English Harbour Rum is thought to be one of the best examples of a blend of light and dark rums produced in the Caribbean. It is named after the Antiguan port of English Harbour which saw naval confrontations between the two navy ‘super powers’ of the 18th Century, the British and the French.
It is a single estate rum which is distilled in one of the few remaining all copper continuous stills in existence the Caribbean and is aged for 5 years in once used 220 litre charred ex-bourbon barrels. The rum is produced, aged and bottled at its source in Antigua.
In the glass: The rum is a golden mahogany colour and when I swirl the glass the rum coats the sides. It is initially very reluctant to do anything but in time it displays slow-moving thin legs. The smell is amazing. It is a rum that smells of rum. No additions, no interference, just rum. You get burnt caramel, the smell of toasted coconut, a little vanilla, oak, a smokey edge and a slight fruitiness. There is nowhere near as much alcohol burn as I would expect from a 5-year-old rum.
In the mouth: The taste is exactly the same as the smell which is nice and surprising. What it promises in the glass it delivers in your mouth. It’s totally consistent. There is the instant hit of smoke, oak and burnt caramel. What is apparent is that there is a hell of a burn from the rum. So although it does not show its age on the nose, it definitely does in the mouth. I decided to let the glass sit for about 20 minutes. This calms the burn down considerably. It does not remove it altogether but it does calm it enough to enable me to get more from the rum. I can now taste the toasted coconut, slight edge of vanilla and an amazing aftertaste of fruit. Definitely apricot, peach and maybe banana. The finish is medium length but the fruit really comes to the fore as does the smoke.
All in all, the rum is not as sweet and smooth as my usual choices of Zacapa Solera 23, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva and Atlantico Private Cask, and it has been pointed out to me that it is unfair to compare it to those rums, but there is a certain honesty to it and the fruity finish really does endear itself to you, despite the burn. It’s a true old-fashioned rum and a rum that I am immensely glad that I picked up…..especially as it has a sub £25 price tag.
As an additional note, I received feedback from Anthony Bento, Managing Director of the rums producers, Antigua Distillery Ltd:
‘Many thanks Steven for your review.
I think you have hit the nail on the head pretty much.
It is true that you cannot compare it to the Latin American rums because our rum standards, which are similar to scotch, do not allow us to add anything to the spirit, only caramel colouring (which must be tasteless and odourless). That is why we say Caribbean Rums are “True Rum”‘
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