Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum
ABV Hydrometer Test: 33% ABV @ 20°
This is a first for me…Reviewing a spiced rum, which let me honest right from the start, is definitely not my usual rum-style of choice. But, there are so many different styles of rums that I do not intend to turn my back on an entire category, especially one that is often the entry level for many rum drinkers to develop a desire for cane-based drinks.
Alnwick Rum first came onto the market in 1914 and was created by the Alnwick Brewery Company (est 1860’s). It is named after the Northumbrian town in the North of England, where it was first blended. The business was taken over by Dryboroughs in 1978 who subsequently ceased all production by 1986. The original old drink was rediscovered on the death of the last managing director of the business in 2001 by his son who resurrected the rums, with production restarting during 2003 following the re-registration of the Alnwick Rum Company. In 2016 Alnwick re-branded its products.
The Golden Spiced that I am reviewing today is a blend of Caribbean golden rum, spices, citrus and exotic fruit flavours. It was first created in 2015 following the appointment of a new general manager who was tasked with developing a new branding and family of rums. The recipe was developed to embrace the underlying roots of the business through the use of Alnwick’s Legendary Rum. Production started during late 2015 and the pilot run sold out over Christmas that year. It was the first of the Alnwick family of rums to be re-branded.
According to Alnwick, this is what is in it:
- A core of Legendary Rum, which is a blend of Jamaican & Guyana rums.
- Added to this is one of the white rums included in the initial blending of the Legendary (Guyana light).
- To create the “golden spiced” taste Alnwick adds ginger, black pepper, orange, lemon & lime.
- A little vanilla is added to act as a thickening agent not a taster.
- It is bottled and labelled on Holy Island at 40% ABV.
- There are no allergens.
Ahead of writing this review, I contacted Paul at Alnwick with a few questions. Here they are along with Paul’s answers.
1 RumShopBoy: Do you know which specific distilleries from Jamaica supply the rums?
Paul@Alnwick: Hampden, Monymusk and Worthy Park.
2 RumShopBoy: Obviously, DDL in Guyana…do you know which of their stills is used as they all produce different types of rums?
Paul@Alnwick: Savalle and wooden Coffey Continuous Stills and Double wooden pot still.
3 RumShopBoy: Obviously spices and flavourings are added to the rum. Are they directly referenced on the bottle?
Paul@Alnwick: The back label quotes “Alnwick Rum’s Golden Spiced is a rich blend of carefully selected rums, mixed spices, citrus, and exotic fruits. It has a deep dark flavour of spice and orange…….”
4 RumShopBoy: Is any sugar or glycerine added? Again, if so, is it referenced on the bottle?
Paul@Alnwick: No added sugar in the base rum supplied to us.
5 RumShopBoy: Is the Guyana rum’s ageing done in Guyana or in Northumberland?
Paul@Alnwick: Aged in the tropics. Ie Guyana.
I would like to thank Paul for kindly providing the images in this review.
I tested this with my hydrometer and it came out at 33%, therefore implying that around 26g of sugar per litre has been added. I am not surprised with this as spiced rums are usually sweet so as to tempt youngsters into the world of rum.
My first encounter with the Alnwick brand was at Boutique RumFest where I had a great chat and tasting. Speaking of which, here is my tasting experience of Alnwick Golden Spiced Rum.
The bottle is a slightly squat shape with distinctive branding on the label that looks quite appealing. I always prefer to see more info on rum bottles than is often supplied. I like the declaration of spices in the blend, but would like to see more info on the actual rum itself as this is where a consumer can see if there is value in the product. Given that this is made with some fine rums, Alnwick should be shouting it from the rooftops.
As always, if sugar is added to a rum, no problem, but include a reference to it on the label please.
This rum is a pale amber colour – like an Amontillado Sherry. Swilling the rum around the glass leaves very thick, heavy and syrupy legs forming large droplets, sliding down the glass.
The aromas are very spicy and interesting. Citrus is the first sensation, followed by cloves. This reminds me of skiing in the Alps and having a vin chaud (glühwein/mulled wine). It has those warming spices and bright citrus notes.
Although this is not what I am used to for a rum, it is exciting for a spiced rum as it is not dominated by vanilla – I love vanilla but find it is usually presented in a sweet way in spiced rums.
Taste, Initial-middle 20/40
The first entry is smooth and sweet with hints of orange appearing. To be honest, I find it a bit too sweet, but with subsequent sippings, the citrus helps to offset some of that sweetness. The other spices are not initially present, just a faint background of cloves, most probably left over from the nosing. I think at this point, the added sugar is very noticeable and detracts from the experience.
Taste, Middle/Throat 28/40
Now is the surprising part – this rum has a fire to it. The spice aromas return as flavours, most notably the cloves, but also black pepper, ginger and possibly even a hint of capsicum, and are joined by a warming burn that helps to reduce the sweetness somewhat. As you swallow, the citrus is more noticeable and as per the aroma profile, it tastes a little like a vin chaud, but with a superb fiery burn. Considering my dislike of spiced rums, this tastes pretty good at this point and would certainly make a tasty vin chaud replacement for the ski slopes.
The afterburn is long and lingering. It starts with some citrus and orange peel but develops into a very peppery, almost chilli-like sensation, presumably from the ginger. This is tamed somewhat by the smoothness from the additional sugar, but the chilli sensation continues long after swallowing.
Morning After Aroma
This still smells as if I have a vin chaud in my glass. The citrus is especially noticeable as is the cloves from the day before.
My first reaction when I am offered a spiced rum is to decline politely and explain that I do not like spiced rums. So it is quite surprising and pleasing to find that this spiced rum is really quite enjoyable. I would like to try this unsweetened as I do not think the extra sugar added to the blend does it any favours for a pure rum drinker. Given that this is likely to be used in cocktails, it will also have a knock-on effect, making those mixes a bit on the sweet side, too. But this is not a product aimed at a hardened rum connoisseur, it is more for seducing a younger new generation into the rum category. As I mentioned in my tastings, I think this would be right at home for an après-ski tipple or on a cold winter night, as it feels like central heating. It would also work well either warmed in a glass or added to a tea or infusion.
The spices mask the original flavours of the rums in the blend, so you cannot specifically taste Hampden rum for example. But, by using bold and powerful rums in this blend, Alnwick are giving the rum plenty of oomph upfront so the rum still has some fire behind the spices.
For me, this is a rare foray into the world of spiced rums, but it has been a pleasant journey. It is great to see an English brand with such history and heritage producing rums again. Do not be put off because the mark is not the highest ever as by comparison to other spiced rums I have tasted, this is right up there.
If spiced rum is your thing, this rum is the one to try!
Just drop the sugar levels please and I will be on board!
Alnwick recommend using this rum in a “Golden Spiced Martini” cocktail:
- 37.5ml Alnwick Golden Spiced rum
- 100ml Sweet White Vermouth (Martini/Cinzano)
- Crushed ice
- Caster sugar
I think I would remove the caster sugar from the recipe though.
More info can be found at Alnwick’s web site HERE.
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7