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Rum Reviews

Two RA New Yarmouths: Rum Artesanal Jamaica Rum 1994, NY Distillery (25 years) & Rum Artesanal Jamaica Rum 2009, JNY - Distillery (10 years)


Background: Two rums from New Yarmouth, bottled by Rum Artesanal last year. Same distillery, same bottler, but otherwise, very different specifications. The 1994 is a low-ester mark distilled in a column still, whereas the 2009 is a rather high-ester pure pot-still distillate. Tasting these side-by-side is one way of appreciating the diversity and range New Yarmouth (and Jamaica, as a style) is capable of.

Name: Rum Artesanal Jamaica Rum 1994, NY Distillery (25 years)

Nose: the top notes are of acetone and varnish; artificial-smelling grape, like some kind of grape-scented air freshener; stewed apple and pear; savoury toasted grains; deep-fried okaki, a kind of Japanese rice-cracker; the savouriness quickly makes way for an onslaught of desserty sweetness; lots and lots of dark chocolate; coffee beans with a dark roast; salted caramel; cake batter; coconut shavings fried with gula melaka; kuih kosui; condensed milk; sandalwood incense; a mix of black liquorice and “green” notes reminiscent of an aged Port Mourant distillate; dried prunes; raisins; the base notes are earthy, industrial and briny, yet somehow they are cleaner than usual in their manifestations; salted oyster mushroom chips; tar; olive tapenade; grilled fish.

Palate: oh man, this is hot; starts out like a rich ron; dark roasted coffee with sugar; toffee; then some sort of high-ester funk; acetone mixed with old parmesan and Greek yoghurt; wet burp; artificial strawberry flavouring; codeine-based cough syrup; ginger candy; baked alaska; bananas foster; the back-palate brings forth bags of liquorice, with slight hints of funk; blink-and-you-miss-it notes include industrial grease, motor oil, buah keluak, sambal belachan, and tapenade on charred toast.

Finish: pretty short; sarsaparilla drink; cigar wrapper; cloves and star anise; Turkish coffee; gingerbread; digestive biscuits; charred rice; an aftertaste of Christmas cake, milk coffee and butter cookie.

Conclusion: as they say, you can take the rum out of Jamaica, but you cannot take Jamaica out of the rum. This is almost a Spanish-style distillate, with flashes of brilliance during those moments the Jamaican funk takes charge. Alas, such moments occur less frequently than I would like them to. Moreover, the alcohol integration here leaves much to be desired, considering it is 25 years old. The balance of flavours is very impressive though, I’d give it that.

Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 84/100


Name: Rum Artesanal Jamaica Rum 2009, JNY - Distillery (10 years)

Nose: somewhat shy; again, acetone to start; brand new plastic goods; marzipan; coconut water and nata de coco; honeydew; simple syrup; smoke starts to emanate from the sugars after a while; consequently, we get burnt caramel, gula melaka, and hints of burning tyres; given time, grains and starch comes to the fore; malt whisky newmake; very dry nihonshu; barley shochu; pan-fried tapioca cake; the grassiness of an unaged agricole; there is more sweetness in the base notes; winter melon tea; rose syrup; cherry cough drops; blackforest cake; deep-fried cempedak and banana; the earthiness typical of high-ester Jamaicans is barely detectable.

Palate: the entry is sweet and relatively straightforward; butter cake; belgian waffle with cream cheese; overripe banana; papaya milk; whipped cream; the funky and savoury elements creep in on the mid-palate; dry sake; scotch-like maltiness; various kinds of rice crackers; tteokbokki; camphor; After 8 chocolate; the complexity is ramped up on the back-palate; fresh ginger, unripe mango and papaya, together with their peel; green herbs like dill, parsley and coriander; a homogeneous mix of grated parmesan and peanut dust; green and earthy forest floor associations; even a fleeting appearance of sashimi-grade tuna akami.

Finish: long; earthy, creamy, and fruity; clove cigarette; star anise; liquorice; tapenade; old books; musty cabinet and leather furniture; 100% dark chocolate, or perhaps just pure cocoa butter; crystallised mango and pineapple; banana split; creme brulee; herbal, minty notes of Chinese liniment and ointment, somewhere between Tiger Balm and traditional dit da jow; the aftertaste comprises lemon barley, grass jelly, yoghurt, liquorice and cling wrap.

Conclusion: this is a peculiar one. The nose is shy and mellow, the front- and mid-palate simple and easy, yet the back-palate and finish bring forth a torrent of transformations. It is a pity this rum never quite attains the heft, intensity and pitch-perfect pacing of its older sibling in its delivery of flavours, but I cannot deny its quality and appeal. All in all, this is about as complex as it gets while maintaining a certain amount of accessibility.

Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 87/100



Image Courtesy of u/zoorado