser with a very tasty Daiquiri made with Chairman’s Reserve White Label.
In the second part of the presentation Dave treated us all to Admiral Rodney and the fourth edition of 1931. I got a very nice “geeky” surprise along with everyone else in being able to try single barrel aged white and gold pot still distillates which were as funky as they come and a real treat!
Dave was a great host throughout and made sure all were involved. Although the event was aimed at the “trade” and I was surrounded by bartenders, bar managers etc I was made to feel welcome and included throughout and the 2 hours flew by. Dave really is a great example of a Brand Ambassador and certainly did Emporia Brands and St Lucia Distillers proud yesterday. Tiger Hornsby is a great little cocktail bar and a venue I am sure to visit again in the future.
All in all it was pretty damn good for a wet Wednesday in April! Top stuff if Dave and Chairman’s are in your neck of the woods anytime – make sure you get an invite!