I don’t feel comfortable disclosing the name of the independent bottler because the spirit has an interesting flaw, but I still recommend the product and feel it is a great value as priced. In the future, I’ll still be quick to snatch up and explore anything they bottle. The flaw is likely the tufo Arroyo describes best in Circular 106. I have not experienced anything like it in any of my other explorations of role model spirits.
Now, as far as the distillation is concerned, it is highly important that this suspended and decanted material be removed such a fermented liquid before it enters the still. Why? Well simply to avoid the formation of undesirable odors that jointly define “TUFO”.
And since we have mentioned it, we will allow ourselves not to go forward without saying two words about this so-called “tufo” of raw rum. This should not exist in a well fermented and better distilled raw rum. Our experiments have also shown that by taking the precautions of rigor, it is not necessary to distill to 170 or 180 P. to eliminate it. We have distilled rums from 120 to 160 P. Without that in a single case it could be noticed in the distillate the characteristic smell of “tufo”.
Arroyo goes on to say more, but follow the link and read it for yourself (ctrl+f “tufo”).
In The Birectifier in Rum Manufacture (1945), Arroyo describes for us where exactly the birectifier places and categorizes tufo:
Fractions sixth to eighth will be made up mostly of water with a little ethyl alcohol and very minute amounts of very high molecular weight, high boiling point, esters and aldehydes. However, when the rum sample under fractionation has been poorly fermented or distilled, these fractions will contain malodorous substances derived from protein degradation and decomposition products. If these latter substances are present in liberal amounts they may tend to mask the aromatic effect of the other rum ingredients mentioned above.
For many faults, there is a laissez-faire amount, but this I suspect is above it. There is a big caveat where I lose confidence, however. What is liberal? Sometimes you can develop expertness in aromas of this category and spot it at thresholds others cannot. Do I have expertness in certain sulfur derived aromas? After years of running restaurants, I can smell a dead mouse on a glue board when no one else in the room can. I wouldn’t be surprised if I held a degree of warped expertness that the average consumer did not. This would influence whether we’ve got a glaring flaw or are walking the line. I will note that colleagues have mentioned this bottler raising flags for them and not exactly being a favorite.
What are flaws? Flaws do not become flaws until we attach the symbolic concept of regrets are missed opportunities to a sensory feature. Arroyo helped us do that. But how are these features held in the minds of the producer or bottler? Do they confuse this character with the positive notions of hogo? Do they know how to differentiate it from noble esters or rum oil? No clue. Frequency of occurrence rules everything around us. The fine wine industry is grappling with the issue that they have eradicated so many basic wine faults through oenology training that now that are few are popping up in hippy natural wineries, they are getting mistaken for critics as terroir.
Does this producer inexplicably produce 1 batch with tufo for every 5 that does not so they swallow it and have to figure out how to move it at some point? There are lots of open questions.
My judgement says this spirit is a positive for rum oil, an incredible achievement, but it did not produce any kind of cloudy fraction 5 or anything that featured an emulsion. It had lots of hallmarks of quality besides the tufo issue.
Fraction 1: Typical but slightly less intense than average. Definite non-culinary aromas.
Fraction 2: Non-culinary aromas. Possible banana ester aroma.
Fraction 3: Fairly neutral
Fraction 4: Definite presence of fusel oil, but seems perfectly as expected. Not exactly a wraith.
Fraction 5: Clear with no louch or emulsion. Definite presence of a very persistent aroma. By aroma, a positive for rum oil. Palatable and not overly acrid. Definite hallmarks of nobility.
Fraction 6: Very subtle stink, possibly Arroyo’s tufo. At moments, the aroma was like a very distant dead mouse. Slight gustatory acidity.
Fraction 7: Very much like fraction 6. Dead mouse.
Fraction 8: Very much like fraction 7. Sulfur derived aromas. Less of the dead mouse and more aroma like a faint cheap truffle.
Stillage: Definite gustatory acidity, but not exactly zingingly tart. Burnt caramel flavor that is slightly bitter. Has a flavor attributed to caramel coloring. Overly colored even for the dark genre?