Saint Lucia rum brand Chairman’s Reserve have recently launched a competition called the Spiced Lab, a contest that invites bartenders from all over the world to craft their own spiced rum and the winner will go on to have a free trip to the distillery and have their rum produced and sold across the globe.
It’s an exciting time for the spiced rum category and it just so happens that two bartenders from my home city of Manchester have reached the crucial ‘sampling’ phase of the competition. Karl Stanley and Kyra Elton who work at the Science + Industry Bar have created some truly stunning drinks, so naturally I had to get on down to the bar to try them for myself.
Purple never looked so good
When I arrived at the bar, I was pretty sure that Karl and Kyra’s rum was all gone. Luckily, Karl took pity on me and brought out one of the last remaining bottles of Kyra’s Ube rum and from looking at the colour I knew I was in for something special.
Kyra’s rum is made with ube, a purple yam that’s native to the Philippines and St Lucia, unifying both places into one bottle. Other ingredients include ginger, coconut and the rest of Chairman’s original spices i.e. almond, dried orange, clove, vanilla pod, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Ube has a gorgeous biscuit taste that unfurls in the mouth, spreading out into notes of rye bread, persimmon and toffee. It has some awesome similarities to a barley shochu like Iiicko, light, refreshing and luscious.
The rum is perfect for a cocktail, as I found out by sipping a mixture of Ube, vermouth and angostura bitters. There were some unexpected sherry qualities that crept in and made for one of the best cocktails I’ve had in recent memory.
Big Easy in rum form
Although I didn’t get a chance to try Karl’s Kabalé, it’s worth visiting the Science + Industry bar to listen to the story behind the rum. Kabalé is inspired by Karl’s appreciation for New Orleans and Louisiana Creole culture. Kabalé is a Creole word that means ‘to carouse’, so partying with this bottle in hand won’t be hard.
The rum is based on NOLA’s famous pralines, with the flavour profile consisting of salted-honey-roasted pecans, butter and banana. It has a savoury, nutty taste with undertones of orange and cinnamon.
Karl and Kyra are both extremely talented and I’d love to see their rums in stores and bars across the world. You can show your support by keeping up with Karl and Kyra on Instagram.