Smoke and Oakum’s Gunpowder Rum

In Riki Carter

It seems these days many bars and bartenders alike are experimenting with making their own products.

This has certainly been the case in New Zealand, bartenders are now creating everything from bitters to liqueurs, with some large success and some well let’s just say…. are still being perfected.

So why, you may ask, is this is case?

In New Zealand’s case this has come mainly from the frustration of being at the bottom of the globe. It seems that we are almost forgotten about but with the internet and such people as Jacob Briars we are always reminded as to what is going on in other countries. Thus we are driven to derive new and exciting products or in fact replications of products already on the market that we cannot yet get.

Benedict Simpson, the man behind the success of the iconic Wellington cocktail bar Motel, has set about making rum. Not just any rum mind you but the Smoke and Oakum’s Gunpowder Rum. Yes, no misprint or spelling mistake, he actually makes the rum with the gunpowder as, for lack of a better word, a botanical.

Ben like, it seems, most bartenders around Wellington have a love and affinity with rum. So it makes sense that at some stage one of these bartenders would set about doing his own. The rum has been, by all account, well received with such people as Angus Winchester giving it praise.

What has also helped the product is being used in recent competitions and on cocktail menus around the country. In 2010 Calem Chadwick’s 42Below cocktail entry for the 42 Cocktail World Cup, used the rum in conjunction with the 42 Manuka honey.

Made as a blazer (what could possibly be better than setting alight rum mixed with gunpowder?) the drink was a truly great balance of the honey matched with the spices and aromatics of the rum. Also Matterhorn’s listing of a tribute to the naval grog cocktail using the rum, lime juice, mascavado sugar and boiling water is a well-balanced but intense cocktail.

The rum is made in the same manner as the naval rum from the 18th Century it is a blend of American and Caribbean rums. With the addition of the gunpowder and some spices the rum is then aged and bottled, coming out at a not so subtle 49.8% abv you certainly know that you are drinking spirits.

But even with the high abv the rum is very well balanced and defiantly not too in your face or offensive to drink. Cleverly packaged in paper bags with the memorable labels and witty banter in the description, the rum is ready to be imbibed.

At the moment Ben is over in the UK after winning the Air New Zealand cocktail competition and at a guess is bootlegging his world famous New Zealand product. I personally hope he has immense success. If you would care to know more or even order the product, you can contact Ben either by stalking him on facebook or trying the Smoke and Oakum’s website.

For me the product is a must try for any bartender and very easy to sell across the bar…. Who wouldn’t like to try gunpowder rum?

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