We stay at Jamaica’s Worthy Park distillery and double the age of last week’s rum. We also add a sherry finish. Let me introduce you to the “Rum Nation Jamaica 8YO Oloroso Finish”!
Rum Nation doesn’t provide us with the name of the distillery, which they only started doing very recently, but they give us a hint. The back label reads “We took the aromatic and estery heavy rum from a very traditional distillery in St. Catherine, Jamaica, and we gave it a spin in our superb Oloroso sherry casks”. The only distillery that qualifies for this is Worthy Park (even in a blind-tasting there wouldn’t have been any doubt of its origin).
I already introduced Worthy Park in the review of the The Rum Cask Worthy Park 2009 4YO. Let’s go a bit more into detail. Today, Worthy Park combines hyper modern technology in the sugar factory with the good old pot still (albeit also a modern one) in its distillery. They take a lot of pride in being the most efficient processor of sugar cane in the Caribbean. Where most other sugar factories need about eleven tons of sugar cane to produce one ton of sugar, Worthy Park only needs nine. After cutting most of the cane by hand, their process is as follows:
First, the sugar cane is crushed and enriched with hot water, which is then squeezed through presses to extract a sugar juice. After that, the solid remians are sperated from the liquid, which is heated until the water vaporises and the sugar crystalizes. Then, the liquid enters a centrifuge where the raw sugar is sperated from the molasses. Between these steps, the individual parts, both solid and liquid, are automatically pumped through seemingly endless pipelines from one workstation to another. Similarly, the molasses is also pumped through an underground pipeline to the about one kilometer far distillery’s molasses tank. Their Forsysths still has a capacity of 18.000 litres, which are processed within five to six hours. While they currently opperate the still only for half of the year, they could easily employ it full time if needed. Per day, they are capable of distilling 1000 nine-litre boxes of their overproof rum “Rum Bar”. Together with their four year old “Rum Bar Gold” and a creamy rum liqueur, these products amount to about two thirds (conflicting statements here) of the distillery’s total production. Bar Appleton (J. Wray & Nephew), it is thus the only Jamaican distillery whose main emphasis seems to be on promoting their own brand. This is also reflected in their policy to force independent bottlers who are currently selling rums from Worthy Park to remove the distillery’s name from their labels. The motivation behind this is to strengthen their new aged rum under the name ‘Worthy Park’ which they are about to launch. In my opinion, this is a) not a smart move and b) highly disrespectful towards the bottlers without whom few people would care or even know about Worthy Park at all. Time will tell whether or not it was a smart decision from a business perspective. As a consumer but also from the imagined perspective of someone who has bottled Worthy Park a few years ago and now has to relabel its residual bottles I cannot endorse this decision.
For more information on Worthy Park check out Matt Pietrek’s article on his visit to the estate.
Dégustation “Rum Nation Jamaica 8YO Oloroso Finish”
Key Facts: The rum has been distilled at Worthy Park in 2006 and got to age for about 7 years on Jamaica. Around 2013/4, a huge number of barrels made its trip from Worthy Park over the atlantic to Europe. Rum Nation bought a good chunk of these barrels and transfered their content into used Oloroso Sherry casks, where the rum got to age for another year. Dilution to 50% yielded 5436 bottles which have been released in 2015.
Colour and viscosity: Chestnut/ Oloroso sherry. A few small beads and many thin streaks can be found along the rim of the glass.
Nose: I am welcomed by sweet notes of toffee and caramel. It doesn’t take long until the aromas of flambéed and overripe banana start to manifest themselves. The sherry finish also cannot be denied. We get dark, dried fruits, raisins and leather from the cask. Call me crazy but further away from the glass I smell mushrooms in a cream sauce with bacon. Behind all of that is a decently smoky texture, paired with a few nondescript herbs.
Palate: The alcohol gently burns the tip of my tongue like I know it from freshly grounded peppercorns. The banana is now way more subtle than the nose suggested. It is still present but but not intrusive. Instead, the first sip reveals a pleasent mix of banana, dark cherries, toffee, dark berries and a potpourri of dried fruits. The most obvious association is perhaps a KiBa (Kirsch-Banana) juice, which I have also found in another Worthy Park without a finish. The rum is slightly more herbal now. I taste thyme and oregano with the leathery profile lurking in the background. Perhaps also some dried garlic and parsley. At the back-end we get medical flavours reminiscent of a first aid kit.
Finish: The medical flavours echo through the relatively short finish. Quite a few herbs and spices come and go. I detect garlic, parsley, grinded dried peppers and caraway.
The Rum Nation Jamaica 8YO Oloroso Finish is a really nice rum. Compared with the The Rum Cask Worthy Park 2009 4YO, it is decidedly more mature and well rounded. The sherry finish is a really nice addition to the rum’s profile. As Marco points out in his review, the idea is great but it could have been done better. This rum with a few additional years and time in the sherry casks would have been the nuts when bottled at cask strength. I totally agree with him. What we got instead is more of an easy sipper that doesn’t require a lot of attention but it could have been so much more. The rum was really great for its asking price. Viewed in relation to other Worthy Park rums and the total number of issued bottles, the rum sold out rather fast. Apparently it was a great success for Rum Nation. At least it was profitable enough to spawn a successor, which is only five years old, however. Rum Nation probably wanted to deliver quickly. I haven’t tasted that rum yet and I do not know to what extent it is a substitute for the 8YO or just a cash cow. But I get the impression that it proves popular as well. Since Worthy Park just commenced distilling in 2005, an older rum with a sherry finish are only dreams of the future anyways.