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People Profile: Tiare Olsen

Tiare is a well known Sweden-based rum enthusiast and owner of an excellent cocktail blog called A Mountain of Crushed Ice.  Here’s our interview.

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How and when did you become interested in rum?

My interest in rum started many years ago when I got a mini bottle of El Dorado 15.  Of course, I had tried rum before in my teens when I stole from my parents home bar.  But my real interest in rum started with that little bottle of El Dorado. I took a sip and one more and then I decided to make some tropical drinks with it.  I don’t remember what I made but apparently it was good because after that bottle was finished I couldn’t forget how good it was and so I eventually got a big bottle.

Then I started to surf around to find recipes for good tropical rum drinks and happened to end up at Tiki Central and got into tiki drinks.  From there I went to different booze blogs and finally came to the Ministry of Rum and that’s where my rum-education started.

Why tropical and tiki drinks?  Well, first of all I have had an interest in everything Polynesia since I was a child and have always loved the tropics. 

How many rums are in your collection?

I believe it’s about 55-60, they come and go.

What is your favorite rum (or rums) in each category and why?

White rum – Tiki Lover’s White, Banks Five Islands, El Dorado 3 Year Old Barrel Aged – because they all have good flavor and are also mixable.

Gold Rum – Appleton VX – for its versatility, Havana Club 3 Year Old – it’s made for daiquiris.

Aged Rum – Demerara rums first, my top choices are El Dorado, Silver Seal 15 Year Old, Banks XM 10 (the old one) and then St Nicholas Abbey 12 Year, Appleton Extra, Mount Gay XO, Zacapa 23 and Zaya.  There are many more, but these are a few good examples.

Rhum Agricole – Rhum JM, La Favorite, Neisson, Clemènt VSOP, La Belle Cabresse (Guyana)

Overproof – J Wray & Nephew, Rum Fire, Lemon Hart 151, Plantation Dark Original Overproof, Tiki Lover’s Dark, high proof demeraras (privately bottled, various labels) 

Spiced – Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced, Chairman’s Reserve Spiced

Do you have a favorite rum bar?

No, if I go anywhere here (in Sweden) it’s usually Tiki Room and that’s not a rum bar really, it’s a tiki bar, but they have some good rums. My rum bar of choice if I just could get there would be Smuggler’s Cove.

What is your regular cocktail?

Mai Tai, Sazerac, Daiquiri, Negroni, Campari and Soda, Rum Punch, various tiki drinks…

Where is the best place to buy rum in your area?

All alcohol is state owned in Sweden and so there’s only one spirits shop with the exact same collection doesn’t matter where you go…it’s very very boring and the selection is quite poor, especially when it comes to rums….and so i don’t buy many rums here.

Which rum would you travel to buy? 

A rare Demerara or some vintage rum..

When did you launch A Mountain of Crushed Ice and what is your focus?

That was the end of June 2008, so it’s about 3.5 years. My main focus is to spread the gospel of good rums and good drink mixing with fresh ingredients.  To experiment with and feature tropical and tiki drinks plus trying out and reviewing new products, preferably rums but also other spirits.  And to write about how to make things, like various syrups etc. I try to not use too obscure of ingredients nowadays to make the drinks approachable for most people. 

What should we watch out for from A Mountain of Crushed Ice in the coming year?

More tropical/exotic cocktails…and hopefully more rum reviews, maybe some occasional food and rum-cocktail pairing too.

Words of wisdom…

Learn how rum is made, what the various types of rums are, what affects the flavors and try only a few in the beginning and get to know them before moving on to more rums and if you can, visit a distillery.  Also do some blind tastings to try to educate your palate, it’s not so easy.

Drink mixing – always use fresh ingredients and good quality spirits.

Read books, magazines and blogs.  Talk to people and have fun!

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Be sure to read more from Tiare at A Mountain of Crushed Ice.