SMWS R8.1: “A Tot In The Workshop”

SMWS R8.1: “A Tot In The Workshop” aka “Sneaking A Tot Into Woodwork Class”


“Rum” – from a modern multi column still.

ABV Hydrometer Test: 57.5% ABV @ 20°
* M

The third bottle of my purchase from SMWS is from Nicaragua, 18 years old and presented at a warming 57.5%.

The SMWS has a numbering system for its bottlings aimed at concealing the identity of the distillery in order to offer 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.

SMWS: 2017-18 2nd Rum Releases
SMWS: 2017-18 2nd Rum Releases

The first number on a SMWS bottle is the distillery number and the second is the cask number.
R8 is from Nicaragua – I am assuming it is from Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua who produce Flor de Caña. This is the second cask SMWS have offered from Nicaragua. The first one, cask number three is SMWS R8.3 “Fruit and Nut Case.”

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.

When tested with my hydrometer, the reading matched the ABV implying that no added sugars are present.

Bottle/Presentation 2/3
SMWS R8.1: "A Tot In The Workshop": Bottle
SMWS R8.1: “A Tot In The Workshop”: Bottle

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 (31st December 1998),
  • The type of cask (refill ex-Bourbon barrel),
  • Region (Nicaragua)
  • Number of bottles (322) and
  • ABV, which is 57.5%.
  • Age: 18 years
    • SMWS rums tend to have had dual ageing – part tropical and part temperate. The amounts of each are not declared.
Glass/Aroma 8/10

This Nicaraguan rum is a light-medium amber colour with modest sized/speed legs in the glass.

The aromas are sweet initially – burnt Demerara and liquid caramel. Further nosings reveal some banana, coconut, warm pepper and dusted cocoa.

SMWS R8.1: "A Tot In The Workshop": Glass
SMWS R8.1: “A Tot In The Workshop”: Glass
Taste, Initial-middle 33/40

The caramel aroma translates into a burnt caramel flavour on entry. The rum is soft and warm with gentle spices of nutmeg and fine white pepper. There is a smooth and creamy texture to the rum with dark chocolate notes evident, too.

Taste, Middle/Throat 33/40

The rum develops more spice as it reaches the mid-palate and a touch of smokiness, too. The white pepper turns into something a bit more powerful and spicy, but that sweet caramel is still present to offset this somewhat. There is also a faint hint of coconut, too. It does have a slightly syrupy consistency – if I did not know better, I would say that glycerine had been added.

As the rum reaches the rear of the mouth, it becomes more Sherry-like with a very dry mouthfeel to it. I feel as if I want to grind my teeth together. The spicy notes continue along with a touch of oak and more cocoa or dark chocolate.

SMWS R8.1: "A Tot In The Workshop": Label
SMWS R8.1: “A Tot In The Workshop”: Label
Afterburn 4/7

The sweetness gradually dissipates as one swallows leaving more dry tannins behind.

Morning After Aroma

A faint aroma of burnt caramel remains but little else unfortunately.


TOTAL 80/100



Not a bad rum but it is not one that stands out too much either compared to some of the other SMWS bottles. Despite 18 years of ageing it has not developed a level of complexity that I would normally associate with such a lengthy ageing period. That said, if you want a high ABV rum that is fairly easy drinking this would suit you very well.

SMWS’s official description states “I can imagine If I had snuck rum into my woodwork class. This would be it. Medium body, and initial aromas of citrus oils followed by the green apples with a hint of cocoa from my packed lunch box. As we were in the woodwork room, the sweet dusty dry sawdust notes were ever present. I could smell the marker pen that the teacher used on the white board as well tobacco and a touch of smoke, he was a heavy smoker. The finish was dry cacao which lingered like a naughty child on detention.”

Cocoa…yes! Tobacco and smoke…yes! Cacao…yes! Not too sure about the other references though. I will close my eyes and imagine…..Not too sure!


SMWS R8.1: "A Tot In The Workshop": Bottle & Glass
SMWS R8.1: “A Tot In The Workshop”: Bottle & Glass

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.

Marking Guide:
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

2 thoughts on “SMWS R8.1: “A Tot In The Workshop”

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