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This is a great rum for cocktails and casual sipping. The Demerara molasses gives a bit of extra body to a very fairly priced bottle. I’d recommend using this for a delightful winter-time Daiquiri. The 5 years spent in Bourbon barrels gives a kiss of coconut and vanilla, but doesn’t leave the rum tasting tannic or overly oaky. John Rankin
Ed Hamilton's Jamaica Gold Rum is sourced from the Worthy Park Distillery in the parish of St. Catherine at 1,200 feet in elevation. The estate was founded in 1670 and commercial sugarcane production began in 1720, long before any other distillery on the island. All of the sugarcane is processed on the property which results in molasses that is exceptionally high in sugar content. Fermentation of the molasses take place over three weeks and distillation occurs in copper pot stills resulting in a classic "heavy" rum - the term used for the rich, molasses-based pot still rums of the former English colonies. The only additives are natural sugar-based caramel coloring and water. The nose is a bouquet of earthy, leathery tones balanced by ripe tropical fruits, starchy banana, sweet spice, and a toasted, nutty quality. On the palate it is quite rich with toasted coconut, red apple skin, bright minerality, and more earthiness. This is killer in many classic cocktails, particularly a Daiquiri, and is equally great sipped neat! Tim Gagnon
Because of Martinique’s history with France, bottles of rhum will often feature some of the same nomenclature that is used to denote age on Cognac labels. Here we have a V.S.O.P., which stands for “very special old pale,” a phrase used in the Cognac trade to highlight aged brandies for British merchants. Some extra oak aging tempers the spirit’s initial herbaceousness with flavors of clove, cinnamon, and smoke. This is extremely complex, round and easy to drink. Treat it as a fine brandy or whisky and enjoy it in a snifter after dinner. John Rankin
A very special bottling of vintage rum from Caroni, the now-legendary Trinidadian distillery that closed its doors in 2002. This is sourced from the cache bought up by Luca Gargano and Velier in 2004, and has continued aging in Trinidad under tropical conditions. Most long-aged rum available on the market these days is sourced from warehouses in Northern Europe, where it undergoes a much gentler maturation, at a rate of evaporation that is around 1 to 2 percent per year. This 17-year-old rum, spending its entire life aging in the heat and humidity of the Caribbean, experiences a loss of about 80% before it is bottled, resulting in one of the most deep and complex rums I've ever had the pleasure to taste. Notes of wood spice, cedar, mahogany, pipe tobacco, dried flowers, potpourri, dried stone fruit, grilled peaches, the scent of old houses, engine oil, and a slight rancio, varnishy quality are all interwoven on the nose and palate. The finish is long and satisfying. This rum drinks fantastically at the high proof. Oskar Kostecki
The Casimir clairin is a peculiar beast. This bottle is a shapeshifter; at times incredibly effusive and fruit forward, return to it a week later and it's dark, spicy, and full of mushroom and umami notes, almost reminiscent of furikake, Japanese rice seasoning. The Casimir distillery is in the village of Barraderres, only 25km from Cavaillon, but it's a three hour drive into the jungle. There, surrounded by lime, mango and banana trees, Mr. Faubert Casimir farms two types of cane, Hawaii red and Hawaii white, both low-yielding, but extremely fragrant varieties. Fermentation takes place in large mango wood vats, and, in the tradition of the area, Casimir occasionally adds citronella leaves, cinnamon, ginger, and other herbs and spices to the fermenting cuvee. This is a dense and complex clairin, and one to be savored over a period of time. Oskar Kostecki
Michal Sajous makes this wonderful clairin in the small town of Saint-Michel de L'Attalaye, situated on a plateau surrounded by mountains, about a hundred kilometers north from Port-au-Prince. He grows several different varieties of cane, with the Cristalline being used for this particular bottling. Fermented in stainless steel with all indigenous yeast, this a beautifully mineral expression of fresh-pressed sugarcane juice rum, more effusive and intense than anything I've had from Martinique or Guadaloupe, but still carrying a similar flavor profile. Perfumes of dried flowers, tropical fruit, and the hallmark green grassiness is supported by the more herbal and dense aromas of tea tree oil and eucalyptus. There is an undercurrent of salinity, and the pronounced acidity keeps this fresh and lifted. Drink this neat or make the most phenomenal Ti' Punch. Oskar Kostecki
Fritz Vaval makes this completely unique clairin in the village of Cavaillon, on the southern coast of Haiti. The distillery Arawaks was founded after the war by Fritz's father, and today they have 20 hectares of a variety of sugarcane called Madame Meuze, farmed without the use of any fertilizers or chemicals. Fermentation takes up to 5 days and is done using only indigenous yeast. Vaval uses a home-made pot still that is steam powered (using a repurposed locomotive engine) by burning bagasse, the leftover pulp once the cane is crushed. The Vaval clairin is, for me, the most singular of the three. The more typical grassy and green notes of sugarcane juice mingle more the more esoteric prescence of anise, cinnamon, lemongrass and citrus peel. Oskar Kostecki
In the not too distant past, spiced rum was a spirit to avoid at all costs. Producers took an already sweet product (rum,) added artificial vanilla and citrus flavors, cinnamon, and then even more sugar to create a beverage made to appeal to the sweet tooth of an undergraduate student. We now have choices of spiced rum that are actually delicious and actually spicy. Wigle’s entry starts with a distillate of buckwheat honey – a tribute to the local grain known for its earthy, woodsy flavor. Next, a slew of ingredients are infused into spirit. Wigle uses vanilla bean, roasted orange peel, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon for a drink that is aromatically very complex, and downright spicy. This peppery kick makes the spirit an ideal partner for ginger beer, or a feisty member of a punch bowl. John Rankin