Tag Archives: whisky exchange

Rum Diarys: Best rums for tiki cocktails Part II

White Rum is the foundation for any rum collection. It’s a base for literally hundreds of cocktails, not least some of the most famous cocktails of all time; The Pina Colada, Mojito & Daiquiri all contain this clear elixir!

White rum is distilled from the sugar cane plant and can be made using one of two methods: Pot still or continuous still. Some rums use a combination of the two, and all three types have their merits and come-downs.

Check out my list of what I consider to be 5 of the best white rums for use in tiki cocktails (all under £40 of course!)…

(1) St. Aubin – Rhum Agricole (Mauritius) £22 – The Drink Shop

Hitting hard of the bat, this 50% rum is a sucker-punch if you're not careful...
Hitting hard of the bat, this 50% rum is a sucker-punch if you’re not careful…

In my first post about tiki cocktails I mentioned that the best rums to start with included rum from Martinique, Jamaica and, of course, a white rum. Well this Mauritian white rum is a perfect shoe-in if you’re unsure of which white rum to choose.

At 50%abv it’s a heavy hitter, but surprisingly it’s rather smooth and supple. It’s made with the freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, a very French way of making rhum, and is made at St. Aubin which has been a sugar plantation since 1819…

(2) Brugal Blanco (Dominican Republic) £20.85 – The Whisky Exchange

A fine looking bottle for a fine tasting white rum from Brugal (Venezuela)
A fine looking bottle for a fine tasting white rum from Brugal (Venezuela)

Brugal Blanco is a white rum all the way from the Dominican Republic. Its process includes ageing rum for 2-5 years in old American oak bourbon casks. The rum is then triple filtered, removing the colour, and that leaves you with a rum that’s as smooth as super-premium vodka but with all the character you get from premium rum. Basically it’s pretty darn good!

Fervent Insider Tip: Brugal is one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my go-to white rums for new exotic cocktails; its smoothness compliments the addition of various fruit juices and syrups perfectly.

(3) Havana Club Anejo 3 YO White Rum (Cuba) £15-£20 Sainsbury’s/Tesco

Havana club are one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my all-time favourite white rums...
Havana club are one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my all-time favourite white rums…

One of my long standing favourites, Havana club has a superb collection of rums, so much so that they could potentially be on all 4 of these posts, but alas the one I’ve chosen is arguably their most versatile Anejo rum: their 3yo Blanco. Found readily in your local supermarkets, this rum is a quick journey away from becoming part of your now-growing rum library!

Aged for 3 years in Cuba this light yet crisp rum is fantastic in those famous Cuban cocktails, but it also works miracles in classic tiki cocktails like the Pina Colada!

(4) Plantation Rum – Three Stars White Rum (Barbados) £22 – The Drink Shop

I have one of these in post as we speak. It's a great silver-rated blended white rum...
I have one of these in post as we speak. It’s a great silver-rated blended white rum…

This is a well-balanced mildly vibrant rum, blending the finesse, character and fuller-flavours of all 3 historical rum producing islands: Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad. Its name ‘Plantation 3 Stars’ honours those 3 historical islands and stands as a signal to all who lay eyes on the bottle: This is premium…

Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is extremely sophisticated and works better with cocktails that allow the flavours of the rum to come out in the drink. So whilst the juices of some tiki cocktails are not always suited for this rum; cocktails like the Zombie and similar ‘shorter’ cocktails are perfect to make the most of this particular rum…

(5) La Mauny – Rhum Blanc (Martinique) £27 – The Drink Shop

A fancy Martinique rum in a simple bottle. Don't let its subtlety fool you, this rum is class through and through...
A fancy Martinique rum in a simple bottle. Don’t let its subtlety fool you, this rum is class through and through…

This rum from Martinique, one of the countries mentioned in my first post, is a clear white and has a strong 50% abv. With this in mind it is one of the stronger rums on this list and is more suited to the fruit juice laden concoctions that make tiki cocktails so popular.

Fervent Shaker insider tip: Coming in at just under £30 this rum is a bit steep compared to supermarket brands and even some better known brands. But unlike a lot of things in this world, when it comes to Rum, as well as straight alcohol in general, you pay for what you get.

Honourable Mention: Wray & Nephews Overproof White rum (Jamaica) £26.00 – Sainsbury’s

Strong and, from personal experience, not a nice straight. But fantastic for adding a little theatre to your cocktails...
Strong and, from personal experience, not a nice straight. But fantastic for adding a little theatre to your cocktails…

This honourable mention is simply because I could not fit all of the rums I liked into the 5 slots I limited myself too. Tiki cocktails often invoke memories of that beach bar on that Caribbean island you never learned to pronounce, along with flames galore. Drinks on fire are usually gimmicky but sometimes this adds to the theatre of the bar world. With regards to tiki cocktails you need a spirit that combusts and yet will not damage the overall flavour of the drink. Enter Wray & Nephews. This high abv alcohol is perfect for this job as it is highly flammable – that means you can light it to give you your fiery theatrical gimmick whilst not altering the overall taste of the cocktail…




The Drink Shop

The Whisky Exchange

St. Aubin

Havana Club




Wray & Nephews


Offers on Alcohol: Calvados special…

Offers on Alcohol everywhere: You just need to know where to look…

Alcohol is getting more and more expensive, no better example than sharp increases that are showcased by Angostura Bitters & Cointreau, especially over the last 3 or so years. It’s averaged that the price of alcohol per unit has risen by 6.5% in comparison to last years’ prices (3.5% more than the 3% inflation rate). This information is taken from the WSTA an organisation for the wine and spirits industry here in the UK.

Although the average price of alcohol has continuously risen, there has also been an increase in variety, especially in the Vodka & Rum categories over the same period…

Roll back a few years and you could buy a 70cl (700ml) bottle of Cointreau for around £14.99. That might sound like a bargain in today’s money (and it is) but you would expect a small increase. However what you really get is the fact that any bottle of Cointreau in a supermarket you try and buy will now be around £17-£20 at full price, and what’s worse is that the bottle will only be a 50cl (500ml) one! Not to mention Angostura Bitters have double in price over the last 12 months (although that’s a HMRC issue, not the company Angostura itself).

But where can you get good products at a cheaper price?

Basically anywhere that sells the things you want… I work at a supermarket and can tell you that offers are periodical, usually on 2-4 week rotations (depending on the products). Alcohol in particular is a range highly discounted on a regular basis. Whether you prefer the cocktail spirits, beer or wine there will always be a way of saving, as long as you don’t mind changing your choice every month…

Let’s use my shopping habits for example: I love rum, it’s as simple as that. I am willing to purchase and try any rum, as that’s the only real way to find the ideal style/product that suits me (or you).

The best way for me to do this, and spend as little as possible, was to only buy the rum on offer (there’s always rum on offer). This could be any rum, and is also part of the allure, but mainly the bigger brands (such as Havana Club, Mount Gay & Bacardi). So as you can see you can, sometimes, get a proper bargain.

The savings can be anything from £1-£10 depending on the product and time of year. So again I reiterate the importance to looking for a good deal where you can.

Alcohol is always on offer, you just need to know where to look for the best savings…

Anyway moving on to the main point of this post; saving money on Alcohol.

The Drink Shop is a favourite online source of mine and along with the Whisky Exchange they offer several products at a discount price (like you’d expect a supermarket would). So here below are some links, allowing you to take full advantage of these offers, after all why pay full price when you don’t have to?

This weeks special offer on the Drink Shop is Calvados, which coinsides with National Calvados Week. Calvados, in simple terms, is an Apple Brandy made in the French region of Lower Normandy. Dating back to 1554, apple based distillation is an ancient tradition and can result in a wonderful spirit perfect for drinking straight, cooking with, or – you guessed it – cocktails!

The one thing key to saving money is not to be set in your ways. If you go looking for a particular brand of spiced rum but find it’s out of your price range, then look at other brands of spiced rum and find one that is. This method is compounded by you shopping around; if you’re lucky you’ll find the product you want cheaper somewhere else…  

Good luck and I hope these links serve you well:

DrinkShop: Calvados offer (for national calvados week)

DrinkShop: Wine offers

DrinkShop: Spirits offers 

DrinkShop: Beer offers

Whisky Exchange: Sale Items

Picture courtesy of: http://www.DIYLOL.com

Product of the month: October 2013

Falernum (Syrup/Liqueur)

The Caribbean is a beautiful place, and has supplied us with something just as special as rum: Falernum…

Falernum is a sweet sugary syrup originating from the Caribbean and is most often used in rum based cocktails with a tropical feel to them. This syrup can come in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, and in various brands. It’s important to look at whether or not the bottle you’re buying is alcoholic or not, as the alcoholic versions can range from 10-25% Vol. (typically speaking).

It is a thick syrupy liquid that can range from clear/white to golden and translucent and therefore the type of Falernum you use can affect the appearance of the drink you’re trying to create.

But whatever version you choose the overall flavour is almost always the same, and it’s for this reason it is so popular with bars and their cocktails (the famous OXO Tower in London uses Golden Falernum in their Dark N’ Stormy recipe).

The flavour:

Falernum typically contains a collection of ingredients, including (although not always together): Almond, Ginger, Clove, Lime, Vanilla and occasionally All Spice. As you can tell different brands can differ quite significantly in taste and whilst one version may enhance your Mai Tai, another might not. This is something to be aware of when you go shopping for a bottle…

So where can you purchase Falernum?

Well you would not be stoned for assuming supermarkets would stock this item, but here in the UK it has still to break the stranglehold Monin’s Grenadine & Simple syrups hold on the shelves. However there are some online sources where you can pop a bottle in with a delivery of other liqueurs/spirits. These websites are TheDrinkShop and TheWhiskyExchange. Failing that you can always brew up a homemade version, try your hand at Kaiser Penguins’ recipe. Those of you reading this in the USA, seeing as the Caribbean is a mere boat ride away, I’m sure you shouldn’t find it too difficult to source…

Cocktails using Falernum:

OXO Tower Dark N’ Stormy


2 measures Goslings Black Seal Rum

2 – 5 dashes Aromatic Bitters

½ measure Fresh Lime juice

½ measure Barbados Made Golden Falernum

Top Up Organic Ginger Beer

Dark N’ Stormies are one of my favourite cocktails, even more so when they’re a little sweeter, like this one…


–          Combine the first 4 ingredients in a shaker (over ice) and shake for around 10 seconds.

–          Then strain into your serving glass, over ice.

–          Top up with the ginger beer and garnish with a lime wheel/wedge.

Note: I could not get the exact measurements that the staff at the OXO tower use, which is a shame, but I have perused some online recipes and compared them to come to the above recipe… I’m open for comments as to your favourite recipes…

Barbados Cocktail


1 measure Velvet Falernum

1.5 measures Dark Rum

¾ measures Fresh Lime Juice

A sweet rum cocktail that epitomises the Caribbean way of drinking…


–          Combine ingredients over ice and shake well (around 10-15 seconds).

–          Strain into a cocktail glass (I prefer a coupe glass).

–          Garnish with a lime wedge…

A classic recipe, this cocktail is Caribbean all over, combining rum and Falernum to create a sweet and tangy masterpiece. At a glance this cocktail looks rather similar to the dark n stormy I’ve listed above, but I believe it’s most likely where the OXO Tower got their idea from. Still this is a great cocktail and should not be sniffed at (unless of course you actually want to sniff it).

Corn N’ Oil


1 measure Bacardi Gold Rum

¼ measure Velvet Falernum

2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Looks Like oil, but tastes like heaven…
Picture courtesy of: drinkdogma.com


–          Stir all the ingredients over ice, and strain into an ice filled old fashioned glass.

This cocktail is a mystery in that no one knows where the name came from, although there are rumours that the strangely thick (almost oily) BlackStrap rum is the reason the ‘oil’ is in the name…

Ranglum Cocktail


4 measures Goslings Black Seal Rum

1 measure Wray & Nephews overproof rum

1.5 measures Velvet Falernum

2 measures Fresh Lime Juice

½ measure Sugar Syrup

Short and sweet, just how they’re liked…


–          Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into an ice-filled glass.

–          Squeeze piece of lime peel over the drink and place in the glass.

–          Serve with straws.

This drink is also very much like a Dark N’ Stormy, but with a massive smack in the face from the overproof rum.  With the addition of Ginger Beer (to top) this drink becomes a pumped up Dark N’ Stormy, but at the same times lengthens this rather tricky drink…

Frosty Dawn


1.5 measures Light Rum

1 measure Orange Juice

½ measure Falernum

¼ measure Maraschino Liqueur

O Sonho de Paulo, Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz
It may start getting frosty outside, but this cocktail will put the hair back on your chest…
Picture courtesy of: cocktailbuzz.blogspot.com


–          Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into an ice filled, chilled rocks glass.

–          Garnish with a lime wedge.

Key Cocktail


1.5 measures Gin

½ Fresh Lime Juice

¼ measure Falernum

¼ measure Dark Jamaican Rum

Perfect for unlocking the secret to a good night… The Key Cocktail


–          Shake the ingredients over ice and strain into a well-chilled martini cocktail glass.

–          Garnish with a pineapple stick/finger.

These cocktails all have Falernum as an ingredient, but also all taste different. This is both a testament to the Syrup/Liqueur’s depth of flavour, but also its versatility as a cocktail ingredient. It is for these reasons that it’s my product of the month… Hopefully you all enjoy it and get a chance to experience the recipes I’ve listed above!


Some great summer cocktails (via the Whisky Exchange)

Relax, sit back and sip on one of these glorious cocktails…

There are some great cocktails out there that are perfect for summer. Here are a few courtesy of the whisky exchange.

Classic American Whisky (or Whiskey) Sour

An American Classic, shown on the hit show Mad Men, this truly is a fantastic cocktail…



1 measure Bourbon whisky

1 measure Sweet & sour mix (a mixture of Lemon & Lime Juice)

½ measure Sugar Syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters


1)      Shake well over ice and strain into glass over fresh ice cube.

2)      Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

For a slightly frothier drink dry shake and egg white with the ingredients and then shake over ice too cool. Then strain like normal.


A great whisky cocktail, watering down this aged whisky (Nikka) allows one to savour the truly robust collection of flavours…


50ml Nikka ‘from the barrel’

150ml Spring Water


1)      Stack large cubed ice cubes in a tall glass.

2)      Lay in the Nikka Whisky

3)      Then top up with the 150ml water.

4)      Stir around 10-14 times.

5)      Taste and adjust water (add more) if required.

Mango Cooler

Smooth & Fruity this cocktail is a tropical explosion…



50ml Kingston Mango Liqueur

100ml Lemonade


1)      Pack the glass with crushed ice.

2)      Pour over the Mango Liqueur and lemonade, stir well.

3)      Garnish with some red berries (cherries, raspberries, red currents all work well).

Kingston also make a Red a Curacao which works just as well in this drink – although you end up with a drink that’s more citrus than mango…

1980’s Classic Pina Colada

The ultimate Tiki beach cocktail. Enjoy it. I know I will!



50ml Pampero Blanco Rum

50ml Coco Real cream of coconut

100ml fresh pineapple juice (fresher the better)


1)      If you have a blender then blend all the above ingredients with a mixer glass worth of ice. If you don’t have a blender, then shake the mixture really hard with a little less ice.

2)      Serve with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry.



Traditional Mexican Cocktail technique at its finest…



50ml Tapatio Blanco Tequila

150ml Grapefruit Soda


1)      Fill a glass with ice and pour in the Tequila.

2)      Top up with the soda and garnish with a lime wedge.

For an added splash of citrus, try adding in 12.5ml – 25ml Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice. This will cut through the Tequila a bit, should you find it a little too strong.

A Fancy G&T

Adding the Chartreuse doses you with an extremely rich, strong and flavourful version of this British Classic…



2 measures Gin

Top up Tonic Water

5-15ml Green Chartreuse


1)      Make up your G&T like normal;

  1. Over ice, build the ingredients.

2)      Then float the Green Chartreuse (the amount is to your taste) on top of the drink.

3)      Enjoy your luxurious G&T.

Sea Breeze

A twist on a Classic…



25ml Absolut Vodka

25ml Grapefruit Juice

75ml Cranberry Juice


1)      In an ice filled glass, build the ingredients one by one.

2)      Stir it briefly and garnish with a lime wedge*.

Give the lime wedge a little squeeze to dump the juice in the drink before dropping the wedge in on top. Quickly stir again and you have a slightly more apparent citrusy hit in your drink.

All the ingredients for these drinks, as well as original pictures and recipes can be found on the Whisky Exchange’s website. They offer a competitive, yet affordable price on almost every product they sell, and honestly, some of the products you cannot get anywhere else. Not here in the UK anyway!

For all non-alcoholic ingredients, as well as some slightly cheaper store-brand alcohol you can check out your local supermarkets.

TheWhiskyExchange  has had no involvement in this post. This is a post I made to share what I feel is one of the best websites out there for cocktail ingredients.