Friday, August 17, 2007

Stella Says…El Dorado is becoming ever more elusive

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 17 August 2007)

There has been a little stir of late over the confiscation of Guyana rum from those leaving the country and travelling elsewhere. The new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations in the US forbid passengers to carry liquids of more than three ounces in a bottle on the plane.

I have to admit that this news was particularly discouraging for my family as well since we always carry several bottles of rum from Guyana. Three ounces of rum simply will not quench our rum thirst.

None of the liquor stores in the cities I have lived carry the rum our family so loves. Therefore, if we intend to continue our imbibitions of El Dorado, it seems we will have to be creative and find other ways in which to purchase it. Since my personal stock is quickly dwindling, I am hoping to find El Dorado soon.

Last week I was on vacation in California and during my leisure time I decided to see if El Dorado Rum was available for purchase on the Internet. Yes, it seems there are a handful of wine and liquor sites that will sell me some El Dorado Rum – at a huge mark-up and with a shipping and handling fee – of course.

My mind can rest at ease now knowing there is in fact a way to find El Dorado when I need it. However, although El Dorado Rum has not become as elusive as the fabled city of gold, it certainly is not an easy task to attain the lovely drink. With a product this sweet, it seems to me the world should know about it.

Alas, this is not the case. In fact, as I was relaxing in a coffee shop in California last week, I picked up the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times and noticed the front-page article entitled, “Rum is lifting economic spirits.” Hey, since rum always lifts my spirits, I thought this article deserved some attention.

I found myself envying the Times writer, Carol J. Williams, who got to travel on assignment to various rum producing parts of the Caribbean to sample their goods. Surely Glenn Lall needs a reporter to travel around tasting rum here and there. I promise to keep my slurring words to a minimum and to wait until I am sober again before writing one word for my darling Kaieteur News.

The Times article spoke of the rise of rum to the status of a luxury drink. It seems that sales of ultra-premium rum grew by 32 percent last year, faster than ten of 11 other spirits. Only high-end tequila topped rum on this chart thanks in large part to the new popularity of Mojitos on the international club scene.

This was all quite ironic to me because I just happened to bring two bottles of liquor with me on vacation – one was a bottle of El Dorado rum and the other was a bottle of tequila. We enjoyed both bottles immensely.

According to Williams, rum is on the upswing with those who have money. She said, “Riding an international wave of demand, Caribbean rum producers are hard at work refining their famously ruffian wares for the connoisseur. Once a shameful profit of New World slavery, the rotgut fuel of the American Revolution and the favored tipple for frat parties and prom night, rum has entered the crystal-and-cigar splendor of fine parlors.”

The article went on to provide a fascinating history of rum. It also talked about the art of the rum-making process. The one thing this article did not talk about was El Dorado rum. Now I know how great Guyana rum is and so do you, but Carol J. Williams did not visit Guyana on her whirlwind rum tour and thus, El Dorado remains elusive to the rest of the world.

I could not help but think - as I sat in the coffee shop reading the newspaper – how wonderful it would have been if Williams had visited Guyana and included El Dorado on her list of delectable rums. After all, the LA Times is the third most distributed newspaper in the US.

Just imagine the free publicity our beloved rum would have received if only Williams had visited Guyana on her rum tour. Instead, she went to places like Martinique. I wonder if she even speaks French. I suppose we should not get bitter about missed opportunities such as this, but I cannot help but wonder how many opportunities Guyana misses every single day.

Meanwhile, my vacation is over and I will have to find alternative ways of buying the elusive El Dorado Rum since I cannot haul it in handbag on the plane anymore. My family polished off the bottle I took to California with me, but it was worth the sacrifice of one of my few last bottles as we enjoyed it on the patio in the blowing breeze during good conversation.

I feel it is important to close by saying that it one should always drink responsibly and never drive after you have been drinking. I promise to keep both of these principles in mind when Glen Lall sends me on a rum tasting trip around the Caribbean.

Email: StellaSays[at]

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