Brand: Maggie's Farm
Origin: Allegheny Distilling, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Trinidad Distillers Ltd, Laventille, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
Still: Pot & Column Blend
With our 25th review, we are highlighting Maggie's Farm rum, a homegrown brand based out of Pittsburgh, PA. The brand was created by Tim Russell, a former project manager who decided to leave the corporate world behind and learn how to distill spirits. In October 2013, Russell founded Allegheny Distilling in Pittsburgh's Strip District, where his team distills, blends, and bottles multiple award-winning expressions of Maggie's Farm rum and other liqueurs.
From Russell and Allegheny Distilling's humble beginnings, Maggie's Farm (MF) has grown from a local craft brand to one with national distribution in over a dozen states. MF has several expressions of rum, including spiced and pineapple-flavored rums, as well as a coffee liqueur and falernum. Their bottles are artfully illustrated, often showing a skeleton drinking a flagon of rum in a field of cane, with the brand and their Latin slogan "ad infernum cum laboratus" ("to hell with labor") emblazoned above.
Their website makes a big deal about bottling without added sugar and using all-natrual ingredients. Their rums are distilled from Louisiana turbinado cane, using a Spanish-built 100% copper pot still; their long fermentation is helped with a "Caribbean-derived" yeast, and all their rums rest for some amount of time to promote further ester generation after distillation.
Maggie's Farm 50/50 Dark Rum is a blend of their pot distilled white rum (rested 3-6 months) and molasses-based, column distilled rum from Trinidad (aged 12 years), presumably from Trinidad Distillers Ltd, or "TDL". The blend proportions are in fact 50% of each distillate, and once blended, rest in oak barrels for 6 to 9 months in order to further integrate the flavors. Allegheny Distilling then self-bottles the finished blend at 80 proof.
I'm excited to review this blend of sugarcane and molasses-based rums; let's get into it.
Brown, with an orange tinge; medium clarity, medium viscosity
Molasses, red wine vinegar, vanilla frosting, plums, tobacco leaves
Brown sugar, baked spiced apples, cinnamon, vanilla
Short, oaky, baked cherries and plums; ends on a dry, spicy, and slightly bitter note
This 50/50 Dark Rum is a good quality, fairly-structured blend. Right off the bat, I see a lot of similarities with Demerara rums, and not necessarily Trinidadian rums (though to be fair, I have only experienced Scarlet Ibis and Angostura 7 year as far as TDL distillates go).
The appearance in the glass is a dark brown color, with an orange tinge; it has medium clarity and medium viscosity. It's apparent the 12 year old Trinidadian element of this blend provides the deep brown color.
On the nose, I get notes of molasses, red wine vinegar, vanilla frosting, plums, and tobacco leaves. It's quite interesting, with twists and turns from sweet (molasses, frosting) to bitter (vinegar, tobacco leaf) notes; at times it reminds me of the recent Holmes Cay Ten Cane release, with a briny yet fruity aroma (interestingly, that Ten Cane rum was aged 10 years and was cane juice-based).
Tasting the blend yields notes of brown sugar, baked spiced apples, cinnamon, and vanilla. As I mentioned above, there's a Demerara-like quality to this rum, but it is still a unique experience. However, it's a bit thin, and makes me feel like the Trinidadian element overpowers the Maggie's Farm distillate with its brown sugar and molasses notes, even though the blend is equally proportioned.
The finish is short and oaky, with further notes of baked cherries and plums; it ends on a dry, spicy, and slightly bitter note. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on how the imbiber chooses to enjoy this rum; personally, this seems like a great candidate to use in cocktails, but perhaps does not have the qualities I look for in a neat sipping experience.
Overall I think this is a fine craft rum from an American distillery that is focusing on transparent, high-quality products made from (mostly) American sugarcane. The blend itself has some nice high points, but none that soar too far above the clouds; just enough to make me want to further explore Maggie's Farm's other offerings. I am eager to see what future releases are in store from Allegheny Distilling, especially under the Maggie's Farm label.