SMWS R8.4: “Campfire in Nicaragua”

SMWS R8.4: “Campfire in Nicaragua” aka “Autumn Campfire in Nicaragua”


“Rum” – from a modern multi column still.

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

The fourth bottle of my recent purchase from SMWS is from Nicaragua, 12 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 third cask SMWS have offered from Nicaragua. The first one, cask number three is SMWS R8.3 “Fruit and Nut Case” and the second is SMWS R8.1 “Sneaking a Tot Into Woodwork Class.”

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. My hydrometer test showed no detectable additives.

Bottle/Presentation 2/3
SMWS R8.4: "Autumn Campfire in Nicaragua": Bottle
SMWS R8.4: “Autumn Campfire in Nicaragua”: 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 2004),
  • The type of cask (refill ex-Bourbon barrel),
  • Region (Nicaragua)
  • Number of bottles (321) and
  • ABV, which is 57.5%.
  • Age: 12 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 rum is a deep amber-bronze, almost orange colour. I am hoping that the distillery has not added anything to this and that the colour is entirely natural – SMWS do not add anything to their offerings.

The glass offers up medium-thick legs, that are medium paced to descend the sides of the glass.

Initially, this has a powerful nose. As is so often the case, a little time resting in the glass prior to nosing and drinking benefits a rum. The aroma is sweet, but not sickly sweet. There is Demerara sugar and caramel aplenty and some rich cocoa, too. I can also detect some nail polish, banana and a pinch of white pepper.

SMWS R8.4: "Autumn Campfire in Nicaragua": Bottle and Glass
SMWS R8.4: “Autumn Campfire in Nicaragua”: Bottle and Glass
Taste, Initial-middle 36/40

The initial entry has a zing to it, but not unpleasantly so – just a touch of peppery spice to tantalise your palate. The 57.5% ABV is barely noticeable i.e. it really tastes as if it is already diluted to around 45% or so. It is soft and light, but deceptively moreish and after each sip I take, I find myself licking my lips and wanting a bit more. It is quite viscous and has plenty of smooth caramel, toffee and burnt brown sugar to enjoy and a hint of cocoa.

Taste, Middle/Throat 34/40

As with the initial entry this rum has me coming back for more. As it reaches the mid-palate a touch of dry astringency develops and I find myself grinding my teeth together and rubbing my them against the sides of my mouth.

The easy drinking-nature of the rum is both its friend and enemy at this point as the initial taste fails to develop further. It does remind me of drinking Flor de Caña’s Centenario 21 – a rum that I really enjoyed, despite it being multi-column. But this rum has more of a presence due to the ABV.

The sweetness of burnt sugar is still there along with a hint of freshly milled black pepper. The dark chocolate/cocoa flavour develops with further tastings, too.

Literally, adding one or two drops of water enhances this rum – all of the flavours at this point are multiplied by ten, albeit the rum is still a little light overall. The pepperiness really starts to become more like capsicum than white or black pepper and makes your tongue tingle. It would be interesting to contemplate blending this rum with a little pot still (I am thinking Hampden from Jamaica) as I think that might fill in the gaps that are missing from making this rum truly amazing.

SMWS R8.4:
SMWS R8.4: “Autumn Camp Fire in Nicaragua”: Label
Afterburn 5/7

The afterburn is short but sweet. It stops short of being too sweet as the dry mouthfeel continues to linger. The addition of a few drops of water also helps this rum to develop a bit more pepper and spice especially in the finish.

TOTAL 85/100

Despite being considerably younger than other SMWS bottles from Nicaragua (12yo compared to 18yo), this is comparatively smooth and easier to drink. What this rum does do, is to entice you to want to drink more of it, such is the easy drinking nature of it. Without looking at the label, I would have said this rum is around 45-50%. The addition of a few drops of water opens the palate up to a more enhanced drinking experience.

Another interesting description from SMWS: “The Autumn campfire was glowing as we sat down to reminisce this rum. You could hear the wood crackling and smell the smoke as slowly burnt toasted marshmallows with chocolate were on my mind I took in the aroma. On first sip, whoa. Intense heat like red hot chilli peppers smothered in sweet dark chocolate. A little water should quell the fire. It did. It also brought a little citrus peel & tropical fruit tannins like I had left my fruit teabag in my mug too long. The campfire was now out but we were still warmed by the long-peppered finish.”

For me, this is one of SMWS’s better descriptions. I think that for once, it really does accurately represent this rum.

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

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