Rum Tasting Master Class Dinner - review by Jodie Millard

The Clarendon Hotel in conjunction with Liquor Mojo hosted the first official Newcastle Rum Club event of 2015 on Wednesday 2nd September.

Guests were welcomed with a Pussers British Navy Rum cocktail, simply mixed with lime and sugar. This delicious cocktail is a treat that the Royal Navy in the 1700's could have only dreamt about. Back in the day, Edward "Old Grog" Vernon served this mix to his crew; the use of lime helped the sailors ward off scurvy. From there, our host Gee took us through the history of rum, including some funny anecdotes, and the best way to sniff and taste your rum.

Did you know that while there are only five flavour regions on our taste buds there are 8,000 - 9,000 smells? So when tasting rums, don't hold the glass too close to your nose. Instead, hold it a few centimetres away and inhale to get the scents. Then allow the rum to wash over your taste buds, don't purse your lips when you're sipping!
Each rum was paired with a delicious dish prepared by The Courtyard Brasserie. The dishes served to enhance the flavours of the rum and complement the taste. All the dishes were an excellent choice and incredibly tasty. The rums started off to a strong start of 57% ABV, with the Smith & Cross Jamaican Navy Strength Rum. The Smith & Cross was paired with kingfish ceviche that helped take the edges off some very potent rum. The Pussers Navy followed with a smooth caramel taste that went down a treat matched to the seared scallop with pomegranate, adding a sweet taste to it.

We then went to our mains with Pussers 15yo, Dictator 12yo and Dictator 20yo, which were all strong flavours. The Pussers 15yo was sweet and smooth with very little burn. It was paired with a vine ripened tomato with vanilla & balsamic, bringing out a hint of vanilla within the rum. The Dictator 12yo was smooth with more of an edge to it; it was paired with confit lamb shoulder with salsa verde that tore apart without hesitation. The sweet onion gravy and sultanas enhanced the sweetness of the rum, helping the taste linger on the taste buds and melding together perfectly. Then came the Dictator 20yo that was a heavier flavoured rum, paired with a roast duck galette. The salty flavour of the duck combined with the woody rum taste slightly changed the taste of the rum, and added with the crunchy, sweet pastry allowed the rum flavour to take a hold.

The night finished with dessert rums, Dictador XO Insolent and Pyrat XO. The Pyrat XO had a super citrus flavour, like it was soaked in orange before being bottled. It was paired with an orange & lime salad, and they were an excellent pair. The salad helped infuse the citrus flavours and soften the taste. The Dictator XO in contrast was sweet, thick and altogether very smooth. It was paired with an incredibly rich, incredibly delicious mocha truffle. The mocha truffle was a great compliment to the Dictator XO, helping the taster notice the caramel flavours.

After the degustation finished a competition was run for a bottle of Pyrat XO with four guys and one girl giving their best pirate impression. Everyone gave it their best shot but the bottle went to the girl, who was by far the scariest pirate. The night proceeded into the bar, filling the bar with laughter and chatter. A wealth of information was presented by the host Gee over the night, it's a must for any rum enthusiasts wanting to know more about their favourite spirit or foodies; the matchings were particularly delightful and interesting.


This sold out event was the first, and certainly not the last of many master class dinners to come. Stay connected with The Clarendon Hotel via facebook or our weekly newsletter for information on all future events.