Saturday, March 12, 2011

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Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum Update

Demerara rums — that is, rum from Guyana made of fermented molasses — are some of the workhorses of the tiki set. They aren't, as some suggest, made from dark demerara sugar, but are named after the former British colony of the same name now in Guyana. Tiare Olsen summarizes the history and characteristics of the rums on A Mountain of Crushed Ice. It is all — every drop of it — made by Demerara Distillers Limited. Other DDL brands include Belmont Estate and the widely distributed El Dorado. Drop by Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco and you may find private label Demerara as well.

Expect a new label
A minor panic set in last year among tikiphiles and rum aficionados when stocks of one brand in particular began to dry up after its US distribution was axed: Lemon Hart. In particular, the 151-proof bottling. We (erm, uh, "they") snapped up bottles wherever they could be found. I spoke to one California bartender who located a case in Connecticut and had it shipped to Los Angeles at no small expense. I myself scoured mom & pop liquor stores for overlooked bottles — and managed to score several at nice prices from store owners who didn't realize that they could have doubled the price and someone would still have bought the rums. Maybe not me, but someone surely.

Well, the dry spell is nearly over. Ed Hamilton, owner of Ministry of Rum, has begun importing Lemon Hart 151 into the United States again.

On his Facebook page this morning, he posted a note with the full skinny:
The first shipment of Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum left yesterday afternoon from NJ headed to California. Expect to see it on select store shelves in about 12 days. Don't expect to find this rum at BevMo, it won't be there. I'll post store names as I get them from the distributor.

There are pending pickups for Colorado, Illinois and Louisiana. All good things take time.

Washington DC and Hawaii should also ship next week. Still waiting on the paperwork from the NYSLA before I can schedule a shipment across the Hudson River to the great state of NY.

WA and OR are in the works while I try to figure out how to ship single cases for less than $32 a case which translates to about an additional $4.80 per bottle on your liquor store shelf. Bear with me, I'm working on it. Since distribution was interrupted, LH151 fell off the 'listed' spirits lists in those states so this will be a special order product until the demand is again recognized and the states can order more than single cases. If this was easy, it would already be on the shelf.

Idaho is going to be delayed until the new bottle and label are approved.

In Texas, a distributor is going to talk about this and other rums at their sales meeting in two weeks. Wish I had better news for my friends in Texas.
Tweaking a line from New Orleanian food preservationist Poppy Tooker, we have to drink it to save it. So, save Lemon Hart 151 by scoring a bottle (or six) and raising a glass to rum savior Ed Hamilton.

Cheers, Ed. And thank you.


Tiare said...

Just came back from our tikibar here, the TikiRoom and the LH151 has been mentioned several times during the evening. But i don´t think we can hope for it here in Europe though..

In any case i`m very happy for my American friends who now will be able to get this outstanding and unreplacable rum. I myself keep the only bottle i have under strict regulations..but Europe is thirsty..

Damon @ Let's Tiki said...

I'm really excited to see the distribution start up again. I'll be making a road trip to Illinois once it is in stock there.

Matthew Rowley said...

Damon ~ I bet if you ask nicely, some nice folks may ship some to you, maybe even from Illinois. While I'm excited to see it coming back to CA, I'll be keeping an eye out for it at, too — hard to beat free shipping.

Tiare ~ Sounds like you may have to bring some back from New Orleans this summer. We have a few bottles, but I guard over them — not to make sure they don't get used, but to make sure they don't get sloshed into just any old drink. I'll all for drinking everything in the liquor cabinet, even extinct brands, just drinking it properly.


Jake Parrott said...

Remember, the shipment (or checking on an airplane) of liquids higher than 70% abv is prohibited pretty much the world over. So you might want to bring a few Lemon Hart 80 labels to Tales, Tiare! :)

Moondancer5 said...

Anyone know where I might find it in the NJ-NYC area?

Matthew Rowley said...

Hey Moondancer ~ I'm not sure about the NYC/NJ area, but check with Ed's site — somebody there might shed some light on the current availability.

Tiare said...

Sheesh..i don´t wanna think about that..i brought home a bottle last year NOT thinking about that it was prohibited..and went through just fine despite my suitcase was searched in the US but not here.

Yeah, Jake, the label might be a good idea..i actually have one.

M. L'Orme said...

I'm in Negril, Jamaica, and I'll be damned if I can find a bottle! Most of the local merchants have no idea what I'm even talking about! I'd really like to pick up a bottle to bring home to Cincinnati...any tips?

Matthew Rowley said...

I'm not entirely surprised that there's no Lemon Hart to be found in Jamaica: you're in J. Wray and Appleton territory, almost 1,500 miles from Guyana. The best best is to grab some local Jamaican rum, then mail order some Lemon Hart when you get back from an online retailer such as Cask or DrinkUpNY. Happy tippling!

Anonymous said...

Hey Matthew,
I live in New Orleans and haven't found it yet at any of our highre end sores. How would I go about finding who is selling it?

Matthew Rowley said...

Hey Anonymous ~ First off, consider yourself envied living in New Orleans. I just got back from a week there for Tales of the Cocktail and, as always, I had a fantastic time. I'd take two approaches. The first is to ask the guys at Martin Wine Cellar if they will carry it or make a special order. The second is to get in touch with Ed Hamilton at Ministry of Rum ( to track down an online source. I've still got a fair bit of the stuff myself, so haven't needed to order online, but try that; just keep in mind that you'll be competing with a small but dedicated group of rum enthusiasts who are also looking for it.

Cheers and good luck!

Anonymous said...

I am looking to buy a case for my Father..he has been looking forever for LH151...where in Las Vegas, Nevada, can you send me to pick some up? If you only knew how happy this would make my Dad. This could actually bring tears of joy to his eyes. Thank you. Fondly, Bunny

Matthew Rowley said...

Hey Bunny ~

I don't know of any place in particular in Las Vegas, but I did see a lot of this stuff at Binnie's in Chicago recently. They will also ship it to you. Failing that, I would get in touch with Ed Hamilton at Ministry of Rum ( to track down a source closer to you.

You might also try these guys in Costa Mesa California:

Liz Rivera said...

I'm sorry to say I'm still working on distribution in Nevada, Florida and Arizona. Unfortunately, I can only sell to licensed distributors.
There is distributor information on the Caribbean Spirits distributors page.

Matthew Rowley said...

Thanks for the lead, Liz ~