Rum and rye whiskey meet again for another Fortuitous Union

And here we have another installment of “happy accident turns into a damn fine spirit,” courtesy of the guys behind Rolling Fork Spirits.

In 2018, Louisville rum fanatics Turner Wathen and Jordan Morris joined forces to create a rum company in bourbon country. Of course they would utilize the plethora of bourbon and whiskey barrels we have here in Kentucky as finishing agents to their rum, which they source from Jamaica, Trinidad, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, etc.

During one of their finishing sessions, they accidentally poured their precious Trinidad rum into a vat full of rye whiskey, and thus was born Fortuitous Union, a blend of rum and rye that actually was quite delicious and nabbed much attention from whiskey drinkers near and far.

Fortuitous Union Batch 2
Say hello to FU2! | Courtesy

You can read the full story of that here.

Now, four years later, there are some new Fortuitous Unions on the market.

While the process of blending rum and rye whiskey was fully intentional this time, there was still a small hiccup of forgetting a barrel or two of rye whiskey in the finished product. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Let’s talk about the ingredients here.

FU Batch 2 consists of 4-year-old rum distilled in Barbados; 4-year-old rum distilled in Jamaica; 4-year-old rum distilled in the Dominican Republic; and 6-year-old rye whiskey distilled in Indiana (MGP).

The spirits mingled together for three days in a stainless steel tank, and then the rum-whiskey hybrid (aka distilled spirits specialty, or DSS) was put into highly sought-after, used bourbon and rye whiskey barrels.

The brands of those barrels weren’t named in the press release, but I was fortunate … or fortuitous? … to hang out with Wathen and Morris one Sunday afternoon in their barrel rick house, which happens to be at Starlight Distillery in Indiana. So I got to peek behind the curtain of this year’s FU and I took note of the brands.

One batch went into a used Weller barrel, one in a used Thomas H. Handy barrel, and one in a used Woodford Double Oak barrel. How about that charred oak real estate?

Turner Wathen
Turner Wathen is proud of his rum experiments, which will be revealed soon. | Photo by Sara Havens

The guys then created a small batch using the juice from all three finishes, as well as single barrels from each of the three.

So if you see this on the shelf, take a close look at the bottom of the label, and it will present you with a clue as to which one it is.

Wathen and Morris are doing some interesting things with rum finishes, especially in their Rolling Fork line, and as Wathen thieved barrel after barrel of experiments they have going on at Starlight, he was as giddy as a kid getting a pony for Christmas.

The FU sample I was most drawn to came from the Weller barrels, and it was bottled at 111.8 proof. It’s got some sweet tingles up front, followed by a little heat and spice from the rye, and then finishes long with a pleasant taste that reminds me of the frosting that goes on a cinnamon roll.

And the longer I let the sample sit out, the richer and more complex it got.

This would be great in a traditional daiquiri or even an old fashioned, but I’ll probably end up sipping most of it on its own. Wathen and Morris came up with their own cocktail, FU-Man-Daq, which merges a manhattan with a daiquiri, and I’ll post that recipe below.

I promised you earlier that there was a small snafu to this year’s FU, so here it is. When the FU brain trust was blending the rum and rye whiskey together, they forgot to add two barrels of the MGP rye. Thus the final product is about 85% rum and 15% rye.

But don’t fret: That rye really comes out on the palate, and the result is a perfect blend of two spirits that work well together. FU sells for about $55.

FU-Man-Daq Cocktail

  • 2 oz. Fortuitous Union
  • .75 oz. Antica vermouth
  • .75 oz. fresh lime
  • .75 oz. simple syrup

Shake with ice, strain and top with lime bitters.

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