Looking back in time, rum has a strong presence in the history of the North East United States. New York and New England both produced rums in the 1600's that contributed to the rising oppression of the British Empire. In 1733 the Crown passed the Molasses act trying to force the colonies to use Molasses from the West Indies. The West Indies could not meet the distillers demand, so they found creative ways to get around the act by using smugglers.
This frustrated the British and led them to pass the Sugar Act in 1764. This act cracked down on smugglers and taxed the colonies on any goods they imported or exported. This crushed the Rum Distilleries' ability to make a profit and forced them to close or change focus to other spirits such as beer and whiskey.
In 2011 a distillery quietly opened in Brooklyn, New York called The Noble Experiment. The owner, Bridget Firtle, made her dream of producing a New York Rum a reality in 2012. The first product of that dream is Owney's Original New York City Rum. Named after Owen "Owney, the Killer" Madden: a Hell's Kitchen gangster who ascended to power during Prohibition as a bootlegger, rum runner, and speakeasy operator. This rum celebrates his legacy as well as the storied history of New York Distilled spirits.
On the shelf this bottle distinguishes itself from everything else. It is shaped like a prohibition era medicine bottle with TNE NYC EST 2012 raised on the glass. The label wraps the 750 ml bottle with details about the spirit on the front and the story of Owney on the back. A nice touch is the where the label covers the side of the bottle the batch and case numbers are listed. Our bottle came from Batch #3, Case #2. The bottle is sealed with a plastic cork and secured with a security strip across the top.
The liquid is clear in the bottle and glass. Swirling the rum reveals a high level of filtration as there is no sign of distillate. The legs quickly run down the side of the glass leaving a solid ring of crystal beads.
The aroma begins with a solid floral note that dissipates to reveals light vanilla and cane accents with a hit of alcohol.
As the rum rolls across the tongue it unveils a pleasantly strong molasses note, as it fades the vanilla note carries as the alcohol bites at the end and they linger together in the finish.
It is a bold and brave thing for someone to leave a career in finance and focus on making their dreams reality. I am pleased with the first expression from The Noble Experiment distillery and look forward to experiencing future releases. Bridget Firtle in her interviews has revealed that this is step one for her rums. She has plans to produced aged and infused rums as she increases her inventory.
She has skillfully avoided some traps that other small batch distillers fall into and has produced a well balanced product. If you enjoy the flavor and mouth fill of an immature 80 proof rum, then you would be quite happy sipping this one neat or with a cube of ice. However I would be inclined to use it as an ingredient for classic cocktails and, at around 36 dollars a bottle, it is worth experimenting with.