SMWS R9.1: “Music For Rockers of Rum”
“Rum” – from a modern multi column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 60% ABV @ 20°
* M S
The fifth bottle of my recent purchase from SMWS is from Panama, 13 years old and presented at a hearty 61.8%.
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.
R9 is from Panama – I am assuming it is from Varela-Hermanos who produce Ron Abuelo. This is the second cask SMWS have offered from Panama. The first one, cask number two is SMWS R9.2 “Paddington Bear’s First Sip”
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.
Disappointingly, when I tested this with my hydrometers, I measured 60%, implying around 10g / litre of sugars have been added. We know that SMWS do not add anything, so this must have taken place in Panama prior to the barrel being shipped to SMWS.
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 (29th February 2004),
- The type of cask (refill ex-Bourbon barrel),
- Region (Panama)
- Number of bottles (254) and
- ABV, which is 61.8%.
- Age: 13 years
- SMWS rums tend to have had dual ageing – part tropical and part temperate. The amounts of each are not declared.
In the glass, the rum is a medium to deep amber with a slightly coppery tinge to it.
The aroma is predictably overpowering initially – just what I would expect for something that is virtually 62%. But, as is often the case, leave this rum in the glass for a while and the aromas come out to play, specifically, some spicy white pepper, nutmeg and an abundance of sweet caramel.
Taste, Initial-middle 32/40
The entry is surprisingly light considering the ABV. It is slightly sweet with the caramel influence dominating at this point. There is a buttery, almost creamy texture to the rum.
Taste, Middle/Throat 36/40
The caramel continues to dominate at this point but as you sip more and more, a nice rummy fire develops. Partly the high ABV but also from a crescendo of pepper. It starts relatively softly as a finely ground white pepper, but builds continually until eventually after multiple sips, it is more like a fiery capsicum, blended with raw ginger.
At the back of the palate, there is a touch of oaked bitterness balanced by sweet honey accompanied by some cinnamon, too.
The afterburn on this is quite perplexing. The finish is short and drifts between sickly sweet honey and a dry Sherry. But it is the fiery pepper that is different – at times it is almost like chilli pepper.
Regular readers will know that I am not a big fan of SMWS’s descriptions as they are generally way too obscure. But the references to spice and caramel do hit the mark nicely on this one. I also like the leaving the glass comment as this rum does change/improve with time in the glass.
The official description states “This sweet but slight metallic rum is like a rock band playing on your senses. Initial intense notes of tropical fruit and allspice changes tune like a lead guitarist to yeasty, sour dough, vegetal one. The song on your palate is a heavy one. Muscovado sugar, crème brûlée, crystallised caramel, hints of sherry and spice. The finale is a long rift of oaky spice, honey, ginger and cloves. Rock and roll in a glass playing all your favourite tunes. But leave the glass and come back to it a minute later, it’ll be playing a slightly different song on your palate.”
This is a good rum for those with a sweeter palate and highlights that if Abuelo cut the sugar levels, they can produce really tasty rum, even from their multi column stills. That said, it is disappointing to find a barrel supplied to SMWS has sugar already added to it and it makes me feel like I should knock ten or so marks off the score. It tells us rum drinkers that even independent bottlers with the ethos of presenting a spirit as naturally as possible could unknowingly (or knowingly) be selling bottles that have already been altered.
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