Yeast in Rum (or S. Pombe Revisited)

Following on from the three part collected article titled “Aeneas Coffey, John Dore and Foursquare”, Richard Seale posted an in depth look at “Yeast in Rum” in a 6 part series on his personal page, with his agreement I have again collated them into one single reference article below.

Yeast in Rum (or S. Pombe Revisited)

Part One – Yeast History

Back in October/November 2019, I created a quite a stir with some comments and a very brief post challenging some of the myths being created around the novel sacred cow that is S. Pombe yeast. At Foursquare we carry out natural fermentations (which contain S. Pombe) and having made some ‘high ester’ rums last year, it seems a good moment to make a further comment giving more details on the work of Jamaican chemists Percival H Greg, Charles Allan and S. F. Ashby.

A Little History:

Yeast cells were among the first microbes seen in early microscopes and some of the earliest observations concluded it was produced by fermentation rather than the agent of fermentation. In 1755, Dr. Johnson is his famous dictionary defined ‘yest’ as ‘the foam spume, or flower of beer in fermentation’. See also his cross reference with the definition of ‘barm’.

Lavoisier (1789) investigated wine fermentation by qualitative methods and could not find a role for yeast in the reaction that produced alcohol. However, by this time scientists believed yeast (or ferment as it was called) played a role in starting the process. Berzelius called this catalysis. German Scientist Theodor Schwann identified yeast as a living organism and call it ‘zukerpilz’ – the sugar fungus (or sugar mushroom). His colleague Franz Meyen that provided the modern latin name in 1838 – saccharomyces cerevisiae – literally ‘beer sugar-fungus’ for the species of yeast in common use today (through the use of thousands of strains of the species). Pasteur also supported the idea that fermentation was a biological process, that is a process by living organisms.

Famed German biologist Justus Von Liebig disagreed with this ‘vitalist’ theory arguing that alcoholic fermentation was a purely chemical process – no living organisms were involved – and this led of one of the most famous disputes in Science. Liebig believed the yeast was kind of nitrogenous organic compound which decomposed the sugar and a product was deposited described as an insoluble ferment. This ferment could be used as ‘ferment’ in another sugar solution. Pasteur would eventually settle the debate through a set of brilliant experiments.

Ultimately neither scientist was entirely correct or entirely wrong. Eduard Buchner obtained pure samples of the fluid inside the yeast cell and discovered that the fluid could ferment a sugar solution despite the fact the yeast cell was obviously dead. He realised that fermentation reactions were a chemical process inside the yeast cell by what we know today as collection of enzymes. So alcoholic fermentation is after all a bio-chemical process. Buchner would publish his work in 1897 for which he would be awarded the Nobel Prize.

Pasteur’s work would extend to improving wine making. He observed that soured wine was caused by the presence of lactic acid. He further observed that sour wine contained not only oval yeast cells but small rod shaped bacteria. While alcoholic fermentation occurred via yeast, lactic acid fermentation occurred via bacteria. Pasteur developed the process of heating the wine to a specific temperature for a short time to kill the bacteria a process we know today as ‘pasteurisation’ which would eventually find widespread use in the beer, milk and juice industries.

Danish mycologist Emile Christian Hansen, working at the Carlsberg Laboratory would take yeast understanding a step further. Pasteur had not fully solved the problem of brewing cloudy and off tasting beer despite pitching bacteria free yeast cultures. Pasteur had seen yeast as homogeneous cells, Hansen was the first to isolate different strains/species of saccharomyces yeasts. He discovered that certain strains were directly responsible for the cloudy beer and so by isolating and selecting particular strains for the brewery the problem of cloudy and sour beer could be solved. So now it was necessary to not only eliminate bacteria from beer fermentation but also so called ‘wild yeasts’.

The work of Liebig, Pasteur and Hansen are important to understanding the work of two giants of the Jamaica Rum industry – the planter and distiller Leonard Wray and the chemist Percival H Greg which we will consider in Part two.

 

Part Two – Wray and Greg

Leonard Wray (family to the more familiar J Wray) published his famous treatise in 1848 and his understanding of fermentation was based on the work of Liebig.

For Wray, the nitrogenous matter that would initiate fermentation was already contained in the raw material and so no yeast (or ferment) needed to be added:

“it is seen that molasses and skimmings each contain sugar, gluten, and water; so that fermentation will occur spontaneously in them without the intervention of any foreign substance, such as yeast”

As Lavoisier had quantitatively demonstrated before him, Wray stated the elements of the yeast (the glutenous or albuminous matter) “take no appreciable part in the transposition of the elements of the sugar ; for in the products resulting from the action, we find no component part of this substance”

For Wray, as Lavoisier, the yeast had no part of the final product, for Wray “the peculiar flavour of rum is generally understood to proceed from the resinous, aromatic gum (or essential oil), contained in the rind of the cane”.

Wray relayed an anecdote which marvelously echoes today:

“It is not more than a few days ago, that I was asked by a person why yeast was not used by our sugar planters as ferment instead of dunder ; intimating in very significant terms, that he considered all the West India distillers a very choice pack of fools. Now, this person says that he has been for a long while manager of one of the largest distilleries in the world. He has written a pamphlet on distillation, with a view to enlighten the minds of all distillers, and no doubt fancies himself possessed of all possible knowledge of the subject. And yet this person, who is a clever man, and no doubt very competent to instruct English distillers, does not know what dunder is, or what is its use in the fermentation of wash.”

Wray in his seminal work put his erudite view in the strongest terms, “no foreign agent — such as yeast — is necessary. Nay, further, that such is extremely undesirable ; as it would change altogether the character of the fermentation” (my emphasis).

Wray’s understanding of fermentation was not precisely correct but in practical terms, he was not wrong. Moreover, he was prescient. Everything needed for fermentation was indeed there, no ‘foreign agent’ was needed but the rise of pitched yeast with isolated, sterile yeast strains would forever change the fundamental character of rum fermentation not just in Jamaica but in every rum producing country. Today, just a handful of rum distilleries operate under Wray’s philosophy, almost all of them in Jamaica, most notably the Hampden and Long Pond Estates in Trelawny.

The first serious challenge to this approach would come from Percival H. Greg. Greg was the first chemist to isolate individual strains of yeast as found in Jamaica distilleries. Greg was strongly influenced by the work of Emile Hansen and travelled to Copenhagen to work at the Carlsberg laboratory under the supervision of Hansen’s colleague, Prof. Alfred Jorgensen. At the Carlsberg Lab, he conducted a series of experiments on molasses and dunder sent over from Jamaica. Greg became convinced of the merits of isolating, selecting and pitching a strain of yeast as was now becoming practice in breweries and distilleries around the world. Writing in ‘The Sugar Cane’ in 1893, Greg advocated:

“Not only must we do away with spontaneous fermentation by using a ‘pitching’ yeast, as brewers term it, i.e. adding some previously prepared yeast to set our vats in fermentation at once, but I strongly recommend the selection and cultivation of a suitable type of yeast in a state of absolute purity”

Greg was not alone in his ideas. Pairault (1903) and Kayser (1913) also suggested that starter culture yeasts for rum production should be selected. Both Pairault (1903) and Kayser (1913) recognized that bacteria were also endemic to rum but in their view they negatively impacted on production efficiency and quality. Fahrasmane (2002) reported that “after 1918, some distillers in the French West Indies who wanted to increase the alcoholic yield decided to put into practice the advice of Pairault and Kayser on pure fermentations. Although the result was an increase in yields, the quality of these products evidently fell because of their increased chemical neutrality”.

The star of the show of the strains tested by Greg in Copenhagen was a fission yeast, aka Schizzosaccharomyces Pombe (S. Pombe) which he dubbed No. 18. It is this earliest work in yeast selection that still resonates today in those who believe this type of yeast to be the holy grail in the search for the best Jamaica rum. Following Pasteur and Hansen, Greg at this time saw bacteria as only a source of potential disaster.

Enter Charles Allan who took entirely the opposite view. We will examine that in Part three.

 

Part Three – Allan and Ashby

In 1903, the Jamaica Board of Agriculture decided to hire a specialist Fermentation chemist as well as to set up a sugar laboratory, a fermentation laboratory and an experimental distillery with a 50 gallon still with a “telescopic head” and detachable retorts. The purpose was to study rum making with a view to improving yields, quality and studying the types of yeast involved. Charles Allan would be given a three year contract for the role under the supervision of legendary ‘Island Chemist’, H H Cousins. In 1905, it was Allan who supervised the implementation of Cousins High Ether Process at a specially built plant at Hampden Estate. A process still in use today.

Allan was able to show that the “flavour” of Jamaican rum was not the result of alcoholic fermentation by yeasts but due to acidic fermentations by bacteria.

“The point I wish to emphasize at present is that the value of rum depends mainly on the secondary products [the congeners] it contains. I will show you by means of experiments in the laboratory that cane juice or molasses fermented by yeasts alone produce but very little of the secondary products. These, therefore, must be formed by other organisms, chiefly bacteria which swarm in the washes of Jamaican distilleries”

Allan contrasted the modern approach of breweries of his era with the approach needed by the Jamaican distiller to make the best rum.

“In the most up-to-date breweries now not only are all bacteria excluded but yeast which has been carefully cultivated from selected seed are only used. The effect of this on the article produced was to alter to an appreciable extent its flavour but it ensured its stability in character and in a short time the newly acquired flavour got to be appreciated. In the case of Jamaica rum however we have an article of a very different nature to deal with. The flavour is of a very pronounced character and is one of its chief assets. The flavour of beer is very delicate and is produced by the yeast itself whereas I am of title opinion that the yeasts contribute but a small amount of the flavour of rum”

Allan’s successor at the Jamaica Government Laboratory was S. F. Ashby. Ashby had also studied yeasts at Copenhagen and was the Bacteriologist at famous Rothamsted Experimental Station in the UK before arriving in Jamaica in November of 1905.

He set about to explore further the contribution of yeast to Jamaica rum. He set up ten experiments with sterile washes seeded with strains of the fabled S. Pombe, selected due to the earlier work of Greg. The results were a disaster.

“The rum could hardly be called by that name, and it showed the same character for all ten yeasts; in no case was any characteristic flavour produced”.

Ashby continued with another series of experiments where acid was added to the otherwise sterile washes seeded again with S. Pombe.

“The conclusion to be drawn from these experiments is that, whereas none of the fission yeast isolated from the estate washes was able to produce flavour on its own account, the top yeast owing to its slower fermentation admitted a greater amount of chemical ether production in a wash originally high in volatile acids. The latter result is in accordance with distillers’ experience as they consider that a wash showing a strong fatty head due to the top fermenting fission yeast yields the best flavoured rum.”

Ashby set up further experiments again with added acids but this time observing the behaviour of each species of yeast (S. Cerevisiae and S. Pombe) with each type of acid (acetic, lactic, butyric) these being the common acids in distillery washes (produced primarily by bacteria).

“The ability of the budding type [S. Cervisiae] to multiply and ferment more rapidly from the outset in the weaker acid liquors, like cane juice washes and fresh skimmings, explains why this is the only kind found in such liquor the acidity of which is generally under 0.5%. In the usual estate washes containing dunder, molasses, acid skimmings, and frequently specially added acid, [this would be known as ‘flavour’ made in a muck pit or trash cistern ] the budding yeast [S. Cerevisiae] is largely suppressed, but the more slowly developing and very acid resistant fission type [S. Pombe] takes possession, and is practically the only form found in washes the acidity of which is 1.0% and over”.

Ashby demonstrated in experimental work that the remarkable qualities of S. Pombe are not in its ability to produce flavour of its own account but its ability to make alcohol in washes that are set up to make the characteristic flavour of high ester Jamaica Rum. Its slow rate of fermentation is also particularly important in allowing these characteristic flavours to be developed rather than rapidly consuming the available nutrients and producing the sterilising alcohol which would retard their development.

After his contact was concluded, Ashby would continue to have an illustrious career, he would also work in Trinidad before culminating his career as the mycologist at the Imperial Mycology Institute located at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

In fact Greg too in his work had also demonstrated that S. Pombe was no panacea – a simple trial of No. 18 in the absence of dunder produced no flavour. In his final paper on Rum aroma published in 1895, Greg concluded:

“If one may be allowed to theorize a little, there seems sufficient grounds for concluding, from the results which I have up to now attained, that though the aroma of rum is in the first instance derived from the soil, that this influence is chiefly potential not actual; that it is latent , dormant , and only brought into existence during the process of manufacture”.

Greg was back to Wray even before the arrival of Allan and Ashby.

So what does yeast contribute? We look at that in Part four.

 

Part Four – Yeast Flavour

Yeast is a bit of sacred cow itself in distilling, not least of all the current fad of S. Pombe. The primary mission in this series of posts is to explain the role of yeast in the context of traditional Jamaica high ester rum, not to diminish its broader importance. The role of yeast in any spirit category is wholly dependent on the culture in which that spirit is made. Yeasts and bacteria are the organisms directly responsible to creating flavour in alcoholic fermentations. Allan summarised well the challenge of striking the balance between the two:

“In making rum the first consideration is to produce alcohol. This can be done by encouraging the development of yeasts but in so doing you are discouraging the growth of bacteria and again if you encourage the development of bacteria you are setting up conditions which are against the interests of the yeasts. You must choose a middle course and it is just here where our greatest difficulty arises.”

Fortunately yeast does not only make alcohol but flavour congeners are produced as by products of yeast metabolism. These include higher alcohols (propanol, amyl alcohol etc), acids (acetic, lactic etc) esters (ethyl acetate), acetaldehyde and diacetyl. Further esters are formed by combining the produced acids with alcohol. Nykanan and Suomalainen (1983) listed 400 flavour metabolites of yeast fermentation. Of course only the volatile ones that pass over into the distilled spirit would be relevant for rum or whisky.

Yeasts are not a typical fungus in that their spores do not migrate by air currents. They are thought to be carried in the stomachs of insects. Recent research in Belgium – Christiaens et al 2014 – showed that fruit flies could use the aromatic odour produced by yeast to find fruit. The yeast helps the fruit fly find the fruit and the fruit fly helps the yeast move around. In short, fruit flies defecate yeast, and yeasts defecate alcohol (and some nice smelling bits).

Yeast autolysis is the degradation (by its own enzymes) of the cell wall and its contents following the death of the yeast cell. Yeast death is not a function of age but of how many times the cell has reproduced. This autolysate or ‘yeast extract’ notwithstanding its foremost importance to making marmite plays an important role in flavour development in fermented wines and spirits. Autolysis is strongly influenced by acidity and ethanol both of which are abundant at the end of fermentation. Several flavour compounds are released during autolysis including fatty acids (which will make esters and aldehydes) and heavy esters (e.g iso amyl caproate), terpenes (thought to be the constituent of what famed Puerto Rican chemist Arroyo called ‘rum oil’) and higher alcohols such as iso amyl alcohol.

Yeast autolysis is a very important part of the champagne method where the where the wine is kept in contact with the yeast autolysate in the bottle. It is also known as the ‘sur-lie’ method for making white burgundy. The autolysate is also a source of nutrients for bacteria. Greg, in one of his caveats for using yeast No. 18 advised it was important that the ‘dead wash’ sit for a couple of days before distillation. Ashby noted that S. Pombe produced far more autolysate than S. Cerevisiae. This is because of the double wall thickness of the fission yeast. This extra biomass is mainly polysaccharides. It does not contribute to flavour in distilled spirits save for providing nutrients to bacteria.

So just how did Jamaicans strike the balance described by Allan. That is for part five.

(pictured – A schematic overview of the main metabolic routes inside the yeast cell contributing to the synthesis of higher alcohols and esters when inserted in the fermenting medium)

 

Part Five – Striking the Balance

The addition of dunder (and its analogs of sour mash in bourbon or backset in whisky) as practised by all rum makers in the West Indies from the 17th century was precisely to set the balance described by Allan. By adding the acidic dunder at the outset, the acidity of the wash was increased to bring it into a zone that was still tolerable for yeast but inhibitory to bacteria. Favouring yeast was paramount because making alcohol is paramount. No point having bacteria produced flavour if they have gobbled up all the sugar and there is little or no alcohol. Many distillers today still adjust acidity in their pitched yeast fermentations by the addition of sulphuric or other acids.

Jamaica (and to a limited extent Barbados) would dimensionalize the molasses/juice/water formula of Wray by the addition of soured juice skimmings and something literally called ‘flavour’. Flavour was produced by a sort of parallel bacterial ferment using cane materials in a ‘trash cistern’ or ‘muck pit’. Each high ester rum making estate developed their own formula and method for ‘flavour’.

It is this use of soured juice and ‘flavour’ that tips the pendulum of aroma development in Jamaica Rum to bacteria over yeast, not that we wish to understate the importance of their symbiotic relationship. The creation and addition of ‘flavour’ in the Jamaican high ester rum making is the cultural equivalent of a bourbon distiller selecting and pitching their own favoured yeast strain. For wine and beer, yeast is king. In Scotch whisky, they do not boil the wort as in beer but rather heat it to 64C for a short time and so some bacteria is inevitably present during fermentation. With the early dominance of pitched yeast, the bacteria, chiefly lactic acid producing bacteria makes its presence felt at the end of fermentation – no role required for S. Pombe. Yeast autolysis would provide the nutrient requirements for the lactic bacteria. Late lactic bacteria is now widely considered to have a positive contribution to the flavour of the whisky (Geddes and Rifkin 1989). So in Scotch whisky, yeast is still king but the pendulum is swung a little in the direction of bacteria.

Today nearly every beer, wine or spirit including much of the rum in Jamaica is now made by pitching selected yeast strains, the practice outlined by Hansen in the late 19th century. The yeasts used are mostly of the saccharomyces type particularly the species saccharomyces cerevisiae for which there are literally thousands of strains. Saccharomyces types have such broad application because it fits the needs of the distiller so well. It is very efficient producing rapid fermentations, dominant (killer strains release a toxin to kill wild yeasts), tolerant of high alcohol content and by species/strain selection it reliably produces the desired flavour.

The yeasts used in whisky industry are mostly S. cerevisiae although various secondary species have been used. Lager yeast is S. pastorianus, ale yeasts include S. cerevisiae and apparently some S.bayanus strains. The wine industry mostly use S. cerevisiae and/or S. bayanus. Some wine makers and craft brewers use non saccharomyces types including Kloeckera, Saccharomycodes, Schizosaccharomyces, Hansenula, Candida, Pichia and Torulopsis. The use of non saccharomyces types is more practical in brewing because they can use a sterile wort. Trying to use non Saccharomyces types in rum is impractical as wild Saccharomyces strains will quickly dominate. Peynaud & Sudrand (1986), Haraldson and Rosen (1984) and Fahrasmane et al (1986) all found that Schizisaccaromyces strains in pure culture produced very few congeners.

In the past, Schizosaccharomyces yeasts were often detected in wines suffering from organoleptic faults through the appearance of sulfidric acid (hydrogen sulphide), acetic acid, acetaldehyde, acetoin and ethyl acetate. Most of these would not necessarily be a fault in rum making. Further research with highly selected strains of S. Pombe showed much better results (for wine) but their attraction for wine making was more related to the ability of this yeast to degrade malic acid rather than any remarkable aromatic profile. It should be noted that Ashby reported the existence of a ‘fruit ether’ yeast of the budding type, that is to say it was not S. Pombe.

It has been suggested in some circles that S. Pombe needs to be “reintroduced” into rum making. It is a ridiculous statement, it never left. S. Pombe plays its usual role at Hampden estate as it has done for over 250 years and S. Pombe can be found wherever rum is made. Several early studies identified S. Pombe in molasses and juice in rum distilleries in the Caribbean. More recently Fahrasmane (1988) found S. Pombe prevalent in Haitain distilleries. Bonilla-Salinas et al (1995) found S. Pombe in Mexican distilleries and Green (2015) found significant counts of S. Pombe yeasts in molasses at Bundaberg in Australia. You can find S. Pombe in our fermentations at Foursquare where their role varies depending on the rum to be produced.

The revised interest and circulation of the papers of Greg, Allan, Ashby et al by bloggers, enthusiasts, distillers and writers is absolutely to be applauded. I cant praise these efforts enough. That this 100 year old work still serves as inspiration to younger craft distillers is a joy to observe. My caution is not to take the work in isolation and consider it hand in hand with later work and the practical operations of West Indian Rum today that has built on and added to that knowledge. That such is not readily available via google should not detract from its value. As Wray warned, do not take the West Indian distillers for a ‘pack of fools’.

We do not need to reintroduce S. Pombe to rum, what we need to do is protect the traditional way in which it is used.

We will consider that in part six.

 

Part Six – The Jamaica GI

The core of traditional Jamaica rum making is the art of using simply sugar cane derivatives, spontaneous fermentation and batch distillation. Distillers were able to improve and innovate without ever breaking these fundamental core principles. In 1893, the year Greg published his first paper, 148 Jamaica distilleries operated this way. By 1948 there were just 25. Today just one distillery owner exclusively practices these methods. Pitched yeast and continuous distillation have changed Jamaica Rum (and Barbados Rum) forever as warned by Wray and J C Nolan (special commissioner to the UK for Jamaica rum) respectively. These two horses have bolted. There is no putting them back. But we can stop here and forever protect these methods.

In 2016, the Jamaican distilleries by unanimous agreement restricted the addition of fermentation agents ( those foreign agents of Wray! ) to yeast and only to yeast of the saccharomyces types. There was no restriction on native yeasts and bacteria proceeding in their normal spontaneous and natural way. How could they? Forced Sterilisation? One-third of the shares in a single Jamaica distillery changed hands in 2017 and since then, that pernicious shareholder has sought to discredit the GI as registered – most wickedly by mischaracterising the GI restriction as “narrowing to one genus of yeast we are wiping out hundreds of years of history of rum making”. Willful ignorance or just ignorance, I let my hopefully now better informed readers be the judge.

The distillery has now demanded through their team of lawyers that the Jamaica IP office unilaterally rewrite the GI to their personal specifications despite the protests of the remaining three distillers. One of my Jamaican colleagues, very high in the industry there, called this “insidious re-colonialization, putting his own selfish needs ahead of the industry and in contravention of the spirit of the GI.” I call someone who acquires a minority interest in a Jamaica distillery in 2017 and who then demands the GI be rewritten to their unilateral specification a megalomaniac.

Among the demanded changes, all designed to render the GI nugatory, is a demand to add other fermenting agents including bacteria. So pitched yeast and now pitched bacteria. A kind of rapid, cheaper ersatz Jamaica rum to be made and sold under a cloud of trite, hyperbolic marketing clichés. Pitched yeast and pitched bacteria take us further away from the true terroir of Jamaica Rum.

I suspect part of the motivation to rewrite the GI is the delusion based on the once again trendy advocation of Greg that magical Jamaica Rum will produced by simply pitching S. Pombe. It takes a high level of Dunning-Kruger type stupidity to think you are going to “innovate” Jamaica Rum by simply changing the brand of added yeast. You need to take West Indian distillers for a ‘pack of fools’ to believe this.

I will let Maggie Campbell, artisan distiller, yeast guru and esteemed colleague have the last word:

“It is wise to remember this is the life’s work and lived experience of these GI supporting Jamaican producers, they are not unwise or foolish, rather they are guardians of their culture and community. No one needs to benevolently jump in and fight to save Jamaican rum from itself, they are protecting it just fine themselves and the GI laws are set up to do just that”.
“If you do not want to participate in the community standards and cultural practices then you do not also get to demand instant access to leverage that community’s and culture’s hard won reputation for excellence.”

 

Again, huge thanks to Richard for allowing me to collate and reproduce the information here

© Steven James, Rum Diaries Blog and Richard Seale. 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, Richard Seale and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The UK Rum Club x SBS Release

As a few readers may be aware, I am one of the Founders and Admins of The UK Rum Club which is a Facebook Group with around 2600 members. We focus on pure rums over spiced, flavoured or doctored products

Along with our first release due out in the next month or so which is a Chairman’s Reserve bottling in conjunction with Royal Mile Whiskies, we have recently announced a collaboration with S.B.S Single Barrel Selection

An important announcement was made on the Facebook Group and a small extract is contained below:

We are extremely happy announce that in collaboration with S.B.S and Skylark Spirits, The UK Rum Club will have a pre-Christmas charity release!

With that in mind, to allow members of The UK Rum Club to experience the wilder and geekier side of Jamaican Rum and to expand their horizons, the collaboration with S.B.S has come to fruition

We are releasing the SBS x The UK Rum Club High Ester Jamaican Rum collection of 4 200ml bottles and whats more, your purchase will benefit charity

The pack will contain 4 individual 200ml bottles, each containing high ester Rum from a different Jamaican distillery.

They will be unaged and will all be bottled at 57% abv.

You will have the chance to experience:

Worthy Park – WPE – ester level of 600-800 g/hlaa

Hampden – DOK – ester level of 1500-1600 g/hlaa

Long Pond – STC^E – ester level of 550-700 g/hlaa

New Yarmouth – NYE-WK – ester level of 1500-1600 g/hlaa

Each pack of 4 bottles will be in its own presentation box and will be a limited run of 125 units priced at £99.99 plus postage

What is perhaps most important though is that 10% of each box, thats £10 of your purchase, will be split between two charities that are in need of funding, and that have a direct connection to Steven (Rum Diaries Blog) and Wes (The Fat Rum Pirate)

The charity that we here at Rum Diaries Blog has chosen is MyAware – Fighting Myasthenia Together

The charity that Wes over at The Fat Rum Pirate has chosen is CHUF – Childrens Heart Unit Foundation

Click the link to join the UK Rum Club, to read why we have chosen these charities and if you would like to, sign up to purchase a pack and help charity in the process The UK Rum Club Facebook group link

Your support really would be appreciated

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

AuRhum “Infinity” Jamaican Rum

This is another offering from those crazy Danes at AuRhum and this release is definitely a crazy one. But first, a little information.

AuRhum is a company comprising three Rum enthusiasts, Alexander Vincit, Lindy Andersen and Tommy Andersen. These three enthusiasts have known each other for a good many years and they share a passion for their Rum ‘hobby’. But why decide to become independent bottlers in a market that is becoming saturated? Varying degrees of quality and varying degrees of honesty within the existing marketplace are two reasons. The raison d’etre for these three enthusiasts is that they believe that the consumer deserves an honest approach and a good experience when they purchase a bottle. As a result their key rules are based around zero additives and zero sugar. They want the experience to be authentic, honest and more importantly, affordable without having to spend upwards of £100 on a bottle. With all of this in mind, AuRhum aim to create a range of bottlings that are either unique or that enable rarely seen distillates to be enjoyed. As if their lofty, but sensible goals weren’t enough, as both Alexander and Lindy work in the armed forces they want to assist and support both current and former colleagues who perhaps have not shared their luck. They insist that 5% of the company profits must be donated to a Veteran Charity in Denmark.

The aged “Purity” release was reviewed a short while ago and can be found here. Now that you’re back, its time to keep things short and sweet as I’m quite excited about this one.

AuRhum “Infinity” Jamaican Rum – 63% abv – 0g/l additives

The chaps at AuRhum have gone back to Jamaica for this release, and more specifically back to Worthy Park. They have kept things very simple. Distilled from estate molasses on the wonderful Forsyths double retort pot still, this distillate which bears the marque WPE possesses an ester level of up to 800 gr/laa. That’s a very high ester level in most locations, its definitely very high ester by Worthy Park standards but in Jamaica as a whole its sitting just above the middle of the range. But ethyl acetate content isn’t all that should be considered when looking at Jamaican Rum, or Rum in general. Also keep in mind that Worthy Park are doing all of this without the use of muck or dunder in their processes. You can read a little more about those processes here.

Presented at a full bore 63% abv, completely devoid of additives, chill filtration, sugar and also possessing no age whatsoever, this should be a no holds barred ride into some of Worthy Parks highest ester distillate. This is one of just 57 bottles from Batch #1.

Tasting Notes

Nose: This is a BIG one……it makes the entire house smell amazing. Huge acetone notes fill the air on initial pour…..but there’s something really comforting about it. It’s full of bright and punchy pineapple notes. Plenty of sweetness riding a wave of liquorice and that aroma that you only get when fresh pot distillate hits your hands straight from the storage tank tap and starts to warm up. That intoxicating mixture of molasses and acetone. It feels creamy with notes of natural yoghurt. Time allows you to push through into some light mashed banana and candied sweetness sitting atop pear drops, pineapple cubes and aniseed balls. The top notes are lightly floral but always have the undercurrent of brooding molasses depth. The warmth and feeling of standing next to a still in the Caribbean accompanied by liquorice, alcohol vapours and those mildly sour notes. The further you dig the more you feel something salty and savoury grow with black olives and maybe a hint of light soy sauce.

Mouth: A hot one to start with that tosses aside some initial sweetness to dish up a lot of spice. Aniseed, ginger juice, cumin black pepper and liquorice root powder. Green olive tapenade and a hint of flaked sea salt. It’s big and oily on the palate displaying amazing persistence and the ability of some of the finest negotiators to hammer its point home at all costs. The alcohol alarmingly doesn’t feel too much at 63%. There’s a mellowing of the distillate on the mid palate but the persistence remains, releasing a wave of fruity sweetness resplendent with pineapple, guava and banana skins and the liquorice midget gems that are so rarely found these days. Molasses returns on the finish with a vengeance and it carries with it a real salty coastal vibe. Green olive and salted lemon peel but with a touch of powdered sugar. It has quite a lengthy finish but it doesn’t give any more than the earlier experiences….rather it just allows them to fade, but when it has that sweet salty interplay down to a tee why does it need to.

In conclusion: Think of this as more of a transportation vessel than a Rum….I completed my notes in the garden listening to Slam FM from Bridgetown followed by Zip FM from Kingston and the aromas and tastes accompanied by the 31 degree heat put me right in the middle of a distillery with those beautiful molasses, liquorice and sour notes backed up with intense warmth. As with a lot of these Rums the nose is by far the winner when it comes to straight tasting but that’s to take nothing away from the quality of the distillate which is exemplary. I’ve paired it with tropical soda, coke and even tonic….it also works very well in small quantities in a banana old fashioned. Lovely stuff and well chosen by the chaps at AuRhum.

Man I LOVE Worthy Park.

4.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

AuRhum “Purity” Jamaican Rum

Today I have a familiar Rum but from an unfamiliar independent bottler. The familiar Rum was distilled in St. Catherine (so we know where its origins lie) and the unfamiliar bottler is AuRhum….who hail from Denmark. Before we dig into the bottle information it may be prudent to set the scene of who AuRhum actually are and why they choose to do what they do.

AuRhum is a company comprising three Rum enthusiasts, Alexander Vincit, Lindy Andersen and Tommy Andersen. These three enthusiasts have known each other for a good many years and they share a passion for their Rum ‘hobby’. But why decide to become independent bottlers in a market that is becoming saturated? Varying degrees of quality and varying degrees of honesty within the existing marketplace are two reasons. The raison d’etre for these three enthusiasts is that they believe that the consumer deserves an honest approach and a good experience when they purchase a bottle. As a result their key rules are based around zero additives and zero sugar. They want the experience to be authentic, honest and more importantly, affordable without having to spend upwards of £100 on a bottle. With all of this in mind, AuRhum aim to create a range of bottlings that are either unique or that enable rarely seen distillates to be enjoyed. As if their lofty, but sensible goals weren’t enough, as both Alexander and Lindy work in the armed forces they want to assist and support both current and former colleagues who perhaps have not shared their luck. They insist that 5% of the company profits must be donated to a Veteran Charity in Denmark.

Pretty admirable stuff. But we need to shift focus to the bottle that is being assessed today….AuRhum “Purity” Jamaican Rum

AuRhum “Purity” Jamaican Rum – 57% abv – 0g/l additives

As mentioned at the beginning, we gain most of the information that we need from the bottle, with the remaining questions being asked directly. Distilled in St. Catherine, Jamaica can only mean one thing, and that is distillation at the mighty Worthy Park on their Forsyths double retort pot still. You can gain a wealth of information about the distillery and its products by clicking here. The marque information is unavailable but generally the most commonly available aged marque is WPL (Worthy Park Light – 60-119 gr/laa) although that is not confirmed. Distilled in late 2013 / early 2014, the Rum was matured for 4 years at the distillery in ex-bourbon barrels prior to being shipped to Denmark in early 2018 for a further 1 year ‘finish’ in ex-Port casks. It was bottled for AuRhum in early 2019 and is a release of 360 bottles, mine being hand numbered as 148 and it is presented at 57% abv with No Sugar, No Additives and No Chill Filtration. It is available for the equivalent of around £82 plus postage. If awards are your thing, it picked up a Gold at the 2019 Nordic Rum Fest.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Nice and punchy. Its apparent youth and associated alcohol are quite forceful initially. Fortunately they don’t stick around and dissipate rather quickly after a few minutes in the glass. Immediately it reveals the now trademark signatures of a Worthy Park offering….Big solid notes of strong, stewed black tea. This is elevated and carried on a mushy overripe banana sweetness that throws mashed up mango into the mix, with spice bun and sweet coconut milk rice. Warm blackcurrant jelly that has been recently poured over trifle sponges and is waiting to set. Heavy berry and fortified wine notes themselves bring dark chocolate, raisins, prune juice and a developing spiced characteristic. This spice driven facet to the nose is initially quite peppery with cinnamon, fiery fresh ginger and a hint of cumin. As the Rum develops in the glass, and it really does develop over time, more of that sweet rice and coconut milk begins to usher in a creamy characteristic and the once stewed black tea morphs into a more mellow and milky spiced chai offering. The merest hint of window putty makes itself known.

Mouth: Plenty of heat on the first couple of visits. The relative youth of the rum coupled with its 57% abv means that it’s one that needs a little acclimatisation. As your palate becomes accustomed to the heat, a sharply sweet and hot spiced note are the order of the day with fiery crystallised ginger and pepper balancing well with a bag of dried cranberries. Almost immediately it feels like the rum is starting to dry out but rather confusingly as soon as this feeling has washed over the tip of your tongue, a real saliva inducing sweetness bathes the sides of your mouth with tart and sweet red and black currants and a hint of gooseberry which, given the vast quantity of other Worthy Park bottlings that I’ve consumed, must be as a result of the port cask. Continuity is there from nose to mid palate with the familiar overripe banana and black tea mixing with the creamier coconut rice, vanilla rice pudding and milky chai. There’s a slice of sour cherry pie leading into the finish that does possess some real length and is heavily spiced with ginger, black pepper and a touch of ginger cake. A little dark chocolate bitterness wrapped up with tart berries and sweeter prunes ushers in a return of a spicy red wine characteristic. Maybe some raisins and a touch of soft liquorice. It becomes a little bit ‘cigar ash’ at the back end as the fruit dissipates and you do begin to feel more cask influence growing.

In Conclusion: It’s quite young, and it shows in both the heated nature of the distillate and its delivery which can feel a little like an excited puppy dog clamouring for your attention. It’s also a fiery proposition, and one where the alcohol carries some real influence throughout and as a result the transitions can feel a little jumpy, but the overarching factor remains that the base spirit is a very solid one. The finishing period in port casks has definitely added something worthwhile to the Rum rather than detracting from it. For me it certainly is an enjoyable Rum, and like that excited puppy, I’ve grown quite fond of it. More than worth a purchase.

4 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

Barbados Distillers Unite in Push for a GI

No fence sitting here…..Readers of this site will be more than aware of our standpoint on the topic of a GI for Barbados and the GI already in place in Jamaica. We see them both as critical in protecting the reputation, provenance and quality of the Rums being produced there and economically they ensure that the majority of the value is is earned in the country of origin. We have articles written on the subject of the alleged ‘threat to diversity’ here and the Barbados GI proposals here. An article was published in The Spirits Business yesterday highlighting the counterpoint made by three of the four distilleries (FS/MG/SNA) on the island in agreement with the GI to the earlier article from the one distillery (WIRD) or more probably the owner of the distillery, that is not in favour of the GI and its lack of allowance for up to 20 g/l of additions among other things. To roll over on this one would be a tragedy. No innovation is being stifled, no hands are being tied….everyone can use whatever yeast strains they like……ferment for a day or a month with seawater, dishwater or pond water…..mature in any wood…..use any method of distillation that they desire…..they just can’t call it Barbados Rum when it is not produced in compliance with the GI.

Anyhow, my ramblings are over with and perhaps the strongest statement is the simplest….

*Press Release*

20 January 2020 – Mount Gay, Foursquare and Saint Nicholas Abbey have jointly agreed on a Geographical Indication for Barbados Rum as prepared by the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) in consultation with its legal counsel. The three distillers are the largest bottlers of Barbados Rum and together hold over 90% of the island’s aged reserves.

A Geographical Indication means that a product’s “given quality, reputation or other characteristic…is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.” Under EU spirits regulations, “a name shall only be protected” if the production steps which give it this quality and reputation “take place in the relevant Geographic area.”

Under the GI, Barbados Rum will be required to be matured in Barbados as the climate of maturation has a defining impact on the nature of a spirit.
“The value of rum increases as it matures. We cannot afford the loss of forex earnings by letting this production step happen outside of Barbados” – Larry Warren, proprietor, Saint Nicholas Abbey.

The Barbados GI gives ample room for innovation. There are no restrictions on the type of stills used, long and short fermentation techniques are allowed, and either fresh juice, syrup or molasses may be used. Any yeast may be used, but non saccharomyces strains must be native.
“At Foursquare we have gained a reputation for innovation. I am happy to say the Barbados GI places no restrictions on our rum making methods.” – Richard Seale, proprietor, Foursquare Distillery.

Unlike nearby volcanic Islands, Barbados is an Island of coral limestone with underground aquifers. Barbados is famous for the quality of its water and the GI retains a requirement for the use of Barbados water to make Barbados Rum.
“Till this day, Mount Gay uses the same water sourced from our centuries’ old well to make our Rum” – Raphael Grisoni, Managing Director, Mount Gay Rum.

To protect the quality and reputation of Barbados Rum, maturation must be in new oak or in refill casks from a list of recognised wine and spirit denominations. Age statements must refer to the youngest spirit. Vats are not acceptable for age statements. To protect the integrity of Barbados Rum, the addition of sugar syrup and flavourings is prohibited; however, caramel colour under strict guidelines, will be allowed for consistency.
The fourth major distillery in Barbados – West Indies Rum Distillery – is primarily a bulk producer of non aged rum acquired by Maison Ferrand in 2017. Ferrand has appealed directly to the political leadership of Barbados to overturn the work of the BIDC and has demanded to mature Barbados Rum outside of Barbados in wooden vats and to sweeten Barbados Rum with added sugar syrup. The former request would violate the EU’s requirement for production steps to take place within the protected geographic area.

*End*

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

Worthy Park Single Estate 2006 – 12 Year

Back after a summer break with a review of Worthy Parks latest flagship Rum. The Worthy Park Single Estate 2006 12 Year Old. The first vintage release from Worthy Park under their own label since recommencing production in 2005 following an absence of over 40 years. Excluding mixed maturation independent bottlings with a vintage we have only seen fully distillery matured vintages under the Habitation Velier label including the 2005, the quite excellent 2006 WPM and 2007. A little background information can be found on the distillery by clicking here. You will also see just how much I enjoyed the Habitation Velier 2006 by clicking here.

A brief account of the history of Worthy Park Estate and their rum production first….The Worthy Park Estate is located at the geographical centre of Jamaica in the Parish of St. Catherine which is in a valley known as Vale of Lluidas. The Worthy Park Estate was founded in 1670 and commercial cultivation of sugarcane began in 1720 and has continued unabated to this day. Rum production at Worthy Park has been recorded from as early as 1741, which makes it the oldest producer still in existence in Jamaica. Post World War 2 there was an over-supply of Jamaican Rum in the marketplace and as you would imagine, this drove prices down. Because of this reduced value, the Spirits Pool of Jamaica met with the islands distillers and between them an agreement was made to stop Rum production at the facility in the 1960’s. In 2004 a decision was made by Gordon Clarke to begin Worthy Park Rum production again. Worthy Park Estate re-entered the Rum market in 2005. 

Worthy Park have in excess of 20 varieties of sugarcane that are harvested with the majority of the fields being dedicated to 3 varieties. They also utilise 3 different yeasts within their fermentation. An activated dry yeast, an isolated proprietary yeast ( taken from one of their sugarcane varieties) and a wild yeast. This wild yeast is cultivated in 4 american white oak pre-fermentation vats. This yeast is developed in a 3 month process which involves molasses, crushed cane stalks, cane juice and ‘special’ ingredients. The yeast is then allowed to develop on its own in these open tanks which are devoid of any temperature control. Worthy Park have 6 fermentation tanks, of which 4 are temperature controlled via a heat exchanger in order to create the ideal temperature for fermentation. The 2 non-temperature controlled tanks are dedicated to the wild yeast fermentation for their high ester distillate and this is a process that can last for between 2 to 3 weeks. So, these various yeast strains and fermentation methods allow Worthy Park to produce a varying number of marques that each has its own code based upon ester count.

These are: 

WPEL – <60 gr/laa

WPL – 60-119 gr/laa

WPM- 120-239 gr/laa

WPH – 240-360 gr/laa

WPE – Up to 800 gr/laa

Distillation is undertaken on a magnificent Forsyths Double Retort pot still.

Worthy Park Single Estate 2006 – 12 Year – 56% abv – Pure single Rum

With all of that said, lets have a look at the bottle in question. A limited release of 8000 bottles globally (4000 for the EU / 4000 for the US & Jamaica), this bottling, which carries a guaranteed minimum age statement of 12 years was distilled in 2006. It is made from estate molasses, is the WPL marque (refer to breakdown above) and is matured at the distillery in Jamaica for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels prior to bottling in 2018 at its cask strength of 56%. No chill filtering. No additions. No bullshit. I first tried this at the UK Rumfest in October 2018 in the VIP Rum Room and I was not the only one with a huge smile on my face after tasting it.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Very interesting from the get go……the mildest hint of peppermint and dark chocolate….think Fry’s Mint Chocolate Cream for those of you old enough to remember it. The fun doesn’t stop there though. The trademark, clear as day Worthy Park Banana is here by the fruit bowl full…..both overripe…..warmed…caramelised and baked…in a lightly spiced loaf. Perhaps a little buttered Spice Bun. Sitting alongside it is a cup of strong tea. There is a growing salty olive tapenade note from the pot still that is bringing with it preserved lemons. Let’s not shy away from the huge slab of oak running through the middle of the nose either….big musty damp oak flexing its muscles but being kept in check by the banana, a hefty dose of molasses and a little acetone allowing a growing menthol influence to announce itself. The bitter sweetness of bonfire toffee and dark chocolate. This all harmonises and ties itself together with a little barrel spice and the block of pipe tobacco that my grandad used to cut with a small penknife on a tray on his knee.

Startlingly complex, assertive and well defined nose that really exhibits each element at its best.

Mouth: The big, oily mouthfeel allows the initial entry to carry a little honeyed sweetness……along come freshly cut pears too. There is a fleeting appearance made by our good friend warm, overripe banana. It carries a sticky, malty note too. Maybe the merest hint of candyfloss being spun at a fairground. That sweetness is relatively short lived due to the force of a growing oaken influence. It is the spice that asserts itself initially before the dryness creeps in bringing with it light menthol, dark chocolate and a slight hint of leather. The oak is warm….it blankets your tongue with just enough heat to at least hint at the fact that the Rum is 56%. The mid palate takes the oak and slowly begins to unwrap it allowing baking spices, warm buttered banana loaf, chocolate coated banana chips and creme caramel to develop…..this is joined by little flashes of sweet / sour citrus and kola kube sweets. Burnt raisins, molasses, liquorice bring light bitterness which leads the oak into a long, warming finish resplendent with a little menthol, those tobacco notes found on the nose, buttery fudge and cocoa. Little spots of sweetness appear at the back end with the heavy pot still character carrying through until the death allowing the molasses to linger.

The palate of this rum really does continue the good work and foundations laid down by the nose to build layer upon layer of complexity. It remains entirely consistent throughout the transition from initial nose to the final dying embers of the finish. It never bares its 56% teeth either aside from a little heat into the mid-palate.

In Conclusion: Complexity by the bucket load.  Such a well balanced presentation of the distillate too. Nothing is too aggressive or ramped up, everything is in perfect harmony. Each element has its part to play, no matter how big or small and as an experience it just sings.  I can’t help thinking that we’re witnessing something really special here. Maybe a coming of age for a distillery, now back producing its own estate bottlings, using its own estate molasses following a hiatus of over 40 years. It displays huge confidence and the self assurance of a distillery that is really beginning to stretch its legs and I’m so excited for what is to come from them.

It is fully compliant with the Jamaican GI, is devoid of any kind of shenanigans, is as honest as the day is long and (I don’t say this lightly as I’m a HUGE fan of the Habitation Velier 2006 WPM and the Single Estate 57% release) this could be just about as close to Worthy Park perfection as I could’ve hoped for.

5 / 5 +

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny Rum

Rum Exchange is Facebook Group that was created by Andreas Isopp to, you guessed it, provide a platform for bottle and samples trading…..but much more than that, it is also a company that was set up to facilitate the introduction and selling of Rums that not considered ‘mass market’. They take complete control of the import, trade and distribution of these brands and products. They provide a link between producers, retailers and consumers.

Two bottlings have formed their inaugural release under their own Rum Exchange brand name. Release #001 is the one being reviewed here today, the Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny Rum and release #002 is the Rum Exchange Jamaica St Catherine Rum. Now you don’t need to be a genius to read between the lines on the distilleries for these two releases but we’ll play the game.

Both Rums have been sourced from and bottled by 1423 in Denmark who are behind the SBS series amongst other things. They both have a percentage of distillery based tropical climate maturation and non-distillery maturation in the climate of continental Europe. Tropical maturation has been in ex-bourbon barrels whereas the continental maturation has been in ex fortified wine barrels. But lets get down to business.

Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny Rum – 61.5% abv – Pure Single Rum

This Rum, a release of 355 bottles (mine is number 85) is a Pure Single Rum from Hampden Distillery in Jamaica. Distilled in 2013 it saw 3 years of distillery maturation in ex-bourbon prior to being shipped to Denmark and spending a further 2 years in an ex-oloroso barrel. It was bottled in May 2019 at a bruising 61.5% abv. Presentation wise I like the squat square bottle. Sits well on the shelf and pours well. The artwork is definitely of note with the image depicted being Banana Plantation by John Dunkley who was a Jamaican sculptor and artist (the labels were the work of Jordan Harper who is an all round nice chap who I first met on the British Bourbon Society Facebook page). The label is also keen to state that the rum is free from sugar and colouring which hints that those oloroso barrels were VERY influential!

Tasting Notes

Nose: Heavily sherried. It’s all raisins and fruitcake in the early exchanges with added Quality Street toffee pennies and a dollop of Cartmel toffee sauce. The brightness and depth of the Jamaican Rum does fight through after a while though. Its funky….but not balls our high ester funky. A little astringency follows, not unexpected given its relative youth. Candied Pineapple. Caramelised Pineapple sugars. Banana bread. Quite sweet with a hint of bitter burnt sugar. As the Rum warms in the glass there is a little spicy oak influence bringing barrel notes of pepper, an earthy turmeric and maybe a hint of fenugreek seeds. It also becomes slightly nutty. It draws you in as this is complexity that some may think was unexpected….but lets not mix up maturity with age. It continues to gain momentum and its complexity starts to win you over.

Mouth: Youth and abv definitely show themselves initially. Its hot and a little prickly. This gives way to an initial savoury assault of roasted root vegetables. Smoked cheese. A little wood influence brings spicy ginger root before the sherried notes kick in. Pineapple juice fights through. The mid-palate has stone fruit. Quite a bit of bitterness. Molasses. Treacle toffee. Pickled balsamic onions. The spice begins to grow. The finish is mildly sweet with pineapple upside down cake but the savoury muscles in. Smoked cheese. Pickled onion Monster Munch. Reds Kansas BBQ sauce with a little sweet smoke.

I tried this a few weeks ago in an online tasting with Johnny Michaelsen of Spirits People. We tried a little water in the glass. Maybe enough to take it down to around 55% abv. We both found that this dulled the experience and it lacked a little robustness maybe due to a relatively short time in the barrel or the mixed maturation locations but it all kind of unraveled and became too dull an experience so we both added more Rum to the glass to bring the abv up again.

All in all an interesting take on a Hampden and it is definitely different enough, in a good way, to make this a worthwhile purchase. All too easy is it to allow the fortified wine barrels to suffocate the distillate and although the sherry is robust, it doesn’t ruin the experience. Not a classic representation of Hampden, but its tasty stuff.

4 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.