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Blackwell Fine Jamaican Dark Rum

Review: Blackwell Fine Jamaican Dark Rum   (82.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 08, 2018

Blackwell Fine Jamaican Dark Rum is a brand of Jamaican Dark Rum founded by Cris Blackwell (founder of Island Records) and Richard Kirshenbaum (advertising executive and CEO of NSGSWAT). Their rum is apparently produced by J. Wray and Nephew from a recipe developed by Chris Blackwell (with the help of Appleton Estate’s Master Blender Joy Spence. This dark rum is based on a family recipe which hails from the time the Lindo family (who happen to be related directly to Blackwell on his Mother’s side) owned J. Wray & Nephew.

(In 1916, J. Wray and Nephew was purchased by the Lindo Brothers & Co. who also acquired the prestigious sugar cane estate, the Appleton Estate. Lindo Brothers merged the two Jamaican entities into one company, J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. In 2012, J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. was purchased by the Campari group.)

According to the Blackwell Rum website:

The Blackwell family recipe is an original fusion of traditional ‘heavy pot’ dark rum with a distinct “Black Gold” style that creates the perfect, elegant blend of depth, character and smoothness perfect for use in mixed drinks and on its own.

My sample bottle of Blackwell Fine Jamaican Dark Rum was purchased in the ‘duty free’ market by a friend who was traveling back from Jamaica to Canada. It has been bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. According to my research the spirit is the product of not only heavy pot distilled rum as the marketing implies, there is also a substantial percentage of column distilled rum. Both styles of rum were aged between 1 and two years in American Oak barrels.

In the Bottle 4/5

Blackwell Fine Jamaican Dark Rum arrives in the tall long-necked bottle shown to the left. The label is an interesting affair as it wraps around the entire bottle at a slight angle and is ‘sealed’ with black wax as would an ancient parchment be sealed. The Island of Jamaica is featured heavily on the label bringing the heritage of the dark rum into focus.

My only disappointment was the flimsy metallic screwcap closure which was revealed when I removed the foil covering at the top of the bottle. The closure lessened and otherwise fine bottle presentation.

In the Glass 8/10

When poured into my glencairn, the rum displays itself as a dark bronze coloured spirit which has obviously been enhanced by the presences of caramel (or perhaps molasses). When I tilt and twirl my glass I see a thickened sheen on the inside which slowly releases a multitude of leglets which turn to mid-sized legs which run back down to the dark rum at the bottom of the glass.

The nose is quite different from other Jamaican dark rums I have tried. I was expecting a funky push of fragrant esters from the advertised ‘heavy pot’ rum in the blend, but instead I found the nose remarkable restrained. Aromas of treacle (dark almost burnt caramel)and molasses led out into the breezes followed by bits of orange peel and dark cocoa. There are very light hits of dark licorice with some fried fruit (raisin and dates). Some Jamaican funk does appear in the form of resin-like notes and hints of tar and rubber, but these indications are very light and are probably more of a reflection of the treacle and caramel than the heavy pot still.

I guess I would call this a Jamaican-Lite Dark Rum.

In the Mouth 50/60

When I took my first sip, My impression was that the rum was pleasant. The treacle which dominated the nose was more retrained across the palate, which gave the rum a light sweetness which I enjoyed. Cocoa and dried fruit seemed to swim easily beside the treacle with light dollops of vanilla, licorice and molasses carried along. Although it takes some time to develop, I do notice a light build-up of wood spice I sip. The rum is enjoyable and not overly complicated.

I added some ice and cocoa began to ooze out of the rum. Then I added a dash of cola. The mixed drink was again very pleasant, and I could see myself and my friends enjoying the cold mixed drink on any warm sunny day. A dash of Angostura bitters made it even better. I finished my examination with a Brooklyite and discovered the mixed drink pleased me just as much as the Dark Rum and Cola.

In The Throat 12.5/15

The finish is short and relatively smooth although there is a touch of sharpness or astringency when sipped neat. Cocoa dominates the exit especially with ice added.

The Afterburn 8/10

Blackwell Fine Jamaican Dark Rum is a pleasant rum. The spirit lacks the punch of flavour we typically find in Jamaican rums, but this lack of oomph has its upside. I have observed that not everyone enjoys overt Jamaican funk as much as I do, and I will be able to serve the Blackwell Dark Rum to a wider variety of palates than I would a Jamaican Dark Rum like Coruba. This wider appeal should serve the brand well in the retail marketplace.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


Suggested Recipe

Dark Rum and Cola
(the classic Rum and Coke recipe)

2 oz.  Blackwell Fine Jamaican Dark Rum
2 oz.  Cola
dash of Angostura Bitters
Lime slice
5-6 Large Ice Cubes

Rub the rim of a standard rocks glass or highball glass with lime
Fill with the glass with ice
Add Rum and bitters, then fill with a splash of Coca Cola
Stir Lightly, then drop in a lime slice

Please Remember to enjoy your libations in a responsible manner

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


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score 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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