What is it? Scottish Pure Single Rum (molasses based, pot still, single distillery) from the Ninefold distillery in Dumfries & Galloway. Ninefold is a tiny distillery on the Dormont estate near Dalton and is situated in a converted stone farm building. It’s pretty much a 1-man-band with Dr Kit Carruthers making the rum on a hybrid copper pot still, you can see a bit more about the distillery and the online shop on the website Ninefold Distillery
Ninefold is very small batch craft distillation and therefore there isn’t volume of product being pumped out, as such the range is still relatively small consisting of an unaged (white) rum and a spiced rum, although I know that will change with some time once aged stock starts to become ready. So far there’s been a couple of aged rums that Kit has produced, Edition 0 which was very limited in numbers and the rum which is being reviewed here; Edition 1. This edition of the rum was aged for 12 months in a new/virgin oak cask (specifically cask number 3!) after which it was released on 28th September 2020 and is a run of only 246 bottles, all of which are well past sold out now.
Aging the rum in virgin oak was a very clever thing, if you ask me. It’s pretty cold in Scotland and the Angels Share is only around 2-3% a year (albeit quite a bit higher in year 1) so there isn’t a massive amount of speedy maturation going on here. Unlike other cask types which are reused vessels (they’ve previously held Bourbon, or brandy, or whisky, or whatever), virgin oak is brand new. It’s charred up (in this case to a medium char) and filled with rum, this means that the first wood impact is directly into this rum and has not been taken away by any previous contents; it allows for a spirit that drinks at a higher maturity level than it otherwise would in refill casks. They do the same thing with Boubon, that has to be new oak, which is why there’s a lot of wood impact after just a few years. The problem is you can overdo things, so a 12 month period seems like a good middle ground.
Bit of a geeky bit now. The cask was filled at 60.9% abv and this is actually quite interesting. A lot of distilleries (especially Scotch Single Malt ones) fill to cask at 65% as it’s believed to be the most efficient abv for cask interaction – below 60% you get more water soluble compounds extracted from the cask, such as sugars in the form of hemicellulose (a spirit at 55% abv will extract twice the sugars of a spirit casked at 70% abv). Above 65% abv and you get more ethanol soluble compounds extracted from the cask, such as lignin (wood notes). So a fill down near 60% is letting the natural wood sugars come out into the spirit to mellow the youth whilst still allowing high oak interaction with the virgin oak. Filling this higher up, nearer to 70% would likely have left it harsher and a lot more tannic.
Not coloured, not chillfiltered and bottled at cask strength of 59.6% abv.
Nose: Big and thick with huge amounts of butterscotch. It’s really forward on the caramels; toffee pennies from Quality Street, Caramac bars, real butter fudge, Banana Skids (that’s a sweet) and white chocolate. Under this caramel onslaught there is some fruit with vintage marmalade, green banana, grapefruit and mango jam. A little prickle of cinnamon, nutmeg and black peppercorns at the end.
Palate: Full mouth. Some heat at first, hey look it’s a young rum at cask strength so this wasn’t unexpected. Caramels again, golden syrup, maple syrup, tiffin and a big hit of chilli. After there’s a herbal aspect I can’t quite pin down, lemon barley sweets and menthol perhaps. Some really nice ginger biscuit notes as you swallow.
Finish: Medium. Quite hot as you’ve swallowed with red chillies, black pepper and tannic oak. Moves on to cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger root then sweetens again to Stroopwafles, toffee chews and milk chocolate. There’s a slight char/smoky note right at the end.
Thoughts? I don’t know what I was expecting here, but it blindsided me a bit. It’s very much on the sweeter note side (not actually sweet, no sugar here) but there’s enough spice and cask to stop it running away with itself. For a cask strength young rum it’s dangerously easy to drink. It’s not hugely complex at this point but it’s certainly very enjoyable. It’s clearly very well made rum and I can’t wait to see how Kit progresses Ninefold forward with future releases – exciting times.
This cost me £45 straight from the distillery online shop, now that is quite expensive for a 1 year old rum but you’ve got to take into account that this is being made by a bloke in a shed (ok, a big, very nice and very clean shed) and at the output volumes being done here there’s a unit price that things need to be sold at to even be viable to make. This is pretty much as craft as you can get with a spirit, and for the price I feel like I’ve definitely got value out of my bottle, so there’s no problem there – in fact, if there were any bottles still around I’d buy another.
This is the first rum I’ve had from Ninefold and based on this I’ll be picking up whatever the next release may be, no doubt about that.