The Real McCoy Rum Review

The Real McCoy Rum

The phrase "The Real McCoy" has made it's way into regular use in the American language, but there is some controversy as to its original source. The most widely accepted origin is a corruption of the Scot's, the "real MacKay", as in "the good stuff". 

The rum is a lovely amber hue, with flavors of warm spice, caramel and toffee. It is also absent of banana notes, that often accompany some younger gold rums and even at 5 years, proves to be delightfully drinkable neat. It also performs masterfully in cocktails, and we opted to mix up a Rum Club Old Fashioned inspired by Mike Shea of The Rum Club.

Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail

Rum Club Old Fashioned

1.5 oz The Real McCoy Rum

.5 oz. Smith & Cross Rum

Dash simple syrup

Dash orange bitters

Orange Peel

Add orange peel, bitters, and simple syrup to old-fashioned glass. Gently press the orange peel with a muddler to express essential oils. Add rums. Add ice (large cube). Enjoy by sipping slowly.  


Magave Anejo Tequila

Though we try to focus mainly on spirit use in cocktails, there are times when a bottle comes our way that would almost be a shame to add anything to it. Of course, we will try at some point in time, but wanted to make sure that anyone who has the ability to work with this product, seizes the opportunity (and please come back to let us know what cocktails you create). Magave is available in CA retail stores and restaurants, and also available from online distributors here. Retailing for around $40, it is comparable price wise to many high end tequilas, but with a flavor profile to rival mezcal, a relative bargain. Mezcal lovers will appreciate Magave Anejo for it's prominent vegetal, mildly smoky, oily richness. However, it has a bit of sweetness to it, that will make it more accessible for tamer folks looking to explore the realm of aged tequilas and expand their palate, but aren't yet ready for the full briny plunge that is mezcal love.

The first thing that is different about the tequila is the bottle, which is one the most interesting and beautiful we've come across. World Bottles, the subsidiary of Magave, are the only producers of etched and painted glass spirits bottles. The etching also helps to provide a better grip when serving. Sometimes fancy bottles can turn spirit lovers into skeptics, with the belief that a hefty marketing budget and good design are a cover up for a sub-par product. Upon first taste all skepticism will be vanquished. I am not alone in my opinion of its quality, as the Anejo won Best of Show Double Gold for Best Anejo at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and 94 points from the Beverage Tasting Institute for 2010 (see their tasting notes here).

Honey, fig, vanilla, black pepper, and bourbon nose, perfectly represent the charred oak casks the tequila is rested in, without overtaking the pungent agave flavors with too much wood. Anejo means that the tequila was rested in small oak barrels for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 3. The Magave portfolio also includes an Blanco (aged less than 2 months) and a Reposado (aged a minimum of two months and a maximum of one year). We did not sample the Blanco or Reposado, so cannot comment on them, but look forward to seeing them in the near future as tequila takes it place as "the new vodka", as proclaimed by Boozehound Jason Wilson in the Washington Post, we are confident that time is not too far off.

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey

In celebration of Repeal Day, we wanted to highlight a distillery that surely benefited from the decision years before their inception, Stranahan's, Colorado's only "legally" produced whiskey. They don't abuse their "dominace" of the market by creating an inferior product for consumers with limited local choices. In fact, their uniqueness continues throughout the entire process of their production chain, where "handcrafted" is not merely a clever marketing ploy, but an accurate description of every step of the whiskey-making process from the hand-numbered bottles to the hand-poured spirits thanks to the 1000+ volunteers who come to the distillery (some by plane) on bottling days for a fun-filled celebration, and leaving with 2 bottles of Stranahan's Rocky Mountain Whiskey as their thanks. The waiting list for this coveted positions is quite long, but you can sign up and find out more here.

*With no additional ingredients not a true cocktail, but it was so good by itself we felt guilty adding anything to it. 3 oz. Stranahan's Whiskey. Large ice cube. Done.


The nose is honeycomb, maple, and raspberry with a scotch-like profile. The sip is hot and spicy pecan, oak, oatmeal, and barley. There is a slight smokey oak finish and hot long warm feeling felt almost immediately. Feels like higher proof than 94, but not harsh, just strong. Opens up wonderfully after the large cube melts. The residual alcohol burn is tamed, leaving a fuller grain bouquet. As the cube melts, even more mineral, dirt flavors come out as well as cinnamon, allspice, and aged vanilla from the minimum aging time of two years spent in charred American white oak casks. This will definitely make some fantastic classic cocktails which will be posted in the near future.

Shochu Old Fashioned- 2 oz. Shochu, tsp. simple syrup, dash citrus bitters @HouseSpirits @SakeOne

Shochu Old Fashioned:

 2 oz. Shochu (House Spirits Uchi No Komi 48.04 proof)
Teaspoon simple syrup
Dash Scrappy's Grapefruit Bitters

Shake with ice. Strain. Serve on the rocks.

This cocktail was first made for us at House Spirits RPM night at Departure by Kyle Webster (formerly of Noble Rot, and currently mixing at Metrovino with Jacob Grier). Kyle explained that the addition of simple syrup was for balance, and that the bitters helped to open up the flavors of the Shochu. In the original, Kyle used Scrappy's Grapefruit bitters which I preferred, though lacked at the time of making this cocktail at home. Shochu is seeing a resurgence in popularity in the states as of late. This is evident in the growth of availability and selection of Shochu, as Japan's "poor man's sake", reaches more urban drinkers and acquires a cult following. This Shochu is the result of a "creative partnership between House Spirits and SakeOne.

"The collaborative project consisted of toting a few multi-staged moromis from Forest Grove to Portland where they were double distilled in our [House Spirits] copper Alambic pot-still, collecting just the finest of the heart cut"

2 oz. Shochu (House Spirits Uchi No Komi 48.04 proof)
Teaspoon simple syrup
Dash Homemade Orange Bitters

Shake with ice. Strain. Serve on the rocks.

Both cocktails do well adding ingredients to highlight the flavors of the Shochu while remaining true to the essence of Japanese simplicity. It is difficult to describe the nuanced flavors of the Shochu, "sweet rice" doesn't quite capture it.
This is do in part to the bounty of flavor and aroma compounds found in different varieties of rice. An excellent review on rice aromas and flavors can be found here. There are definitive malted notes at play, similar to a Genever minus the botanicals. Very smooth, slightly sweet and short finish with lingering citrus flavors from the bitters.