Is Rum the New Vodka?

As if we didn't have enough tasteless, odorless, colorless, and overpriced superpremium vodkas, Moët Hennessy has launched 10 Cane, a rum sure to please the vodka crowd. It's innocuous enough to mix with anything and pricey enough (at $34.99 suggested retail) to impress the dim-witted. According to Tonja Smith, senior brand manager for 10 Cane at Moët Hennessy USA, the impetus for the rum's launch was a perceived gap in the rum market in the superpremium tier. Rum drinkers, she says, "want to be able to trade up." Produced in Trinidad, 10 Cane's marketers boast that it is made from the first pressing of sugar cane, rather than cane harvested for sugar production and turned into molasses. It also has the distinction of being double distilled in small-batch alembic stills and then French oak barrels. While it can be said that many of the high-end rums are dark (such as Barbancourt Five Star from Haiti, Matusalem Gran Reserva from the Dominican Republic and Pampero Anniversario from Venezuela), it should also be noted that many of them also don't have such large marketing machines behind them. Kevin Williams, a bartender at Salty's and Daniel's Broiler on Lake Union, where 10 Cane will be served when available, says, "You want support from a company. Co-branding, marketing is important." Small companies may import great rums, but they don't have the means to shower top restaurants and retailers with perks and freebies (none of which is legal in our beloved control state of Washington). Many high-end rums have historically been consumed straight-up or on the rocks, a style of drinking that's not widely embraced by the masses. 10 Cane's clean and smooth flavor, which Volterra's owner Michelle Quinsenberry compares to vodka, makes it a ready cocktail partner. Tony Abou-Ganim, head of the cocktail consulting firm the Modern Mixologist, worked with Hennessy to develop 10 Cane. He recommends using it for everything from a Mojito to creamy fruit-based drinks. Could a less odorous and more innocuous tasting rum be the key to creating more excitement about rum? I doubt it. As I read in the 10 Cane press release that "this is rum's redemption," I wondered where rum had gone astray. lzimmerman@seattleweekly.com

 
comments powered by Disqus