About two months ago, I made a cocktail that Rumdood posted on his site in order to provide my take on it. My take turned out to be misguided, for both the venerable Frederic and the Dood himself made comments on my post, declaring my rum choice inferior.
This goes to show how much variability there is in the "rum" category. I had used Appleton Estate White, a fairly decent light Jamaican rum, but apparently it didn't pack the "punch" that the drink needed. I was advised to use a rum stronger in flavor, and so I've gone overboard in this advice by using Neisson Blanc.
Neisson Blanc is rhum agricole, which is basically a type of rum made in the French West Indies fermented from raw sugar cane juice, instead of molasses. The result is usually a high proof fiery mixture which tastes grassy and rubbery instead of smooth and spicy. What's worse, I'm using a blanc rhum agricole, which is "rested" in barrels for only a few months, while even the lightest white rums are usually aged much longer. The resting is used more so that sulfuric compounds can evaporate from the distillate, not for aging. The product of all this is a harsh spirit which tastes entirely of its source material, and is not favored by spirit novices (if the past rum tasting that I hosted with friends is any indication). So here I go, trying the drink again with this very very different r(h)um.
Twelve Mile Limit
1 oz white rum (used Neisson Blanc)
.5 oz brandy (used Salignac VS cognac)
.5 oz rye whiskey (used Old Overholt)
.5 oz grenadine (used 1-2-3 Cocktails brand... all natural with cane sugar)
.5 oz lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
What a difference. When last time I could almost only taste lemon, now I can taste everything. It's as if the lemon juice needed a strong rum to keep it in check, and when done, they both fall to the background. I immediately tasted the cognac, and in the background, the nuttiness of rye. As I said above, rhum agricole is known to be harsh and uninviting, but in this I can only taste its positives; its fire and rubber remain docile as its floral flavors take over. I never thought this one ingredient could change so much, but it did.