G’day guys and welcome again to my website. Right off the bat I’d like to urge all those who habitually read these to subscribe to my website. This website’s success is a matter of utmost importance, and would like to set anybody’s mind at ease that subscriptions come at no risk of spam, scammers or otherwise. Thank you for your attention, now back to the feature article.
One night I was at the Maryborough R.S.L. for dinner, a restaurant in Maryborough that’s evolved a lot in recent years with the addition of improved gaming rooms and snooker rooms. The R.S.L does a lot for the town, it’s known as an important contributor in organising and celebrating A.N.Z.A.C. day, just as much as it is for being probably the only obvious example of a restaurant in town that has routinely undergone several improvements and additions. An attitude that does a lot to upkeep the town’s image, in addition to the town’s shiny new memorial statue of the A.N.Z.A.C. soldier, Duncan Chapman of the Forty-Fifth Battalion of Australian Imperial Force, the first man ashore in the assault on Gallipoli in the first World War. And of course my old high-school of Riverside Christian College with which I share so many treasured memories, a school that too frequently makes additions of new buildings and facilities. A relievingly cool night this January, after the sweltering humidity of the day, I spent at the R.S.L., enjoying dinner, a few drinks and a game of pool, a game I hadn’t had the pleasure of playing since the hotel Cradle Mountain Château in Tasmania in two-thousand-eleven. I went to the bar after my first drink of a Jameson and water, eyeing off a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. Not wanting to confuse it with the same attitude I had akin to the Johnnie Walker Red Label, a cocktail Scotch brewed of incredibly potency to compete with Coke it was drank with, I leant forward to the barman in vulnerability and asked him “Johnnie Walker Black Label – what’s that like on ice?” A question, admittedly, I might have in this day and age used my phone to search what it’s nature was, be it a cocktail-Scotch or a neat-sipping Scotch. The barman erred and said that he wouldn’t recommend that. Whether it was in actuality as same as the Red Label, or the barman was not a fan of Scotch was not clear. Though he did quickly turn to the other barman and asked her what was good on ice; which brings us neatly to our feature bottle – Ratu Fijian rum liqueur. Certainly, the rum would have been a more appropriate drink than the Scotch alongside my reef and beef. I said, when I tasted Bundaberg’s small batch rum, that is was a failing of me that I had never been an avid consumer of rum, something I wished to remedy…then casually forgot about amidst the chaos of running the site. But here now, is another belated rum article. And by happy accident, this website’s first liqueur.
Ratu, the bottle put out by the The Rum Corporation of Fiji, a company founded as recently as nineteen-eighty in the town of Lautoka, is one of intrigue. Not much can be dug up on the background or story of the Rum Corporation of Fiji or their bottle Ratu. Instead, they boast that their rum is hand crafted from the Fijian sugarcane grown in the rich volcanic soil, that they use fresh local water, filter their rum through coconut shell carbon, coconut charcoal in other words, then oak their rum in the “perfect Fijian climate”. A climate I’d assume that would tax the rum very effectively, like the Queensland climate does to my stamina, strength and patience, would mostly evaporate into the Angel’s Share. This is all their short-spoken site has to offer, no real history or boasting of pedigree. Though, what would you expect for a label that’s as young as only forty years old, in contrast of others as old as hundreds. Though the argument could be made that their history is unmentioned as the Rum Corporation of Fiji, may or may not be an affiliative of the Fiji Sugar Corporation, a government-owned company that owns the entirety of the country’s sugarcane agriculture. Thereby the argument could be made that the Fiji Rum Corporation and therefore Ratu, could be a pawn to be used a positive image of a joyous vibrant tropical Fiji to be implemented internationally in pubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels on all facing sides of the Pacific to boost tourism and the Fijian export industry by association, on other products like rum, fruit, bottled water, etcetera. And therefore, the simple backstory of the bottle was that it was a byproduct of a committee meeting of a department of the Fijian government, and was rightfully seen as uninteresting and replaced on the internet with tourist-trap tidbits about Fijian culture about how Ratu is Fijian for chief. Although of course, these are all educated guesses, what the truth of it is remains to be said.
The bottle itself, in stature is almost identical to a bottle of Monkey Shoulder. Short and stout, circular with a cone-shaped neck. A subtly modern quality to its nature. It is adorned with a small length of twine round the neck of the bottle, to implant some sort of idea of a farmer working in the fields to cut down the cane shafts with a machete and bundle them by hand to be hauled off to the mill and then to the distillery. The rum inside the bottle is dark, an iridescent blackish-purple. The wooden top of the cork is labelled with the logo of the Fiji Rum Corporation, an English naval sword crossed with the club of a tribesman. This of course, is a rum liqueur, so it is mixed with some outside ingredients in addition to distilled molasses, what exactly it is is unsaid. Though you can usually get some sort of idea from a taste. From memory, the nose of Ratu was abuzz with tropical fruity notes voluminous of coconut, as well as noses of chocolate, lime and an undertone of orange. When I first ordered a glass of Ratu in the R.S.L., the barman gave me the cork to smell, clearly encouraging the drink. Now I can smell the liqueur again, I was mostly correct, the nose is mostly dominated by a creamy smooth scent of rich dark chocolate, not coconut. And when allowed some dillusion on ice in a glass in the open air of a room it has a waft of hot caramel. A sip, and the rum tastes of zesty vibrant lime and orange, chocolate, some notes of burnt caramel, oak, and charcoal, and an aftertaste on the tongue of coconut. An ambitious gulp gives a wash of lime and citrus, bright and sweet.
To close: While Ratu isn’t about to knock Bundaberg off its perch as the biggest rum in town, everyone should try this rum. It has many sweet and fruity properties undiscovered by many. Best enjoyed in the company of seafood or confectionery, but most agreeably, air conditioning. Cheers, and of course, have a safe and happy Australia Day.