Big Rig Sugar Beet Brum
Review: Big Rig Sugar Beet Brum (not rated)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 02, 2016
The Big Rig Craft Distillery opened their doors on October 17, 2015 and they already have an impressive line-up of spirits for sale at their boutique store within the facility. These spirits include their Premium Vodka and Wildrose Gin; their selections of White Dog Distillate (not whisky for three years yet); and their intriguing Sugar Beet Brum. As well, they are experimenting with an array of flavoured Vodkas some of which are bottled and ready for sale, and others which are in development.
Sugar Beet Brum is produced from raw (brown) sugar manufactured from Alberta Sugar Beets on the company’s main still (Mighty Morley). This is a versatile still consisting of a large wash still, two columns, and a condenser. Chemically, sugar manufactured from sugar beets has the same composition as sugar derived from sugar cane, and in fact if this product was manufactured from cane sugar it could legally be called rum. As Sugar Beets rather than Cane is the source of the raw material for distillation, the folks at Big Rig decided that Brum was a suitable name.
(More complete information regarding the production of Big Rig Craft Distillery Premium Vodka can be found here: The Big Rig Distillery Tour.
In the Bottle
The Big Rig Bottle presentation captures the heart of Oil Country (in Alberta, Canada) quite well. The Bottle is shaped like an oil derrick complete with ribbing on the bottle designed to look like the trusses from which such rigs are constructed. The label is simple, I like the Canadian Flag (it’s good to be proud of you home country) and I like how each bottle is hand numbered.
The only detriment to the presentation is the growing sentiment throughout North America against ‘big oil’ caused by the perceived negative effect fossil fuels are having on the environment and climate change. The bottle presentation, and indeed the name of the distillery, will unfortunately limit the product’s consumer base. Having said that, in markets where ‘big oil’ plays an important role in the local economy, the oil derrick bottle will likely be loved.
In the Glass
Big Rig’s Sugar Beet Brum has a light caramel colour in the glass. The colour is obviously due to some sort of enhancement as a young spirit such this (which if it has been barrel aged, has only seen the inside of the barrel for a very short of time) should be very pale or almost clear. I asked the folks at Big Rig and they explained that part of the process they use for making their Brum is to add a certain amount of their fermented was back to the spirit before bottling to add a touch of sweet caramel flavour and colour to their spirit. They insisted that this is consistent with practices followed by rum manufacturers in the Caribbean to produce amber rum. And indeed I have heard rumours of this practice, and know that many rum producers add sweetened caramel of some sort to their clear rum when they are making unaged or lightly aged amber rums.
The Brum has a very rum-like nose with semisweet butterscotch rising into the air alongside aromas of mushy banana and orange peel. Some light hints of menthol are apparent as well as a very light underlying grassy herbaceousness.
Note: There is a bit of sediment inside my bottle. Again the folks at Big Rig explained that after a small portion of the fermented wash is added back to their Brum, they do not attempt charcoal filter the spirit as they do not want to change the flavour profile. Big Rig is a new distillery, and the Sugar Beet Brum is a new product. My sample is from the very first batch, and I consider the sediment a very minor issue which will most probably be resolved in future batches.
In the Mouth
I sampled the Sugar Beet Brum with a few of my friends alongside two other amber rums, Travellers One Barrel (see review here) and Angostura Royal Oak (see review here). The purpose of the tasting flight was to observe how age affected the flavour profile of similar distilled spirits. The Sugar Beet Brum of course was unaged (or perhaps barely aged), the One Barrel Rum is aged for 1 to 2 years, and the Angostura Royal Oak is aged for between 2 to 4 years.
Tasting each spirit, we all readily noticed how the barrel aging had affected not only the flavour of each spirit, but also its relative smoothness. The Angostura Rum showed light complexity with flavours of wood spice, orange peel, almond and coconut readily apparent. The One Barrel Rum had a light astringency, and lighter flavours of wood spice orange peel, and almond and only hints of coconut. The Sugar Beet Brum carried a some more apparent astringency with caramel and butterscotch being the main flavours with some citrus spice but no apparent almond or coconut flavours. There was though some nice banana flavours in the Brum which were much less apparrent in the two rums.
All three spirits mixed well with cola and ginger-ale, and each was a suitable mixer for daiquiri style cocktails. Especially in the cocktail format we were all surprised how well the Brum performed. (see cocktail below)
In the Throat
Sugar Beet Brum has a short finish which is perhaps a touch on the harsh side. The harshness disappears in tall cocktails, and in ice filled drinks.
I want to recognize that my sample came from the very first batch of Sugar Beet Brum produced. Almost certainly the folks at Big Rig will be improving upon their Sugar Beet Spirit, and I feel for that reason that scoring this particular review is perhaps premature on my part. My friends have went back to the distillery, and sampled some of the second batch which is now in production. Apparently Batch 2 is slightly sweeter and a little smoother than batch 1.
Evolution is indeed occurring. I hope to revisit the distillery, in a year or two and see how everything has progressed. You may check out this link for more reviews of similar spirits if you would like a few comparative reviews (Moonshine and Other Spirits).
My first suggestion with the Big Rig Sugar Beet Brum would be to mix it with cola or ginger-ale in a tall deck drink. However, I also tried it in a daiquiri-style cocktail and found it quite nice as well.
This is a simple recipe based upon the Commodore (which is a whisky cocktail I happen to enjoy). I am using Brum rather than whisky which of course means that the cocktail deserves its own name. I thought it would be fun to keep with the Commodore theme, and so I named this cocktail after a Commodores’ song called Easy.
2 oz Big Rig Sugar Beet Brum
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash of Orange Bitters
Sugar Syrup to taste
Mix a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake it up until the shaker frosts over
Strain into a fancy glass of your choice
To keep things easy, no garnish required
(By the way, I realize that the whisky cocktail was not named for the music group, the Commodores, but their song, Easy, sure fits the mood of this cocktail, especially on a Sunday morning.)
Note: If you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink servings!
You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)