SMWS R11.5 Flaming Rum Bananas

Back into it with my first visit to a SMWS bottling from Jamaica. This one is from Worthy Park……the name could almost be a giveaway. There really isn’t too much that I can tell you about Worthy Park that I have not covered elsewhere. So a little click here……or here might assist. 

What I CAN tell you is that they’ve been producing some excellent Rum since the distillery was re-opened in 2005 and at the recent UK Rumfest in London, I got to try a couple of new under the counter bottles. 

The first was a 17 year old Rum. This would’ve been from one of their early 2005 distillations on that lovely big Forsyths double retort. It was the WPL marque and was bottled at 54.72%. It really was everything that you’d want it to be. 

The second was unaged cane juice distillate. The marque was WPE-CJN and it was bottled at 50.29%. I’m not sure that I have the correct superlatives to describe this. It’s both wildly expressive and vibrant whilst also being an absolutely huge Rum. I’m told by those that have visited Worthy Park that smelling it in the glass captures the very essence of walking around the distillery. One day. I can only hope. 

I’m very hopeful that both will see a release at some point. 

Anyhow…….onto the bottle in question. 

SMWS R11.5 Flaming Rum Bananas – 66.1% – 0 g/l additives 

Distilled on May 1st 2010, this bottling was matured in a refill ex bourbon barrel and bottled at 7 years of age. My assumption is that the majority of that time was spent in the cooler European climate. An outturn of 273 bottles, this weighs in at a hefty 66.1%. I’d also suggest that this is a WPL marque. Now I usually take the naming convention with a pinch of salt…….but Worthy Park does equate to Bananas in my mind. 

Tasting Notes 

Nose: A little uptight initially from the pour. This one needs a decent chunk of time to open up a little. Buttery vanilla slices. Coconut mochi. A little hint of the vegetal pings in and then swiftly disappears. We get some of the familiar and “classic” Worthy Park profile. Beautiful black breakfast tea. Bananas aplenty. Overripe and baked into a banana bread…..a brown sugar sprinkling on top and maybe some baked in chocolate chips. Dried banana chips covered in milk chocolate. A touch of barrel spice. Not as forthcoming as a lot of the distillery bottling’s that I’ve tried. 

Mouth: Now we’re talking. THIS is what I was hoping to find more of on the nose. It really is in full on classic Worthy Park attack. Remarkably drinkable given the 66 degrees of alcohol that it’s packing but my word it is silky, all encompassing and it fully envelopes your tongue. Banana. Banana. Banana. Almost Tempus Fugit Creme de Banane with its chocolate and banana bread. This carries good depth. Bannofee pie with with ginger biscuit base. Chocolate coated banana and coconut chips. Spice bun. Sweet milky tea. A hint of Maltesers. The mid palate ushers in spicy black and Szechuan peppercorns. Mace. Cinnamon. Fragrant allspice. Fresh ginger root. Plenty borrowed from the barrel. The finish is a full presentation of what preceded it with perhaps the addition of a slice of spice bun drizzled with molasses. That banana remains ever present though.

In conclusion: A little disjointed from nose to palate if I’m being honest. The nose would be a solid 2/5 but the expressiveness of the palate and its classic nature when given time really lifts the experience. It’s not up to the standard of some of the distillery bottling’s, or even some of the other independent bottling’s such as from the Thompson Brother’s, though that one in particular carries more age. Not a classic. It doesn’t give fully to what we know that Worthy Park can give, it feels too restrained on the nose. It remains pretty solid though.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Saint Aubin History Collection Cuvée Grande Réserve

Le Domaine de Saint Aubin has existed as a Plantation since 1819 and it takes its name from original owner Pierre de St. Aubin. It is located south of Rivière des Anguilles on the South coast of Mauritius. It’s operation as a sugar growing plantation has continued unabated since it’s inception yet Rhum production came later. How much later I do not know. The plantations location gives rise to a microclimate whose balance of rain and sunshine pairs with the volcanic soil to create ideal conditions for cultivating sugarcane. 

The sugarcane, once harvested is immediately transported to the mill where it is pressed to extract the juice. The first press is known as ‘fangourin’ locally and it is this that is used to undergo immediate fermentation. They also employ both batch and continuous methods of distillation. 

To be honest, that is about as much information as I can find about the place……so we’ll swiftly move onto the liquid in the bottle. 

Saint Aubin History Collection Cuvée Grande Réserve – 40% abv – 3.9 g/l additives 

To quote the available information: 

With the “History Collection” series, the distillery of Saint Aubin pays tribute to the historical facts that shaped Mauritius. 

Limited to 5218 bottles, our Cuvée Grande Réserve commemorates the bicentenary of the conquest of “L’Isle de France” which took place between the 29th November and the 2nd December 1810 in the north of Mauritius. 

A few months following the Battle of Grand Port, England had gathered an expeditionary force commanded by Sir John Abercomby. They landed in Cap Malheureux and soon dominated the French forces of the Governor Decaen which were low in number. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1814, Isle de France was given to England and got its name Ile de Maurice, or Mauritius back. 

The rear bottle label states 7 years old, which would tally with the indicated 2007 Harvest and 2014 release dates noted on the box. But I have read that there are elements of 10 year old batch distilled Rhum in the blend which according to Lance over at The Lone Caner is 30% batch and 70% continuous. Maturation took place in a combination of both ex-bourbon and French oak casks. 

Let’s see what this one offers up.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Upon initial pour, the single most prominent aroma that comes to the fore is that of a synthetic caramel…..the like of which can be found atop a cheap supermarket creme caramel. I’ll be honest, it takes some shaking. So we power through. An excess of vanilla is broken by ripe red fruits……raspberries, plums and a wealth of hedgerow berries. Red berry packet microwave porridge with a sprinkling of brown sugar. Soft red liquorice. Walnuts and maple syrup. Spiced caramel. There’s a back end of wet wood that still carries that synthetic caramel and maybe the merest hint of chocolate milkshake.

Mouth: The illusion of a robust, oily mouthfeel soon slides off the edge of the tongue to display a complete transition from the nose. Synthetic caramel that brings unpleasant bitterness. Heaps of red berry compote. Dried cranberries. Sweet porridge. Maple syrup on buttery pastry. Icing sugar. Caramel spiked with pre-grated nutmeg and cinnamon powder. Heaps of vanilla. The barrel is disappointingly missing for something that has spent a decent amount of time in French oak and it only shows via a little spice. The finish is of a medium length and brings some of that red liquorice along with a touch of fennel like anise. Caramel bitterness at the death.

In conclusion: It all just feels very muted. Like it wants stretch it’s legs. It wants to have a little more power in the delivery. It wants to to live up to what we know that Mauritius can produce. It wants to be reflective of its surroundings. But it’s sadly bound by the decisions made post process rather than being defined by the process itself and it turns a what could’ve been into a what is certainly not. Its not particularly sweet, the additions have not been used to do that. It’s dull, muted, synthetic and perhaps the most awful thing that a Rum could be, bland. The addition of caramel at such levels that it clearly holds back the olfactory experience whilst making its presence known via synthetic bitterness on the palate coupled with what I’d hazard a guess is a fruit maceration executed with all the subtlety of a brick to the face were two of the worst decisions made in the creation of this product. I’d even be hard pressed to identify it as a cane juice product, which is a crime in itself. A lesson to all that even at this stage, we can all be duped into buying a poor product and proof further that label clarity is required. Unless you enjoy dull, muted, easy going offerings from some of the big South American players, steer clear. Mauritius can (and should) do so much better. The remains of the bottle are free to a good home.

1 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.