“We wanted something that was strong enough, funky enough and bold enough to stand up in a cocktail, but that would also be a good sipper,” Barry Haneberg says.
A rum fermented and distilled from scratch at Virago’s production facility in Scott’s Addition is on the horizon, but Haneberg says he and his brothers wanted to offer something a little different by starting off with a blended product.
“Most rums are coming from a single distillery,” he says. “With spirits you have to master fermentation, distilling, aging and blending, and by blending we’re able to kind of show off that portion of the art.”
Haneberg describes Four Port as a combination of two styles: British and Spanish. British rums are “a little funkier and spicier,” while Spanish rums “tend to be softer, sweeter, mellower on the palate.” The team went through about a dozen variations before settling on this blend, spending hours mixing and sampling at what he refers to as a barrel library.
“Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you find it,” he says. “And there was an element of that.”
At the tasting event on Monday, the guys behind the bar served up three cocktails featuring Four Port: an old-fashioned poured over a giant ice cube imprinted with the Jasper’s logo, a palmetto featuring rum, sweet vermouth and bitters in a martini glass, and a not-too-sweet daiquiri made of rum, lime juice and simple syrup.
Haneberg’s favorite is the daiquiri, which he recommends for anyone who’s new to rum. Four Port makes for a great whiskey stand-in, though, so for anyone who’s partial to the bite of bourbon, he suggests going for the old-fashioned.We’re still a few months from the grand opening of the tasting room — Haneberg says they’re aiming for September — but Four Port will be available by special order at ABC stores July 1. There are a couple more legal hoops to jump through before it’s on the shelves, but keep an eye out for the rum blend at local bars in the coming weeks.
And as if that’s not enough to look forward to, the Hanebergs also plan to make gin, brandy, herbal spirits and liqueurs.