Introducing Ron Montero Rums from Montril: New to Amathus

On Wednesday, we were fortunate to be joined by the fantastic Andrea Martín Targa from Ron Montero to learn the history of this very special rum, while also getting a chance to try it for the first time. Started by her Great Uncle Francisco Montero Martín in 1963, this is still a family owned business in Motril, an area with a fine rum-making history.

Andrea explained to us the process of rum making, from the extraction of molasses to the distillation process, and what makes Ron Montero unique. Two of the key distinctions are their solera aging system and their use of un-charred virgin American oak barrels. We were also told of all the efforts that they go through to try and maintain the delicate balance between the flavours of the aguardiente and the oak as the rum ages. And having tasted the rums, their efforts are most appreciated!

We started with the Ron Monter Palido, which translates to pale rum, and is made using the solera system with rum aged a minimum of 3 years. It was a noticeably dry rum, and would be a great rum for cocktails. The next rum we tried was the Gran Reserva, which is made using rums with a minimum age of 5 years. This uses a higher proportion of the aguardiente, which leads to a fuller flavoured rum with strong hints of vanilla, caramel with a dry oaky finish.

The last rum we were treated to was the Francisco Montero, made to celebrate the companies 50th anniversary, and made using rums with a minimum age of 10 years. This was a stunning rum; mellow, smooth and rich, and the perfect way to end the tasting.

 

By Nick Bell
Amathus Soho

 

Buy Ron Montero Rum Online >>>>

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Tovaritch! Vod-koff – Battle of the Brands

Today is the Amathus Vod-koff blind tasting session and I am sat in front of a flight of 8 clear spirit samples. Knowing that they are vodka, my brain flits back and forth from previous memories of rounds of vodka “samples” whilst out with friends. However, surprisingly, this time my nose is not overwhelmed by the stench of alcohol, but instead I actually smell nothing! I lean forward to check its not water and the light citrus fumes of quality, premium vodka tickles my senses… OK, now I am ready…

Introducing the event is Eugenio from Tovaritch! Vodka. He explains that the object of today and of Tovaritch! as a brand is not to sing and shout about an amazing brand but to sit and consider it against the market leaders. It wanted to create a product that was premium and in competition with the big names; Grey Goose, Belvedere, Ketel One – but was at a lower price point.

Tovaritch! is a Swiss company but its productions are 100% Russian and are proud to claim that this has always been the case. Not widely known it has positioned itself more in the trade market with an aim to become a leading bar house vodka – offering premium quality at great value cost.

Tovaritch! translated means “Comrad” – so called main to convey their worldwide values as a company; never drink alone and socialise with your friends with Tovaritch. The bottle design uses red and silver – red in association with spirits and vodka, and a silver man to represent an image of a “Comrad” socialising with friends in a social environment.

Distilled 5 times, Tovaritch! removes all impurities to create a pure vodka without flavour and is filtered 20 times and very slowly to create a smooth and quality product. It is made from organic grains which means they have not been transformed or enhanced/altered in any way. It is reduced using artisan water from melted snow, and blended with the distilled spirit to create an exceptionally pure spirit.

So now we get to the blind tasting! We are all set to the task of tasting our way through the vodkas, and this is no easy task! All the vodkas are at premium quality and only a couple stand out above the rest… (3) for its rich and vanilla creaminess, (4) for a somewhat “raw” feel to it, and (7) for its distinct floral and perfumed nose profile! We all put our heads together and comment the following:

(1) A peppery smoke on the nose and quite a warming alcohol on the throat – though this was the first one so our palates are probably just adjusting. Long finish.
(2) Quite creamy, smooth. Oily and a little sweet spice.
(3) Rich, rounded, with a creamy vanilla and a hint of citrus on the nose – otherwise very odourless!
(4) Raw tasting – quite aggressive in comparison to the previous and it has a quite a raw element to it.
(5) Quite a silky feel but in terms of flavour, very nondescript.
(6) Grassy notes and a long finish.
(7) Floral, perfumed, sweet to smell and taste – I was wondering if this had been a flavoured vodka by accident!
(8) Earthy notes such as mushroom and a long finish.

Eugenio agrees along with us that vodka is a hard spirit to compare as it is known for its neutrality and qualities lending well to cocktails; as opposed to different expressions of the spirit itself. With lots of shocks and surprises along the way, the results were revealed…

(1) Rye-based Belvedere
(2) Wheat-based Absolut
(3) Wheat-based Tovaritch!
(4) Barley-based Sipsmith
(5) Wheat-based Grey Goose
(6) Wheat-based Ketel One
(7) Grape-based Ciroc (unflavoured!)
(8) Potato-based Chopin

There certainly were some shocks in there as people realised that their favourite/house vodkas were not so hot comparibly! Also, Eugenio described how there were debates in the industry as to whether Ciroc can be classed as a vodka due to it’s base being grape, but controversy aside, it cannot go unsaid that Tovaritch! had a great response blind! It clearly matched its competitors in the field and among the crowd came in the top 2/3 favourites of the bunch – but here’s the real shock, it is not only the cheapest but is priced at almost HALF the price of others at its level of quality!!

As I head for a rather strong coffee to find my feet again, I will leave you with a link to try for yourself! Working well in many, many vodka cocktails or enjoyed on the rocks in real Russian style – here is Tovaritch! Vodka >>>

By Clare Corlett
Amathus Drinks

Idiom Wines with Roberto Bottega – by Tom Brown

Last Monday saw the Idiom wine tasting event at our city branch in Leadenhall, hosted by family member and producer Roberto Bottega. For those not familiar with this offering, Idiom are one of South Africa’s most recently celebrated and award-winning winemakers. Their wines have won top awards at the latest Decanter trade magazine competition and this was a wonderful opportunity to sample the wines and meet the man who knows them best.

To begin the evening we started by comparing the 2009 and 2011 viognier. Two contrasting styles meant a leap from a broader richer fruit to a lighter zestier and younger version showing the typical viognier characteristics of peach and apricot.

Then moving swiftly onto the reds, in both the sangiovese and zinfandel, we discovered the sangiovese showed a wild fruit very reminiscent of those from Italy, but richer and softer, while the zinfandel beguiled the party of attendees with its savoury aromatics of fresh rosemary and mint with a rounded rich black fruit on the palate and a wonderful freshness and length to finish.

With barely enough time to savour the deliciously rare and succulent sirloin steak prepared by the butchers of Leadenhall located directly opposite, we moved seamlessly onto Roberto’s latest offering of barbera and nebbiolo. Both reflected Roberto’s passion for all things Italian, in keeping with his Italian family roots. Each wine showed the unmistakable traits of their Mediterranean origin; cherry and liquorice, tobacco and lozenge, the Barbera unique with its freshness, a personal favourite of Roberto’s.

Onwards and upwards to the prestige blends of the house, the standard bearers of the firm and the wines winning accolades both here and at home. First came the Bordeaux Blend, firm but supple enough to allow the rich plum merlot fruit to come to the fore, while the Cape Blend, replacing the merlot with pinotage, that notoriously unpredictable grape, filled the palate more broadly splitting opinions as ever between the guests.

And then came the surprise, an unreleased pinot noir, two in fact, a 2010 and 2012, first to try being the oldest. An interesting offering, these are both experimental bottlings trying to pin down the elusive qualities of the earthy yet ethereal grape of Burgundy. The 2010 showed signs of maturation, maybe a hint of rubber, while the 2012 positively sang with poised fruit, perfect extraction and vibrant freshness, this will be an interesting one to watch, if it ever graces our shelves here at Amathus.

With a further offering of ribeye steak from our friends and neighbours the butchers at Leadenhall the evening came to a close. A good time was had by all. Lastly, came the vote for everyone’s favourite wine which threw up the usual conflictions and good humoured debate. All in all this was an enlightening evening hosted warmly and personably, we look forward to more of the same.

The wines are available in store and online for you to enjoy!

By Tom Brown,
Amathus City