One of the reasons that I started this written blog was to supplement the YouTube channel with content that isn’t all about whisky. I do enjoy a plethora of other liquids both in full, partial or non alcoholic forms.
One of those is Rum. I’m still pretty fresh, a noob if you will, when it comes to the sugarcane or molasses based nectar when compared to whisky. I have a natural leaning towards Bajan rum in particular after spending our honeymoon on Barbados. I hadn’t come across friendlier people with so much pride in their surroundings and produce.
There’s a couple of now overcooked images associated with rum of tropical beaches, questionable shirts, sunshine, or the full on Tiki culture that swept the globe a few years back. However given the vast spread of rum production across the world, you simply can’t assign these things so rashly any longer. Rum is produced in nations across the globe, from Antigua to Australia, Mauritius to Madeira and hell, even the Dominican Republic to Devon!
Rum also isn’t as simple as white, dark and spiced and extends far beyond the reaches of the local Tesco. People can get touchy about filtration and the addition of caramel colouring to some whiskies but they’d keel over in their chairs if Scotch whisky producers added sugar to their bottles which is a practice some Rum bottlers appear to be undertaking. This isn’t a new or necessarily underhand practice, I mean, it is but you could argue it happens in other drinks categories as it can also be seen practiced in Cognac.
Rum geeks out there; please do feel free to call out any mistakes – every day is a school day.
The variance in styles of rum can be as clear as a 12yr Glenfiddich compared to a cask strength Ardbeg and I’m yet to really dive deep into niches such as the ‘funkier’ Jamaican rums or Rhum Agricole etc.
The rum I’m looking at here is a bit of a departure from my normal bottles. This is an independent bottling that isn’t really all that independent at all. I’m talking about the Real McCoy. There is a close relationship between the Real McCoy and the Foursquare distillery in Barbados.
In 1920, the United States driven by a sense of religious fervour, outlawed the production, sale and consumption of alcohol. Ironically I suspect somebody passing that into law must have been under the influence but we’ll never know. In the same year, Bill McCoy and his brother Ben (yes Bill and Ben) having had their freight business in Florida fall on hard times due to the development of road and rail, sold their business and purchased a schooner. Bill was ex US navy and finished top of his class so knew a thing or two about the sea. So came into being their bootlegging business.
The brothers travelled through the Caribbean, Canada and South America smuggling Rye and Irish Whiskey, wines and, more notably, Rum. Sitting the bare minimum 3 miles off the coast of the eastern US in International Waters, Bill sold his wares to the medley of small boats that came out to meet them to fulfill the slaking thirst of America’s infamous speakeasys.
Everything was going swimmingly. The brothers’ were making good money, so much so that they expanded operations by buying a second, larger craft. However, this came to an end when Bill was captured by the US coastguard in 1923 who had to pursue him into international waters. Bill tried to flee but his 3 mast schooner was no match for a coastguard steamship which repeatedly fired 4inch shells at Bill and his crew. In fairness to Bill, he didn’t go into court cap in hand and was in fact quoted as saying “I have no tale of woe to tell you. I was outside the three-mile limit, selling whisky, and good whisky, to anyone and everyone who wanted to buy” ..and who can blame him?
The Real McCoy range is made up of a few releases, all distilled and matured and, as far as I’m aware, bottled at Foursquare distillery. Using molasses, the rum produced here is for me an iconic Bajan style rum. The rum I’ll be looking at today is the Real McCoy 14yr old Limited Edition. There are some crossovers with Foursquare’s own Doorly’s range as they also have a 5yr old, 12 yr old and 14 yr old.
Real McCoy 14yr Old Limited Edition Bajan Rum – 46% NCF Unknown Natural Colour Unknown No Added Sugars RRP £82.75 Bott 2019
This rum is produced using both pot still and column still spirit and was matured in ex bourbon casks.
The colour in the glass is a nice deep copper hue. If someone whispered the words ‘Dark Rum’ in my ear this is the sort of thing I’d envisage right before I called the police.
On the nose there’s initially some big eucalyptus notes, followed by grilled pineapple and coconut. Things open up a little more with more fruit but we’re taking a trip back in time for me, its banana with brown sugar and sultanas that you wrap in tinfoil and stick on the BBQ. Anyone else remember that? There is a touch of earthiness that is preceded by something akin to butterscotch and a small sprinkle of orange zest.
On the palate the texture is good, similar to most middle of the road non-chill filtered whiskies I’ve tried in the past 14 years. That earthiness from the nose comes in first of all alongside a honey like sweetness and a hint of smoke. Raisins, toffee and treacle are up next with a hefty helping of oak influence. Spices and vanilla take us into the finish alongside dark chocolate.
The finish itself is lovely and long, warming and with plenty of honey and spices including but not limited to Grenadian nutmeg.
Overall this is my kind of drinking rum. Complex and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with many of the whiskies on my shelves. The legacy of Bill McCoy is alive and well. I’d note this is a little more difficult to get hold of here in the UK. It’s available at the Whisky Exchange but is much more readily available across the pond in the US…
Fancy some tunes? The Rum Rhythm for this dram comes from Ohio based Monster Rally with Adventure, an instrumental tune with a tropical/bluegrass crossover vibe.
Holy Grail – Indiana Jones himself can only hope to find such a treasure.
Unbelievable – Among the best I’ve ever had. Must be tried at all costs.
Outstanding – One you should try to get hold of. Qualities in abundance.
Very Good – One to have on the shelf regularly. Provides consistent enjoyment.
Good – I’d happily drink this. One to buy at the right price.
Solid – No particular flaws but no wow factor either.
Fine – There to take the edge off. Good for highballs and won’t need much thought.
Meh – Somewhat flawed. More of a chore than a pleasure.
Oh Dear – Consistent flaws. Gets you where you’re going at the speed you want to get there.
Please Make it Stop – Not one to seek out. Hope for a gift receipt.