The Spice Necklace Blog

Ann's Blog

Inside the Ministry of Rum:
August 27, 2010
Catching Up With Ed Hamilton

When I’m promoting my books, someone often asks, “How’s the Minister of Rum?” That would be Ed Hamilton, whom Steve and I first met in the late ’90s when Ed was sailing the Caribbean, tasting rums, and converting the uninitiated (like us) to the spirit once known as “kill devil.” Now, more than a decade later, Ed’s online Ministry of Rum (“just Google RUM,” he says) is THE source for anyone looking for info about new rums, old rums, recommended rums, results of tasting competitions, rum recipes, rum events, rum production, rum trivia, you name it – and a forum for rum lovers. I recently caught up with Ed via cellphone from California, where he had just finished hosting the 2010 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition in San Francisco.

Ann: So, Ed, what are you and the Ministry of Rum up to these days?

Ed Hamilton
"I'm fortunate to have a job
where I can grow long hair," says
Ed Hamilton, the man behind
the Ministry of Rum. Not for long,
though. He's cutting it off
next month as part of a
breast cancer fundraiser.
photo courtesy Ed Hamilton

Ed: I’m busy – I’m doing [rum] events and consulting with new and established brands. The Ministry of Rum is the credibility link between the rum trade and consumers. People contact me via the Ministry of Rum website, Facebook, Twitter, email, and cellphone, wanting to know if [a rum] is marketing hype or if they should try it.

Ann: I know you don’t have one “favorite” rum, but what rums are you excited about at the moment?

Ed: There are a lot of new rums I’m excited about. One is Botran Añejo Reserva, from Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala, a blend of rums aged 5 to 14 years in a variety of barrels. It’s not as sweet as Zacapa [another rum made by the same company] – it’s got a bigger, bolder flavor. I’m also excited about Zafra, from Panama. It’s a fine aged rum – minimum 21 years – that’s a little drier and has great body and great flavor. There are also a number of quality spiced rums coming to market from Cruzan [St. Croix], Don Q [Puerto Rico], and Chairman’s Reserve [St. Lucia].

Ann: It’s been a killer-hot summer here – island hot. People are thinking tall, cold drinks. Do you have a new recipe you’d suggest?

Ed: The 6th Street Swizzle. It was invented by bartender Phil Ward in Manhattan when he was behind the stick at Death & Company.

The real deal: Rhum agricole from
Martinique is the essential spirit in
Ti Punch. But for Canadians who can't
get their hands on it, Ed suggests
substituting cachaça.
photo courtesy Ed Hamilton
Ann: Sounds delicious — like a tall Ti Punch made sparkling with Prosecco.

Speaking of which: Steve has introduced many of our Toronto friends to the classic Ti Punch, and it’s been love at first sip. But, unfortunately, the main ingredient, rhum agricole, isn’t available at the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). Can you suggest a substitute?

Ed: Substitute cachaça [the Brazilian spirit made from fermented sugar cane] for the rhum agricole – a brand such as Leblon or Cabana. [Note: The LCBO carries Leblon.]

Ann: Where’s your sailboat Triton at the moment? Are we likely to see you back cruising the Caribbean anytime soon?

Ed: Triton is on the hard in St. Lucia, and it’s absolutely killing me. I die a little bit every day. There are so many things going on right now, but, absolutely, you’ll definitely see me back in the Caribbean.

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