Meet Chip Dykstra, a spirits aficionado and collector from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He discovered rum by way of a whiskey tasting and never turned back.
How did you become interested in rum & when did you start collecting?
My brother in law brought out a bottle of Wiser’s 18 year old whiskey that he had saved for 25 years. It had been distilled in 1962 (approx) and bottled in 1980 (approx). He and I shared a glass. I was so impressed with his generosity that I decided I would have to have a similar bottle for him to try if he ever visited me. I poured over the selection at various stores but it was not until two years later that I found a suitable candidate; Wiser’s Red Letter Canadian Whisky. It was during this odyssey that I became hooked on collecting fine spirits. You see, in one of those stores I stopped at, the proprietor asked me why I insisted on only Canadian whisky and did not give rum or scotch a try. I explained that the only good rum I had ever had was when I was in Tobago 20 years earlier. I didn’t know which rum it was but the rums I had tried since just didn’t measure up. As for Scotch…Johnny Walker and Chivas Regal were the only two I had tried and I couldn’t see myself enjoying them. He laughed and brought me over to his tasting counter. Then he changed my whole perception on other spirits. He poured me a small shot of Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva, and allowed me to try it. WOW! Then he poured me a small shot of Murray McDavid’s 16yr Old Highland Park Triple Cask Scotch Whisky. I ended up buying both bottles. After that I went out once per month to sample fine spirits and buy one or two per month. I visited internet forums to narrow my searches, and whenever I was in a new city I would search out the specialty stores and find new spirits to sample. The Collection grew. If my brother in law ever visits he will have quite a selection to choose from.
How many rums are in your collection?
Currently I have 60 bottles of rum in my collection. This includes 33 different rums from 20 different rum companies. I concentrate on premium brands essentially tryng to establish quality over quantity. It is also my policy not to buy a bottle unless I have been given a sample. I guess my most prized bottle is the Flor de Cana Centenario 21. I have two sealed bottles but based upon the sample I received it will be spectacular when I finally indulge. I also own over 50 different Single Malt whiskies, and over 30 Canadian Whiskies and a small selection of American bourbon, Irish Whisky, Tequila, Gin and Vodka. I like to have at least one nice bottle of each spirit on hand for guests.
What is your favorite rum (or rums) in each category and why?
White El Dorado Cask Aged Three Year Old Rum.
This rum is amazing. It has obviously been filtered to achieve the clear color at three years of age. This filtering has mellowed the rum such that it is by far the smoothest clear rum I have eaver tasted. It has a complex flavor profile yet remains very well balanced. It has tasted great as a sipper, and it has been great in every cocktail I have thrown at it.
Gold (3-5 yr) Appleton V/X or El Dorado 5 Yr
Two quality rums that are always on hand for guests. Each can be sipped but each is great in cocktails. The Appleton will appeal to those with a taste for the more typical Carribbean flavour. A touch of bitterness with full spice flavour. The El Dorado will appeal to those with a sweeter palate. It is smooth and long. Both rums are excellent examples of their class.
Aged (6yrs+) Flor de Cana 12 yr Old
The Flor de Cana rums are fantastic. I could have just as easily put the Flor de Cana 7 year old here, or the 18 yr old. These rums walk the line between sweetness and bitterness just about as perfectly as the line can be walked. They also have the most amazingly clean finish I have tasted to this point. Flawless flavor profiles with just the right amount of nuttiness, and spiciness. I chose the 12 yr as my favourite because it has all the elegeance of a well aged rum and yet the freshness of a much younger spirit. Quality and Craftmenship.
Spiced or Flavoured Lambs Blacksheep
To be honest I do not drink spiced or flavoured rums very much. However this new rum from Lambs with its overcharge of cinnamon is delicious with coca cola.
What is your favorite cocktail?
My favourite rum drink is good old Rum and Coke, nice and cold. I drink all of my premium rums this way. I would rather put $5.00 worth of premium rum in a galss and mix it with Coke than go to a bar and pay the same price for what ever it is that they serve. As far as true rum cocktails I guess I enjoy a nice lime daiquiri made with Flor de Cana 7 yr Rum.
Do you have a favorite rum bar?
If there is a true rum bar in Western Canada I haven’t met it yet. I guess my favouite drinking hole is my back deck with my friends every second Sunday evening. I have a group of friends that get together every fortnight. Everyone brings something different and we sample and test and see what we like. That’s how I discovered Blacksheep Rum.
Do you have a favorite spirits shop for buying rum?
This has to be Lacombe Spirits in St. Albert Alberta. The owner Karim loves rum as much as I do and he always keeps fresh samples behind the till for me.
Which rum would you travel to buy?
I would probably drive 200 miles to get my hands on Appleton Estate 30 yr old. I would probably go twice that far for a bottle of Zacapa 30 yr.