Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) just happened from September 21 to 24. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s one of the, or maybe even the, biggest and best-known cocktail conventions in the world, and is held yearly in New Orleans. Of course, due to COVID19, everything was done this year online. People generally attend to learn and make contacts as they explore various seminars and brand parties. A general admission attendee like myself is able to meet everyone from the average spirits and cocktail fan to bartenders hungry for knowledge to famous bar industry icons like Jim Meehan, as well as spirits industry icons like the late Dave Pickerel, and small craft brand owners like Alison Patel.
The year I was able to attend, back in 2018, my main goal was to experience the environment in New Orleans both before and after TOTC. The secondary goal was to attend the various spirits seminars hosted and paneled by various spirits industry icons. The most memorable for me was a rum seminar where big rum names like Four Square’s Richard Seale, Privateer’s Maggie Campbell and Worthy Park’s Zan Kong led the event.
The occurrence of this year’s TOTC prompted me to write about these two Rum Bars, as well as the Worthy Park Single Estate, because Zan unexpectedly gave me a bottle each of Rum Bar Silver and Gold that year, as well as sample bottles of The WP Single Estate and a Rum Bar Overproof, just because I was a rum geek. Thanks again, Zan, for the surprise care package.
The lot of you might be wondering why Worthy Park (WP) called their mixing line “Rum Bar”; it sounds a bit general. According to Zan, as stated in a Zavvy.co WP distillery tour, rum bars are a common thing in Jamaica. There, he explained, rum bars are basically community bars—perhaps, in my understanding, the cultural equivalent of a pub or a dive bar.
A lot of people have also suggested that the label design is unattractive, so the tour explained the reasoning behind this as well. The Rum Bar line was originally only sold in Jamaica, so they made the labels appealing for that local market. As a result, the label was aesthetically made for a Jamaican audience and its preferences.
The Rum Bar Silver is a blend of three unaged rums, with fermentation times ranging from 30 hours up to 3 weeks. This is all distilled in their one and only double retort copper pot still and has no additives. The Whisky Exchange offers the bottle for £20.95.
The Rum Bar Gold is the first aged rum to be released by WP. This is a blend of aged pot still rum that spent time in ex-bourbon casks. Like the true Jamaican standard, it also has no additives. This edition goes for £22.95 in the Whisky Exchange.
Another thing to note about WP is that they normally age only low ester rum, as aging increases the ester counts. This means that their unaged rum will have higher ester counts and will be more funky. I say “normally,” as you can try their aged high ester rum through other independent bottlers (IBs) such as Habitation Velier releases.
Rum Bar Silver – review
On the nose: Initial crisp, dry and herbal notes. I get mint, basil, cloves and nutmeg. After those are thin but stretched scents of mocha, pimento dram, nuts, citrus peel and more herbs.
In the mouth: Crispy and dry, but not as herbal as on the nose. I taste bits of mocha, pimento dram, nuts, cacao nibs and winter melon tea. The bitter and herbal notes express themselves again. I get fried garlic, cloves, nutmeg, cucumber and leafy vegetables.
I’m confident in saying that this is the best unaged rum on the market. It may be designated as a mixing rum, but this is a damn versatile workhorse. I like that what you get on the nose is what you get in the mouth. It’s light enough for anyone to appreciate, but has enough flavors and enough funk to satisfy seasoned rum drinkers like me. If mustangs are often used as a compliment, then this is Odin’s horse, Sleipnir. As you can see in the picture, I’m almost done with my bottle. That’s because there’s so much flavor in this that I like to both mix with (mainly for daiquiris) and sip this rum.
This is an easily accessible unaged/white pot distilled rum that will open your eyes if you think all white rum are like Bacardi Carta Blanca. (I say “white,” not “unaged,” because all Puerto Rican rums have to be aged for at least a year.)
Score: 6 /10
Rum Bar Gold – review
On the nose: Briefly bitter and herbal at the front. I get flashes of oranges and dried apricots after. Some more lasting scents of vanilla, marzipan, cantaloupes and apples appear.
In the mouth: Lots of apricots as the rum touches my tongue. It turns into something a bit bitter and acidic, but then gives way to hints of strawberries and apples. These two are engulfed by something tart, similar to vanilla and a taste of marzipan. That tart strawberry, vanilla and marzipan flavor goes on and on and on, at least for a bit.
This isn’t as funky as the Silver. I find that this is also more expressive in the mouth than on the nose. The fruity flavors simply come out more. I’ve mainly used this rum to show newbies that not all aged rum are cask-reliant like Bacardi 8 or diabetic-inducing like those rum liqueurs that pretend to be rum, like Don Papa. There’s enough distillate character in here to show but not be reliant on the typical flavors given off by ex-bourbon casks.
If you’re scared to venture into the funky tastes emerging in the rum world, then this is something you should try. It’s a safe gamble, is very affordable and is not as funky as the more affordable SKUs of Appleton. Don’t like this as a sipper? Mix with it. You can easily make classic cocktails with this such as Rum Manhattans and Kingston Negronis.
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