Today we have the first rum from New Yarmouth by an independent bottler that I get to try. To take it away: Compagnie des Indes digged out a real treasure here. Kudos to Florent Beuchet at this point!
The French independent bottler Compagnie des Indes needs no further introduction, New Yarmouth on the other hand probably even more so. Unfortunately information on the distillery is very sparse but from Matt Pietrek, who visited Appleton in 2016, we learn that New Yarmouth has both, pot and column stills which produce different marques from Appleton. As you might or might not know, Appleton and New Yarmouth both belong to J. Wray & Nephew, who in turn are owned by the Campari group. The most well-known rum produced at New Yarmouth should be the Wray & Newphew Overproof, which is a very popular mixer (try it with Ting Soda!). Moreover, its overall capacity is apparently larger than Appleton’s which makes sense if you think in terms of mass-production versus more “hand-crafted” rums.
What follows is some history, so if you aren’t interested in it just skip to the tasting.
The story of the New Yarmouth sugar estates dates back to at least the 18th century. In the early 1700s, John Carver was the owner of several sugar estates in the Vere Parish and when John Ward, the Second Viscount of Dudley and Ward, married John’s daughter Mary, these estates have been passed on to the Viscounts and Earls of Dudley and Ward. Among them were the Rymesbury and Whitney sugar estates in the Clarendon Parish but also the New Yarmouth estate in the Vere Parish. The family owned these estates at least until the mid-19th century, i.e. way after slave emancipation. After John Wards death in 1774, the estates have been passed on to John Ward the Second and eventually to his half-brother John William Ward, who served as the British Foreign Secretary from 1827 and 1828. Apparently the Ward’s weren’t very imaginative with first names. Anyways, it seems quite certain that the Ward’s never actually visited Jamaica and hence aren’t much more than absentee landlords. Finally, Raul Mosley let’s us know that
According to the 1817 Jamaica Almanac, the New Yarmouth Sugar Estate had 220 slaves and 203 cattle. The sugar mill was extensive and the cane rollers were driven by wind power provided by a substantial stone wind mill tower. By 1831 there were 236 slaves, in 1838 there were 186 apprentices and the 1845 Jamaica Almanac reported that the estate consisted of 852 acres.
You can find some of the above information and pictures of the remains of the New Yarmouth sugar estate right here. But now on to the tasting!
Dégustation “Compagnie des Indes New Yarmouth 2005 12YO”
Key Facts: This single cask rum has been distilled by New Yarmouth in Jamaica in June 2005. After twelve years, cask JNY20 has been bottled at 55% in August 2017. A different cask of this batch has been bottled exclusively for the Danish market at full proof (62%).
Colour and viscosity: Pale gold. Tiny pearls form a crown and moderately flow back down in thin streaks. I’d say it is quite oily for a twelve year old rum.
Nose: Esters, esters and more esters. Wow. They penetrate my nostrils like a steamroller. Even my neighbour might know that I’ve just poured some Jamaican rum. If I hadn’t known better I would surely have said that this is a high-ester Hampden. And it has everything we want: Grilled pineapple, olives, ripe bananas and parsley. Then garlic and eggplant, Baba Anoesch paste perhaps. Now also chilies and slightly sour notes. This stuff is great!
Palate: Lots and lots of esters and sour green apples is what’s popping into my mind. The taste “feels” different from the aromas at first but eventually we can find all of the familiar flavours again. It starts with the Baba Anoesch paste and its ingredients (eggplant, parsley and garlic), followed by olives and a relatively bitter touch of wood and ends with plenty of herbs. Then Curiosity Cola and black tea. Even though the rum is very rich in esters, it is not as fruity as you’d might expect. Different fruits pop up here and there but don’t really impose themselves at any point. I love it.
Finish: Long, sour, fruity and bitter at the same time. Green apples and olives make the start, tea leafs round it off. Let’s put it this way: It is not very special but it suits the rum quite well.
What a surprise! I had to try it just to satisfy my curiosity but this is not at all what I expected. In a blind-tasting I definitely would have put the Compagnie des Indes New Yarmouth 2005 12YO to Hampden, there’s no doubt. If you think we, especially in Germany, have been spoilt by the recent high-ester bombs from Hampden (or Savanna for that matter) and that there is basically no place to go to from here then you, just like me, were wrong. After splitting a bottle with a few friends I just had to stock up immediately, it’s just that good. Especially with the current Hampden-hype (250€+ for a not even superb Black Parrot in a Wild bottle!?) it is very nice to see that there are still outstanding substitutes at affordable prices out there that are only waiting to be discovered. If you love Hampden, go and get this. Trust me, if it had Hampden on the label it probably would have been sold out already.