Ask most people from the northern part of Ohio, and they know Put-In-Bay as a huge summer party spot on South Bass Island on the western side of Lake Erie. The Roundhouse, Mr. Ed’s, The Beer Barrel, Mojito Bay… the bars on the island have nearly as much lore and history as Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial commemorating a decisive naval victory during the War of 1812. Trying to capitalize on that legacy and brand recognition, Put-In-Bay Brewery and Distillery is expanding from their existing line of beer into spirits. We’ve already reviewed their Island Bourbon, time to try the Island Rum.
Put-In-Bay Brewery and Distillery started as only a brewery in 1996. It was founded by Carl Krueger, Chris Krueger, and Scott Jackson, who converted the island’s derelict volunteer fire station into a distillery after purchasing it at auction.
For the first 17 years, they only produced beer (which I know from experience is delicious in it’s own right). After installing a new copper still, they added “island’s first distillery” to their tagline and began distilling vodka and rum, adding bourbon to their list of products in 2021.
While visiting this summer, the outdoor patio was packed with revelers with just a handful of seats open. It was clear that cornering the market on island produced libations was an attractive proposition for many of the island visitors.
To my knowledge, they do not distribute their sprits to any local stores – you can only buy it onsite.
- Learn More: What Is Rum?
There is very little information available about the process used to distill the Island Rum. The label lets us know that it’s distilled from molasses, but not much else.
Usually, with a molasses based rum, there’s not much to do prior to fermentation — the molasses is just added to water and cooked prior to adding some yeast for fermentation. As a “light rum”, the assumption is that they are using a fairly fast acting yeast without any “secondary fermentation” of added bacterial growth, which is common in more high ester versions.
Once fermented, the liquid is run through their hybrid still. This is a single pot still hooked up to a coffee-style column still with distinct rectification and spirits sections side-by-side. There’s no information about whether this rum has been matured in barrels following distillation — but given the color of the spirit, it is unlikely.
I like what they’ve done with the bottle, as it seems to be a tip of the cap to the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. The tall bottle and flat shoulder resembles the 352-foot column with an observation deck at the top.
The bottle is long and cylindrical, with straight walls and a thin base. The walls widen ever so slightly as you move from base to shoulder. The shoulder is very flat, eventually leading to a short neck. The mouth of the bottle is slightly flared, with the outer diameter of the rim slightly wider than the outer diameter of the wood stopper.
There is a tall label with the brewery logo and the “Island Rum” name. The label uses a gold and purple color palate, which gives off a slight New Orleans vibe.
The spirit is nearly crystal clear; there may be a slight (and I emphasize slight) blue tint – which might be from the glass as much as from the spirit. The nose has a slightly sweet note, but also has a distinct smell of alcohol.
The first sip is sweet, with a very mild note of baking spices, which surprised me. Taking a second sip, you can find some notes of vanilla with a slightly woody finish. There is a slight alcohol burn, but it’s very mild, and overall it’s surprisingly smooth and enjoyable. I’ve never considered drinking white run neat before, but after tasting this, I entertained the thought of doing this more in the future.
Like any light spirit, I was worried about how the delicate flavors would change when adding ice. Shockingly, though, it seems that most of the flavors are enhanced and any lingering alcohol burn has fully subsided.
I really like the flavor that is left here — the rum tastes sweeter, with a greater amount of woody and vanilla notes. Sadly, though, the baking spices have disappeared, but this is overall quite nice. I could see this being a great lakeside drink.
As I was tasting this Island Rum over ice, my thoughts went quickly to: “I bet this is great with some lime”. And that hypothesis was not at all wrong.
Yes, the lime and simple syrup are at the front of this daiquiri, but the the rum does come through the mixers well. It makes itself known but it’s not overpowering. The woody and vanilla notes are mostly lost behind the sourness of the lime, but you can tell what is giving this drink it’s alcohol.
It’s very refreshing, and makes me wish I were aboard a boat.
My favorite rum cocktail is a mojito. It’s a traditional Cuban cocktail made from mint leaves muddled with sugar, mixed with light rum, lime juice, and topped with club soda. It’s a drink that instantly brings me back to my vacations to the Caribbean. So while we don’t normally review a rum in a mojito, I just really wanted to try this.
Sure enough, it didn’t let me down. Much like the daiquiri, the mixers are at the forefront of this drink and the rum is there, but not overpowering. It’s light, effervescent, and fragrant.
In full transparency, I am not the biggest rum fan… but I am a fan of this rum. It has solid flavor without being overwhelming. It stands up in a drink well, and in a pinch you could drink it on the rocks.
This spirit reminds me of great times at Put-In-Bay, sitting in one of the bar swings at Mojito Bay, listing to the live music and having great cocktails with friends.
|Put-In-Bay Island Rum|
Produced By: Put-In-BayProduction Location: Unknown
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
Whether it’s in the Caribbean or Lake Erie, rum drinks and islands just seem to go together.