While San Diego's Ballast Point may be more famous for its award-winning beers, it also runs a small boutique distillery that produces an outstanding Old Grove Gin, Three Sheets Rum, and a few styles of whiskey.
I was lucky enough to visit the distillery recently, and Yuseff Cherney, the head brewer and head distiller gave me complete access to their growing facilities. The intention of the visit was to learn more about their whiskeys, but it also gave me the opportunity to taste their Three Sheets Barrel-Aged Rum.
Ballast Point: Where Rum Meets Bourbon
While I enjoy rum, it is rare that I taste a rum that really interests me. However, Three Sheets Barrel-Aged Rum floored me, it was that good. When I asked Cherney why his rum was so unique, he smiled and let me in on his secret.
Three Sheets Rum is made from turbinado sugar, as are many rums (rum being a product of either sugar or molasses), but what gives Three Sheets its complexity and flavor is that it is aged in new American oak charred barrels.
Aged in the barrels for 18 months, Three Sheets develops a harmonious vanilla, oak, caramel profile similar to many bourbons. The new oak also adds a bit of an elusive creosote flavor on the palate, something not seen in most rums.
Why Is This Flavor and the New Oak Barrel So Unique?
It has a lot to do with how the bourbon industry in America is regulated. By law, bourbon has to be aged a minimum of two years in new American oak barrels.
The barrels are used once, then sold off to manufacturers of other spirits, particularly scotch and rum.
Used barrels do contribute some flavor to distillates, but a newly charred barrel offers far more vanilla and oak notes and has a much more pronounced effect overall on the outcome of the spirit.
By aging in new American oak barrels, Ballast Point's rum is drawing those flavors out of the wood and into the rum.
Even more interesting, from what I can tell, Ballast Point may be the only rum distiller to date that uses new American oak barrels for their product. The result is a rum that will appeal to both rum connoisseurs and whiskey aficionados alike.
Simply put, this is a high quality, unique spirit that belongs in any serious collectors liquor cabinet.
About Three Sheets Rum
- American-made rum distilled from pure cane sugar and aged new charred American oak barrels.
- Produced by Ballast Point of San Diego, California
- Ballast Point also produces Three Sheets (white) Rum, Three Sheets Spiced Rum, Old Grove Gin (also barrel-aged), Fugu Vodka (also flavored vodkas), Devil's Share Single Malt, Bourbon, and Moonshine, and Opah Herbal Liqueur.
- 40% ABV (80 Proof)
- Retails for around $32/750ml bottle
- Visit Their Website
Originally Published: April 20, 2010
Edited by Colleen Graham: September 25, 2015