Birectifier Analysis of Line 44’s Heavy New Zealand Rum

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This is a rum that fills a room! When you pour out a dram, it just starts radiating everywhere. This new rum is from Callum & Luke Upfold of the Line 44 distillery in Timeru on the south island of New Zealand. They are moving into a new facility and upgrading to a single retort pot still. It was made with a fission yeast as well as auxiliary aroma producing yeast as a grand arôme complication; both isolated by Callum. The ferment sees both molasses, evaporated cane juice, and a slow fermentation.

Besides sipping, I have made desserts with this rum and Callum has aromatized pipe tobacco with it!

It begs the question, what is responsible for all that character? Even unaged, there is nuance, intensity, remarkable persistence, and intrigue. As I set up my tasting panel, aroma filled the entire room. I then left for lunch and the aroma was still there when I came back.

Putting to practices lessons learned from my last case study with the rum oil positive fission yeast rum from Black Frost Distilling, I intended to let the fractions slowly evolve under watches glasses (evaporation test) to reveal layers of nuance (over a few days). You could smell the 5th fraction evolve in a busy kitchen (with two dogs) without even removing the watch glass cover! The concentrated floral ester note subsided and a brooding, honied, rummier, animalic note became more salient until it dominated the 5th fraction.

My kitchen table is circa 1812 colonial mahogany and likely sourced from Jamaica. I found myself sitting at it and smelling aromas from another time. A set of spirit bubbles at the ready, without even trying to be there, I was briefly & charmingly haunted by Augustus & Primus, the great Agricola, then Ashby & Arroyo. The future of tantalizing rum is the past, and until recently I didn’t expect it from New Zealand, but here we clearly are.

[Proof spirit bubble]

This rum has surpassed my last analysis from Callum: Birectifier Analysis of a Mildew Yeast Turbo Charged Rum. In that post I remarked: this rum “begs to be brought to market and see full scale aging”. They are well on their way to bringing that sentiment to life and I hope this distillery is on your radar. Feel free to reach out to them!

The first fraction had a level of ethyl acetate which implies that whatever aroma producing agents Callum has in play, they favor production of high value aroma over generic ethyl acetate. Ethyl acetate will no doubt climb during maturation in a barrel. Fusel oil was below average and inline with expectations of a fission yeasts which is a special feature of this style of rum. The fifth fraction exibited radiant exuberance and evolved over days under a watch glass. This filled the room and morphed from floral aroma dominated by concentrated esters to distinct rose ketone aroma that no doubt facilitated the radiance. The 6,7,8th fractions showed subtle signs of rum oil—rose ketone aroma and no signs of flaws like tufo. These fractions possessed distinct acidity that would accelerate the start of maturation in a barrel (as described by Arroyo) but no excessive sweaty aroma of free long chain acidity.

This distillate has all the hallmarks of a grand arôme rum but with its own distinctions from others like Jamaica. It is not as heady from excessive ethyl acetate and the esters take on a redder tone, possibly from presence of ethyl tiglate. Its blending personality seems most congruent with more fresh cane juice rum which is inline with ideas from Arroyo.

Fraction 1: Not concentrated to the point of non-culinary aromas.

Fraction 2: Diminutive version of fraction 1 as expected. Not overly concentrated. Subtle extra character I cannot pin down.

Fraction 3: Very neutral as expected.

Fraction 4: Detectable fusel oil, but not overly concentrated as expected from a fission yeast rum. A floral layer of esters hangs over it that no doubt started very late in collecting this fraction.

Fraction 5: Incredibly concentrated floral ester character. Like many fraction 5’s, it is many multiples more concentrated in aroma than the other fractions. Upon collection, this fraction had a visible louche, but that dissipated as it sat wasting for evaluation. Droplets are visible all over the surface. There are even droplets that appear to be in suspension. Hints from fraction 6,7,8 beg us to observe this fraction as it evaporates under its watch glass.

Fraction 6: Similar character to both fractions 7,8, but more intense and concentrated. A larger layer of esters, with some other character underneath. The surface appears to have both insoluble droplets such as fraction 5, but also insoluble precipitates.

Fraction 7: Faintly sweaty with possible rum oil character. This feels more aromatic by degrees than fraction 8. Faint detectable gustatory acidity on the palate. Floral ester character is likely making it more aromatic than fraction 8.

Fraction 8: Fairly light in aroma anticipating a very slight gustatory acidity. Faint detectable gustatory acidity on the palate. Possible rum oil character unobstructed by esters? No tufo character or flaws.

Stillage: Subtle aroma, free from flaws (tufo, etc.), detectable gustatory acidity, but not overly tart.

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