I have been more than aware of the Rums released by Rum Nation for a while. I have even had the opportunity to try a couple of them. I then started seeing images of a striking bottle of Rum appearing on the web but could not locate it over here in the UK and it was whilst making my first order from France that I noticed it for sale at what was the rather competitive price of £28. That price for a white Jamaican 100% Pot Distilled Rum at 57% abv……I’d be a fool not to snap it up….
A little background on Rum Nation should start things off in earnest. The company founder, Fabio Rossi was born in 1961. His father, Mario Jr started to deal in wines and spirits in 1956 and was the first importer of Laphroig Whisky in Italy. He then proceeded to import brands such as Rhum Barbancourt. Fabio grew up around fine wines and spirits and took a degree in Oenology (the study of wine and wine making). During a series of business related distillery visits to Scotland in 1990, Fabio noticed old barrels of Rum from Jamaica and British Guyana stacked near the whisky barrels. These barrels had been sent there for maturation as the climate would reduce the loss to evaporation and also slow down the maturation process. With Rum only retained in memory, Fabio formed Wilson & Morgan in 1992, a company that releases an independent line of single malt whiskies. Several years later having never forgotten those memories of the Rum tastings that he had been a party to, Fabio asked Silvano Samaroli, himself a respected independent bottler, for advice on Rum and Rum styles. Fabio purchased his first barrels of Rum and their contents were bottled. Not wanting to release the Rums under the Wilson & Morgan name, in 1999 the Rum Nation brand was born. For the curious, those first Rums were a vatting of two barrels of 25 year old Jamaican Rum (1974-1999 Cask Nos 857 and 858) and a barrel of 24 year old Demerara Rum (1975-1999 Cask No 4111). These barrels were left to rest in an underground warehouse in Bristol (I’d hazard a guess that it is the warehouse of Mr John Barrett of Bristol Spirits Ltd). Apparently there is still remaining stock, some 16 years later.
A decision was made early on in the life of Rum Nation to not label the Rums after the distillery, but to make them single domaine Rums named after their country of origin, and as Fabio has been an avid stamp collector from an early age, one thing that runs through the range (and is particularly striking on the label of this bottle) is that each label contains an image of a postage stamp from the country of origin.
You can read more about Fabio Rossi and Rum Nation as there is a far more lengthy and colourful representation of this story available on the Rum Nation website, and you can find that by clicking here.
Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still – 57% abv
The rear label on the bottle hints at the distillery location in St Catherine, Jamaica. This therefore could be either the Worthy Park Estate (most likely) or the Monymusk Estate. For me there is something almost mythical about these high powered, high ester, Jamaican flavour bombs. They are often misunderstood as exercises in potent liquids much beloved of teenagers daring eachother to down shots. When taken in that context….yes, they can be pretty hellish. All brashness and aggression….but much like King Kong, they can be tamed. When treated with care and respect, they offer an honest glimpse into just how much flavour can be crammed into a distillate that is to receive no barrel maturation. You will have read my article on Glorious Revolution so will be aware of the principles of trying to cram as much flavour into the fermentation process as possible given that distillation strips flavour. In the context of this Rum, similar to Wray & Nephew Overproof at 63% abv, the fermentation and distillation method shapes the profile, but I wonder if the mythical ‘dunder’ plays a part in adding the meat to this Rums bones? Slow fermentation time and a pot distillation method are the building blocks of this quite remarkable Rum, and I can tell you that this Rum will not be for everyone. It is almost using itself as an example of how powerful can also be subtle…..a little like the aforementioned King Kong. The bottle is nice and squat (not easily toppled which is useful if you’re going to be imbibing a quantity of this Rum) and has really simple, clear labeling with a striking silver Jamaican postage stamp taking pride of place. As soon as you remove the wooden topped cork, the aromas jump out at you….
In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a crystal clear liquid brimming with grassy, funky aromas.A swirl of the glass leaves little slow beads that are reluctant to move. Savoury is the first word that I’d use to describe this Rum. Initial aromas are of salty olives on cheese biscuits. A vegetal aroma then pushes through and the Rum starts to smell very fresh and green. It is quite astringent and spicy. Next up are the pungent, lacquer and varnish aromas bringing a real sting to the nose. There is also a nice waxy creaminess that brings oily citrus peel and ripe fruits such as mango and banana into play. It sounds strange but I then get what seems to be a wallpaper paste and superglue concoction. Finishing the experience are those funky grassy pot still aromas that could seemingly punch their way through a brick wall if asked nicely.
In the mouth: The Rum has an all encompassing mouthfeel that leads with a heavy dose of olive brine and white pepper. It initially bites quite hard with a kind of solvent flavour carrying liqourice which is the next flavour that makes an appearance, and with it comes a slight sweetness that feels like a custardy wave. It is very grassy and vegetal but along with this is the feeling of ripe bananas. The finish is very long and it stays around for a while with liqourice, molasses and that superglue. It is hard hitting and unapologetic but it also has those soft ripe fruit, oily citrus and banana flavours that hint at a softer and more approachable side to the Rum.
It feels like an experimental style of Rum, maybe even a reference Rum. A fine example of this style of Rum production to which others can be compared. I am massively glad that I seized the opportunity to pick a bottle of this Rum up and I urge you to do the same. It has a great deal of complexity both in it’s aromas and it’s flavours and I can imagine it working wonderfully in the right drink such as a daiquiri or maybe as a portion of the Jamaican component in a powerful Mai Tai replacing J Wray as the punchy element. There is also an aged expression of a Jamaican Pot Still Rum available soon from Rum Nation….I am trawling the online drink shops on a daily basis awaiting its arrival!
An interesting opportunity has presented itself to me after I was sent a box of Rum Nation branded chocolates (more on those in a later post), each one different in style and hand picked to match the Rum Nation range of Rums. The recommended chocolate to accompany this Rum is the Valrhona Caraibe 66% which is from the same region as the Rum. So I took a little sip of the Rum to accustom myself to it again. Nibbled off a chunk of the chocolate and let it sit in my mouth, slowly melting. The chocolate itself has a beautiful flavour of intense cocoa and coffee. Sipping the Rum again, its bite is tempered by the cocoa and the bitterness cuts through the mouthfeel making the whole experience very pleasant. I look forward to delving deeper into the box of chocolates in the future and matching the Rums where possible.
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