SMWS R8.3 “Fruit and Nut Case”
“Rum” – from a modern multi column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 55.0% ABV @ 20°
I have recently purchased three rums from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS). For background info on SMWS, please see my previous reviews for SMWS R6.1 “Spice at the Races” (Foursquare, Barbados) and SMWS R9.2 “Paddington Bear’s First Sip” (Varela-Hermanos who produce Ron Abuelo, Panama).
Today, I am reviewing the third of my recent SMWS purchases – a 12 year old rum from distillery number R8 and from cask 3. R9 is from Nicaragua – I am assuming it is from Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua who produce Flor de Caña. It has been entirely aged in Scotland.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Rum” – from a modern multi column still.
The ABV when measured with my hydrometer shows 55%.
The SMWS bottles are quite distinctive, presented in a traditional dark ‘bottle’ green colour, with an unusual shape. The labelling is interesting as SMWS have their own extremely unique way of describing their spirits, which is quite flowery and obscure. As they do not present a spirit as being from a distillery, that info is absent as is the types of still, but what is present is the date of distillation (31 December 2004), the type of cask (refill barrel), region (Nicaragua), number of bottles (335) and ABV, which is 55.0%.
The rum presents itself as a dark amber with hints of orange hues on the surface. There are fine to medium tears that are slow to slide down the sides of the glass.
The initial aroma offers quite a sweet profile with toffee dominating. Further nosings reveal some fruit notes – in particular green banana, figs and raisins. There is also a Bajan-like aroma of varnish and something slightly metallic.
Taste, Initial-middle 33/40
The entry is full of sweet spicy pepper. This is closely followed by toffee, caramel and nutmeg. I can also detect a little dark chocolate, too. It is a very interesting tipple at this point.
Taste, Middle/Throat 36/40
By the time the rum reaches the mid-palate, the pepper develops further and is joined by some fresh citrus. The surprise of the tasting here is that the rum becomes very dry at this point. I was expecting the initially sweet profile to become sweeter with further tastings, but actually, the reverse happens and I find myself grinding my teeth together, such is the dry tannins of the rum. This gives a lovely texture to the drink along with the further development of more spice, which enhances the flavour and finish.
The rum’s dryness leads to a very long and lingering finish. Several minutes after swallowing the rum, the dryness is still developing having left a satisfying coating to the roof of one’s mouth. Those ever-present spices remain, too.
I am not fan of SMWS’s descriptions of drinks – I find their descriptions are generally too obscure although this is a little more mainstream and comprehensible. The official description on SMWS’s web site is more elaborate and crazy than what it says on the bottle. “This medium-bodied fruity rum is a long way from its home in the warm breezes of the tropics but it erupts with aromas of sweet stoned fruit like a volcano in Nicaragua. Dried wafer biscuits with dried fruit and nuts like a Cadbury’s Picnic chocolate bar, then crisped rice, covered in chocolate with a bitter dry finish.”
As the distillery is not disclosed, I cannot confirm definitively, but I am assuming this is from Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua who produce Flor de Caña. To be fair, this rum does taste like a Flor de Caña rum, but due to the high ABV, it has much more flavour and body. As with my review of the SMWS Rum from Panama, this shows once again that multi-column rums do not need tons of sugar and cr@p adding in order to make them palatable. It also shows that these rums, especially when bottled at a higher than usual ABV, offer a very tasty flavour profile. Speaking as someone who often enjoys Flor de Caña rum, it is no surprise to me that I really enjoyed this rum, which is the opposite of SMWS’s intentions – by hiding the distillery/brand name, the aim is to encourage the taster to try and enjoy something new and different.
This is a really tasty rum, which I think is due to my recurring opinion that having a high ABV gives rums far more bite and depth than otherwise they might have. I am assuming that most rums are bottled at 40% for tax and duty reasons, but when there is something at a higher strength, it is well worth seeking out.
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