English Harbour 10

I am a big fan of the other Rums that I’ve tasted by Antigua Distillery Limited including English Harbour and Soldiers Bay. This post however is all about the bigger more mature brother of the young fiery upstart that was English Harbour 5. A little about Rum and Antigua firstly though.

EH10 BottleAt around the middle of the 18th Century around 70,000 acres (about half of the arable land in Antigua) was planted with sugar cane. There were also more than 150 stone built sugar mills on the island with associated boiler houses etc. This led to the Plantation Act of 1793 establishing sugar cane as the principal Antiguan crop. By the 1920’s the Rum Shops on Antigua were importing large quantities of Rum from other Caribbean Islands for blending and aging to create their own brands to sell to customers. Rums with names such as Red Cock, Silver Leaf, White House, Black Cock and Bolanda were all available! As Rum Shops were the inevitable meeting place within the village, they were very popular venues with the majority of the Rum Shop owners being Portuguese immigrants from Madeira. It was in 1929 that a group of 8 local entrepreneurs joined together to bulk buy molasses with the end goal of controlling the process of distilling their own Rum. All but one of the 8 were Rum Shop owners! They had an initial request for land in the St John’s area turned down by the colonial government as they were not keen on a distillery and all of the associated smells that it brings. They were however granted land on the wonderfully named ‘Rat Island’ which sat next to a one time leper colony! In June 1932 the Antigua Distillery Limited company (ADL) was founded. All of the founding members stayed to serve as active directors. Early equipment comprised a 3 column copper Saville still from France. The Rum that this still produced was characterized by a pronounced sweet, sugar cane aroma in conjunction with a medium-bodied dry flavour. Apparently the rectifying section of this still is currently in use to this day! The first Rum produced by ADL was sold by the barrel to local Rum Merchants and was blended and bottled by each Merchant individually under their own private labels. By the 1940’s, the company started producing its own Rum which was initially called Caballero Rum. This was changed in 1947 to Cavalier Muscovado Rum. A lighter version of this Rum is still available today as Cavalier Antigua Rum.

Fast forward to modern-day goings on at Antigua Distillery Limited and they buy molasses in bulk on the world market in conjunction with other Caribbean buyers. I’ve read that Guyana and Dominican Republic are preferred sources. In 1991 the old Saville still was replaced with a *5 column copper still* copper column still sourced in England from John Dore & Co. The spirit is drawn off at a strength of 95% abv and piped into stainless steel holding tanks to be tested by both taste and smell in the hopes of identifying any unwanted trace flavours. The spirit is also lab tested for trace elements that may affect flavour. The Rum is then diluted with pure water to 70% abv. It is at this point that it is laid down into newly charred used 200 litre Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey barrels. The aging period for Rum on Antigua is never less than 2 years and generally ranges from 2 to 10 years with the occasional batch being held for 25 years…..(an article on the bottle of 1981 that I have will follow as soon as I’m brave enough to open it). With this new still, ADL began to expand its product line and in 1993 English Harbour Rum was introduced named after Antigua’s Navy Heritage. As an aside, the English Harbour Dockyard was restored in the 1950’s and is the only active Georgian dockyard in existence. Currently ADL is managed by descendants of the founding directors. Paul Farara, son of Quin Farara is Chairman of the Board of Directors and Anthony Bento, related to both E.C Farara and Quin Farara is Managing Director. ADL continues the tradition of distilling Rum at the ‘Rat Island’ site.

*EDIT: It appears that my still information is inaccurate, I have requested clarity from ADL and will update once confirmed*

English Harbour Reserve 10 Year Old Rum – 40% abv

EH10 Bottle and GlassSo what we have is a column distilled Rum and the first thing to state is that every drop of Rum in this bottle is a minimum of 10 years old. ADL is quite keen to point that out. The rear bottle label also tells me that some Rums in the blend are up to 25 years old…..how much is that age is unknown. Also the availability of test data (both amateur and professional) for certain Rums helps identify any additional ‘tampering’. The result found for this Rum is based on Dave Russell’s excellent Rum Gallery site and the estimated sugar content (undissolved solids) is 0 g/L. I state this as if you have previously read my English Harbour 5 article, Anthony Bento stated that guidelines forbid the addition of ‘extras’ apart from caramel which should be tasteless and for colour only. But there was a random test result verified between two sources on the 25-year-old 1981 bottling giving a reading that would mean added sugar……this was however a proofing error at ADL in the actual product it seems so the panic is over! The bottle is a nice squat affair that has a low centre of gravity….the Rum is also housed within a presentation box which is a nice touch. To buy in the UK it will set you back upwards of £70 which is a hell of a price….fortunately I purchased from a French website at what I consider to be an absolute steal of £45! I really should’ve purchased in bulk! So here goes nothing……

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a coppery bronze in the glass and a swirl of the Rum leaves a ring of sluggish droplets. The Rum is pretty spiky too with a fair bit of alcohol burn but this calms to leave quite a bit of fruitiness in the form of apples, Victoria plums and a bit of dried fruit. Vanilla, light buttery pastry and croissants follow on. There is a little oak bringing with it toffee and chocolate. There is also a nice freshness to the Rum and a little floral note to round things out. You can smell a few of the toffee and vanilla notes without even going near the glass. It is a really pleasant Rum to sit with.

In the mouth: The Rum is spicier than expected initially with an entry that is driven by oak and black pepper. There follows a sweetness full of cinnamon, vanilla and caramel. This lingers for a while as the Rum has a nice oily medium body that coats every bit of your mouth. It does start to dry a little as the oak comes forward and that reveals some brown sugar and also gives way to the dried fruit and a crisp apple freshness. The finish is quite long and is full of pepper, buttery home-baked cinnamon swirls as the sweetness makes a return. Subsequent sips calm the spicy entry and leave you with what is a very flavourful and moreish Rum.

So what you have here is a Rum that has not been ‘tampered’ with, that is a minimum of 10 years old, and tastes like joy in a bottle. At its £70 price tag I would still buy a bottle just to see what all the fuss is about….I would be careful with it and would not have it on heavy rotation….however, I paid considerably less and will enjoy it on a weekly basis. Is it twice the Rum of its younger sibling? It takes things up a notch for sure but when English Harbour 5 can be picked up for £25, that represents a bargain….this not so much. I love it however and will most certainly be purchasing another bottle from my newly found source! Still to come though is the much fabled English Harbour 1981….a 25 year old bottle from ADL that for want of a better phrase made me fall in love with Rum all over again. But we’ll save that for when I’m brave enough to open my bottle.

As per usual, I’d love to hear your opinions on the Rum and feel free to pop in for a drop.

The eagle eyed amongst you will also note that I’ve been trying out a new tasting glass for this article. It is an absolute peach of a glass and really does encourage generous pouring which suits me down to the ground!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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.


Boutique RumFest

rum experience no date

Firstly, a little aside. If you have read any content on this site previously, you will know how much we enjoy and respect the work of Foursquare Rum Distillery’s Richard Seale. At Boutique RumFest we got to meet him. The evening was destined to be enjoyable after that moment.

So, on to the Boutique RumFest.

The whole experience was our first chance to sample the delights of the weekend as events had previously conspired to keep us away. We were fortunate enough to be allowed access to the Boutique RumFest which started off proceedings at 3pm on the Friday. We arrived at Euston, jumped in a taxi, checked into the hotel, took on refreshments and undertook the arduous journey down the stairs to the ILEC Conference Centre. Once inside we were greeted by a whole host of brands that we had not previously heard of and a few that we were familiar with. First up was Gold of Mauritius, who through good fortune, we had prior knowledge of. Amazingly, the Rums producer, Frederic Bestel was in attendance. There were then a few brands that we had not previously heard of. Amrut’s Two Indies Rum, various Rums (flavoured and unflavoured) from Fiji courtesy of Paradise Beverages, Koval Rum from Chicago and Sippin from London. All unique and interesting products in their own right. Familiar brands were also present in Ron Cubay, The Duppy Share, Dos Maderas, Clarkes Court, Green Island, Ron Centenario, Seven Fathoms, Opthimus, The Real McCoy, English Harbour and St Nicholas Abbey.

So many brands in a confined area for us to speak to, the beauty of the Boutique RumFest lies in the fact that you can grab more time with the exhibitors to hear about the Rums and their plans.

20141010_160402Two Indies

Two Indies from Amrut, which should hopefully see a release in the UK pre-Christmas is a blend of younger Caribbean Rums from Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana blended with a 3-year-old Indian Rum made from Jaggery Goor which is palm sugar obtained from the Date palm Tree. We have plenty of experience with jaggery goor (one half of Rum Diaries just happens to be Bengali) and when poured over fresh Luchi (a Bengali flatbread) it is sublime! This Rum was a real treat and I hope to grab a bottle as soon as it sees a release.


Paradise Beverages

Paradise Beverages has a vast array of their Fijian Rums. Flavoured Rums included Golden Honey, Coconut, Coffee, White Chocolate, Banana (very successful which is hard to execute), Rum Liqueur and they also had a White Rum.  Their range of Bounty Rums included a great Overproof Rum, Dark Rum, Spiced Rum and a White. Stepping things up they also had Ratu Spiced Rum, Ratu 5 Year Old Dark Rum and their limited release Lautoka 12 Year Old Solera Rum. We really need to reacquaint ourselves with these Rums as the range has a lot to offer.



Sippin had a very interesting pair of flavoured Rums. Both at 37.5% abv, there is a Mulled expression flavoured with Orange, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger amongst other things which is going to be just right for drinking in a month or so as the weather chills and a Spiced expression containing Lime, Honey and Ginger which is both refreshing and has a real kick of heat from the ginger. Both would be ideal served hot or cold. Good stuff.

20141010_181441Dos Maderas

Dos Maderas with their sherry cask finishing methods add a new dimension to the base Rums and we would like more time with all there expressions. They had three expressions. The 5 + 3, 5 + 5 PX and Luxus. All expressions utilise Rums aged in their countries of origin, Barbados and Guyana. They are then shipped over to Bodega Williams and Humbert and aged for a second period. The 5 + 3 utilises 5 Year Old Rums and has an additional 3 Year Solera ageing in their 20 Year Old Dos Cortados Sherry Casks. The 5 + 5 PX utilises the same process and base Rums but also has another 2 Year Solera ageing in their 20 Year Old Don Guido (Pedro Ximinez) casks. The Luxus utilises 10 Year Old Rums as a base and then undergoes an additional 5 Year Solera ageing in their 20 Year Old Don Guido (Pedro Ximinez) casks. Rancio is the key word here………

20141010_184308St Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey is a brand that we are  familiar with. We own the White and 10 Year Old Expressions and really enjoy them both. We also got to try the 15 Year Old…unbelievable stuff. New to the line-up is the natural progression for St Nicholas Abbey, their own 5 Year Aged Rum. Made on their estate, in their still, and aged by them. Both the taste and aroma are wonderful and come it’s 2015 release, interest should be at hysteria levels for this Rum, and rightly so.

20141010_160514The Real McCoy

The Real McCoy is a brand that we’ve had our eye on for a while given that its origins can be found at Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. The Real McCoy is the Rum inspired by William McCoy, a Rum Runner who during prohibition times anchored off the coast of Long Island and supplied Rum to the knowledgeable few. We got to meet Bailey Pryor, company CEO and Emmy Award winning Director of The Real McCoy, a film about the life of William McCoy. We already had high expectations for these Rums and this was confirmed once we got to try them. The 3, 5 and 12 Year Old expressions are a great representation of Bajan Rum and once again, a real credit to Foursquare Distillery. They are not just repeats of Doorlys 3 and 5, they are their own animal and display their own characteristics whilst still belonging to the Foursquare stable.

2014-10-02 15.07.18Gold Of Mauritius

Gold of Mauritius is a brand that we have recently come to know as I was fortunate enough to meet a few weeks ago with Darius from Trilogy Beverages who are distributing the Rum in the UK. The Rum is an interesting one for sure and talking with Darius and Fred gave an insight into the processes involved and the essential barrel choice and barrel prep. The Rum has a pretty unique character that allows it to be unbelievably tasty on its own but also allows it to mix well. I also had the opportunity to try something that was pulled from beneath the counter.I REALLY need to try it again as it was another beautiful Rum.

20141010_193538Ron Cubay

Ron Cubay, a brand that we have believed in since their arrival in the UK had their new Extra Viejo expression available for tasting for the first time in UK. It is a blend of aged stock, both white and dark, which is then filtered before bottling in one of the most striking presentation bottles that we’ve ever seen, all accompanied by a beautiful display box. Look out for an update to the Ron Cubay article soon to including tasting notes for the Extra Viejo.

20141010_200454English Harbour

This then leads nicely onto what we believe was the truly defining moment of the whole evening. Antigua Distillery Ltd had brought along their English Harbour line of Rums. The 5 Year Old you can already read about on Rum Diaries Blog. We also got to sample the 10 Year Old which kicked things up a notch in terms of depth of flavour but still had that satisfying kick. They had also brought along the 25 Year Old English Harbour 1981. It was beautiful. Probably one of the more complex Rums that we have tasted up to this point. It was a discussion point all evening between us, so much so that whilst sitting in Euston Station on Monday morning awaiting the train home, we ordered a bottle.


We were also able to meet up with Peter Holland of The Floating Rum Shack, Ben Gane of Drink More Rum, Robert Burr of Rob’s Rum Guide, Helena Tiare Olsen of A Mountain Of Crushed Ice and numerous other Rum Royalty. We also had the opportunity to meet up with some wonderful distributors too. Maya and Francis from Distillnation, Jenny from Sip Or Mix, George and Jessica from The Westbourne Drinks Company and Darius from Trilogy Beverages to name a few. Boutique RumFest was a really great opportunity to experience new Rums and to get an insight into the processes involved in getting a new brand to market away from the noise of the main event……but of course the highlight for us was having a photograph taken with Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador. A real gent and a true champion of Rum.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. 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.


Soldiers Bay Silver Rum

Soldiers Bay LogoThis is rum that perhaps you won’t have heard of (it is relatively new, being launched in November 2013) but its origins are based at a distillery that you most certainly will have heard of. Soldiers Bay Silver is produced by the only remaining distillery in Antigua, Antigua Distillery. This is the same distillery that produces the wonderful English Harbour range of rums. I wrote a post on their English Harbour 5 Rum here which you can use to refresh yourself.

The first rums to be produced in Antigua in the early 19th Century were basic concoctions made by individual estate owners using crude pot stills, but apparently the rums produced were still light with a depth of flavour. Fast forward to the early 20th Century and to the demise of the estate rum production, the rum trade moved into individual shops whose proprietors formulated their own brands and sold them under names such as Silver Leaf, House and Red Cock. A number of these shop owners amalgamated to form Antigua Distillery Ltd in 1932. The distillery initially sold only two types of rum and an aged ‘mature’ product known as Caballero Rum. 1934 saw the company purchase a number of estates and a sugar factory to produce its own molasses. The factory produced a high quality sugar known as muscovado. The residues of this sugar, known as muscovado molasses, was used to produce Antigua Distillery Ltd’s first bottled rum in the early 1950’s. This rum was a full-bodied, unique rum known as Cavalier Muscovado Rum. Due to a worldwide shift in consumer preference towards rums with a lighter body in the 1960’s, the company adapted its distillation process to produce Cavalier Antigua Rum which was a much lighter bodied rum.

Fast forward and the Antigua Distillery still produce Cavalier Rum along with English Harbour, and the rum for Soldiers Bay.

Soldiers Bay Rum is molasses based and the fermented molasses is left to ‘mature’ for four days prior to continuous copper still distillation. The rum is then carbon filtered and is an unaged product that is diluted to 40% abv before bottling……..but how does it taste……

Tasting Notes

IMAG0913_1In the glass: The rum is crystal clear and the immediate scent that hits you is coconut. Lots and lots of coconut. This is accompanied by a little waxy citrus and a big dollop of marshmallow. All encouraging so far.

In the mouth: Oh my word. Straight away the coconut is there, it’s not overpowering but there certainly is a lot of it. In this way it is similar to the English Harbour 5 which carried a lot of toasted coconut, but this is less toasted and more akin to coconut cream. The marshmallow too is evident and hits you like a spoonful of marshmallow fluff! I didn’t pick up the citrus in flavour, only on the nose but there is a little peachy and pineapple note hiding in the background. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the rum is sickly sweet though. It dries out very quickly and leave a beautiful light coconut, medium-ish length finish. No harshness is present and the rum is as smooth as you like. This is headed straight into a daiquiri!

IMAG0914_1This rum really shines in a daiquiri, it compliments the citrus so well and the coconut sweetness is boosted by the sugar syrup. It occupies the middle ground between two other great daiquiri rums, Plantation 3 Stars and Koko Kanu. It is also great mixed with cola, and is killer with pineapple juice, passion fruit syrup and a little toasted coconut on top….I’ve also added a little white chocolate liqueur to the mix which works well, mood dependent though as the sweetness escalates quickly.

To take you back a step, with all of this talk of coconut, this is not a coconut rum. I was so convinced of flavour tampering that I contacted the UK distributor to query its origins. I was assured that it is solely down to the four-day matured fermented molasses and the rums lack of contact with oak, which is stopping the formation of vanilla and caramel flavours. This rum is ridiculously tasty and at less than £22 a bottle online, it is an absolute steal. It’s versatile, tastes great and is criminally underrated…..a little bit like myself.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. 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.