White Rum

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 (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: Plantation 3 Stars White Rum by Jason Hambrey

Plantation+3+Stars.jpg
ABV
41.2%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Distilleries from Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad

This is a white rum based on a blend of distillates from Trinidad, Jamaica, and Barbados. According to the brand, Barbados provides “richness”, Jamaica provides “structure”, and Trinidad provides “finesse”.

Plantation is a French producer of rum from Pierre Ferrand, a Cognac producer. They source distillates from all over the world, often bottling them with a fair bit of information on how the rum was produced. It’s a really fun way to explore rum, and they are generally decent quality. In Canada, most rum that are sold in the provincial liquor boards are rich and sweet, and only showcases one side of rum - and the side of rum that I don’t tend to like as much as the complex, dryer styles. It’s nice to see some of these make their way through to Canada.

This rum is made from column and pot distillation from Barbados, column distillation from Trinidad, and pot still distillation from Jamaica. The Barbados component is unaged, the Trinidad component is 2-3 years old, and the Jamaica component is 10 years old.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Overall, this is quite a nice white rum – far different from what you’d see in a basic Captain Morgan white or a Bacardi white rum. We have lots of notes - blueberry, spice, banana, brown sugar, bamboo, and lots of fruit notes. The palate is lightly sweet, clean, with berries and some jujubes. Clean light finish.

Assessment: Recommended - for a light rum. But if you’ve had a few good white rums, I’d say you could pass on this.

Value: Pretty decent, for $28.


Review: Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Barbados Rum by Jason Hambrey

Plantation+20th+Anniversary.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
3-4 Yrs Ex-Bourbon, 1-2 Yrs Ex-Cognac
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Unnamed Barbados Distiller

A rum bottled to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ferrand master blender Alexandre Gabriel. It is based on a column and pot distillation which is aged for 8-10 years in Barbados before an additional aging in France of 2-10 years in a mixture of new, ex-Bourbon, and ex-cognac casks.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is nice – a mixture of coconut, toffee, and oak – nice and deep. The palate is rich, and loaded with tons of coconut, fresh and dried – and coconut macaroons. It is very different – I’m not sure I’ve quite had another spirit like it. The finish is slightly acidic and drying, and a bit cloying with all that coconut. It’s hard to get around all the coconut – too much for me. However, I tasted this in a group and some people were all over it.

Value: Low. It’s too much coconut for me. However, I shared this with a few others at a rum tasting and generally it was really a hit or miss product. Miss for me, but not for others.


Review: Plantation Barbados 5 Year Old Rum by Jason Hambrey

Plantation+Barbados+5+yr.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
3-4 Yrs Ex-Bourbon, 1-2 Yrs Ex-Cognac
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Unnamed Barbados Distiller

This 5 year old rum is aged for 3-4 Yrs in Barbados in ex-bourbon casks before being aged additionally in France for 1-2 Years in Ex-Cognac casks from Pierre Ferrand. The rum is distilled using a column and a pot still.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

This is quite nice - light orange, oak, toffee, coconut, butterscotch, spice, oak, and light tannins - it’s blended together very well. The palate continues, with a nice thread of vanilla, mixed roased nuts, and slight acidity. This is very, very drinkable – it might be a leader for a casual rum for me, especially given the price and the fact that it’s not too sweet. The finish is lightly spicy and oak.

Assessment: Recommended.

Value: High, at 37$.


Not what you might expect: A few Jamaican overproof white rums (Wray & Nephew, Monymusk, Rum-Bar, and Rum Fire) by Jason Hambrey

Overproof White Rums.jpg

Jamaica has been long known for its rums, starting initially as a by-product of sugarcane production which didn’t have a better use than distillation. Jamaica became a huge producer of rums in the 1800s, exporting as much rum to Europe as Britain’s other 14 colonies combined!

Jamaican rums originally were produced in pot-stills, and focused on producing lots of esters – bright flavour compounds also found plentifully in whisky. However, they took it to the extreme – with special yeasts and long fermentation times (a month, compared to the typical Scotch fermentations of 2-4 days!). This extra fermentation results not in the production of more alcohol but rather more flavour compounds, esters in particular. The Jamaican style which developed was distinct from the other styles of rum, like the heavy Guyana style.

 Now, most Jamaican rum is produced in column stills and not as “characteristic” as some of the more intense styles of Jamaican pot-still rum. However, there are still a number of very interesting rums in particular coming from Hampden Estate and Worthy Park which both use pot stills and produce rums with characteristic Jamaican “funk” that can be meaty, vegetal, and briny. Hampden, in particular, still uses the old process of dunder, where the soapy, heavy liquid left in the pot still after the alcohol has been evaporated out is retained and left to fester and interact with local bacteria and funghi. This “muck” is added to the molasses at the start of distillation after it has sat out for some time. The acids in the muck react with alcohol for more ester production. It is similar to sour mash, where the acidic tails of the distillation are added to bourbon fermentation, but this is more intense. The fermentations at the distillery go on for one week to one month, depending on the type of rum produced.

Similar to Canadian whisky and some Irish whisky, the Jamaican distilleries generally produces a variety of different distillates – some as bases, and some as intense flavouring components – for blends or even food flavouring. I was traveling through Jamaica and picked up some overproof white rums in the airport – if you read my tasting notes, you’ll realize these are a different category entirely to the massive brands of Appleton, El Dorado, or Bacardi which tend to have cleaner characteristics, but less interesting (or, perhaps, stinky).


Review: Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum

Wray+%26+Nephew.jpg
ABV
63%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller New Yarmouth (Clarendon Parish, Jamaica)

Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

Produced by the company which also makes and owns appleton estate.

This is a very rich nose. Creamed corn, orange, lemon, grapefruit, fresh blueberry, light spice. Somewhat briny and oily. Pickled lemons, crinkly black olives, bananas, young bamboo shoots, and rich earthy notes. Very nice nose. The palate is thick, with baking spices and lots of fruit, pickled red peppers, truffle dried olives – the palate completely stands up to the full strength, but it takes water well. The finish has molasses,  light caramelized sugar, simmered collard greens, jack fruit, and light mixed chemical notes. Slightly sour.

Very good! I’d only want one of these, but I’d enjoy it.

Assessment: Recommended.

Cheap in Jamaica, and great value – about $9/bottle.


Review: Monymusk Overproof White Rum

Monymusk+Overproof+White+Rum.jpg
ABV
63%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Clarendon Distillery (Kingston, Jamaica)

Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

Monymusk rums are produced at Clarendon, where most distillates go towards Diageo for the production of their rums. The distillery makes both column and pot distilled products, and produces a light and heavy style of rum.

A fairly clean, lightly sweet nose which opens up with quite a bit of water. Jackfruit, white pepper, dried orange (reminiscent of young Armagnac), rubber, dried blueberry, plantain chips, match sticks, apples, unripe pineapple and light whiffs of molasses, growing with time. The palate is waxy, slightly smoky, light asphalt, light (as opposed to dark) sugar caramel, white pepper, candied mandarin, and a light woodiness like poplar. There is also some marshmallow, vanilla, and jack fruit with time. The finish has clove, light rubber, stale white pepper, dried apple, with a very light earthiness. Interesting notes grow on the finish too, like hot cardboard sitting in the sun and old chocolate which is brittle and bleached.

I prefer this with water, actually. It is much more complex – it grows hotter and cleaner with increased ABV. But, I’d go for other rums over this one.


Review: Rum-Bar Overproof Pot-Still Jamaica Rum

Rum-Bar+Overproof.jpg
ABV
63%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Worthy Park Estate (Lluidas Vale, Jamaica)

Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 11:01 081118 RB0918

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

A blend of three pot-still rums with no additives, at 63%

What a nice, complex white rum! The nose has olives, pickles – quite briny – with light citrus notes, and some odd notes too – bananas starting to go bad, over-ripe cantelope – but also dried apple, hard apple candies, pineapple (dried, canned, and fresh) and some yoghurt. The palate is waxy again, with young coconut water, white pepper, vanilla, and a rich agricultural note – like drying wet hay and wet, malting barley. The earthiness is great. Very rich. The finish has rich tropical fruit, slight rubber, mixed stale baking spice, and light waxiness. Very complex and intense.

Again, I’d really enjoy one of these but probably wouldn’t reach for a second.

Assessment: Recommended.

Awesome value in Jamaica, about $11/bottle.


Review: Rum Fire White Overproof Rum

Rum+Fire.jpg
ABV
63%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Hampden Estate (Wakefield, Jamaica)

Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

Now, this is a rum! It is reminiscent of Smith & Cross. The nose is extremely deep and briny. Green olives, smoke, rubber, capers, Dijon mustard, pickled lemons (in vinegar, like the middle eastern kind) and spiced pickled lemons (like the Indian kind), pickled silverskin onions, unripe green mango, and lots of lemon. Turtles, too – if anyone knows that smell!  It is extremely rich, and lightly rough. The palate follows from the nose, but with a nice bright middle of fresh berry notes. We also have spiced pickled green mango (i.e. Indian or Pakistani mango pickle), baking spice, asphalt, and light bright molasses. There is fresh, ripe pineapple and rum cake also. The finish is rubbery and smokey and very briny – awesome! Tons of analogies to intense Islay whiskies. There is also a malty aftertaste like a clean lager, almond meal, pineapple, and some more capers.

I bought only a 200 ml bottle of this, but I really wish I had gone for a full bottle (only $12).

Assessment: Highly Recommended.

Awesome value in Jamaica, about $12/bottle.