Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve

What is it? Jamaican Pure Single Rum, so 100% pot still rum, from Molasses, and produced at the Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica. The rums that go into this blend are aged tropically for between 6 and 10 years before being blended for the final rum, and all of that ageing takes place in first fill ex-bourbon casks (only previously held bourbon, nothing else).

No dunder is used at Worthy Park, the esters are produced during fermentation using a propriety yeast strain and control of time for the fermentation. The marque used for this rum is entirely from the WPL marque, which is a lighter Worthy Park and comes in at 60-119g/laa. For reference, the range of marques for Worthy Park and their ester levels are:

  • WPEL: less than 60g/laa
  • WPL: 60-119g/laa
  • WPM: 120-239g/laa
  • WPH: 240-360g/laa
  • WPE: up to 800g/laa

Coloured, but not chill filtered and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: This smells good. Definite and strong Jamaican pot still, but it’s not big, pungent or funky. A Hampden this is not. Key Lime Pie topped with a banana cream, soft vanillas – vanilla Danish pastry maybe, toasty oak, coconut and a little lemon too. The more I nose this I start to get crushed shells, salty rock-pools and a beach on a hot day. Faint notes of marine fuel and oil in the distance and anchovies marinated in very good olive oil. There is a light marzipan/almond note appearing from time to time too.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Sharp at first with citrus fruits and yellow stone fruit, quite hot with a little ginger root and white pepper. After the initial heat it’s pretty savoury and salty; brine, green olives, salted fish, shellfish in lemon juice and a big breath of sea breeze when stood on a jetty. Mid-palate and as it moves to the finish the sweeter notes appear with some milk chocolate, vanilla custard, Lady Grey tea and bananas.

Finish: Medium to long. Some salty tang still in there but much sweeter than the palate and more funky; ripe bananas, fresh pineapple, lemon curd, maybe a light butterscotch too and a fudge’y note.

Thoughts? Cracking rum. The nose is a beauty but I’m less keen on the finish if I’m being honest, it’s not “bad” at all, I’d just prefer a bit more intensity and less “safeness”, but that’s just my preference here. Again, a fine example of a Jamaican pot still rum, much more approachable than a Hampden or Long Pond and a good foot in the door if you want to head that way in your rum journey. I’m being a bit spoilt with Jamaicans here at Rumtastic Towers at the moment, they’ve all been very good recently!

I picked this up for £45. That may put people off for a NAS (No Age Statement) rum, but you’ve got to bear in mind it’s 6-10 years old and tropically aged. If you are starting to explore more interesting and complex rum at the moment then it’s one I think worth investing in. Personally, I like the style and I’d buy it again.


Flor De Cana 12

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. Molasses comes from local sugar and is produced at the Ingenio San Antonio sugar mill which is part of the same company as CLN and undergoes a 36 hour fermentation. The is the bottling of the “12”, this does not mean 12 years old; in recent years the packaging has changed and where it used to say “12 anos” on the bottle it now just states “12 slow aged”. They also produce a “7”, “18” and “25” – none of which are the age of the number on the bottle. I really don’t like this misleading labelling that is often used in rum, which allows the consumer to believe they are buying a product of a certain age but in fact that are not, they may was well call their line-up “Flor De Cana 1, 2, 3 and 4” for all the difference it makes.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Quite oaky at first, a good sign – maybe it has actually seen some aging after all! Pecans, walnuts and syrup; think Tracker Bars (nutty snack bar things in the UK). Vanilla, some cinnamon, light brown sugar and Werthers Original sweets. There isn’t much fruit on display here, a little red apple perhaps, that’s been caramelised as if to make a Tart Tatin and a little dried papaya, but other than that it’s really cask smells. With some time I can pick up the faintest floral note, almost of Peonies.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite coating actually. We’re in the same place as the nose really, it’s a bit more buttery, cinnamon certainly, vanilla and Allspice. Hints of warm oak, caramels, burnt sugar and pecans again. No floral notes here but a toffee apple sweetness, which again is the only real fruit. Tanic as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Short. Tanic, starting to bitter. Burnt toast with butter and honey on top, some toffee and that’s about it. Hmmm, not the best finish really.

Thoughts? Not bad, but not good either. It’s a very run-of-the-mill rum and all a little pointless. I’m not really sure who this rum is aimed at; your casual drinker will find it too dry and bitter whereas your seasoned rum drinker is unlikely to find it complex or interesting enough and all a bit dull. Maybe it’s aimed at whisky drinkers, who knows. I’ve started going to this bottle when my palate is having an off day, it still tastes ok but I don’t feel guilty about wasting a decent rum when I can’t taste too well.

So, £35……now that seems ok but there are a hell of a lot of better rums out there for that price…. not one I’ll be buying again.

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.

South Pacific 10 year old (2003) – Duncan Taylor single cask number 18

What is it? A single cask rum, from molasses, produced at the South Pacific Distillery in Fiji on their Pot still – so a Pure Single Rum. This rum was distilled in April 2003 and bottled in September 2013, making it 10 years old. There are no details on where this was matured but judging from the colour and profile I’d guess it was entirely European ageing.

This is one of 284 bottles from cask number 18.

Not chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at cask strength of 54.8% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Very Jamaican! Bananas (green ones), olives, brine, rock pools, crushed shells and warm sand. Then on to tar, solvent, varnish, petrol and some WD40. Maybe some lighter liquorice and a grapefruit or bitter orange zing – I can’t quite place it but whatever it is it’s zesty and sharp. Really intriguing and quite phenolic throughout – it reminds me of a young Worthy Park or young lighter ester Hampden, or should I say that it certainly has some of the characteristics of them.

Palate: Medium to full mouth feel, good weight and coats well. Oily. Hot and sharp on first entry, verging on sour actually, maybe the white pith from grapefruit that I found on the nose. Liquorice again, beeswax, a touch of caramel and honey, but not a lot. Still pretty phenolic and medicinal, even hints of TCP and smoke, but very distant. There are notes of lemon cough lozenges, tangerine and a handful of dried herbs that I can’t pick out.

Finish: Medium, no more, no less. Phenolic, herbal, lemony. Buzzing spice on the tongue due to the abv no doubt (there isn’t much cask influence here), but things show sweeter at this point with a little butterscotch, runny honey, raisin and some orange. There still lingers a petrolly/briney note and a bit of new car tyre throughout.

Thoughts? A very intriguing and interesting rum. A style of it’s own really, it’s not sure if it wants to be Jamaican, from Guyana or some Rockley Still wannabe; there are elements of all 3, which it shows equally but doesn’t blend them too well and looses it’s balance. It’s a really solid rum though and great to go for if you fancy trying something new and different. However, beginners beware; there is stuff in here you probably wont like too much if you’re expecting a sweet rum.

I picked this up for £40, and it’s a really good rum for that price, so long as you know and accept what you’re getting with it.

Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof – Black Label

What is it? Well, it’s a blended rum produced by Pusser’s. Pusser’s was founded in 1979 and has the rights to the blending information used for the original British Naval rum, the intention is that they produce a rum which is as close to the original Naval rum as possible given current global rum stocks and availability. The blend isn’t widely known, but from what I understand used to be mainly made up of rum from Guyana and Trinidad, I’ve seen bottles saying this on but my bottle only says “product of Guyana” so I’m guessing the blend has changed a little. Pusser’s state the blend is “predominately pot still” and I understand this to be from the Port Mourant wooden pot still. Naturally, Pusser’s keep their cards close to their chest so we’re working off online research, hearsay and guess work….as far as I’m concerned it’s fairly young rum, blended.

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 54.5% abv. Now this isn’t gunpowder proof. The term “gunpowder proof” refers to a strength by which grains of gunpowder that are soaked in the rum will ignite, which is actually 57% abv or 100 degrees British proof. The term “proof” comes from the rum being proven to be full strength.

Sugar? Yes, I’m afraid so. Only around 7 g/l, which isn’t really that much so we’ll let them off.

Nose: Big and rich, dark molasses, liquorice, aniseed balls and Big Red gum. Treacle, actually more creamy so maybe treacle toffee that you get on bonfire night, and thick butterscotch. Shoe polish, lots of black coffee and a little vanilla creeps in. There are slight herbal notes of marjoram, olives and a touch of an old boat engine. Not hugely complex but plenty going on. This is pretty much the exact smell I was expecting from a Naval rum.

Palate: Thick mouth feel, hmmm, this is pretty viscous and feels a lot sweeter than the sugar data would imply. Something not all too “natural” about this. Yep, as goes the nose so goes the palate; treacle toffees, over brewed black coffee, molasses, caramels and prunes. Very heavy and too much on the sweeter side for me. Some good notes of dirt/soil, burnt toast, shoe polish, mushrooms and pipe tobacco.

Finish: Medium length, a bit sticky. Molasses again with the treacle. A sugary buzz and flattening of the finish….but still some good flavours with dark chocolate, figs and Marmite. It’s young rum, not massively complex and pretty much follows the nose and palate.

Thoughts? As I expected really and very typical of my thoughts of a “Navy” rum. Certainly not the most complex rum in the world but it’s a real Ronseal rum (it does what it says on the tin), which is fine by me because that’s what I bought it for. I’m not sure if this purpose of this rum is to mix into cocktails or not but it does sip very well and for the price I wouldn’t really want to be mixing it anyway, I’d use Wood’s 100 or Goslings if I wanted a Navy mixing rum.

Look, I don’t have an issue with less complex rums that have been “concocted” a little, I just want to know what I’m buying and be able to make an informed decision. I decided to buy this based on what I thought I’d get and it totally delivered, so I’m happy with that. At £30 it was a pretty decent buy too and worth it in my opinion.