The are always more and more Worthy Parks, and they seem to be getting younger and younger. Not that that’s a problem per se, merely an observation. Today we have a few very young ones, followed by a triple from 2007.
Hamilton Jamaican Black Worthy Park (46,5%): I am not sure if this is completely unaged or aged for just a few months but either way, it is heavily coloured. Nose: You can clearly find the very juvenile character of the rum and quite to my surprise, the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t bananas. Instead, I get molasses, herbs (dill!?) and spices such as anise or pepper. Really weird but not bad at all! Note that time doesn’t really change the rum, which supports my belief that this is probably unaged distillate. Palate: Slightly bitter with molasses, burnt caramel, milk chocolate and now also a hint of banana. Could it be that this bitterness and the molasses flavours come from the colourant? It really reminds me of the Fee Brothers Molasses bitters. The rum is still a bit strange, but not bad at all. In a sense, this might also be a Demerara column still rum, i.e. a bit lighter than what you’d expect from a heavy Worthy Park but at the end of the day, all of this is fine and well. Finish: Not too long with molasses, bitters and a mix of herbs and burnt caramel that is constantly shifting back and forth between the two. A really solid rum! (77/100)
Rum Exchange St. Catherine (Worthy Park) 2013 5YO “Ruby Port Finish” (59%): With two years in the Port Cask, alas 40% of its lifetime, some producers would call this a double maturation – and for some reason they are really insisting on their products being called that way. So let’s see what this Danish-Jamaican-Swiss combo came up with. Nose: Not much of the distillate, I think. I get lots of multi-grain and flat bread, cherries, plums and slightly syrupy notes. For such a young rum, the alcohol seems to be integrated exceptionally well, by the way. The nose isn’t really exciting but from time to time, we have a weakness for these young rums that are dominated by the fortified wine, if the distillate is bold and heavy, that is. Palate: It is! An amazing creaminess fills the entirety of my oral cavity and triumphs with an intense sweetness that is mostly shaped by rich chocolate. While I was hoping for more of the Port-wine fruits, they are to be found here and there, but the chocolate, paired with leather and now also pepper, is clearly the main actor here. This is getting close to certain Sherry Whiskies actually, i.e. those interchangable products that need plenty of colour and sweetness to be sold – but this rum is fine juice, mind you. There’s this certain juvenility which is both, refreshing and slightly off at the same time but that’s no big deal. Finish: Lots of chocolate, pepper and now clearly also mint. It is not really Worthy Park, but it is a cool rum. If you take it for what it is, you can have a lot of fun with it. (81/100)
Rum Nation Jamaica (Worthy Park) 7YO (61,2%): This is a 2018 release so it dates back to either 2011 or 2010, at least. While the label states “limited edition”, I believe that this bottling is a lot bigger in terms of volume than their small batch releases. Nose: Quite aggressive at first, but after five to ten minutes it settles down and reveals notes of plantains, banana, pear, vanilla, kerosene and pear. It is a very straightforward profile, but not less interesting or edgy than many of the single casks out there. In that sense, the rum is doing many things right and the balance speaks in its favour. Later also slightly herbal elements and mild milk chocolate. Palate: Again heavy on banana (of course, it is Worthy Park…), but now with a mix of sweet milk chocolate, cappucino, cocoa and towards the end of a sip also more herbal notes. Once again, this is ultra standard, but the quality is spot on, there’s nothing I am really missing from this particular profile. The presence of the cask is subtle but noticeable, and the finish gets a bit more spicy than what we’ve had so far. I now get cinnamon, mild chili as well as a mix of nutmeg and piment. Yup, that works pretty well. Nicely done, Mr. Rossi. I think this is the maximum that you can squeeze out of these rums. (84/100)
That wasn’t too bad, eh!? On with the 2007s then.
High Spirits Worthy Park “Why Not Toucans?” 2007 9YO (55,9%): High Spirits once had an exceptional reputation with a few legendary releases but I am not sure what that’s like these days. They seem to have vanished from many people’s radars. I guess that their older bottlings simply are not widely known. Nose: Rather light with lots of banana, chocolate, pomace, kerosene, sour cherries, a mix of red berries and towards the end also some herbs. I like the touch of red fruits in this one, but besides that, it is relatively straightforward and “standard” without any surprises. Palate: Ouch, what is this? The nose already suggested this with what I’ve associated with pomace but this is completely different – blindly I probably wouldn’t have called this a rum, even. Grappa, most likely. I get pomace, old grapes, musty notes (in the unpleasant sense this time) and so many off-notes that I cannot really call out. If this wasn’t a Grappa barrel or something similar, I really want to know how a rum, from a batch that is typically rather solid, can end up like this. To me, this is essentially undrinkable, at least not enjoyable. Finish: Please, get out of mind. I think this is the first really horrible Worthy Park we’ve ever had. (39/100)
Compagnie des Indes Jamaica Secrete (Worthy Park) 2007 11YO (51,4%): Oh these secrets. I don’t think I will ever understand it… Nose: Very standard Worthy Park with banana, herbs, chocolate/ cocoa and that mix of kerosene and wood. Well, do I sound bored? If so, that is because I am, for several reasons. Firstly, we’ve had this very identical profile over and over again. Secondly, even though the general Worthy Park profile is usually good, this particular barrel probably isn’t. I am not sure if it is the former or the latter that’s really the problem here though, so let’s take a sip. Palate: Yeah, just what I thought. We’ve had this time and again and most crucially, way better versions of it. This one just feels very thin and immature, even though the general profile clearly isn’t too bad. Different expressions of banana (ripe one, puree and chips), milk chocolate, the herbs, more wood than you’d expect at this maturity and barks such as cinnamon or licorice. Finish: Short and smooth with vanilla, cinnamon and banana puree. Well, I don’t think I will ever not like this, but these days it requires more than a rum like this to get me excited. It’s just so incredibly interchangable. (79/100)
Rum Artesanal Worthy Park “Bowmore Finish” 2007 13YO (57,3%): Heinz Eggert, the parent company of Rum Artesanal, bought a cask of Bowmore, bottled the Whisky, and were surprised that they also received the cask on top. So what to do with it? Put some Worthy Park in it! At least that’s how I remember the story. Anyway, you know what I am always saying – the Worthy Park flavour profile is made for finishes but on the other hand Scotch (Islay) Whisky finishes can be tricky… let’s see. Nose: The first scents scream salt (yeah, you cannot smell it… I know!), maritime notes, oysters, citrus, but also sweet notes of ripe banana and vanilla. It is actually quite cool, but often times it is the palate that is the killer with these finishes. Palate: Ash, a bonfire at the beach, banana, chocolate, roasted marshmellows, oysters, mussels and salty lemonade are my main associations. I must admit that I really like rums like these, but I probably would never buy them. It is always cool to taste it, but it typically isn’t something I would go back to again and again. Nevertheless, this works surprisingly well! Finish: The ash and went out bonfire stick around for quite some time. Here and there we have left over marshmellows, that are slowly getting carried away by the salty sea. Pretty cool stuff, but you do have to like these types of rum. (84/100)