Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still

Rum Nation Logo
I have been more than aware of the Rums released by Rum Nation for a while. I have even had the opportunity to try a couple of them. I then started seeing images of a striking bottle of Rum appearing on the web but could not locate it over here in the UK and it was whilst making my first order from France that I noticed it for sale at what was the rather competitive price of £28. That price for a white Jamaican 100% Pot Distilled Rum at 57% abv……I’d be a fool not to snap it up….

RNFrontA little background on Rum Nation should start things off in earnest. The company founder, Fabio Rossi was born in 1961. His father, Mario Jr started to deal in wines and spirits in 1956 and was the first importer of Laphroig Whisky in Italy. He then proceeded to import brands such as Rhum Barbancourt. Fabio grew up around fine wines and spirits and took a degree in Oenology (the study of wine and wine making). During a series of business related distillery visits to Scotland in 1990, Fabio noticed old barrels of Rum from Jamaica and British Guyana stacked near the whisky barrels. These barrels had been sent there for maturation as the climate would reduce the loss to evaporation and also slow down the maturation process. With Rum only retained in memory, Fabio formed Wilson & Morgan in 1992, a company that releases an independent line of single malt whiskies. Several years later having never forgotten those memories of the Rum tastings that he had been a party to, Fabio asked Silvano Samaroli, himself a respected independent bottler, for advice on Rum and Rum styles. Fabio purchased his first barrels of Rum and their contents were bottled. Not wanting to release the Rums under the Wilson & Morgan name, in 1999 the Rum Nation brand was born. For the curious, those first Rums were a vatting of two barrels of 25 year old Jamaican Rum (1974-1999 Cask Nos 857 and 858) and a barrel of 24 year old Demerara Rum (1975-1999 Cask No 4111). These barrels were left to rest in an underground warehouse in Bristol (I’d hazard a guess that it is the warehouse of Mr John Barrett of Bristol Spirits Ltd). Apparently there is still remaining stock, some 16 years later.

A decision was made early on in the life of Rum Nation to not label the Rums after the distillery, but to make them single domaine Rums named after their country of origin, and as Fabio has been an avid stamp collector from an early age, one thing that runs through the range (and is particularly striking on the label of this bottle) is that each label contains an image of a postage stamp from the country of origin.

You can read more about Fabio Rossi and Rum Nation as there is a far more lengthy and colourful representation of this story available on the Rum Nation website, and you can find that by clicking here.

Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still – 57% abv

Rum Nation Jamaica

The rear label on the bottle hints at the distillery location in St Catherine, Jamaica. This therefore could be either the Worthy Park Estate (most likely) or the Monymusk Estate. For me there is something almost mythical about these high powered, high ester, Jamaican flavour bombs. They are often misunderstood as exercises in potent liquids much beloved of teenagers daring eachother to down shots. When taken in that context….yes, they can be pretty hellish. All brashness and aggression….but much like King Kong, they can be tamed. When treated with care and respect, they offer an honest glimpse into just how much flavour can be crammed into a distillate that is to receive no barrel maturation. You will have read my article on Glorious Revolution so will be aware of the principles of trying to cram as much flavour into the fermentation process as possible given that distillation strips flavour. In the context of this Rum, similar to Wray & Nephew Overproof at 63% abv, the fermentation and distillation method shapes the profile, but I wonder if the mythical ‘dunder’ plays a part in adding the meat to this Rums bones? Slow fermentation time and a pot distillation method are the building blocks of this quite remarkable Rum, and I can tell you that this Rum will not be for everyone. It is almost using itself as an example of how powerful can also be subtle…..a little like the aforementioned King Kong. The bottle is nice and squat (not easily toppled which is useful if you’re going to be imbibing a quantity of this Rum) and has really simple, clear labeling with a striking silver Jamaican postage stamp taking pride of place. As soon as you remove the wooden topped cork, the aromas jump out at you….

Tasting Notes

RN BackIn the glass: The Rum displays itself as a crystal clear liquid brimming with grassy, funky aromas.A swirl of the glass leaves little slow beads that are reluctant to move. Savoury is the first word that I’d use to describe this Rum. Initial aromas are of salty olives on cheese biscuits. A vegetal aroma then pushes through and the Rum starts to smell very fresh and green. It is quite astringent and spicy. Next up are the pungent, lacquer and varnish aromas bringing a real sting to the nose. There is also a nice waxy creaminess that brings oily citrus peel and ripe fruits such as mango and banana into play. It sounds strange but I then get what seems to be a wallpaper paste and superglue concoction. Finishing the experience are those funky grassy pot still aromas that could seemingly punch their way through a brick wall if asked nicely.

In the mouth: The Rum has an all encompassing mouthfeel that leads with a heavy dose of olive brine and white pepper. It initially bites quite hard with a kind of solvent flavour carrying liqourice which is the next flavour that makes an appearance, and with it comes a slight sweetness that feels like a custardy wave. It is very grassy and vegetal but along with this is the feeling of ripe bananas. The finish is very long and it stays around for a while with liqourice, molasses and that superglue. It is hard hitting and unapologetic but it also has those soft ripe fruit, oily citrus and banana flavours that hint at a softer and more approachable side to the Rum.

It feels like an experimental style of Rum, maybe even a reference Rum. A fine example of this style of Rum production to which others can be compared. I am massively glad that I seized the opportunity to pick a bottle of this Rum up and I urge you to do the same. It has a great deal of complexity both in it’s aromas and it’s flavours and I can imagine it working wonderfully in the right drink such as a daiquiri or maybe as a portion of the Jamaican component in a powerful Mai Tai replacing J Wray as the punchy element. There is also an aged expression of a Jamaican Pot Still Rum available soon from Rum Nation….I am trawling the online drink shops on a daily basis awaiting its arrival!

ValrhonaAn interesting opportunity has presented itself to me after I was sent a box of Rum Nation branded chocolates (more on those in a later post), each one different in style and hand picked to match the Rum Nation range of Rums. The recommended chocolate to accompany this Rum is the Valrhona Caraibe 66% which is from the same region as the Rum. So I took a little sip of the Rum to accustom myself to it again. Nibbled off a chunk of the chocolate and let it sit in my mouth, slowly melting. The chocolate itself has a beautiful flavour of intense cocoa and coffee. Sipping the Rum again, its bite is tempered by the cocoa and the bitterness cuts through the mouthfeel making the whole experience very pleasant. I look forward to delving deeper into the box of chocolates in the future and matching the Rums where possible.

© 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.

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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.