Behind the Bar: A Taste of the Caribbean Through the Palate of Award-Winning Mixologist Kendie Williams
Knowing how to mix, blend, and create cocktails that have won accolades the world over is something that award-winning Master Mixologist Kendie Williams is very familiar with, as she's spent more than ten years behind the bar at Four Seasons Resort Nevis perfecting her craft. She's sharing some of her favourite rums for sipping and blending and what to look for when creating cocktails that are sure to wow your friends at your next celebration.
"You have to remember, picking the perfect rum is all about the appearance - meaning the colour, the smell, and of course, the taste," says Kendie. "When it comes to rum, age is good, but you always want to make sure it's smooth."
Growing up in the Caribbean, Kendie says she tends to lean more towards a darker rum. She likes the bold flavour profiles, with sweet notes of vanilla, caramel and toffee with a hint of spice. "Dark rums are usually smoother on the palate and never need much to enhance the taste," she continues.
When thinking about what rum to purchase, Kendie advises that you must remember that rum is a spirit made from sugar cane or any by-product, such as molasses; the ageing process is also different for each rum, as white rum is aged in stainless steel barrels whereas dark rum is aged in large charred oak barrels and requires a longer time to perfect its flavour. And the quality of the rum is dependent on the proof percentage and style of rum.
Rum is a Caribbean staple, and the more you know about your spirit of choice, the better you'll be at creating your signature rum cocktail. When it comes to blending cocktails, a lighter or even a white rum is usually best. "The flavours are a lot less intense and tend to blend better when adding fruit purees or other liquors," Kendie comments. "Bacardi is the superior blending rum for cocktails."
On your next visit to Nevis, you can learn more about rum from Kendie by joining her Rum Tasting class as she takes you on a journey through the history of rum in the Caribbean, during which you’ll learn to taste the different flavour notes and profiles. During the session, you'll also learn about some of the rums noted below, which are a must-have in Kendie's rum collection behind the bar.
Ron Zacapa XO from Guatemala
- Appearance: dark with an intense amber colour
- Aroma: caramel, walnuts and orange peel zest
- Taste: fruity and floral notes
Kendie’s comments: This rum is very smooth from beginning to end. The balance of the sweetened fruits, spices and the added chocolaty smooth finish will be delicious as a liquid dessert.
El Dorado 15 from Guyana
- Appearance: vibrant amber colour
- Aroma: toffee, prunes and molasses
- Taste: sweet spices, thick notes of dark brown sugar
Kendie’s comments: This rum is creamy and thick, making you want another glass at the end of the night. It's perfect as a dessert rum over a big cube of ice that can help soften the alcohol taste and make the flavours come out more.
Zaya Gran Reserva Rum 12 years from Trinidad
- Appearance: dark bronze rich colour
- Aroma: sweet caramel, vanilla, spicy and smoky
- Taste: caramel, nutty, oak and smoky
Kendie’s comments: This one is very different from the rest; it has a dominant vanilla taste that's inviting. With the slightly smoky flavour in the finish, I would recommend complementing this rum with a cigar.
Appleton 50 years from Jamaica
- Appearance: dark amber, almost molasses colour
- Aroma: honey, molasses and bananas
- Taste: licorice hints, maple sugar and vanilla cinnamon
Kendie’s comments: This rum has so many welcoming flavours, making it ideal for any meal period. It's one of my favourite rums; it doesn't need anything and should only be used as a sipping rum.
Diplomatico Ambassador from Venezuela
- Appearance: deep dark amber
- Aroma: banana, apricot and licorice root
- Taste: fruity, warm spices and tobacco
Kendie’s comments: I prefer a sweeter rum, and this one always does the trick with its primary notes from the banana and apricot. It also pairs very nicely with spicy dishes or even as a pre- or post-dinner sipping rum.
Crowned Monkey Rum 14 years from Four Seasons Resort Nevis
- Appearance: light golden caramel colour
- Aroma: vanilla with hints of aromatic floral scent
- Taste: dry bourbon and oak notes, quickly turns to a creamy smooth mouthfeel with notes of burnt caramel and hints of vanilla
Kendie’s comments: This rum is true to my heart because it was created for our property specifically and can only be found here. This rum doesn't need much and can easily be a sipping rum. However, we created a light cocktail called The Peak. Using the rum, we stir in vanilla sugar syrup and cherry bitters, smoke it with cherry wood in our smoker to give the look of the clouds floating atop the glass.
Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies