Jamaican Rum

Review: Gunpowder & Rose Rum (Newfoundland Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Jamaican Rum with Distilled and Infused Botanicals
Distiller Newfoundland Distillery (Clarke's Beach, Newfoundland)

In the old days, rum was a part of the sailors daily ration and quartermasters, at times, might consume the rum themselves and give the sailors a watered down version - infuriating for sure. To prove that the rum was of sufficient strength, it would be poured over gunpowder and ignited. If it was above 50%, the wet gunpowder would ignite and it would be “at proof”, which is where the “proof” language comes from in discussing ABV.

Inspired by the tradition, Newfoundland distillery wanted to actually create a rum with real gunpowder - but Health Canada wasn’t very impressed. So the distillery instead wanted to recreate the flavour profile with kelp for sulphur, charred birch for a charcoal component, and sea salt for the “salt petre” of gunpowder. And, to create contrast and uniqueness, wild newfoundland roses were added to the mix to add a floral, ethereal component. Talk about unique!

I was first made aware of Newfoundland Distillery because of their seaweed gins, which has one of the richest maritime characters of any gin I’ve tasted. It really gives a good sense of terroir.

Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is sweet, lightly sulphury, and floral. The sulphur gives a nice edge here – it’s not like the rough sulphur often found in whisky. It’s accompanied here by a rich brown sugar and marine character, not to mention the top notes of roses. It’s not characteristic of a “pure” rum (i.e. only from molasses), but it doesn’t have any of the rather artificial characteristics of most commercial spiced rums. The palate is lightly sweet and full of rich brown sugar, blueberries, light wood notes, and a seafood-type umami. The finish has roses, a touch of sharp pine-like woodiness like juniper, and a rich fruitiness like fresh raspberry. Very interesting, rich, and easy to drink. It is remarkably balanced given all the contrasts in flavour.

Also, great to mix and some rather creative cocktails can be created from this stuff.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.

Value: High. $35 is very good for this.

Review: SMWS R1.4 21 Year Old Jamaican Rum by Jason Hambrey

SMWS R1.4.jpg
21 years; Ex-Sherry Butt
From molasses
Distiller N/A (Jamaica)

A SMWS old rum, from some time ago - not sure where it is from, but I'm always up for Jamaican pot still rum! One of 696 bottles.

Review (2018)

  • Batch: R1.4

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

The nose has butter, and a slightly herbal, sharp molasses character, dried rose, and smoked almond. It's a bit perfumed too. The palate is rich and savoury - a bit like the sour almonds you find at middle eastern grocers. Interestingly, a very different palate than the nose with the savoury and salty notes. The finish is toasty and remarkably herbal, the characteristic growing throughout the drink. Berries and molasses grow out of the finish too.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.

Value: N/A. This one is long gone…

Review: Appleton Estate 12 Years Old Jamaican Rum by Jason Hambrey

12 Years
From Molasses
Distiller Appleton Estate (Nassau Valley, Jamaica)

The Appleton Estate has been distilling rums since 1749, and they have certainly grown in production since then. This represents the lowest of their age stated range. The rums are all pot distilled, and, though still sweet, they aren't relatively as sweet as many rums - a good thing in my book.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

 Nose: Fabulous! a great rum nose - oak, brown sugar, candied orange peel, and slight vanilla - still with some nice orange notes and sharp molasses. The sweetness and woodiness comes out, almost as maple.

Taste: This is quite delicious, and it is complex and evolves. Quite sweet, and it starts lightly with some citrus, vanilla, and oak before turning darker with some more spices including somegreen cardamom.

Finish: Dark, thick molasses with some spices - a bit like clove, perhaps - they're somewhat darker than in whisky. This is very nice. The molasses lingers for some time. It has quite decent weight and length too - very enjoyable! Fruity, woody...it's quite nice, I must say!

Assessment: Recommended. Not far from being a notch higher, either.

Value: Average. A good rum for the price.