English Harbour Madeira Cask Finish

What is it? Rum (multi-column at over 95%), from Molasses, produced at the Antigua distillery in St John’s, Antigua and bottled under the English Harbour brand. The rum is distilled in a copper 3-column still which runs off at 95.5% abv, so it’s virtually neutral spirit (pretty much no taste). The flavour profile of the rum is built up during the maturation process by barrel selection and ageing, which in this case are; approximately 5 years in ex-bourbon casks followed by a finishing period of between 3 and 6 months in ex-Madeira casks that were previously used to mature Malmsey and Bual wine. All ageing is done tropically so that 5 years is more like a 10-15 year old European aged spirit.

The rum is produced in small batches, and this review is from batch 001. My bottle is number 7995 and was bottled in November 2016.

No details on colouring but the rum is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? No online details for this. There is some sweetness but it seems comparable to Madeira cask maturation and I don’t have any reason to suspect additions.

Nose: Big Madeira influence straight away with roasted almonds, pecans and raw walnuts. Behind the earthy walnut there is a meaty, earthy mushroom, notes of wet leaves, old hessian sacks and cardboard. The savoury side gives it a nice counter to the sweeter notes that follow with; toffee, cinnamon, marzipan and vanilla flavouring or syrup that you put in your coffee, in fact there is a milky coffee too so maybe it’s more of a vanilla cinnamon latte type thing…..

As expected, there isn’t really much spirit character here at all but a lot of cask influence. Oh no. A full packet of spent matches right at the end, which isn’t too nice. It looks like some of the casks have been sulphur treated, but please note that I’ve found that I’m quite sensitive to sulphur so you may not actually notice.

Taste: Medium mouth feel, verging to full maybe. Sweet entry and quite spirity at first. A couple of sips in and you can taste more; very similar to the nose with loads of nuts, big marzipan and caramel. Dries after time and becomes earthy (walnuts), soil and mushrooms in there too. The whole thing loose steam part way through and becomes a little thin and slightly bitter, but not in a good way.

Finish: Medium, just about. All savoury here; dry roasted nuts again, buzzing spices from the cask with white pepper, cinnamon and clove. Unfortunately the sulphury notes come through here with those spent matches and used candle wick.

Thoughts? On the whole a pretty nice rum. I’m not getting a lot of “rum” in the rum as the cask influence is too great, but the flavours are nice, it’s got a good balance of dry, savoury and sweet notes with a good lean to the nutty side. The sulphur does let it down though, but as I say I am quite sensitive to it; some people are more than others, genetic thing apparently, like asparagus metabolism (don’t ask, if you’ve got that affliction then you know what I mean!).

I paid £32 for this, which for a small batch, 46% unfiltered rum I think is a fair price and right for the market. I would buy this again at that price.

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