The Lone Caner is a sad island of rum appreciation in an otherwise obdurate ocean of whisky. The name itself is a wry commentary on many things: my character, the rabid whisky aficionados inhabiting the province and the country in which I lived (as well as the utter paucity of selections in the region I now call home); and it found its origin in the Liquorature Collective, where I loudly and cheerfully bugled my preference for the extract of the cane right from the get go in 2009. After sampling, reviewing and writing about rums on and for Liquorature for almost four years, I decided to open up The Lone Caner as a website in its own right in March 2013 and transferred all my work there.
I’m not a bartender, cocktail expert, mixologist, oenologist, or -ologist of any kind. I’m not an XP panelist, a professional taster, or brand ambassador, nor do I take part in judging, or contests (this may be pure laziness on my part, or because nobody knows how to find me to ask). But in reality, I just happen to like rums, reading about ’em, and writing. I’m in the fortunate position to have access to more rums than most and constantly buy and trade both bottles and samples with friends and shops and collaborators.
The site is about rum reviews and tastings and essays on producers, as well as whatever news or issues of the rum world I feel like commenting on. Nothing more, though I have brought other areas of my interest (like book reviews) into it here and there. However, this site is primarily geared towards rums and their makers, and in that vein their are several main topical divisions of the site, each with its own introductory blurb.
- The main reviews
- The Key Rums of the World section
- The historical Rumaniacs mini-series of old and out of production rums
- Essays, factual and informative in nature (I hope), on aspects of the rumworld
- Opinions, where I just express my thinking and opinions on the subject.
- The Makers, which are biographies of companies I write from time to time when available literature is insufficient.
I have no particular interest in spiced or flavoured rums, never buy them and don’t review them – there’s too much good, un-messed-with stuff out there for me to bother; and it’s too hard to gauge price versus quality with these rums, since you are never really sure what you’re getting for the money being demanded. I’m not a 100% purist who believes every rum that has the slightest bit of adulteration is an abomination (and despise the puritan ethos of those who agitate for it so hysterically), but I don’t like the practice either. But I know it will always happen, and therefore am a firm proponent of honesty in labelling and complete disclosure, so that the consumers can understand what they are buying.
Note that in an IPhone, Instagram and twitter age, I write for desktop sized screens. I’m not brief, and write what I feel – only 20-30% of my verbiage is ever about tasting notes, and throw in any observation that seems relevant. Where necessary, this includes as much information about the distillery or producing company as I can find in order to provide as complete a picture of the product as possible. Not everyone agrees with this idea (or my flowery language), but I’m done apologizing for that. It is what it is.
Also: people often say critics or reviewers should be neutral. I say “bulls**t.” I’m a firm believer in having preferences, but not biases and these should be stated where necessary. Reviewers are human beings with tastes of their own, and I’m no different. My preferences (not biases) exist, and where rum is concerned, full proof hooch bottled at greater than 40% will earn my favour. I have a thing for Demeraras, Jamaicans, Caronis from Trinidad, unaged pot-still white-lightning, agricoles and the occasional growly, off-the-reservation tipple only a mother would love. Not many Bajans enthuse me. I used to like sweeter rums, but over the years since 2009, the pendulum has swung somewhat the other way. That’s not to say I don’t like a Millonario or Zacapa 23 or a Diplomatico once in a while…I just don’t like them as much as I once did. My preferences change over time.
A few other points:
- I never solicit industry: beg my friends a lot; and am part of several sample sharing networks, often run by yet other friends of mine (who are not in industry). Mostly and within my financial limitations, I just buy everything (which surprises more than one producer who approaches me about tasting their lineup); and take no freebies except from my friends, who know of my passion, or the occasional formal tasting…I found that I simply didn’t believe in my own impartiality when agents and makers sent me samples, and so I deliberately eschewed the practice many years back. I relax the rule if I have already written about and reviewed many products from a given company, but always state outright where my sample or bottle originates if I don’t buy it, and if it’s critical for consumers to get perspective on my opinion.
- Unsurprisingly, then, I have very little respect for reviewers who do not disclose sources of the rums they write about and who flashily advertise on their sites that they have connections with this or that producer or online shop. You can usually tell who they are by the overworked use of the word honesty in their claims of unbiased opinionating.
- I have a day job, studies, multitudinous other interests, and a family. Sometimes that interferes with the frequency of updates. It happens but there will always be something for the tenaciously patient. I love this gig to much to ever let it go entirely
- As the Caner enters the second decade of reviewing, it’s clear that a lot of rums – indeed, the entire rumisphere – has changed. Reviews written ten years ago should not be indicative of either my current opinions or the actual rum as it is now bottled. With that in mind, the older work should be seen as a resource to show what it was like then, and what I enjoyed then, but not necessarily now. Always check the date of the review if in doubt.
- At the end, what you are getting is an educated, informed opinion – mine, to be exact. That opinion is influenced by the amount of rums I’ve tried, my background and my personal palate. My favouritism — that gnarly ‘preference’ I mentioned above — exists, and is developed and earned, not bestowed or bought. You are welcome to disagree, as long as you concede that my opinion may also have validity. And no amount of reviews I will ever write will ever absolve anyone of forming their own opinions, or thinking and researching for themselves, since I am not infallible or the fount of all rum wisdom. In that vein, any errors of fact are entirely my own, made in all innocence during the course of my research. When pointed out, I’ll correct them.
- If you want to send an email, firstname.lastname@example.org will find me; or, drop a comment here on this page. I usually check in once or twice a day unless I’m on holiday somewhere.
All the best
The Lone Caner