Molasses

Review: Chaga Rum (Newfoundland Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Chaga Rum.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
5 Years
Recipe
Demerera Rum with Infused Botanicals
Distiller Newfoundland Distillery (Clarke's Beach, Newfoundland)

I really liked Newfoundland Distillery’s Gunpowder & Rose rum, so I’ve been very curious to try this one - a rum infused with Chaga mushrooms! Honey is added to the infusion, to round everything out. The 5 year old rum is sourced from Guyana, but the infusion happens in Newfoundland.

I’m evidently not the only one who liked this, as it also won best Canadian spiced rum at the World Rum Awards.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A terrific rich rum character, with a really nice earthiness which comes not only from oak but also from a subtle deep-forest mushroom earthiness. It has a real richness to it, much like the El Dorado rums. Orange peel, rich oak, mixed roasted nuts, dried cranberries, cacao, manuka honey, prunes, and brown sugar. The palate follows the nose, but the earthiness is amped up – dense, rich, dark earth. The finish, in particular is wonderful – there is a rich molasses character and a rich, roasted earthy character that is both sharp and deep. There is a light smokiness at the end, reminiscent a bit of chipotles.

How does this compare to Gunpowder & Rose Rum? They are both terrific. The Gunpowder & Rose is extremely floral and a bit more unique, but this one is dark and rich, and amps up the rich rum character with even more richness and earthiness. It makes me appreciate the gunpowder & rose rum more, perhaps – it is extremely innovative (rose & rum!) but works really well.

If you like aged rum, and have access to this – buy it. It would be even better at 45% or 46%.

Assessment: Very highly recommended.

Value: High. $40 is very good for this.


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

Gunpowder+and+Rose+Rum+2.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
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
ABV
66.2%
Aging
21 years; Ex-Sherry Butt
Recipe
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: Flor De Cana 18 Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

Flor De Cana 18.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
18 Years
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Flor De Cana (Nicaragua)

Although the bottle says "18" and not "18 years old" - dangerous with rum - the website seems to indicate that the bottle is in fact 18 years of age, but the bottle doesn't actually say it.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: N/A

A dry nose, with dried corn husks, lots of oak, rich earth, tamarind, brown sugar, butter, and mustard seed. A lovely nose. The palate disappoints - it dies here. Flat, a relative lose of flavor - but with oak and citrus playing off one another. Slightly soapy on the finish where brown sugar leads the exit.

Assessment: Recommended.

Value: Average to Low, depending on what the buying price is. It’s on the border.


Review: El Dorado 15 Year Old Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

El Dorado 15.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
15 years; Bourbon Casks
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

Despite enjoying the 12 (a staple of my cabinet and the best hot buttered rum base) and the rich 21 year old, I hadn't ever ventured to try the 15 year old until this summer - and it might be my favourite of the three. It is different in the distillates that go into the blend, giving it a much more earthy/funky/medicinal character that I like. Let's get to it!


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2017

The nose has sweet tobacco, licorice (black and red), dried cherry, clove, dried orange, and a slight medicinal quality. Candied anise too, and slightly rubbery. Even some dense, whole wheat cake! The palate is dense and sweet, but with an incredible balance between the tobacco spice and tannins - still retaining many of the flavours from the nose - brilliant. The finish has orange, rubber, spice, black sugar, and grape jujubes. A nice every-day rum!

Assessment: Highly Recommended.

Value: Average.


Review: Leatherback Special Reserve Canadian Rum (North of 7 Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by North of 7 Distillery. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by North of 7 Distillery. Used with Permission.

ABV
57%
Aging
2.5 Years; Virgin Oak
Recipe
From Molasses
Distiller North Of 7 (Ottawa, Ontario)

An Ottawa rum, and a decent one at that - again. Cask Strength Rum is terrific - like Cask Strength Bourbon, the sweetness balances the heat, and it is fabulous to mix and to sip. This is terrific, and an unexplored category - if you are in Ottawa, go visit North of 7 and try a bit of this and buy a bottle. I love the stuff...a single cask, uncut, unfiltered, selected for taste - and $55.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 12

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is full of dark, rich, dry old spices, dried stone fruit, rich (very rich) molasses, fresh orange juice, palm sugar, juniper, grapefruit zest, and green peppercorns. The palate is rich, full of oak, molasses, and spices (notably cumin). Fades to strawberry jam, cedar, black pepper, molasses, lavender, rosemary, clove, wormwood, orange peel, and bitter oak. Also brilliant spice reminiscent of old armagnac. It is brilliant! My pick, unquestionably, for the best product of the distillery. Definitely worth a buy!

Assessment: Highly Recommended.

Value: High. This is great stuff for the price.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 13 (Barrel 21)

  • Bottling Code: None

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Medicinal aromas, loads of molasses and brown sugar, coconut, cinnamon – but a nice, smoky, bacon-like aroma which I didn’t catch last time. Similar in profile to above, and remaining big and spicy with a nice coconut and light medicinal character. I love it. Finish lingers, with all the molasses, spice, and medicinal notes. Very similar to above, if not a touch better (the smokiness is nice!).

Assessment: Highly Recommended.

Value: High. This is great stuff for the price.


Review: Leatherback Canadian Rum (North of 7 Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by North of 7 Distillery. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by North of 7 Distillery. Used with Permission.

ABV
40%
Aging
Blend of 2.5 years virgin oak + 1.5-2.5 years of a second fill barrel
Recipe
From Molasses
Distiller North Of 7 (Ottawa, Ontario)

An Ottawa rum, and a decent one at that. I can't recommend the cask strength highly enough. If you're in the area, visit the distillery and buy a bottle...this rum is made from blackstrap molasses, matured from a blend of a rum matured in a new barrel for 2.5 years blended and a rum matured in a first-fill barrel for 1.5 to 2.5 years old.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is dry and spicy. Molasses, oak, vanilla, caramel, fresh fennel, rich brown sugar, dried jalapeno, and spiced butter (butter, cinnamon, clove, vanilla). The palate is lightly sweet, with a rich molasses base and spicy undertones. The finish is full of spice and light molasses, which grow with time. The finish has orange peel, spices, mint, oak, and lots more molasses. A very nice rum! This fits easily into my dark rum mixing needs, as long is a dry rum is required. But don’t stop here: try their cask strength rum, which is fabulous. In my opinion, it’s worth the extra money to buy...

Assessment: Recommended.

Value: Average.


Review: Blackstrap Rum (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.

ABV
45.3%
Aging
1 Year; European Oak
Recipe
100% Blackstrap Molasses
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

This is the blackstrap rum which I loved - an unaged rum which is perhaps my favorite white rum ever. It has now been matured in a cask, so we have some age to it...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is oily, with lots of white pepper, blueberry, molasses, cilantro, chipotle- still that classic blackstrap flavour, but with oak this time – the palate is lightly confectionary, with oak, blueberry, molasses, white pepper, brown sugar...the finish fades out with dried berry notes, white pepper, and molasses. The finish has some nice oily, vanilla, toffee notes which just go on. A really nice rum! On the lighter side, and I really like it – though I still might oddly prefer blackstrap to this. I do love that white rum.

Assessment: Recommended.

Value: Average. If you like the category, it’s a decent buy for $50.


Review: El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 years; Bourbon Casks
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

El Dorado, from one of the best rum making areas of the world - Demerera of Guyana - make terrific rum. Though sweet, it is incredibly rich - paying omage, perhaps, to their name, El Dorado, the mythical city that ancient explorers sought in Guyana. Guyana's climate means that the rum produced there is aged in high humidity and high temperatures, resulting in a fast aging process. 

El Dorado has three different sites, with three different stills - a continuous wooden coffey still which is over 200 years old (and the last of its kind), two wooden pot stills with copper necks which are over 250 years old ), and a continuous copper still. These stills enable huge flexibility in the types of rum produced, with the stills producing mild and fruity rums, heavy flavourful and aromatic rums, and sweet and dry rums, respectively. The continuous column still, particularly, is very flexible, making 9 different types of rum distillate. Each of these distillates can be seen single distillate, single barrel products from each of El Dorado's stills.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Darker and oaky and generally very rich and sweet. On a side note, this makes an absolute bomb of a hot buttered rum.  Apple and vanilla comes through, as does quite a bit of orange. And of course very rich molasses notes.

Sweet on the palate with lots more orange, and a "deeper" character - it's quite rich and dense. There's a nice balance of acidity to it. The orange is quite prominent, but not too much - that rich, oaky, molasses character is very central to this. The richness makes me want to return, time and time again. Slightly sour and nutty on the finish. The finish is pleasant, and quite light. Oak, some dried fruit, and pretty good body are present in it.

To understand this, comparatively, a good reference is the Appleton Estate 12 year old. This one is richer, more oaky, and sweeter, but it is still very enjoyable. I prefer the Appleton Estate to this one, which in part is because it isn’t as sweet.

Assessment: Recommended. Nearly Highly Recommended - definitely highly recommended for using in hot cocktails like a hot buttered rum. It is sweet, but also very rich.

Value: Average.


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.

ABV
46.5%
Aging
None
Recipe
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.