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We've exalted the qualities of "real rum" (i.e unsweetened and made without any additions such as coloring or glycerine) in a few emails these past years, so we'll try not to repeat ourselves here. If interested, you can check out these articles: Foursquare Rum, Clairin, or Hampden Estate. Today's email focuses on new arrivals that we are particularly excited about.
Of special note are the varieties of single casks offered in this email: the Holmes Cay releases as well as the Velier Clairin Vaval aged for 19 months. Though bottling single casks of rare rum has been widely popular in Europe for the past decade or two, it's only recently that consumers in the United States have had the opportunity to buy these unique products. We're very happy to introduce Holmes Cay, a company run by Eric Kaye which focuses on finding rare and interesting rums and bottling single casks. The aged Vaval cask was picked by Sarah Morrisey, formerly of Frenchette, and was meant to be an on-premise exclusive for notable bars and restaurants, but with the Covid-19 shutdown, a number of bottles have been released to NYC retail. If you're experienced with the unaged Haitain clairins brought in by Velier, this aged single cask is a great continuation in your exploration of real Haitian rum. If you're new to the category, then you're in for a treat.
As with all spirits offers, we cannot ship out of state. Items on today's email are available for in-store pickup, delivery in New York City, or shipping within the state.
A collaboration between two of the best rum distilleries in the world, Foursquare and Hampden Estate in Jamaica, Probitas is made of three components: a 2-year-aged Foursquare rum distilled on Coffey still, an unaged Foursquare Coffey still, and an unaged Hampden Estate pot-distilled rum. Opening with notes of creamy vanilla and citrus on the nose, from the first sip this is rich and complex, incorporating the best of what both producers have to offer, with just enough funk from the Hampden distillate to make this very engaging. Tropical fruit, banana custard, notes of molasses and sugarcane are all present on the thick and oily palate. Sipping it neat isn't a problem, but cocktails is where this rum really shines. Will make the perfect Daiquiri! Oskar Kostecki
The Port Mourant still is totally unique; the last double wooden pot still in operation in the entire world. Originally built in 1732 on the Port Mourant Estate, it then moved to Uitvlugt Estate, and after that was shut down, ended up at Demerara Distillers Limited, the last rum distillery in Guyana. Since then the rums coming off the Port Mourant still have been used in blends for El Dorado, the flagship brand of DDL. To find a single cask of exclusively Port Mourant still rum is a treat indeed. This cask has spent most of its time aging in a continental climate in Northern Europe, and is bottled at cask strength without any additives. Off the bat this feels slightly funkier than one would expect from a rum from Guyana. There is tropical fruit here: a hint of guava, a hint of banana, under-ripe pineapple, coconut, along with apricot, green apple peel, mirabelle plum. There is an herbaceous and savory edge to this rum, with some vegetal notes of dried grass and undergrowth, along with a hint of engine oil and a touch of iodine. Incredibly complex, and maybe even a little bit mysterious, this is a rum I kept coming back to, trying to figure out it's shifting and mesmerizing profile. Oskar Kostecki
Another exceptional release from Foursquare! This 14 year old rum spends its entire life aging in ex-bourbon casks, though the lack of a cask finish is not a detraction from complexity. One of the more intense recent releases (and not just in abv!) this is a rich and full-bodied rum that exudes a lot of style. Notes of raisin, sultana, dried figs, candied apple, ginger, ginger snaps, baking spice, vanilla, shaved coconut, dark honey, something slightly musty, worn leather and pipe tobacco all interplay on the very complex nose. The palate introduces some dried apricot and other stone fruit, and almost a hint of orange marmalade, along with the savory and spice notes. Supremely delicious, this is also a fascinating continuation of where the Foursquare releases are going, with an added layer of fruitiness and lift to this bottle. Foursquare keeps setting new benchmarks for quality. Oskar Kostecki
Another release from Foursquare with a cask finish, this 12 year old rum spends some time in ex-Madeira barrels before bottling. On the nose it smells quite fruit-forward, with raisin, sultana, red berries and a hint of currant, along with baking spice, vanilla, caramel, leather and moist pipe tobacco. The palate is darker and more savory, accentuating the notes of wood spice, cut hay and tobacco, with bursts of fruitiness on the long finish. Bottled at an approachable 48%. Oskar Kostecki
Single casks of Fiji rum are quite rare, and are about to become even more scarce, with the recent exclusivity agreement between South Pacific Distillery (the only commercial rum producer in Fiji) and Plantation. This 16 year-old, 100% pot still rum spent 12 years of its life aging in the tropical climate of the island, and a further 4 years in northern Europe. This is a dense rum, with immediate heavy notes of vanilla, baking spice, and toffee. There is a slight saltiness to this rum, and some nuanced spice character, with cinnamon, pepper, and ginger all showing nicely on the palate. There is a hint of smokiness on the long finish. Even though the rum has intensity and weight to it, there is also really great balance that keeps all the flavors from overwhelming each other. A fascinating rum, and very drinkable. Oskar Kostecki
This aged Vaval cask was picked by Sarah Morrisey, formerly of Frenchette, and was meant to be an on-premise exclusive for notable bars and restaurants, but with the Covid-19 shutdown, a number of bottles has been released to NYC retail.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 aged Vaval is terrific, with spice notes beautifully interplaying with the funkiness of the base spirit. Overwhelming tropical fruit, mixed with the vegetal characteristic of sugarcane juice rum and cinnamon, graham cracker, and baking spice notes of the barrel aging. Absolutely delicious. SO much fun to drink. 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. This is the second batch to hit New York, this one coming in at 54.3%! Oskar Kostecki
The word "unique" is overused, but I'm not really sure how else to describe this rum. The core component is 18-year-old pot-still Jamaican rum while the remainder of the blend (about 30%) is made up of Guyanese rum (21 years old), Barbados rum (12 years old) and a small quantity of Martinique rum (3 years old). These are blended together and then aged in a single amaro cask for a further six months. Pretty crazy.The nose is all fruit, smoke, and funk, and the Jamaican aspect really stands out. Notes of roasted pineapple, tropical fruit medley, baked apple, pear skin, banana, banana leaf, baking spice, nutmeg, vanilla, burnt sugar, treacle, a hint of burnt rubber (in that amazing Jamaican rum sense), vegetation, undergrowth, and crushed sugar cane. The palate is expansive, introducing all of those flavor components, but also adding a hint of bitterness, and an herbal component, especially on the finish. It ends on a really lovely bitter note (kind of like the song "Disintegration" by The Cure), but the incredibly complex finish just keeps going and going. I like it neat, though it is bottled undiluted at a whopping 65.9% abv, so a few drops of water softens the palate. Oskar Kostecki