Another weekend calls for another experiment. This time round I tried infusing dark rum with a bit of spices, a fruit and pumpkin. Now that fall has set in the countries in the west and it’s their season to celebrate the pumpkin the internet is flush with innumerable recipes of pumpkin spiced rum or pumpkin spiced bourbon. So I drew a bit of inspiration from some of those recipes and I decided that I would play around with the sweetness of the pumpkin but since just a bit of pumpkin might not be interesting enough I threw in some other elements to add a few more flavours.
Due to India’s fairly large vegetarian population pumpkin has wide versatile culinary uses and most of them are devoid of all the spices people generally tend to associate it with in the west. But like in the USA pumpkin here is cooked as side dishes, mains and even desserts. I won’t say that I am a huge fan of it but I do eat pumpkin in the form of curries from time to time but I never thought I would ever turn it into my guinea pig and use it in booze.
Nutmeg is a really popular spice when making pumpkin spiced drinks. It is a really aromatic spice with a sweet flavour profile. Since I was already using other sweet elements I substituted the nutmeg with its derivative, the more subtle mace. I totally love the aroma of mace but I have messed up dishes in the past by using too much of mace and that same aroma can get really overwhelming and prevent your other senses from enjoying the meal. This time I ensured that I use just the right amount. Another spice that has a special place in my heart is cinnamon. It also is a sweet spice with a strong aroma so too much of it can easily ill-affect the end result of any dish.
I threw in a bit of apple for its flavour and sweetness. I thought it might bring in those fruity flavours and add another dimension to the rum. And who doesn’t like the kick of ginger? Much as the warmth that ginger brings to the table is loved around the world, it’s spiciness at the back of the throat can ruin any recipe if too much is used. No, that is a mistake I haven’t made in the past or at least not yet which is why the quantity of ginger was just right enough to be able to taste that ginger-y warmth.
All these elements needed a platform where they could all co-exist symbiotically. And as far as I am concerned only Old Monk dark rum could have brought them together in harmony. Old Monk has somewhat of a cult following in India. I know of people whose choice of poison remains Old Monk and nothing else. On the palate it tastes of caramel and of abundance of molasses and maybe a touch of spiciness. However, in my humble opinion the rum is best enjoyed as a mixer in cocktails.
1. Old Monk Very Old Vatted Rum 7 Years Old Blended.
2. Pumpkin- Washed, cleaned and chopped into cubes. 100gms.
3. Apple- Half of a medium sized apple.
4. Mace- 2 – 3 pods.
5. Cinnamon – 3 – 4 barks
6. Ginger- Roughly chopped into tiny bits, not more than a teaspoon.
1. Pour the rum in a large bottle or container. I used a long bottle (1000ml in vol.) that I have reserved specifically for spirit infusions.
2. Put in the chopped pumpkins after crushing them lightly with the back of a knife along with all the other ingredients mentioned above.
3. Seal the bottle tightly and let it rest in a cool dark place for 3 – 5 days.
4. Try to shake and turn the bottle at least once daily. Also taste about half a teaspoon of the infusion to judge the intensity of the flavours.
5. Pour 60ml or 2 fl. oz. over a few ice cubes and top up with soda and enjoy your ‘pumpkin spice infused rum’.
I enjoyed my drink with friends and family over the Diwali weekend and it seemed to be well received by all. Even my wife who isn’t a fan of spices like nutmeg and mace appreciated it. The success of this experiment has already planted some very interesting Old Monk infusion ideas and I am quite looking forward to trying my hands at those. But my first Old Monk experiment is fondly dedicated to one of the biggest lovers of the Monk that I have known in my life who now has to lead a life of Monk depravity. Cheers. Happy Diwali.