Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’

Plantation as a brand will be familiar to pretty much everyone reading this. No real explanation is required. Xaymaca however will need a little explanation. It is the name given to the island of Jamaica by its first inhabitants, the Arawaks. With their purchase of the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D) in Barbados, Maison Ferrand also gained a third share in National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ). This gives them a share of Long Pond and Clarendon Distilleries. There are pot stills available at those distilleries. Long Pond has a John Dore Pot Still and Clarendon has a Vendome Pot Still. With access to the distilleries came improved access to stock. Hence, the Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ was born.

The release of the new Plantation Xaymaca has been accompanied by much fanfare in Rum circles. It speaks of a revival! Their own website marketing information states that the Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ will:

“revive the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary « Rum Funk » : aromas and flavours of black banana and flambéed pineapple, locally called “Hogo,” an Anglicization of the French term “Haut Goût” (high taste).”

Quite the claim.

Information provided by Plantation is as follows:

  • Alc./Vol. : 43%
  • Origin : Jamaica
  • Distilleries : Clarendon and Long Pond
  • Raw material : Molasses
  • Fermentation : 1 and 3 weeks
  • Distillation : Pot Still (Vendome) from Clarendon Distillery / Pot Still (John Dore) from Long Pond Distillery
  • Tropical ageing : 1 to 3 y.o. in ex-Bourbon casks
  • Continental ageing, elevage : 1 year in ex-Cognac casks
  • Volatile Substances : 312 g/hL AA
  • Esters : 156g/hL AA
  • Marques : Clarendon EMB & MLC marks / Long Pond VRW & STC^E marks
  • Classification : Plummer
  • Dosage : 0 g/L

Digging deeper, as Matt over at Cocktail Wonk has, more information can be gained from those marques. I urge you to view his article but I will also break it down further below utilising the detailed information that Matt obtained on his trip to Maison Ferrand.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ – 43% abv – Pot Still Rum

As mentioned above, the marques used in the Xaymaca are as follows:

  • Long Pond – VRW (Vale Royal Wedderburn) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 150-250 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Long Pond – STC^E (Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 550-650 g/hL AA. 8 years Tropical maturation & 1 year Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – EMB from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 125-175 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – MLC (Monymusk Light Continental) from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 500-600 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks

Now there is way more information including specific distillate fermentation periods and abv prior to blending in the linked article.

The article linked to will also tell you that this initial release has another marque in the blend that could be permanent, may not be permanent, may be replaced or may be replaced repeatedly. It’s currently an unknown, but given the age of the marque,its doubtful that it will be available in enough quantities to be permanent.

Missing Marque:

  • Long Pond – ITP from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester level of 280 g/hL AA. 17 years predominantly Tropical maturation

The final Xaymaca noted ester level of 156 g/hL AA, putting it at the bottom end of the Plummer range of 150-200 g/hL AA lets you know that the VRW and the EMB marques are the predominant components of the blend. But, as with Hampdens DOK marque, a little higher ester goes a long way. So let’s have a look at how it tastes.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Candied fruit sweetness. Bright acidic fruit as I would expect with a Long Pond component. Orange peel. Warm Pineapple chunks. Overripe banana. The nip of young alcohol. Light oak. Quite subdued.

Mouth: Sweet warming entry. Thinner mouthfeel than I was expecting but it’s not overly watery. Quite a bit of spice and a more apparent wood influence that wasn’t present on the nose. Fresh ginger. Mild raisin. Faint milk chocolate. The mildest note of pear drop sweets is present if you really concentrate. Mid palate is warming and has hints of toffee. It’s very much Jamaica-lite….but too lite for me. More multi island blend. The finish is surprisingly short with watery wood and weak butterscotch. Pretty dull on the palate, especially when considering how promising the nose was. I would also note that it feels as if it may have an element of column Rum in the blend, even though not noted as such.

For a product that makes a big deal about “hogo”, “Rum Funk”, and “reviving the quintessential Jamaican style 100% pot still rums of the 19th Century”……even getting so geeky as to give a list of the marques used in the blend and giving Ester and Volatile Compound levels, I find that the message being pushed runs at odds with the liquid in the bottle. I’m also not sure who it is aimed at. It can’t be current Plantation fans as they have no issue with the additions anyway. It’s not aimed at geeks as although it has the info, it’s just not interesting enough. It seems to be tagged as a good “beginners” Jamaican Rum in a lot of reviews that I have seen post note writing. If I was new to Jamaican Rum and this was my first bottle, it wouldn’t excite me enough to make me want to know more. Beginners want approachable, not uninteresting. Much has also been made of the lack of ’dosage’. In fact, the lack of ‘dosage’ is stated on the label. Great move, but it only has meaning if you also state on the bottle label when you HAVE added something. Please correct me if this happens with the bottles that have high levels of “dosage” as I’ve not seen it. Website data, Bacardi and Diplomatico do it too, but it means nothing if you’re choosing when to disclose on the label and when not to. Small step, and one to be noted….but we’re not in the promised land yet.

I wanted to enjoy this Rum. It should be a winner on paper. 100% pot. Proper marques being used. Loads of label clarity. But it’s like a jigsaw, with all of the right pieces arranged to make the wrong picture. With those marques, it should be impossible to make a boring blend….but thats what I believe the Xaymaca is. Maybe the secondary age dulled it’s vibrancy. It would’ve maybe been better presented as the distillates blended without the “elevage”, as it has definitely not added value. Could’ve and should’ve been so much more.

2 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.

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The Duppy Share

Duppy Side 2By now you will have all heard about the new kid on the block, The Duppy Share. I first heard about the Rum back in May 2014 at the Boutique Bar Show which was being held in Manchester Town Hall. I spoke to George who hinted at something new to watch out for….I then found myself in the ACR mini-seminar sitting next to Jessica who also mentioned a new Rum that would soon be coming to market. Fast forward to July and The Duppy Share finally saw it’s launch! The Duppy share is the brainchild of The Westbourne Drinks Co which was founded by George Frost and Jessica Swinfen. The inspiration behind The Duppy Share was George’s love of the Caribbean where he used to holiday as a child with regular trips to Barbados and Anguilla. He wanted a Rum that best reflected the spirit of the Caribbean. Initially thoughts turned towards starting a Rum distillery in London but that idea was quickly eschewed in favour of sourcing Rums from the skilled producers, blenders and custodians of generations worth of family owned businesses. After numerous distillery visits and numerous Rum tastings, a blend of Rums from Barbados and Jamaica were chosen. These components are then shipped to the Netherlands for blending before being bottled in the UK to produce the Rum that you see before you.

Duppy Side 1The inspiration behind the name and also the presentation also require a little explanation. Duppies are the dark spirits of Caribbean folklore that are said to journey between islands in the dead of night to steal a share of the Rum from the barrels. Naughty little Duppies! The bottle too is a work of art, as are the labels. Reminiscent of 1930’s travel posters the labels pull together an element of nostalgia and sophistication which when coupled with the stunning bottle shape really allows The Duppy Share to deliver an experience a million miles away from what could have been given the obvious pirate links. Premiumisation is obviously a key word within the marketing of this brand but I’ll deal with that later.

The Jamaican component is a three-year old 100% pot still Rum sourced from Worthy Park. This will add the punch and funk to the Rum along with a boat load of tropical fruit. The Barbadian component is a five-year old Rum sourced from (yes, you guessed it) Foursquare Distillery which will impart the oak elements, colour and flavour and will help round out the Rum, balancing the heat of the pot still element……………..having already tasted it, my mouth is watering just writing this!

The Duppy Share – 40% abv

Duppy Front

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a bright gold in the glass with darker flashes. Oak is apparent from the off, as is a dose of vanilla and brown sugar. A little whiff of banana and some astringent pot still notes are also in there. There is a light honeyed sweetness along with the aroma of a bag of dried tropical fruit pieces. There is also a buttery and creamy edge to the Rum with a little light spice. On the whole, whilst there is a lot going on, it’s all quite light with nothing too forceful.

In the mouth: Wow. The thing that immediately strikes you is the weight of this Rum…….it has a really heavy body when judging against the nose. The Rum has a really big mouthfeel and enters with a little sweetness and apparent pot still Rum. It is creamy and has a little warming tropical fruit wrapped in a nutty, buttery and vanilla character. Brown sugar follows on before the Rum starts to dry out a little. Further sips once your mouth has acclimatised to the initial punch of the Rum reveal a little peppery bite and a little mango and banana. There is a little peach flavour too as an aftertaste / aroma and the back of my mouth. The finish is long with the spice edge of nutmeg and pepper. There is vanilla, dark brown sugar and peanut brittle before dry oak rounds things out.

It is very rare in this day and age that clever marketing, excellent presentation, a well woven back story and a new, unheard of brand can actually deliver on its promises of ‘premiumisation’ with most attempts being a lot of bark but no bite…..be under no illusion though that this product is perhaps one of the few exceptions that cuts through the groans and grunts of those tired with style over substance. This Rum is a beautiful blend of components that have been carefully sourced from credible producers by George and Jessica, a pairing that clearly enjoy Rum and that clearly have an understanding of what it is about Rum that others like too. It’s all so easy, and perhaps tempting with a new product to blindy colour and sweeten up the Rum to open the appeal up to the mass audience but they have been respectful to the component Rums with each element allowed to shine. I’ve read some mediocre articles about the Rum and have read stories of disappointment with The Duppy Share but I myself share none of that negativity. It has a little bite, is full of flavour, is presented beautifully and is priced keenly at £27 a bottle. I got the opportunity to try the Rum at the Boutique RumFest and also at RumFest itself in varying forms, both neat and in a punch. I’ve since been out and purchased more of the Rum and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do too.

© 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.