I was digging though some old (very old) emails and came across an exchange with a reader that I don’t think I’ve yet shared with my general audience. It addresses a subject of concern to rum drinkers everywhere, so I thought it high time I post the damned thing already. We’ll start with the initial inquiry:
Serendipity is accidental discovery with unexpected and delightful results. Ullage is the amount of liquid lost through spillage – originally from barrels of wine carried by wagon, now barrels of oil carried by tanker. I have recently experienced both.
I serendipitously can upon your website. Then in my fruitless search for some of your top recommendations, my fruitless search for the great white whale, a stock boy at a discount liquor store, a swabby on a tramp steamer, said “No, but try this.” And thus I came upon the lost treasure of Pyrat XO. (Yeah, it’s on your list, but I didn’t know that at the time.) Nectar of the gods! Booty of the scum of the earth!
As you boldly declare, beautiful presentation, glorious handblown bottle. But the ullage, Captain, the ullage! Every pour results in some of the precious liquid dribbling down the lip of the bottle! I’m a retired schoolmaster, not a ship’s master like yourself, and even a small loss is sorely felt.
What patch is there? Do I carefully file a groove in the lip of the bottle? Insert some pouring device? Oh Captain, my Captain! Do not leave me adrift!
Your ever-loyal seafarer,
You can see that this reader was clearly in turmoil, but fortunately he was wise enough to seek my advice before too much of his precious rum was lost. My reply follows:
Thanks for the email. Your plight is not an uncommon one. You would be amazed at the vast number of scallywaggs – well seasoned and otherwise – that have dispaired at the loss of rum as it trickles down the neck of the bottle.
When rum is aged, it does so in oak barrels stacked high atop one another in hot, humid warehouses. Over the years, trace amounts of alcohol evaporate through the wooden staves that make up said barrels, and is forever lost. This is refered to as “the angel’s share.” Continuing in this train of thought, I suppose that rum lost through spillage – the ullage, as you so eloquently state – could be considered the devil’s share.
But like most people, god-fearing or otherwise, I’m always loath to give the devil his due, and opt to not part with my rum so easily. The solution you seek is simple and effective – lick the bottle. Crass though it may be, desperate times create desperate men, and never have you seen one so desperate as me watching rum escape my grasp.
I sincerely hope this helps. If your rum poses any further conundrums, please feel free to share.