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Water of Life – Milton Rum and Mad Monkey Distillery

Rum has a long and at times chequered history reaching back more than six hundred years to the times dominated by Colonialism, where it did not only serve to make pirates drunk but as a means for trade.

Fast forward to the present day and the renaissance that the distillation from sugarcane by-products, i.e. molasses, enjoys, sees it being produced and proffered in artisanal ways

Given that climate and soil, in other words territory, have a tangible impact on the way molasses taste, provenance is given another dimension with rum and is essentially just one of the many variables that contribute to the taste of the final product.

Rum has not exactly enjoyed a prominent profile in this series, which shall change going forward and one of the first features in that regard will zero in on a spiced variants.

Milton Rum Distillery started out their operations under their trademark Eastern Koel bird logo with the objective to honour traditional methods yet infuse the rum scene with their own idiosyncratic approach. Based in an urban environment, the aforementioned is accomplished by marrying the benefits of state-of-the-art technology with tried and tested methods.

My first exposure to Milton Rum was via their Spiced Cane Spirit – an interesting expression as for its creation, vapour infusion methods were used, which are traditionally known from being employed by gin distillers.

What tickles the nostrils catapults one instantaneously to the Christmas period and gives an adequate impression of what will materialize on the palate, i.e. a tour de force of five spices and floral nuances, resting on a backbone of citrussy myrtle highlights.

With an ABV of 42%, this is an extremely sippable and more-ish craft rum is a fantastic introduction to how Milton Rum channels its alchemy and I look forward to their future creations.

Let’s head to South Australia, shall we?

Having been incepted in 2018, Mad Monkey Distillery is the state’s first distillery dedicated exclusively to channelling its alchemy in the art of open fermentations and sourcing their special yeast strains to infuse the Australian spirits landscape with their idiosyncratic take on Caribbean libations.

Harnessing the South Australian seasonal climate and with their DNA currently comprised of three separate cane spirit product lines. Mad Monkey uses the by-product of crystal sugar production, i.e. molasses, sourced from sugar mills in New South Wales and the quality of its emissions sets the expectations high for the launch of their certified rum line, which is currently maturing in their bond store.

What I like about Mad Monkey is their commitment to transparency, which manifests itself e.g. in meticulously detailing where their ingredients are sourced from and how they go about their craft along with the tenet to aim for sustainability in the treatment of the resources used.

My first exposure to Mad Monkey was through their Ubhal Bakte expression – quite a telling name once the Gaelic moniker is translated into “baked apple”.

As the name suggests, rich, naturally sweet cider and apple flavours are accentuated by nutty highlights, delicately set against a backdrop of spiciness and deliciously calibrated smoke. Given my preference for smoky whiskies, I was sold straight away and found it to be a wonderfully sippable aperitif.

Flora is Mad Monkey’s ode to the Australian bush with local botanicals taking centre stage in form intensely aromatic eucalyptus married with interesting nuances like marjoram and meadowsweet.

Saccharum could be considered Mad Monkey’s core expression as the name hints at, with it being a reference to sugar cane. This young cane spirit is as pure as they come, with flavours being exclusively derived from the distillation process and fermentation.

A borderline ideal expression to illustrate the deconstruction of rum, showcasing what can be achieved with a stripped down list of ingredients.

On the nose there is silage, floral, fruity and vegetal aromas. What then materializes on the palate takes things to the next level as things get delicately spicy, flanked by minty, sweet liquorice flavours and fruity peppery overtones.

The mid-length finish marries the best of the aforementioned flavours with the addition of the faintest salty notes and a nice apple based acidity.

Given the quality of what I have been able to taste so far, anyone remotely into rum should be psyched about Mad Monkey’s rum.


images from company websites

July 11, 2021

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