I entered Wynand Fockink armed with a little bottle of Nestle Pure Life Purified Water, filled not with it’s original content, but rather with a sample of Rum Punch decanted for me a my State side friend; Jake Parrott.
Just over three weeks ago we were in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail and Jake (in true Jake style) whipped out this gem of a bottle, possibly dating to around 1917. The content was black and had the consistency of a runny syrup and had been open for just under a week (cork was well preserved), but was pretty oxidized. That aside, it was still full of “punch” and on the nose had pronounced notes of Pedro Ximinex Sherry, plumbs, vanilla and dancing all around them was the ever present character of Rum.
The palate was as the nose suggested, oxidized notes of plum, raisin, vanilla and Dutch pancake syrup. Its texture was thick and and certainly lingered. The aftertaste went right back to full bodied notes of vanilla, plumb, rum and more of a molasses note than Dutch Pancake Syrup.
Jake had given me sample to bring back to Amsterdam and ask the guys at WF if they could shed any light on the origin, recipe or lets be honest, any information they could share. I was fairly hopeful they would have something…
A tall gentleman made his way down the stairs, shook my hand, tasted the Rum Punch and simply stated, “Thats interesting, but we have no information on it.”
I was sure there must be something so probed a little further and eventually he agreed to check the archives upstairs. On returning, he had three, beautifully hand written books filled with recipes from the 1800‘s, none of which were a recipe to our now mysterious Rum Punch.
We did find a note stating how WF prepared their rum for use in various products such as the Punch. Rum was purchased from the Caribbean and redistilled at WF, relieving the liquid gold of many of the unwanted heads and tails. Much of the rum back then was harsh to say the least so I can see why this would have been necessary to achieve a balanced product. The gentleman from WF then went on to tell me that he couldn’t be 100% sure that this rum would have come from the Caribbean due to the fact that Batavian style Arrack was prominent at that time as well. He then went on to say that if it was rum from the Caribbean, he would have no idea which part, because they imported from all over the Caribbean.
Based on my tasting, I don’t think the main ingredient was Batavia Arrack, but what I think may have happened is rum was imported from the Caribbean (I don’t think it was French Rhum), distilled again at WF, infused with plumbs and vanilla and colored with molasses or a very raw form of syrup. It’s worth pointing out that a small piece of the decrepit label shows reference to American Law so was clearly intended for the American market.
Apparently Bols owned WF in the 1950’s so I’ve asked if they can check their archives to see if anything pops up. Hopefully they will…
All in all, we right back at the start. We still know very little about Wynand Fockink Rum Punch…