SMWS R7.1: “Welcome to Strawberry Jamrock. Yeah Mon”
Pure Single Rum – 100% Pot Still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 54% ABV @ 20°
The second bottle of my recent purchase from SMWS is from Jamaica, 16 years old and presented at a lovely 54.0%.
The SMWS has a numbering system for its bottlings aimed at concealing the identity of the distillery with the aim of offering a flavour style and profile instead. This may tempt consumers to try offerings from distilleries less familiar to them, due to the consumer buying a flavour style and profile rather than a brand and also that some of the bottles offered may taste very different to what a consumer expects from a specific distillery. I believe that sometimes the distilleries themselves also request that their identity is not publicised on the bottles.
The first number on a SMWS bottle is the distillery number and the second is the cask number.
In this case, I am reliably informed that distillery R7 is from Hampden Distillery – that amazing place that only produces small batch pot still rums. More on my confirmation of this in the tasting notes further on. This is cask number one.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Pure Single Rum” – 100% Pot Still.
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 type of still, but what is present is:
- The date of distillation (30 September 2000),
- The type of cask (refill ex-Bourbon barrel),
- Region (Jamaica)
- Number of bottles (214) and
- ABV, which is 54.0%.
- Age: 16 years
- SMWS rums tend to have had dual ageing – part tropical and part temperate. The amounts of each are not declared.
This rum is presented naturally in the way it was created and cask-aged i.e. with no added colouring. The result is a pale straw-like offering. There are medium to thick legs that are slow to descend the sides of the glass.
As soon as I nosed this rum, I thought Hampden distillery – it is a unique style of rum. Having tasted plenty of single cask Hampden rums, I am very confident about this although SMWS are the only ones who can definitively confirm this. The aroma is full of ripe, rich fruits – figs, lush bananas and orange rind. I almost feel like I am in a kids sweet shop surrounded by fruit gums and the like. There is sweet but burnt caramel initially covering up spicy pepper and cinnamon and old musty oakiness along with something akin to nail polish.
Taste, Initial-middle 35/40
The entry is just what I would expect from a Hampden cask-strength rum. Powerful and full of warming fire that creates tingling sensations along with a spicy peppery mouthfeel. There is a touch of sweetness that comes across as burnt Demerara sugar and a hint of citrus oil.
Taste, Middle/Throat 35/40
At first, it is overpowering but persevere and the spices come out to play. Warming pepper is prominent but there is also cinnamon and nutmeg too. The rum has a creamy texture to it that offsets the persistent fire that comes with a cask strength Hampden rum. The burnt Demerara continues, which balances well against the old, dried and almost bitter oak notes. At the back of the palate there is an oily texture to the rum, too.
Long after swallowing the rum has a dry oakiness that coats the mouth and throat. The warmth from this is superb on a cold evening.
Morning After Aroma
Very powerful dried fruits and spices are still present.
SMWS’s descriptions are not always to my taste and to be honest this is pretty obscure and random to say the least – “I am reminded by my time as a judge in the Miss Jamaica UK beauty pageant. The winner was half Jamaican and half Scottish. As she glided across the stage, her floral perfume was an aromatic blend of sweet candied orange peel, strawberries and tropical fruit. As she came closer, I could smell her sweet nail polish and the fresh leather from the dress that she was wearing. I added a little water to soften the moment. This resulted in allspice, cinnamon with a long finish of peppers and red fruit. Probably strawberry. A nice welcome to Jamrock.” I get some of the fruit references, spices and even the nail polish, but Miss Jamaica UK gliding across a stage? Seriously??? Description aside, it is a fine tot of rum though.
This is one of those rums that really grows on you with multiple tastings. The first time feels too strong and has too much of a burn but once you get beyond that, the flavours develop nicely and it is well worth persevering. Hampden is always an interesting flavour journey/experience and this is no different. I have spent over a month tasting this as it is not something that can be rushed. Time will reward the taster 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