Stolen Coffee and Cigarettes

Stolen Rum Coffee and CigarettesThe world’s most rock and roll rum brand just turned the volume up to 11.

On the back of their illegal muling operation that saw bottles of SX9 crossing the Tasman from regional airports, the team from New Zealand are breaking the law all over again.

In Australia, expect an adulterated product. The offending label ships with built in censorship to get around the ban on the word cigarettes in any retail environment here. The abv too will  come down to 37.5%. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is just to preempt the alcohol fueled violence that seems to trouble the majority of young Australians, but in reality it will mean a break in tax and duty which means this tasty looking bottle will be there or thereabouts in terms of competitively priced spirits, a couple of red bills should see a bottle tucked safely in the back of your moped.

Out of the bottle, the liquid is good.  A nose of cakey spices, the morning brew and the guy on the next table smoking full-tar Marlboro Reds. When it hits your tounge you get a smooth feel with a smoky finish, less than scotch lovers will want but more than many will have experienced. The roasted coffee rolls into and amplifies the characteristics of the Trinidad and Tobago spirit. Hints of leather, chocolate, trade spices and sugarcane sweetness. A lingering finish that reminds me of waking up on New years Day after too many cigarettes and not enough restraint the night before.

This is by no means a liqour of dressed up finery. It sits moodily in the corner, ready for anything and waiting for no one.

Build it up with too much ice, not enough coke and a squeeze of lime. Luxuriate with it up in a Manhattan if you must, or let things get all bitter and twisted:

Lou Reed’s Last Dance
60 mls Stolen Coffee and cigarettes
15mls Fernet Branca
15mls Quick Brown Fox Coffee Liqueur

Stir over ice and strain. Put “Vicious” on the gramophone and sink into it.


You can’t buy what I’ve got: A global exclusive review of SX9

I wrote about the fantastic efforts the boys from Stolen Rum have been going to in getting their new Rum across the Tasman and past the archaic protectionist legislation that protects the domestic rum market here.

The one thing missing from the article was an actual experience of the liquid itself. I had tasting notes that talked of complexity, limes and raisins on the nose. Young bananas and pineapple to the finish in the mouth.

Since I first wrote, the liquid has picked up some global acclaim, in the shape of a double gold at the Olympics of alcohol, the San Fransisco Spirits comp.

However, I digress. I find myself, planted on the couch on Friday the 13th, armed with an open bottle and an empty glass.

Time to remedy that, methinks.

The overproof liquid clings to the crystal, its legs lengthening as I hold it up to the light.

The raisin and lime complexity is there, as advertised, but it’s a funky hard to place scent leaps out of the glass, aided in no small measure by that 65% ethanol. The wife puts a nail in it as gingerbread, and she’s right. The burnt bready tones, sweetness and spice swirl together. It truly begs a taste.

The overproof tingles on the tip of the tounge, its fumes wrapping round the top of my mouth . Pepper and heat give way to a flavour that strikes me between the eyes. Pineapple icecream with violet crumble. It absolutely tastes raw, young and a little bit green.

It is moorish, it is complex. It begs another taste and I’m going to have one (or maybe many more, not really maybe, absolutely)

It’s a smack in the face with a flavour fish. Try it in a Nuclear Daiquiri, punch it out in an Alamagoozulum, trade up your tiki drinks.

Do it often, do it now.

Put it in your mouth.


The best not rum you’ll ever drink

The trans-Tasman border is porous my friends.

Porous like the staves of a barrel which must hold a spirit for two years before it can legally be sold or called rum inside the Commonwealth of Australia. This statutory peculiarity perpetuates an advantage held by a certain ursine rum producer nestled in this country’s North.

Cue then, a small and cheeky upstart.

Stolen Rum have a new product in their range, SX9. Named for, and inspired by the traditions of the Nine Nights in the Caribbean (the traditional period of mourning when a body lies in state and the family and friends gather to celebrate a life that was and suffering that is no more. The ninth night precedes the church service and burial, it also is call for a terrific knees up during which the attendants swig un-aged overproof rum and the deceased spirit is believed to pass through party and say its last goodbye before moving on.

Heady stuff indeed.

SX9 is pot distilled in Jamaica from a molasses base. The distillates are then hand blended to deliver a complex lime and raisin nose and a young banana and pineapple finish in the mouth. The finished product is bottled at 65% abv, seemingly enough to ensure you can connect with poor dead uncle Isaac as he floats across the living room, if not join him yourself.

Which brings me back to the slightly incomplete fragment at the top of this article. Rum that hasn’t seen the inside of a barrel for two years cannot be legally imported nor called rum inside Australia’s environs. Rather than try to challenge this tremendous oversight using the CER framework agreed and signed on to in 1982 (NZ Apples have just managed to gain access after 30 years of trying) the team at Stolen have gone for the next logical solution and started print ads for folks willing to mule this illustrious liquid across the ditch.

Head to the Stolen facebook page for more info, and to sign up for some muling duties should the desire take you. (The pic below is linked)

You’ll not only get the undying admiration of your friends and family for signing up on the internet to become a mule, you’ll also recieve a fetching t-shirt so other Mules will be able to recognise you. No word yet on whether or not wearing a shirt with Mule stencilled on the front gets you a “value added” cavity search to really make your international travel memorable.

SX9 will only be available in bars for the next foreseeable future, failing a repeal of the rum laws, or a inter-country muling agreement with the staff of Dan Murphys.

Advertising, Spirit

Put it in your mouth. Smart (ass) marketing from the fine folks at Stolen Rum

Smart marketing from the boys at Stolen Rum. As part of their Open letter to Bacardi, they’ve sent out samplers of Stolen and Bacardi to generate some attention for their brand.

Essentially they’ve done some research and found that 61% of people prefer Stolen Rum over the Bacardi Superior and written this open letter to Bacardi offering up their recipe for the good of rum drinkers worldwide.

As part of their outreach, I received two mini bottles and instructions on how to conduct my very own taste test.

Product A had green bananas on the nose and through the palate. Good sweetness and a rich almost creamy finish. Product B wasn’t quite as sweet, and I got more ethanol of the nose. The palate delivered caramel, banana and notes of cacao that I found extremely pleasing. I also like quite a “dry” mojito, so I enjoyed the slighty less sweet mouthfeel and finish.  Overall it was B for me.

Confirmed by Stolen, sample B was Bacardi. I’m not sure this diminishes their campaign.

As Pepsi proved when they went up against Coke, most consumers will gravitate towards sweetness in this type of activity. As the shift towards Coke 2 and the pull back to the product showed that brands are built on more than taste.

I continue to look forward to receiving smart marketing and award winning rum in my mailbox. While I might not have made the “right” choice blind, my sighted one will always go for the upstart brand trying something different.



Awards, Spirit

Round of applause, Jason Chan

This just in from the San Fransisco Spirits Competition, Tradewinds Gin has had some fantastic news.

The 40% abv picked up a GOLD to complement its clear bottle and the dark green Cutlass deservedly now has a DOUBLE GOLD on the bottle.

This is a prestigious contest and to pick up a pair like this reflects the care and thought that have gone into the production of this truly great Australian product.

Keep an eye out for a bottle near you soon.


Hat tip also to Jamie and the crew in NZ at Stolen. Stolen white rum also grabbed a GOLD.

In Australia, hopefully around the middle of this year.


Stolen from Julio

I feel lucky to have in my possession a recipe for the Tommy’s Margarita, signed by Julio Bermejo. I was lucky enough to sit next to him at the 2009 Bar Awards and get a lesson in the evolution of the drink, the move from Herradura to Arete and most importantly, the 2-1-1 measure that make this drink drop dead gorgeous.

Inspired by the bottle of Stolen I received last weekend I thought I might combine it with the dark agave syrup that is on sale each Saturday in Fitzroy Gardens at the Kings Cross food market, some limes from the Organic vege stall and a little bottle of Aromatic bitters I found at the back of a shelf in Coles, produced in an industrial estate in Sydney’s western sprawl. Stolen has fruit and flowers where Reposado brings a dusty earthiness, so I upped the strong portion to balance things out.

Stolen from Julio

60mls Stolen white rum, 20mls freshly squeezed lime juice, 20mls dark agave syrup and a small dash of aromatic bitters. Combine in a shaker, ice and shake. Strain and serve up with a wheel of lime.

While it isn’t quite the symphony you get in a Tommy’s, the aromatics bring out the floral character in the rum, the dark agave adds a caramelly depth and it is a very pleasant little drink.

New Zealand, Spirit

Stolen Rum

It seems as though the world has not seen the last of premium spirits started by passionate entrepreneurs from New Zealand.

The Boys from Stolen Rum were in town for Sydney Bar Show and I was lucky enough to run into them out at Bondi for a taste of this Rum from the Antipodes. The Gold, which picked up a double gold in San Fran this year, is rich and full. It screams out for an Old Fashioned, but is certainly smooth enough to drink alone.  It would be interesting to try a further aged version of this, although cold climate aging of rum might prodcue some interesting results (do they age Screech?)

Fans of the now extinct white incarnation of Seven Tiki Rum will be happy about the blanco version from Stolen. It seems like something great happens with can distillate from abroad is brought to New Zealand and mixed with our pure waters. It’s kind of a pineapple note, that was prominent in Seven Tiki and is back like an old friend in Stolen.

The rest of the taste profile is welcomely fresh. Fruity and floral, it is a rum that adds to most of the classics; Think perfumed daiquiris and tasty mojitos. I’m looking forward to having some fun with this as the summer comes on.

Where can you get it? Well, unless you’re lucky enough to have connections or live on the shaky isles of the long white cloud, you can’t. Currently international expansion plans are still beyond the immediate horizon but they’re certainly thinking about it. Any of you who are lucky enough to be travelling back to NZ for a summer holiday should be able to find bottles in JR duty free to assist in putting some festive in the season.

There is a holding site up for the brand, but becoming a fan on facebook seems to be the better way to stay up to date.