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Burwood Honey Rhum

Review: Burwood Honey Rhum   (83/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 18, 2020

The Burwood Distillery is a small craft distillery founded by Jordan Ramey, Marco Cilic, and Ivan Cilic located in Calgary Alberta (4127 6th Street N.E). The Distillery includes a restaurant and Cocktail Lounge which offers a casual environment to enjoy the not only the distilleries fine spirits but also locally sourced farm-to-table menu items.

The distillery was hand-built and styled after a mixture of old-world Eastern European & Scottish farm-styled distilleries combined with new world craft beer methodologies. To help bring this unique facility to life, Marko spent tireless hours building the distillery, literally from the dirt floor up.

At Burwood, the focus is upon locally grown raw materials brought from the farm straight to the glass. The barley they use is grown and malted in Alberta by Rahr Malting Company of Alix, AB. Their honey comes from Ivan and Marko’s Father’s honeybees just outside of Chestermere, AB and through Greidanus Honey Mill in High River, AB. The team hand-crushes every grain, hand-scoops every ounce of honey, distills every drop of liquid, and bottles and packages it all in their Calgary facility.

According to the distillery, Burwood Honey Rhum is an Albertan spin on classic Sugar Cane Rum. A 100% Honey product produced from product from their own family farm. The spirit is finished with a dash of caramelized honey for extra dimensions of flavour.

The spirit is bottled slightly over proof at 51.12 % alcohol by volume.

Note: I take exception to the use of the word ‘Rhum’ on the label. This is a mead spirit and should be proudly labeled as such. Distillate of spirit from honey, bears only a passing resemblance to sugar cane rum and as the word ‘rum’ is defined in Canadian Regulations to include only sugar cane or sugar cane products (here), in a bilingual country the defined term rightly includes it French spelling as well.

In the Bottle 3/5

Burwood Distillery’s Mead Spirit arrives in the clear stubby bottle shown to the left.

I like the bottle which holds to the bartender’s creed of being easy to store (the stubbly bottle is stable with a round shape that rests easily on any bartender’s shelf); easy to hold (the round cylindrical bottle is not too wide for the average person’s hand); and easy to pour (the cork comes out easily and the long neck helps us avoid spilling).

The label is though perhaps too simple. A little colour might help make it pop more. I also (as noted above) take exception to the label which identifies the spirit as Rhum.  Rhum is the French spelling of Rum. This is a Mead spirit, not a Rhum spirit.

The back label also tries to characterize the spirit as an Albertan take on Sugar Cane Rum. That is like saying Apple Brandy is a western take on Cognac.

(I guess I am frustrated because there is no need to draw a comparison to rum. Honey Mead has a tradition of manufacture that is older than rum and a Mead spirit can stand on it’s own without the need to try to spin it as something else.)

In the Glass 8.5/10

Once we get past all that controversy over the use of the word rhum, and allow the spirit to stand on its own merit, it turns out that there is a lot of merit to stand on!

Poured into the glass the Mead Spirit has a pale golden colour, and the initial scents in the air from the pour are quite enticing. Light honey and caramel are melded with a sweep of vanilla and light baking spices. Hints of cinnamon, a touch of ginger and just a dab herbal grass. Perhaps a touch of mint as well. Orange peel and banana appear as does a hint of alfalfa hay and clover.

The spirit is bottled at 51.1 %alcohol by volume yet, on the nose at least there is very little undo astringency. So far I am liking this honey spirit from Burwood.

In the Mouth 50/60

The first sip belies the nose in that the high alcohol which wasn’t in full force in the breezes above the glass certainly appears as firm alcohol heat across the palate. Given the high alcohol content of the spirit though, I am still impressed. I suspect the dab of caramelized honey added is helping to offset the heat, but there is evidence of distilling craft here too.

The flavours from the nose translate well, although the spirit is perhaps more herbal than I anticipated. Not that I am complaining, the herbal grassy flavour which underlies the honey and caramel sweetness is welcome. Some pungent spiciness is apparent as well, some ginger, hints of cinnamon as well as a sort of earthy quality that is almost like licorice root and angelica.

The spirit is perhaps too heated to sip neat, but over ice the alcohol heat is tamed and we can sip comfortable. Better than ice though would be a nice cocktail (see below).

In the Throat 13/15

Heated (at over 100 proof that is to be expected) with herbal flavours in the exit, and lengthened with a honey finish. The heat makes adding an ice cube an imperative if you wish to sip, of course I will be mixing cocktails.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Mead Spirit from Burwood surprised me. There is a very nice herbal flavour underlying the honey and caramel which makes the spirit delightful, and although is obviously quite young, perhaps even unaged, it holds its own as a spirit we can sip over ice. That even though the bottling proof is more than 100 proof.

I think the folks at Burwood Distillery are onto something here, they just have to come up with a better name, Burwood Premium Honey Mead Spirit perhaps?

You may check out this link for more reviews of similar spirits if you would like a few comparative reviews (Lightly Aged Spirits).

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Suggested Recipe

This is a simple recipe based upon the daiquiri (which is a whisky cocktail I happen to enjoy).  I am using Burwood’s Mead Spirit rather than rum which of course means that the cocktail deserves its own name. There is an easy going feel to the cocktail so I chose an appropriate name, Easy.

Easy

2 oz Burwood Honey Spirit
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash of Orange Bitters
Sugar Syrup to taste

Mix a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake it up until the shaker frosts over
Strain into a fancy glass of your choice
To keep things easy, no garnish required

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink servings!

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You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 

 

 
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