your guide to the world's finest rums

Category: master distiller

Maggie’s Farm Rum Distillery in Pittsburgh

A visit to Maggie’s Farm Rum Distillery in Pittsburgh is an opportunity to experience the production of award-winning American rums. Master Distiller Tim Russell presents a successful philosophy and confident approach to his production techniques, delivering an array of fine rums with consistency.

Maggie's Farm Rums on the bar at Maggie's Farm Rum Distillery

a selection of Maggie’s Farm Rums at the tasting bar with copper pot stills in the background

Located just off the Allegheny River in the Strip District, the rum distillery features a large inviting open cocktail bar space with clear view of the two alembic copper pot stills, fermentation tanks and racks of aging barrels.

Maggie's Farm Rum pot stills at Maggie's Farm Rum Distillery

two alembic style copper pot stills produce the distillate for Maggie’s Farm Rums

Maggie’s Farm Rum Awards

At least a hundred awards are displayed on Maggie’s Farm Rum bottles, a testament to the positive feedback from professionals, rum judges and tasting events around the world. Numerous Best-In-Show, Double Gold and Best-In-Class awards — including eight from the International Rum Experts and the Rum Jury at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival — speak to the quality of the product from this young American rum company.

Maggie's Farm Rum awards at Maggie's Farm Rum Distillery

Maggie’s Farm Rums have earned many awards from prestigious tasting competitions

Production Techniques

The first commercial craft rum operation in Pennsylvania since the era of prohibition began as a modest venture — without significant investment or bank loans — to create authentic, unadulterated spirits using the best available ingredients, including Caribbean-derived yeasts and Louisiana Turbinado raw cane products. Long fermentation times — up to three weeks — help deliver high esters and big flavor before careful, rustic distillation techniques serve to retain much of the spirit of cane.

The result is a delightful distillate that serves as the base for the white rums, the barrel aged dark rums and all the natural flavored rums in the lineup. It’s clear from the dry profile that modifiers, sweeteners and extraneous ingredients are not in the recipe for Maggie’s Farm Rums.

distillate from pot still a Maggie's Farm Rum Distillery

the fresh clear distillate from the pot still is the base for Maggie’s Farm Rums

White Rum

The White Rum is a delight, offering soft notes of cane and vanilla, with a hint of butter in the finish. It’s a fine base for all of our favorite rum cocktails and makes a nice sipper with a couple of ice cubes.

Single Barrel Rum

In the Single Barrel Rum, we experience the distillate after the mellowing influence of two years in oak casks, picking up more pronounced notes of vanilla, caramel and toasted oak. This small batch aged rum is a sterling example of the craft distiller’s art form, well balanced and complex for a rum of its age.

Queen’s Share Overproof Reserve Series

Perhaps the most notable of the expressions in the Maggie’s Farm Rum lineup is the Queen’s Share Overproof Reserve series. The name refers to the technique of re-distilling the tails — the most flavorful and pungent portions of the distillate to come off the still late in the process — to refine and extract the very best of these components for special barrelings in used rye, Bourbon and sherry casks. The results are intensely rich, higher proof sipping rums that deliver a magnificent intensity, complexity and depth of flavor.

50/50 Dark Rum

An example of creative experimentation exists with the 50/50 Dark Rum, combining their own pot still aged spirits in equal measures with a well-aged molasses based, column-distilled rum from the Caribbean. The 50/50 blend is aged for an additional six to nine months to marry the flavors, resulting a a delightfully complex and well-balanced expression that manages to remain unpretentious and satisfying while offering good value.

Spiced Rum

Taking experimentation to the next level, Tim Russell has developed Maggie’s Farm Spiced Rum, an exceptional expression that wows the rum judges and consumers with its unique blend of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and freshly grated orange zest.

Pineapple Rum

Another variation on the 50/50 concept is the Pineapple Rum, derived by macerating fresh pineapple in dark rum, blended with a vapor distillation of their white rum through pineapple barks to capture the natural oils. These two components are combined to capture the full essence of the fruit in a rich rum base. It’s a complicated technique that delivers an exceptional product.

Old Fashioned Cocktail

A creative riff on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail, Maggie’s Farm Old Fashioned starts with rum aged in rye whiskey barrels with additional oak cubes to accentuate the wood notes. A balanced addition of Louisiana turbinado sugar and aromatic bitters creates the base flavor profile for the MFOF bottled cocktail, ready to be poured over ice in a tumbler, accented with a wedge of orange peel.

Falernum

Likewise, rum cocktail enthusiasts know that Falernum is an enticing and mysterious ingredient that makes classic cocktails like Corn and Oil, Three Dots and A Dash, and the Velvet Fog perennial favorites. Maggie’s Farm Falernum is created in small batches using fresh ginger, grated lime zest, toasted whole cloves and toasted allspice berries, added to the white rum. An exceptional ingredient made to the quality standards that defines Maggie’s Farm products.

Coffee Liqueur

Sourcing fresh roasted, fair-trade coffee beans locally, Maggie’s Farm Coffee Liqueur uses the cold-brew technique accented with house-made vanilla extract and a touch of dark brown sugar to achieve a perfect balance.

Hidden Harbor Special White Rum

A recent addition to the fine expressions is a purpose-derived blend for Hidden Harbor tiki bar located in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill. The concept was to create a multi-layered white rum to serve as the base for a perfect Daiquiri cocktail, combining Maggie’s Farm white rum, Queen’s Share rum and carefully sourced distillates from Jamaica, Guyana, Martinique, Barbados and Trinidad. The result is distinctly flavorful and aromatic, with a molasses funk and a smooth grassiness that accentuates the true spirit of cane.

Maggie’s Farm Rum Distillery Tours

master distiller's tour at Maggie's Farm Rum Distillery

Master Distiller Tim Russell presents an overview of production techniques for Maggie’s Farm Rums

For American Rum enthusiasts, a visit to Allegheny Distilling in Pittsburgh is a high-priority to experience the source of Maggie’s Farm Rums.

One hour distillery tours on Saturdays are $20, featuring an overview of the fermentation, distillation and aging processes before a tasting of rums and liqueurs at the bar. Guests receive a custom-branded Maggie’s Farm Rum tasting glass as a souvenir. RSVP online.

The Cocktail Bar is open on Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 10pm, on Friday and Saturday from noon to 1pm, and on Sunday from noon to 6pm.

Allegheny Distillers, home of Maggie’s Farm Rum, is located at 3212A Smallman Street in Pittsburgh, PA 15201. Call 412-709-6480. https://www.maggiesfarmrum.com/

Saturday tours at Maggie's Farm Rum Distillerythe tasting bar at Maggie's Farm Rum Distilleryalembic coper pot still at Maggie's Farm Rum distilleryaging barrels at Maggie's Farm Rum Distilleryrum resting in barrels

For more information about types of rum, see Rob’s Rum Guide tutorials.
To stay informed about news and updates in the world of rum, subscribe to Robs Rum Guide.
View insightful and succinct video rum reviews: Rum Minute YouTube Channel.
Taste The Best Rums: Miami Rum Festival and Rum Renaissance Tasting.
Experience the ultimate rum travel adventure: Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise.
Ask the Experts: What is the Best Rum In The World?

Neptune Three Year Aged Gold Barbados Rum coming to USA

Serial entrepreneur Richard Davies had a dream of creating a fine quality rum based on the legend of Neptune, Roman God of the Sea. He achieved success with Neptune Three Year Aged Gold Barbados Rum.

Having been involved in owning bars, restaurants and nightclubs in Cirencester — a market town northwest of London — for many years,  Richard was looking for an alternative to rums he was serving from large brands that had strayed from their origins. Continue reading

Don Pancho Origenes Rums now available in USA

The new artisan spirits division of Terlato Wines has announced the immediate availability of Don Pancho Origenes luxury rums from Panama across the United States, including the award-winning 8 year old, 15 year old and 30 year old expressions.

Don Pancho Origenes - Don Pancho Fernandez, Origenes, luxury rum, Panama, Terlato wines

Don Pancho Fernandez’s brand of Origenes luxury rum from Panama is now being distributed across the Unites States by the artisan spirits division of Terlato Wines.

Don Pancho Origenes rums are produced in Panama by the legendary Cuban master rum blender Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez, who is globally recognized as one of the most experienced and respected rum blenders in the world. The brand marks Don Pancho’s first rum under his own name. The contents of each bottle reflect a lifetime of expertise and vision.

After learning the distilling craft from his father, Master Distiller Don Ramon Corrales Fernandez, Don Pancho was instrumental in modernizing Cuba’s rum industry in the 1970s.

The Panamanian Connection

After a global conglomerate acquired Cuba’s national brand, he relocated to Panama, where, in the 1990s, he discovered a neglected distillery in the Herrera region of Panama, which he built, with business partner Carlos Esquivel, into the Las Cabras Distillery.

At Las Cabras Don Pancho produced super-premium rums made with estate-grown, hand-harvested sugar cane in the Cuban tradition for many brands, while he watched and waited as the barrels of rum that he had been aging in Panama since the 1980s started showing some intriguing flavors and aromas. He soon realized that there was an opportunity to produce a blended aged rum under his own name — one that would be his own personal expression of aged rum.

Don Pancho Origenes is Born

Crafted in the classic “Cuban style,” Don Pancho Origenes rums are made with molasses from hand-harvested sugar cane and a proprietary yeast, are distilled in copper column stills and then aged in American Oak bourbon barrels of uniform size. Each barrel is hand selected by Don Pancho from his own private collection spanning decades. Renowned for his exacting standards, Don Pancho true-age-dates his rums by the age of the youngest rum in the blend, meaning the youngest rum in the 8-Year Old is 8 years old, and the same for the 18 and 30 year olds.

The 8-year is aromatic with hints of butterscotch and vanilla. Particularly smooth for its age, this rum makes for a perfect accent to cocktails or can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. The suggested retail price is $40.

The 18-year is characterized by a beautiful, cherry wood color. Filled with delicate aromas of sweet tea, honey, moist dates and figs, this rum is smooth with a rewarding finish. The elegant mouth-feel fades gently to expose dried fruits and notes of bourbon due to many years aging in American oak bourbon barrels. Additionally, the 18-year recently won the Gold Medal at the Berlin Rum Festival, the only rum to earn a perfect 100 out of 100 points by noted rum expert Robert Burr in a blind tasting. The suggested retail price is $90.

The 30-year is the most exclusive and luxurious of the series, with only 2,000 bottles available worldwide and 600 in the United States. This expression has a complex nose with wood, bourbon, orange peel and apricots. Remarkably creamy and full-bodied, its rich flavors of fudge and caramel melt into the fruity nose with a complex, long finish. Best enjoyed on its own, neat. The suggested retail price is $425.

“With Don Pancho Origenes, Don Pancho created the kind of artisan rum that he had always envisioned making. We instantly knew that Terlato’s Artisan Spirits division was the perfect place to build our brand in the marketplace,” said Carlos Esquivel, executive director of Don Pancho Origenes. “After decades of experience producing some of the world’s finest rums, we are excited to work with the Terlato family as we release such a high quality series of rum expressions for the first time under Don Pancho’s name.”

Don Pancho Origenes is imported from Panama by the Artisan Spirits division of Terlato Wines, the leading marketer of luxury wines in the United States, with a 20 percent market share of wines $20 and up in the U.S. The exceptional quality of the Terlato portfolio is underscored by more 90+ scores from leading wine publications than any other wine company.

Lost Spirits Cuban Style Rum from California

Master Distiller Bryan Davis presents a richly flavorful and delightful expression — Lost Spirits Cuban Style Overproof Rum — suggesting the Cuban tradition of yesteryear.

Lost Spirits Cuban Style Overproof Rum by Bryan Davis

From Master Distiller Bryan Davis of Lost Spirits near Monterey, California, the new Cuban Style 151 overproof rum delivers a complex and delightful palate of flavors lead by butterscotch and vanilla notes.

Using Grade A confection quality molasses, this spirit features banana added to the yeast starter for enhanced nitrogen content during fermentation. A relatively short fermentation period at cooler temperatures delivers more subtlety during this initial process than Lost Spirits’ rich and robust Navy Style Rum.

The distillation method isolates the desired cut with high rectification to separate the more robust flavors often found in the tails. Toasted American Oak barrels impart a mild enhancement without overwhelming the subtle flavor profile. The master distiller’s goal was to keep this 151 proof rum quite sippable and smooth in spite of the high alcohol content.

Tasting Notes

Initial aromas of pound cake, rich butter and hard candy lead to warm cinnamon, vanilla bean and dry dates with an earthy vegetal note before big cedar and white oak. On the palate, a small sip is big in the mouth but not hot, revealing butterscotch, fresh bread dough and vanilla wafer with molasses glaze. The complex flavor profile evolves into pepper and grassy cane before finishing with tobacco and a hint of cassia bark well into the pleasant dry finish.

Once again, Lost Spirits Distillery delivers a very interesting rum expression that challenges the norm, arousing the interest of rum enthusiasts and challenging the notion that old aged rums are always the most intriguing examples within the wide category of rum.

Awards

Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum and Polynesian Inspired Rum have recently been recognized with awards of outstanding achievement. At the 2014 RumXP International Tasting Competition held during the 2014 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami, the Navy Style Rum won a Best In Class Award and gained a lot of attention around the globe.

This 75.5 abv overproof spirit sells for $37 and is available in limited areas of distribution.

Citrus Distillers creating private label spirits near Palm Beach

Citrus Distillers, a small artisan distillery in Florida, operated by Dustin Skartved, is appealing to aspiring liquor brands and private labels by offering a complete solution to those wishing to initiate their own brand of spirits.

The facility includes three custom copper and stainless steel stills and a temperature controlled fermentation lab. The maturation section features various types of oak barrels, French barrels, Cypress and many other tank technologies.

Dustin Skartved is the master distiller at Citrus Distillers

Dustin Skartved is the master distiller at Citrus Distillers of Riviera Beach Florida, an artisan still operation creating custom spirits for private labels.

Offering to help start-ups build their brand of whiskey, rum, vodka or gin, Citrus Distillers offers payment plans and set prices — as little as $3,500 to get started, plus $4.30 per bottle. Premium and Ultra Grade spirits are priced at a higher rate.

The process of developing a unique recipe and producing the liquid might take as little as 30 days, but typically takes three to six months to develop a brand — taking great care with recipe testing and dealing with licensing issues.

Dustin Skartved is the master distiller at Citrus Distillers. His stated philosophy is to use quality products and processes in every step of the project, beginning with fermentation and distilling test recipes, graphic label design, licensing and label registration and bottling.

Dustin advises that marketing could be considered a critical part of this process and offers to help new entrepreneurs with product placement.

This master distiller believes the most important step is a proper fermentation. “The big difference in our fermentation process is the local ingredients like sugar cane, corn, honey and sweet Florida molasses,” said Dustin. “Our fermentation cycle takes 7 to 8 days, longer than most — and we use low ABV formulas to make our rum and other brands much smoother, with more flavor. A quick fermentation produces too many foul flavors. We’re in no rush.”

Among the private label brands working with Citrus Distillers are Arnolds Classic Vodka, Jello Fever pre-made jelly shots, Still No. 3 Whiskey and High Society Rum.

Another of the unique products produced at his distillation facility is Canes & Grains Citrus Flavored Rum, a dark, rich and robust spirit that evokes the style of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum from Bermuda, with an added element of orange zest. It’s a smooth rum that goes well with ginger beer to make a refreshing rum-and-ginger mixed drink.

Citrus Distillers also offers their own Distillers University classes with instruction ranging from calculating the perfect wash to distilling, bottling, marketing, licensing and spirit tastings.

© 2020 Robs Rum Guide

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑