Rum is one of the spirits I know least about. At least it was until love Pop Ups London invited me to a rum masterclass followed by a delicious dinner at Turtle Bay in Brixton to celebrate the launch of their Summer Sound Clash, a four-day Summer Sound Clash Festival that will take place across seven of its restaurants on selected dates throughout July and August. Here I learnt a huge amount about different rums as well as getting a taster of a large variety which resulted in a slightly sore head the following morning!
“Rum, reggae and jerk are at the heart of what we do and love here at Turtle Bay, so we wanted to turn up the heat and bring Caribbean vibes across the UK for the summer season.”
Summer sound clash
I’ve been to various Turtle Bay restaurants before as their Southampton venue was a firm favourite when I was at university and I’ve also been to the Ealing branch, however these were years ago and so it was lovely to return and try a collection of the rums that they serve and to be able to promote the Summer sound clash was fantastic. We went to the Brixton one but other Turtle Bay restaurants across the UK will be celebrating the Summer Sound Clash Festival tour by adding a limited-edition rum cocktail to the menu. Over nine weeks of summer (July 1 st –September 1st), guests will be able to sample a new, rum-inspired cocktail with a reggae themed name. Guests will be able to vote for their favourite of the nine cocktails and the most popular one of the summer will become a permanent feature on the menu and keep the summer vibes going long after the season has finished.
Turtle bay has also launched a new menu, finally including a Caribbean brunch to start your weekend off right! They also have a new lunch meal deal, this is available Monday to Friday between 12pm and 3pm, where diners can choose any burger or roti, plus one side and homemade soft drink for just £10.
Right, back to our lovely evening, it all started with a rum cocktail, I went for the rum and tonic as I’m such a huge fan of the standard G&T, so thought why not put a reggae twist on it! I loved it, I was a little scared I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as gin but it was so refreshing and went down so so well. This may now be my new drink of the summer. Although, I may need to start working my way through the entire Turtle Bay menu as they offer over 40 different rums!
We were taken on a journey through the Caribbean through a variety of different rums with the help of our host, Sylvia, who started with a tray of different smells and tastes that can be found in a lot of rums before we got into trying the 8 that had been picked out for us for the evening. This helped us to distinguish exactly what we were looking for in the spirits and how differently each rum can incorporate similar tastes and smells. We also got to chomp on some sugar cane as we did this and were told that it’s a great palate cleanser between rums!
First up was the Appleton estate signature blend, as this was our first neat rum to try, it was a slight shock to the system but still tasty nonetheless and definitely helped to wake me up! We were told to try this and then have a little bit of dark chocolate before we tried again, it made so much difference to the taste it was crazy!
British Virgin Islands
Next up was this, the Soggy Dollar, this was named after a legendary bar by the same name on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. The story says that the customer’s money would arrive “soggy” as travellers waded through the water onto the beach from their boats and into the bar. This was a spiced rum with a blend of oak, vanilla, coconut, pineapple, orange, nutmeg and other native spices. I really liked this one, I think I may go as far as saying it was my favourite of the evening.
This was The Real McCoy rum, it’s named after the story of Bill McCoy, the pioneer rum runner of the Prohibition era. McCoy was the first to fill a boat with alcohol in the Caribbean, he sailed it up to New York City, and legally act as a floating liquor store three miles off shore. he was careful to always stay outside the three mile limit, which was international waters in the early days of Prohibition in America. What a clever man!
Barbados (part 2)
This was Foursquare Rum, This is an incredible Bajan spiced rum, I got a whole host of smells from this one, spicy and sweet with as splash of peppermint and nutmeg, overall it smelt a little bit like Christmas cake. However, the taste wasn’t as christmassy as I thought it would be, more toffee-ish and a lot more woody than anticipated, maybe due to being kept in wooden barrels to mature.
Trinidad and Tobago
This is the home to the angostura 1919 rum, the name relates to a story in which the Angostura company was almost fully demolished when a fire destroyed a large part of the distillery and the ageing warehouse. However, later on a couple of barrels of the 1919 rum were discovered in their barrels and their heritage was saved ever so slightly! There are some tones of vanilla and butterscotch in this rum which I really enjoyed, this was another of my favourites of the night.
Theres a simple reason behind the name of this rum, Westerhall Rum No.10, and that’s that it is aged for 10 years. This also had butterscotch and vanilla fudge notes as well as maple spice and was also quite woody due to the bourbon barrels that it aged in. Apparently, this rum is best enjoyed on the rocks or diluted with club soda
In the navy
This was a strong one. Navy strength. Enough to blow your head off. Traditionally, this rum would be afforded to seamen as part of their daily ration. A double dose was offered before battle, given to the sailors by the ship’s purser, eventually this name became Pusser. The rich flavour of Pusser’s Rum is all natural—no artificial flavouring or colouring is added. I’m not too sure how much of this I could handle, I couldn’t even manage the taster but I’m thinking it would be a delicious addition to a rum cocktail… maybe just not straight!
Back to Jamaica
I have many bad memories of the final rum, Wray and Nephew Overproof (63% ABV), from university days and birthdays as a forfeit on a night out. Because of this, I couldn’t bring myself to taste this, I had the tiniest sip but couldn’t get much further. The smell was too much for me to handle so I cut my losses and accepted that I didn’t need to try this again.
Mo’Bay Chicken at Turtle Bay
Time for food.
After all of that rum I was more than excited to order and enjoy some lovely Caribbean food. I’m not very good at spicy food and so had to ask which of the dishes weren’t too spicy for me. All of the staff were so helpful and in the end I picked the Mo’Bay Chicken as well as the Beach sharing platter (which I shared. Obviously.)
I loved the platter, it was made up of Jerk pit chicken wings, pork ribs, crispy chilli squid, bara roti, cucumber chutney & pickled vegetables and was more than enough for a starter between two people. The ribs were amazing, the meat literally fell off the bone and the glaze was delicious (and a little bit messy hehe).
The Mo’Bay Chicken was impressive. It was tender and the sauce packed a little bit of a punch. It was Chicken breast, creamy jerk, coconut rice ‘n’ peas, sweet plantain, dressed salad. I loved the coconut rice ‘n’ peas, I feel like it was far more interesting than the standard rice I’m used to eating. I’d definitely eat this again but would also like to venture out and try the other amazing looking dishes that were on the menu.
I had such a lovely evening, thank you to Turtle Bay and Love Pop Ups London for having me. I learnt a lot. Drank even more and filled my belly with some delicious food! Be sure to check out Turtle bay for their Summer sound clash or just for general life. (PS it’s 241 on cocktails over the August bank holiday. You can thank me later.)