As far as I can remember I don't think I've ever tried drinking neat rum so it was a bold move booking a rum tasting session.
With Jeffrey Che Joib Mensah
I first met Jeffrey when we were both going to Brussels to work on the same event. The company had booked us seats next to each other on the Eurostar which could have been awkward if we weren't both talkers. I don't remember much about what we spoke about other than the fact that Jeffrey was impeccably dressed in a camel wool coat and at one point in the journey described himself as 'tropical' and I knew we'd be friends forever.
The tasting was offered by Laki Kane, tropical themed bar on Upper Street in Islington. The venue was really cool inside and suited my drinking companion Jeffrey to a tee because he always says he's tropical. We were given a few small samples to see which ranges we wanted to taste and we chose spiced ones for our first tasting flight.
They brought out three small glasses containing different rums, a small bottle filled with water, and three small pots filled with different types of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat. The idea was to eat a piece of chocolate and then drink some of the rum paired with it. They'd given us a little booklet to write tasting and smell notes in and then there was a scratch off panel for each one to check and see if we got it right afterwards.
We started noticing we were getting it all wrong and were in the middle of berating ourselves on our rubbish tastebuds when we realised they'd muddled up the chocolate pots so they were paired with the wrong rum samples. Because of this we'd been filling in the wrong sections on the tasting booklet. By switching our answers round we weren't getting it spot on but we were doing slightly better once we realised the error.
About halfway into this testing I realised there's a reason I haven't drunk a lot of rum before. It's not the best flavour and has a really burny aftertaste. I'm much more suited to sweet drinks that don't hurt your mouth.
Our second flight came out and we tried three Spanish rums which were even stronger and I could only take a sip of each. Jeffrey helped me out with the rest! We realised we were getting these wrong as well and then it dawned on us that the same thing had happened with the wrong pots of chocolate in front of the rum. Man these guys were clearly toying with us! But they were so friendly we let it slide and I managed to silence the competitive part of myself and enjoy it anyway.
Because there was one of the rums we'd really liked we asked the barmen Luca and Bre to make us a drink using that and some tropical fruity flavours. They brought the most incredible drinks out in tiki glasses, containing five different types of rum and with absinthe in a hollowed out passion fruit half on top. They were totally delicious but completely lethal and the barmen seemed thrilled that we liked them, encouraging us to come back and have them whenever we liked. My mouth said yes, my liver said no.
We had a great night at Laki Kane, I mean I had to switch off my competitive streak and my desire to do everything properly but f---it, sometimes life's too short for doing things right.