Another year has passed by and another holiday season is upon us. And no holiday season is complete without spiced rum. A couple of years back I happened to be attending a Christmas lunch party at a social club and they were serving a drink in small tumblers. The brown effervescent liquid with a few whole spices languishing at the bottom of the glass intrigued me and upon inquiring I was told that they were tiny glassfuls of rum punch. I had read about rum punch before but I had never ever thought of making it at home. That particular year I gave it a go, infusing the rum with the spices on gentle heat. The heating would invariably result in a bit of the rum being lost due to evaporation which as far as I am concerned is not quite desirable. The next year I tried the same thing again but this time I innovated and added a few elements that remind me of winter. I squeezed in a bit of fresh orange juice, grated a bit of orange zest and a bit of ginger to add some heat. While doing so definitely added flavours to the rum but the undesirable loss due to heating and subsequent evaporation persisted.

Another holiday season is upon us.

This year though, has been different. I have tried my hand at several spirit infusions throughout the year most of them being rum infusions. While not all of them have been successful there have been a few that were resounding successes. You can browse a couple of them here and here

Old Monk maybe enjoyed all year round but it has a special appeal at this time of the year.

So when the holiday season set in I decided to infuse good old Old Monk dark rum with spices that I love using during winter namely, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, mace, cloves and cardamom. The results have been overwhelmingly enjoyable. The rum took on the flavours of all the spices, retained all of its original notes and since there was no heating involved in the process no rum was lost. Give this simple recipe a go and I assure you won’t in the least bit be disappointed.

Holiday Spiced Old Monk!


1. Old Monk Very Old Vatted Rum – 1 bottle x 750ml.
2. Cinnamon (whole) – 1 stick broken into several smaller pieces.
3. Star Anise (whole) – 2 – 3 pieces.
4. Cloves (whole) – 12 – 15 pieces.
5. Green cardamom (whole) – 5 – 7 pieces, lightly crushed such that the pods open up.
6. Mace (whole) – 3 – 4 pieces. Once again tear up the whole spice into smaller pieces.
7. Nutmeg (whole) – 1 piece. This too will need to be broken up into tinier bits.
8. Freshly squeezed orange juice – 2 – 3 fruits. Retain the skin to use the zest later.
9. Fresh ginger – 1 – 1/2 inch.
10. Soda – 1 – 2 bottles. It’s useful to keep them handy in any case.

The Monk dressed in holiday cheer.


1. Unseal your bottle of Old Monk and carefully pour into the glass bottle.
2. Then one by one add in the whole spices.
3. Seal the bottle and give it a good shake for about 20 – 30 seconds and then let it do its work in a dark and cool place.
4. Give the bottle a gentle shake every day. After three days taste the infused rum. By now it should have taken on the flavour of the spices.
5. On the third day add in the ginger and the orange zest. Seal the bottle and give it a gentle shake.
6. By the fifth day all the flavours should have now come together in the bottle of rum. Give it a taste. If you think you could do with a bit more flavour feel free to keep the infusion for one or two more days. Anything beyond that and you run the risk of overkill and destroying the entire bottle of rum.
7. Strain out the elements.
8. Pour the rum out in a punch bowl and stir in the orange juice and let it rest for a while.
9. Pour yourself 60ml or 2 fl. oz. of the rum mixture in a small tumbler and top it up with soda.

Finally the rum punch is ready to drink.

Now sit by your Christmas tree with the drink in hand and spread some good cheer. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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The Classic Malts of Scotland were first initiated as a bundle marketing strategy by United Distillers and Vintners which was later acquired by Diageo, until recently the largest distiller in the world. The original six single malt whiskies which came to be known under this umbrella were Glenkinchie 12 from the Lowlands, Talkiser 10 from the Isle of Skye, Lagavulin 16 from Islay, Cragganmore 12 from Speyside, Dalwhinnie 15 from the Highland and Oban 14 also from Highland but classified as originating from Western Highland for differentiation’s sake.

The Six Classic Malts.

All of these are as good whiskies as any other quality single malt of the world but at an early stage of my whisky drinking days the tag of Classic Malts of Scotland seemed to fascinate me. Once, when I was at a bar with my father I spotted the above mentioned six whiskies displayed together at the bar counter under banner Classic Malts of Scotland. I had tasted some of them before but I had never read about this term and later that evening consulted my whisky guide and learned about the information I shared with you above. In a six part series I will share my take on each of them.

Glenkinchie 12 from the Lowland

The Glenkinchie 12 is distilled in the lowlands region which is southern Scotland about 15 miles from Edinburgh. It was a relatively unknown name until the United Distillers’ Classic Malts branding strategy came about in 1989. It is one of the only three active distilleries of the region.
I happened to taste this after having tasted all the other Classic Malts and in my humble opinion its best had as an aperitif.

Picked this beauty up last Christmas.

Colour: Bright golden
Nose: Aromatic heather, a bit of vanilla and citrus
Body: Smooth but light and delicate
Palate: Sweet and citrus-y
Finish: Herbal and dry. Not lingering.
Pairing: I enjoyed my whisky with slightly salted almonds owing to its light body and dry finish.

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