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Three More SMWS Rums

I felt like I wasn’t too nice to SMWS rums in my last review.

Despite my annoyance with how they name some of their rum, I feel like I still scored those rums fairly. So, here I am reviewing another trio of rums they bottled.

R1.5 is from the Monymusk Distillery in Jamaica. If you’re curious about them, I’ve already talked about the distillery in the past. The sample of this and the R10.2 are from The Lone Caner. Thanks again, Lance.

R10.2 is from Trinidad’s Angostura Distillery. If you’re thinking of the bitters, you’re correct. They’re the same folks who produce the well-known bitters that go into cocktails that we love. I don’t think anyone on Malt has discussed the distillery in much detail yet, so I’ll take this chance to cover their basics.

The Angostura Distillery is the only rum distillery left in Trinidad after Caroni closed down. Their distillery bottled rum doesn’t seem to be very popular due to a few factors. One, they made more money selling bulk rum to blenders and brokers. This is aside from their bitters of course. Which means until recently, they haven’t needed to market their own rum. But, with the rising popularity of rum, they’ve been marketing and distributing their rum more. They’ve been more visible and more available in Asia recently.

This leads to reason number two: a big portion of the rum community knows they sweeten their rum. Like most former Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, they use multi-column stills, so their rum will be very light. The bulk of the flavors of their rum come from the cask influence and/or added sugar. There are even rumors that they bought a huge amount of Caroni stocks to blend with some of their own stocks when it closed. They were said to have done this to give their rum more body.

Thirdly, Angostura has been known to sweeten their rum. They deny it, even though lab tests show their bottled rum has additives. A lot of rum drinkers do not like sweetened rum, but some don’t mind it as long as the brand is honest. It’s the brand dishonesty that turns off customers from brands like these.

R13 is the code for Caroni. For those who are new to rum, it’s basically the Port Ellen of rum. I guess I can’t say that anymore since Port Ellen is undergoing a revival, while the Caroni distillery has been demolished. But you get the gist. Being rum from a closed distillery makes it more popular. This sample came from a different friend.

SMWS R10.2 Three Spice Crème Brûlée (Angostura) – Review

Distilled 1991. Aged 26 years in refill ex-bourbon barrels. 61.3% ABV. £181 from Rum Auctioneer.

Color: Golden hay.

On the nose: Very hot. True to the name this rum has, there’s a lot of baked aromas here. I get light to medium lasting aromas of pie crust, leather, marzipan, vanilla, coconut sugar, muscovado sugar, nutmeg, cloves, honey, wet carton, and blue and black berries mixed with syrup. There’s a bit of Caroni petrol funk in-between and in the end.

In the mouth: Not as hot as on the nose. It also tastes sweeter here. I get light to medium lasting tastes of vanilla, honey, custard, the bottom of a dessert pie, coconut sugar, muscovado sugar, pumpkin pie, berry syrup and cinnamon. The heat rises up later on. A bit of Caroni petrol funk here and there.

Conclusions:

I’ve got no complaints about this rum. The age statement doesn’t disappoint. Its flavors are plentiful, complex and long. From my experience, Angostura rum seems to do better when bottled by independent bottlers versus being bottled by the distillery. I’ve only had a few Angostura bottled by IBs. Aside from this, I’ve had a few Samaroli and one from the Transcontinental Rum Line. They end up being more like good quality Scotch than the bad kind of hot and sweet mess that’s bottled by the distillery.

Score: 8/10

SMWS R13.3 Havana, Madagascar and Tahiti (Caroni) – Review

Distilled 1998. Aged 22 years in 1st-fill ex-bourbon barrels. 62.5% ABV. £275 on the SMWS site.

Color: Amber.

On the nose: Oh yeah. This is a Caroni, but on the lighter side. I get light to medium aromas of asphalt, petrol, cherries, berries, bananas, and apples. At the end is a sudden shift to cane vinegar, lime peel, kombucha and a huge slap of pepper. Vanilla and honey come out at the end.

In the mouth: I get light to medium tastes of cherries, grapes, asphalt, petrol, banana-flavored candy, apples, ripe red plums, toffee, caramel and honey.

Conclusions:

This isn’t the most exciting Caroni I’ve had. The nose on this is disappointing, mainly because it isn’t as deep and as complex as some of the older ones I’ve tried. There’s a short straight line up of typical Caroni aromas then it quickly turns sour.

At least it meets expectations in the mouth. It’s more like the few 20+ year old Caronis I’ve tried. The petrol funk is still noticeable but there are more long-lasting fruits. This part is the saving grace of the rum.

Also, is SMWS just spouting different places with tropical climates? What do Havana, Madagascar, and Tahiti have to do with Caroni or the flavors of Caroni?

Score: 7/10

SMWS R1.5 Jamaican Rum A Little Extravagant (Monymusk) – Review

Distilled 2007. Aged 12 years in new oak. 62.8% ABV. $130 from SMWS USA.

Color: Honey.

On the nose: I get sharp, medium and lasting aromas of Febreeze, bay leaf and peppermint. In between are light flashes of lemon peel, grapefruit peel and banana-flavored candy. At the end are cane vinegar, kombucha and toffee.

In the mouth: This is a lot sweeter vs the nose. The new oak influence shines here more. Aside from the sweetness of the new oak, there is also an astringent and peppery texture that comes with it. I get hot and medium tastes of muscovado sugar, cinnamon syrup, honey, caramel, banana que, all spice, bitter gourd, cloves, burnt wood and bay leaf.

Conclusions:

Upon finding out this was a Monymusk, the first thing I wondered was whether this would be pot or column distillate. This being distillate forward just confirms to me that it’s pot distillate. But, because of being aged in new oak and being unfamiliar with Monymusk rum, I wouldn’t know what to think of this if given blind.

Tasting one more UK-aged pot distilled Monymusk rum is another confirmation for me that it doesn’t seem to suit my preferences. The flavors are just all over the place. If this is what SMWS meant by being a little extravagant, then I agree. Still, it’s interesting to have tried a Jamaican rum aged in new oak.

Score: 5/10

Images are courtesy of Rum Auctioneer.

John

John is a cocktail and spirits enthusiast born and raised in Manila. His interest started with single malts in 2012, before he moved into rum and mezcal in search of malterntaitves – and a passion for travel then helped build his drinks collection.

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