Review: Blackstrap (Last Straw Distillery) / by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

100% Blackstrap Molasses
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

Molasses is a by-product of sugar production from sugar cane. When molasses is made, juice from sugar cane is boiled. The first boil, which promotes sugar crystallization, yields cane syrup full of sugar. Once this sugary cane syrup has been extracted, the resulting liquid can be boiled again, yielding molasses. Once this has been extracted from the boil, the resulting product can be boiled further to yield blackstrap molasses - the component of the original juice with the least sugar but the most organic content and flavor. It, in a sense, is a low grade source of sugar, unlike the higher grade products typically used by rum distillers. However, blackstrap contains the most organic matter and was selected by Last Straw for production of their rum.

At first, they found it terrible to work with, as the yeast had trouble accessing the sugars in the blackstrap. 60 litres of blackstrap yielded no more than 7 litres of alcohol after a long fermentation and distillation. However, with the addition of yeast nutrients, they were able to speed up the process and the result is before us: their blackstrap spirit, sold currently as a white rum but also aging in three different types of casks at the moment: new toasted oak, a bourbon barrel, and a refill barrel.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: 1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

I really like this white rum. I love a good white rum to mix with, but this one has the character to be had just on its own or over ice. I like this the most of the white spirits produced at the distillery – by a decent margin. Perhaps even more than their aged moonshine, as much as I love whisky….

The character is clean and clear – a terrific, clean nose full of molasses, blueberries, and toffee. Very clean and full flavored on the palate with lots of clean molasses and toffee and yet still very light and round. The palate slowly rises in heat to a clean, full-bodied fruity and berry finish with lingering molasses and spice. Brilliant! I tend to mix a lot, with great care for what goes in to my cocktails, and this is in the class of the best white rums I would pick to work with. Good white rums can be hard to find, and this mixes so well.

This is just perfect for a mojito, one of the top tier cocktails in my book (when done right). Or, muddle with blueberries, mint, lime, and simple syrup to taste (if you are a recipe person: muddle 12 leaves of mint or basil with 1.5 oz blackstrap, then squeeze in half of a lime, add 1/2 oz - or more depending on sweet/dry preference- simple syrup, 1/8 cup blueberries, ice, and 4-5 oz soda water. You’re in for a good time).

$40 dollars at Last Straw Distillery, 40 Pippin Rd #9, Vaughan, Ontario

Highly Recommended. I don’t taste too many white rums, but this is one of the best I’ve had, and it’s a huge improvement over most of the big commercial ones.

Value: Average, but higher depending on how much you like white rum.