I'm no stranger to drinking weird stuff. In fact I actually take it as a challenge wherever I go to try the most bizarre things on a menu, the kind of bat s**t crazy bartender flights of fancy that always seem to come with the prefix "acquired taste' or "heavily experimental." Just last week I endured bacon infused vodka, which tasted like vodka marinated in a farmers armpit, but hey, "better to experience than always wonder" is what I say. So when I got the chance to try a rum flavored with actual, live gunpowder my hand went up faster than Bill Clinton's at an intern's parade.
Produced by boutique New Zealand company Smoke and Oakum, Gunpowder rum is impossibly hard to get. Almost as if the manufacturer is deliberately taunting you with your inability to obtain it, which I'm sure the hipsters will just love, except they won't be able to get any. In fact my main reason for writing this article is that after the kind of effort usually reserved to find a sibling separated at birth, I have finally tasted some, and now wish to flaunt it in people's faces.
This particular rum is a recreation of a 300-year-old style, the kind of thing that would have been consumed by pirates, smugglers and (apparently) practitioners of voodoo; who it's said would consume a beverage made from rum, gunpowder, blood and the soil from a freshly-dug grave. Thankfully Smoke and Oakum have left out the last two, though I imagine they're working on it, and even if they hadn't, let's face it, I would still have tried it.
Legend has it the pirate Blackbeard used to consume gunpowder and rum just prior to boarding a stricken vessel for courage, and rums of the period were commonly "augmented" with caramel, herbs and spices -- as well as gunpowder. This one is augmented with organic red chili and Calumet tobacco, a nicotine-free, native American tobacco substitute and famed ingredient of the tribal peace pipe which worked out so well for them in the long run. Essentially it's spiced rum on the kind of performance-enhancing steroids that could help you win the Tour de France a record seven times. Even the bottles are irregular, though this is hearsay as I have only ever seen the one and am not likely to see another anytime soon; made from a variety of different styles and shapes, then, as a final flourish, wrapped in brown paper twisted at the top to resemble an 18th century rifle cartridge, with a batch and bottle number to further taunt you with the rarity.
The taste however is surprisingly smooth with a smoky finish that lingers like Russians on the Ukrainian border, a little bite from the chili and then something indescribable, not quite metallic, not quite organic, yet quite lovely, if impossible to define.
If you ever get the chance to board this ship then brace a blade between your teeth, swing across on a rope and pillage the living s**t out of it. You might not get the chance again.
Is there a bizarre or obscure spirit you'd like Dan to try? Let us know below or via Twitter @bezerkskhaus.