St. Piran’s Rum
£35 (50cl bottle)
Pure Single Rum – 100% Pot Still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 42% ABV @ 20°
The first and still one of the few to distill rum from scratch in England, English Spirit produce a range of craft distilled products including their own gin, vodka, apple brandy, single malt, sambuca and currently (2018) three different rums.
Before we go any further, let me declare my own personal involvement with English Spirit as one of the Spirit Ambassadors who promotes and sells their products. But this will not affect me reviewing any of their products as I always try to be fair, objective and above all…honest.
Now that is out of the way, I can tell you that English Spirit have 20 custom-designed 200 litre alembic copper pot stills at their site in Essex. What started out as a hobby for ex-Oxford grad and chemist Dr. John Walters, distiller and owner at English Spirit has turned into a full time job, passion and some would say, calling in life. I say this because English Spirit have a passion for producing clean, pure and good quality alcohol derived from using the finest ingredients, locally sourced where possible, and by distilling in small batches using alembic copper pot stills to produce spirits in the way they have been distilled for hundreds of years – no modern multi-column industrial alcohol here!
English Spirit’s newest rum, St. Piran’s replaced their previous “white” rum (Tubman’s) – anyone who reads regularly will know I do not like to refer to a rum as being “white.”
St. Piran’s is named after the saint who discovered tin mining in Cornwall. It is distilled three times using water drawn from Treguddick Manor in Cornwall (owned by English Spirit). Although St. Piran’s claims to be the “The first British White Rum” it is actually its predecessor Tubman’s that holds that title and distinction but as St. Piran’s is the same recipe, the claim is quite justified. As we do not have commercially grown sugar cane in the UK, Venezuelan blackstrap molasses are imported for the fermentation and distillation all of which takes place in England.
Week-in, week-out, I spend countless time explaining to people about rum not being categorised by colour. This is because whenever I show them a bottle of St. Piran’s, they say “I don’t like white rum” or “it [white rum] has no flavour” and worse still, they compare it to a brand leading “white” rum beginning with “B.” Now I am not knocking the aforementioned “B” brand, they are phenomenally good at what they do, hence their sales and poularity, but it is a million miles away from St. Piran’s not only in terms of body and flavour but fundamentally, by the way it is distilled. St. Piran’s is a BATCH distillation and uses a copper pot still, whereas the “white” rum brand-leader is the antithesis of artisanal batch production i.e. multi-column automated production distilling spirits very close to neutral in flavour and style. Furthermore, St. Piran’s is not charcoal filtered whereas many others (including the “B” brand) are, which not only removes the colouring, but also much of the flavour. This is a great example of where recategorising rum using the Gargano system would really help consumers to identify the value on the bottle they are perusing.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Pure Single Rum” – 100% Pot Still. When tested with my hydrometer, St. Piran’s measured 42%, the same as the label states, implying no detectable additives.
Taking off my English Spirit hat and putting on my Rum Ambassador’s hat for a moment, the big problem here is that the bottle is bland, has little or no information on the back or front and is a bit disappointing – I get told this each week by potential customers, too. If I wear both hats for a moment, I think English Spirit should take on the Gargano classification for their rum in order to demonstrate the artisanal nature of their product. After all, the Gargano classification helps consumers to understand the way a rum is distilled and so therefore the costs and likely quality, too. If you produce something in small batches using alembic copper pot stills, you shout it from the highest roof tops!
The rum is pure and crystal clear. Swirling the liquid around reveals quite thick legs that are quick to descend the sides of my glass.
The aroma is fantastically powerful. From fully two feet away, I can smell the raisin and caramel notes. Moving closer reveals some coconut, peach, mango, bitter plum and star anise. For a so-called “white” rum, this has an amazing aroma profile.
Taste, Initial-middle 30/40
Despite the powerful nose, the entry is surprisingly soft and delicate. The caramel and raisin notes from the nose are there along with a touch of creamy vanilla.
Taste, Middle/Throat 30/40
In the middle of the palate, the rum’s fire starts to grow alongside spicy pepper. The rum starts to feel like a rum as opposed to tasting like one. The raisin notes soften, replaced by cream soda and a hint of coconut offset by more spicy pepper. A touch of star anise and bitter plum are in there, too. The rum has an astringent feel at this point becoming ever drier with each sip despite caramel notes developing on the palate.
The rum’s finish is short to medium in length, but does become rougher after swallowing. Presumably, this is due to the rum being unaged. The spicy pepper lingers alongside some bitter plum flavours.
Clean, pure and tasty! This is not something that you are going to sit with to sip and savour on its own as to be honest it is a little overpowering for that and does not have the complexities associated with a so-called “sipping” rum. That said, if the rum is not good enough to drink on its own, there is no point mixing with it as your mixed drink will be pretty poor.
This is great to mix with lime and sugar – so it makes a great Daiquiri and Mojito but I’ve actually really enjoyed using it in place of Cachaça to make a Caipirinha (Caipirissima). At this point, it really does shine as the powerful pot still flavours pair nicely with the acidity of fresh lime, whilst the sugar offsets any harshness.
My biggest problem comes with the price. At £35 for just 50ml (Equivalent to £49 for a 70cl bottle) it is expensive. There are well-aged and significantly better rums that are far cheaper than this, but that is a symptom of being a small-batch distiller using traditional copper pot stills. If you want quality, you have to pay for it and this certainly is good quality.
It is great to see artisanal distilleries appearing in Britain and reassuring that they are producing clean, unadulterated spirits using traditional copper pot stills. That said, beware of quite a few so-called British “distillers” of rum – there are many brands popping up that merely alter rum/spirits, rather than actually ferment and distil it, which is what English Spirit do with their rums. There are loads of rums hitting the market and especially spiced rum liqueurs claiming to be British, when in reality, they are rums imported from the Caribbean with spices and sugar added that are then called “British” rums. As always, Caveat Emptor!
English Spirit produce true craft distilled, artisanal rums and this is a great example.
St. Piran’s makes a great Cuba Libre aka rum and coke. After a bit of experimenting, I have created two cocktails using St. Piran’s.
1 RumShopBoy’s English Spirit Zombie
Based on the classic Zombie cocktail, but rather than using a light and dark rum, I have used English Spirit’s St. Piran’s and replaced triple sec with English Spirit’s Orange Gin Liqueur.
In a cocktail shaker, add:
- 75ml St. Piran’s Rum
- 25ml English Spirit’s Orange Gin Liqueur
- 25ml Fresh lime juice
- 40ml Freshly squeezed orange juice
- 35ml Passion Fruit purée/syrup
- 5ml Grenadine
- 2 dashes of Orange Angostura Bitters
- Generous amount of ice.
- Shake the above ingredients and strain into a highball style of glass.
- Optionally, float on the surface, 15ml of overproof rum (I used Pusser’s 75.5%).
BEWARE! This packs a deceptive punch.
2 Rum Shop Boy’s English Spirit Caipirinha (aka English Spirit Caipirissima)
- Cut 1/2 lime into wedges, place into an old fashioned glass and muddle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of Demerara sugar.
- Top up the glass with crushed ice and add 60ml of St. Piran’s.
- Stir and top up with crushed ice again.
- Decorate with a lime wedge.
© These cocktails and recipes may not be copied, used or replicated
in part or whole without this site owner’s permission. Thank you.
Find out more at English Spirit’s web site.
Review No. 119
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