Spirit Review

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

ABV
45%
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 (2021)

  • Batch: Blackstrap 2.5

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

This has come on a long way from the last time I tried it. I love the white version of this, and immediately on the nose I realize the previous one I had (cask 1 above) was a bit of an adolescent version that hadn’t quite found its way.

This one, however, is right on point: rich molasses, cloves, vanilla, oak, brown sugar, honey, apple, peach…if you want a rum with a classic character that ticks all the boxes – this is it. The palate is balanced well between the sweetness, rich molasses character, orchard fruit, and tannins. The tannins do well to introduce a clean, spicy, and molasses-laden finish.

Mixes nicely in cocktails, too. It competes well in the category of lighter Spanish-style aged rums – and does so very well.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: bsr004

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

The nose has very nice oak – rich, spicy, woody, sweet – but, against the wood, is a very nice spirit character – dried berries, red currants, molasses, dried mixed fruit and even a touch of bright chamomile. It has the nice complex, savoury fruitiness found in so many rums that pairs so nicely with the light caramel notes. The palate has a nice richness to it – both from the spirit and from the oak. Light earthiness, toffee, apple, plum, nutmeg, oak, orange peel, clove, and some brown sugar. The palate and finish both have nice savoury notes throughout. The finish leaves you with light tannins, spice, toffee, and white pepper. Very complex, especially in the way that dried and fresh fruit drift in and out.

This is one of the best rums made in Canada!

Assessment: Highly Recommended


Review: Appleton Estate Signature Jamaican Rum by Jason Hambrey

Appleton Estate Reserve 2.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From Molasses
Distiller Appleton Estate (Nassau Valley, Jamaica)

This is the lowest end of Appleton Estate’s line of rums, which I quite like. This one is great in cocktails, which is my general use for it, but why not give it a review?


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

 The nose here is woody, full of molasses, fresh tropical fruit, over ripe banana, sharp baking spices, grapefruit zest, hard strawberry candies, and more brown sugar. Oozing with complexity, and it has a subtle layer of funky intrigue which I like. The youth comes out, slightly, but it’s quite minor.

The palate continues – lightly sweet, full of brown sugar, molasses, coconut, baking spice, oak, and tropical fruit, more on the dried side this time. The finish is lightly sweet, with vanilla, molasses, baking spice, and light oaky tannins.

This is very easy, and it makes complete sense why so many bartenders use it in premium cocktails. It has lots of complexity while also not being too intense in any one of them.

I definitely prefer the 12, but I would have no problem taking one of these either. With the way whisky prices are going, it’s nice to have some spirit options on the table that deliver powerfully for the cost. This is one of those (as is the 12 year old).


Review: El Dorado Port Mourant 2006 Single Still Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years Old
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

Another single still rum from El Dorado, this time from the wooden Port Mourant pot still. The stills were originally at the Port Mourant estate, which was founded in 1732 before moved to Uitvlught and then to El Dorado’s diamond estate. The still itself is likely between 200 and 250 years old, and it resembles a squat barrel with a copper alembic and lyne arm coming out the top. The stills are a set of two - the first feeds directly into the second still, and then a rectifying column.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Distilled in 2006

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

What a wonderful rum! Instantly I can tell that this will be one of my favourite spirits of the year. A rich rubbery character, brilliant spices, olives, orange peel, fresh tropical fruit (jackfruit, soursop), banana leaves, clove, cinnamon, dried hibiscus flower, cacao, raspberry, banana….loads and loads of complexity and it works together so well. The palate is rich and introduces a rich savoury character, and you can still pick out so many flavours on the nose. There is a lot of texture to the palate and there is the lightest tanginess which just enhances all the flavour. The finish is rich, long, and spicy with all kinds of stuff – stale cola, cinnamon, caramel, soursop, intense rum ester notes, light sulphur, molasses, oak, and wet earth.

Assessment: Very Highly Recommended.


Review: El Dorado Enmore 2006 Single Still Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years Old
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

El Dorado in Guyana uses three distinct stills to produce their rums, and from time to time they release rums which are made from a single still and show off the character of the individual still. This one is made from the Enmore still, which is a wooden continuous still (the last of its kind that is working). It is similar in design, if not identical, to the original coffey still designed by Aeneas Coffey in 1832. The Enmore still is the last surviving still from the old Enmore Estate, which was founded in the 1880s.

As for the wood used, it is greenheart - one of the hardest woods which was also used, famously, to coat the hull’s of Shakleton’s “Endurance” and Amundsen’s “Fran” to help them resist the crushing impact of Antarctic ice.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Distilled in 2006

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The rum is sweet on the nose, with a rich confectionary character – vanilla, icing sugar, raffaello candies – but also contrasted with a rich oak character and plenty of wet earth. It is somewhat remiscent of the 12 year old but it is purer, cleaner, and brighter. The palate is what we expect when we think El Dorado – rich, full flavoured, sweet, and spicy. There is a rich vegetal character to it – very nice, indeed, with light bourbon notes, sugarcane (actually!), and spice cake. It doesn’t nearly have the levels of sweetness that the 12 does, but it still has quite a sweet character.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.


Review: El Dorado Versailles 2006 Single Still Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years Old
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

Another single still rum from El Dorado, this time coming from a single wooden pot still which was originally from the platation versailles that was established on the West Bank of the Demerera river in the 18th century. The still has a copper alembic and lyne arm coming out of the pot, and the distillate goes through a rectifying column before being condensed and barrelled.

The still itself has travelled a bit as distillleries closed or consolidated - it moved from Versailles to Enmore to Uitvlught to El Dorado’s Diamond Estate.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Distilled in 2006

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The rum here is incredibly savoury – black olive, miso, soy sauce, vegetable broth concentrate – but also with firm earthiness, fresh leather, and dark chocolate throughout. The palate follows suit from the nose – complex, rich, interesting, unique, and not very accessible. The finish is rich, oaky, and loaded with baking spice, molasses, and a rich umami-like brothy character. I really like it. You would think it’s closer to a Jamaican style than a Guyanese one – no surprise, I suppose, given the impacts of pot stills.

I find this rum incredibly interesting, and there is no doubt at all as to why it is so important in El Dorado blends. However, while it is intriguing and enjoyable – I wouldn’t want two of these in a row. One to brood over….yet I wonder if the profile might become addictive with its richness and earthiness, and therefore my perspective might change with more time.

Assessment: Highly Recommended.