Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve & Oloroso Cask Finish
45% & 59%
€59 & €83
Pure Single Rum – 100% Pot Still
ABV Hydrometer Tests: 45% & 59% ABV @ 20°
Worthy Park hails from the beautiful island of Jamaica. Most people around the world will be familiar with Jamaican rum and most-likely, the Appleton brand but are less aware of one of Jamaica’s other fine distilleries, known for producing top quality pure pot still rums, namely Worthy Park (WP).
WP has a long and rich history of rum production dating back as far as the 1740’s although the estate itself dates back to 1670. The distillery closed temporarily in 1962 and resumed distilling in mid-2005, which is fantastic news for anyone such as myself who adores Jamaican rum.
WP produce a mainstream product “Rum Bar” (released in 2007) and provide top quality juice for independent bottlers such as Kintra, Mezan and Kill Devil. Recently WP have launched their own “premium” rums, presumably having seen the superb and positive reactions given to the independent WP bottles, they have decided that they can target the growing “premium” sector of the rum category. Given that they produce only pot still rums and do not put additives in them, they are certainly a producer to be respected and admired.
I had the pleasure of chatting again with Alexander Kong, Export Sales Manager at Worthy Park Estate at UK Rumfest 2017 and was very excited to taste the new rums on offer. Alexander has very kindly sent me some info on the rums to assist with the review.
Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve, 45%
This is a blend of rums tropically aged for between six and ten years in ex-Bourbon once used American White Oak barrels. It is molasses-based, has no sugar added nor is it chill filtered, but does contain some caramel colouring for consistency. It is bottled at 45% ABV and retails for €59 in France. We can expect a similar price in GBP when it gets its formal release in the UK.
It is interesting to note that it does not carry an age statement. I am assuming this is to give WP maximum flexibility in recreating the same style year-after-year without having to guarantee a minimum age.
Worthy Park Estate Cask Selection Series #2 “Oloroso” Cask
This is a five year old rum. The first four years of ageing were tropical in ex-Bourbon once used American White Oak barrels but the final year was continental ageing in three 100 litre dry-fill Spanish ex-Oloroso Sherry casks from Montilla. It is molasses-based, has no sugar added nor is it chill filtered. Unlike the Single Estate Reserve, this does not contain any caramel colouring.
It is bottled at a stunning 59% ABV, limited to just 428 bottles and retails for €83 in France. We can expect a similar price in GBP when it gets its formal release in the UK.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, both of these would most-likely be classed as a “Pure Single Rum” – 100% Pot Still.
I am reviewing these rums together so two marks will appear for each section.
Bottle/Presentation RESERVE: 3/3, OLOROSO: 3/3
The bottles look superb…a slightly stubby look with very sturdy glass bottoms. They have lovely solid cork enclosures too.
The labels show lots of useful rummy information. Terms such as “Pot still distilled” and “Estate Distilled, Aged, Blended & Bottled” adorn the front.
According to Alex, WP wanted to “release a line of rums that would begin to capture the history, heritage and authenticity that” they “have at the Worthy Park Estate.” The bottles and labels are a great start!
Glass/Aroma RESERVE: 9/10, OLOROSO: 6/10
Both rums are a similar colour – a natural, light amber, with quite thick and heavy legs that are slow to drop down the sides of the glass.
The Reserve has a very punchy upfront aroma. There is baked pastry, light tobacco and toasted oak. Further nosings reveal spiced fruit aplenty especially raisins and also some bitter plums. With time in the glass, some light vanilla appears.
The Oloroso has lots of dark brown sugar and a light banana aroma. There is something slightly metallic in the nosing as well as something oddly rather beefy, almost like bovril. After time in the glass, this rum becomes a little fresher and benefits from a couple of drops of water added to it.
Taste, Initial-middle RESERVE: 36/40, OLOROSO: 32/40
The Reserve has a beautiful entry to the palate, full of luscious tropical fruits. It has a soft and buttery, almost creamy texture. I think the ABV feels about right here.
The Oloroso hits you up front with some stunning dried fruit notes alongside a little peppery spice.
Taste, Middle/Throat RESERVE: 35/40, OLOROSO: 38/100
The Reserve’s punchy aroma comes through here with a great body to the rum. It is dry and slightly bitter at the same time. There are soft tannins complemented by toasted oak and delicate nutmeg. Towards the rear of the mouth and after multiple tastings, some freshly milled black pepper is evident. It is finished off with some spicy tobacco and a touch of fiery ginger.
The Oloroso is at its finest here. It is quite astringent with persistent and developing spices…white pepper and nutmeg notably. It does not taste like 59% such is the nice feel of the rum. Towards the back of the palate is a hint of charred oak with some light and dried tobacco underneath. Great stuff! Add a couple of drops of water and it really opens out the rum superbly.
Afterburn RESERVE: 6/7 OLOROSO: 7/7
The Reserve has a smooth and soft, dry finish to the rum. It lingers well in the back of the throat.
The Oloroso has a very long and dry finish, full of tannins. There is a proper rum fire from the 59% ABV that lingers long after swallowing.
TOTAL RESERVE: 89/100, OLOROSO: 86/100
Both of these rums have their own different characteristics that will appeal to different palates and on different occasions. I was unable to pick a favourite and rate them both highly. I know I have scored one slightly higher than the other, but they are both “up there” in terms of quality and taste. Before tasting I was fully expecting to prefer the Oloroso finish as I enjoy higher ABV rums and I am a fan of many varieties of Sherry and enjoy aged Oloroso especially.
Whilst the high ABV and more limited nature of the Oloroso Cask Finish is appealing, in terms of value, the Reserve is a better proposition although if your budget permits, buy them both as they are great rums.
Try adding a touch of water to the Oloroso Cask Finish as it opens out the flavours somewhat. I think this is a rum that takes time to appreciate. In particular, the length and finish of the rum is really pleasing on the palate.
Alex has told me that “there was also a simultaneous release of a Marsala Cask product which was released as an exclusive through our French distributors LMDW.” He has also signalled that there will be more releases in 2018. If they are as good as these, it is something to look forward to.
I would like to say a big “thank you” to Alex for his assistance and also to credit Jolly Thompson for the official photos.
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