Smith and Cross
Distilled in Jamaica at the Hampden Estate Smith & Cross is a blend of Plummer and Wedderburn rums. Traditionally Jamaican rums are column distilled and this rum is entirely pot stilled. The Plummer rum is aged six months and the Wedderburn rum is aged between eighteen months and three years.
The rum is “Navy Strength” referring to the Royal Navy’s requirement to be bottled at 57% proof. In researching this review I learned that “Navy Strength” means that if for some reason the rum spilled on the gun powder it would still ignite. Smith & Cross’s lineage is one of the oldest manufactures of sugar and spirits dating back to 1788. A rum this rich in history had my curiosity peaked before I even opened the bottle.
The label is a navy blue with gold lettering front and back. One of the things I like is the back label is packed with information about the rum and even has a couple of recipes. The liquid is a rich mahogany with amber highlights in the bottle. In the glass it lightens to a nice golden amber and if you look closely you can see a tiny bit of distillate floating in the rum.
I poured the rum and quickly smelled molasses. Then as I let it breathe fruit and spice notes release. I clearly pick up on pineapple, but cannot distinguish the other fruits.
The initial sip has a heavy alcohol bite on the tip of the tongue as it lights the mouth up. I pick up an underlying swirl of caramel, cinnamon, fruit, oak and hint of char. Oddly I picked up something that reminded me of old leather but honestly have no clue where that would come from. There is a solid alcohol burn throughout and has an earthy finish that lingers for a moment after consumption.
I love the history of this rum and immediately wanted to try it in a traditional rum punch, grog, as well as several Tiki drinks. Straight it is not gentle and for me it is obviously constructed to be mixed with something else. I did not expect the complexity of this rum and wonder how it has evolved from the 1788 version. If you want a over proof rum to use in a cocktail this is now going to rank pretty high on my recommendation list.
8/24/2017 02:07:18 pm
Traditionally Jamaican rums were made in pot stills. In the last century column still rums were blended with pot still rums. The heavy distillate from Hampdem was used as a rum flavoring in Europe and the UK. This distillate isn't drunk on its own in Jamaica but is blended in small amounts with column still rums. In my research, I have not found any reference Jamaicans drinking anything of this high ester count, even aging doesn't take this high ester distillate. On my visit to Hampdem in 2014 the heavy distillate was not referred to as rum but simply 'heavy distillate'.
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