Malahat Spirits – Rum and eventually Whiskey

Before I tried the spirits at Ballast Point, I was not really sure I would see many interesting flavors from small distillers. Thankfully, Ballast Point has by now shown that they can make a quality gin and other liquors that are far more interesting than the usual flavors. They also infuse their vodka with other flavors, though I haven’t tried those.
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Malahat opened about 3 months ago (around early October, 2014) and already they have created some flavors that shattered my expectations for rum and craft spirits in general. Before I visited Malahat, I was not particularly excited by rum. Though the Ballast Point rum was solid, the flavors presented at Malahat were at a whole different level. (Note: Ballast Point did not have a spiced rum when I did the tasting though they have released one since then.)

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When you stop by for a tasting you pay $15 for a glass (a small logo shot glass) and six small quarter ounce pours of their spirits. I asked how this will work for repeat visitors and was told that for now they will sell you another glass, though at some point I hope they figure out a way to charge for just the tasting. I will try to return in three to six months to see how the aged rum is going. When I stopped by on December 6, 2014 for a tasting they had the regular white rum, spiced rum, ginger rum, iced tea rum, aged rum, and a choice between a moonshine (in the early stages for an eventual whiskey) and candy-cane rum.

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The white rum was quite sweet and mixes nicely with the flavor of the alcohol. Though I wouldn’t drink it by itself, it serves as a good baseline that explains how the other flavors are so tasty. This rum is pure molasses and it really comes through. Next I tried the spiced rum. Instantly upon smelling it I was blown away. This rum both smells and tastes amazing. It has such a delicious flavor that combines vanilla and cinnamon with other more subtle spices. Once I can find a bottle I don’t expect to go back to any previous rums. Though the iced tea one was so good that I might stick to that once the bottles are released.

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Next was the ginger rum. I was surprised here as well by how mellow the flavor was. Most of the ginger we get in the supermarkets in San Diego is quite spicy and intense. The ginger here gives it a nice sweet flavor with a little citrus. Next up was the iced tea rum. The flavor sounds amazing and it really is. If you are a fan of black tea, especially strong black tea, this one will blow you away. It is so sweet that if you sipped it alone you would have plenty of tea flavors and sweetness that you wouldn’t need to add anything else. The sweetness of the underlying white rum really comes through here.

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Before leaving, we also got to taste the barrel aged 9 month. This specific version is aged in California cabernet barrels. It was really smooth, though being pulled straight from the barrel and served at 125 proof I had a difficult time picking out the flavors. I am excited to see what this tastes like when it hits the year mark. Finally, I tried the moonshine (or as they call it, almost whiskey). I have never been a big fan of clear alcohol and this one didn’t do much for me. However, I expect it will be quite nice one it has been aged properly in barrels.

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If you don’t consider yourself a fan of liquor in general or rum in particular you might just find yourself converted into a huge fan after tasting what Malahat serves. I ran straight to BevMo to get me some spiced rum after doing a tasting and the only one they had on the shelves was the white rum. I will certainly be back to see how things develop over the years. I expect Malahat may soon find an explosion of popularity once word spreads and people try their delicious rums.

Note: If you do happen to buy their rum you might notice something tastes a little different than how it was in the tasting. After a second taste I notice there is some mint in the batch they bottled that I didn’t taste at the tasting. I can’t say for sure that it was removed from the other batch because you had so little to taste before but it makes the bottle a little less enjoyable. I still enjoy sipping it but the mint puts it from amazing to really good.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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