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Lemon Hart Original Demerara Rum

Review: Lemon Hart Original Demerara Rum  81/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 10, 2014

Lemon Hart is an iconic rum brand with roots which stretch back to the late 18th century when Mr. Lemon Hart began to supply rum to the British Royal Navy. By 1804, production of his “Lemon Hart Rum” was moved from his small merchant office in Cornwall, England to a larger facility in London. Over 150 years later the rum was  being produced at the Hiram Walker Distillery in Ontario, Canada. True to its roots as a Navy Rum, the brand remained a Demerara blend with the base rum bulk shipped from Guyana to the Hiram Walker Facility where it was aged and blended with a small amount ( 1.5 %) of Canadian Rum for tax purposes.

It was during this time that Lemon Hart became a relatively famous cocktail rum. In fact, the rum is called for by name in many of Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber’s tiki recipes. However by the early part of the 21st Century, tiki culture had all but disappeared, and the importance of the Lemon Hart brand had diminished to the point that the brand owner (now Pernod Ricard) decided to divest itself of the brand and sold Lemon Hart to a Canadian concern namely, Mosaiq, of Dorval, Quebec.

The Original Lemon Hart rum is now blended with 100 % Guyanese distilled and aged rum. It is bottled in Canada by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) for Mosaiq, and I have confirmed that all of the previous Guyanese marques for this the rum have remained the same as before. Thus the difference between the old blend and the new blend comes down to the scrapping of the Canadian rum content as well as the differences which aging in Guyana rather than in Ontario, Canada will impart to the final rum.

LemonHart_BottleRendering750_NEWIn the Bottle 4/5

The rum arrives in the standard bar room style bottle shown to the left. The bottle is not brown, as you might think from the photo, rather it is clear. The rich brown colour in the photo is the colour of the rum showing through the clear glass. The front label is professional (and attractive) with a colour scheme which is smart and easy to read. The back label tells the story of Mr. Lemon Hart and his rum, giving the consumer another reason to make the purchase decision.

The rum has no age statement; but my guess would be that most of this liquid had been aged for about 2 years. (I should point out that by Canadian Law all rum produced and sold in Canada must be aged for a minimum of one year.)

I like everything I see except the metallic screw cap.

In the Glass 8/10

When I poured the rum into my glencairn glass, it displayed itself as a dark copper coloured liquid similar in hue to a well used penny. I gave the glass a slow tilt and twirl and saw a multitude of tiny drooplets forming which coalesced into slender legs running down the inside of the glass.

Once the initial astringency passes, the spirit brings forward aromas typical of a dark rum. Licorice stained molasses with hints of cinnamon and cloves are obvious with additional indications of fine oak spices underneath. Bits of vanilla well up as do impressions of cocoa, oolong tea, dry fruit, and nicotine stained tobacco.

These impressions represent a rum which is perhaps reminiscent of an older style of rum which has become somewhat unfamiliar to us as the world has turned in other directions and other styles of rum have become prominent. This seems to be a dark and dry rum, with sort of a brooding mood attached to it.

In the Glass 49/60

The rum is much drier than I expected (usually these dark rums carry a lot of sugar), with an initial light bitterness which puckers my mouth and causes my saliva glands to water. Flavours of nicotine and lightly spicy tobacco lead out with indications of raisins, dates and dry cocoa falling in behind. Unsweetened vanilla, cinnamon, and bits of nutmeg and clove follow. There is also some tar-like cigarette smoke, and a hint of saltiness (almost like sea brine) in the flavour profile as well. That brooding mood, I sensed on the nose has followed the rum across the palate.

I find the rum suitable to sip; but the stronger impulse of mine is to mix the spirit with a splash of cola and ice. That splash of cola soothes the light bitterness within the rum.

In the Throat 12/15

The finish is of medium length with bittersweet flavours of nicotine, tobacco and lightly salty licorice and molasses lingering upon the palate. I suspect that if you are one who chooses to enjoy tobacco (either in cigarette or cigar form) these flavours will be quite appealing to you. I should note that a light astringency is present as the rum brings a little heat to the tonsils and throat.

The Afterburn 8/10

The Lemon Hart is not a clean, crisp rum; rather this is a brooding rum with an unmistakable smoky nicotine stained character. I am drawn to the thought that this is the type of rum that would be at home in an old tavern or pub where you can smell thick smoke and tobacco lingering in the air (and perhaps even sense the airborne saltiness of a nearby ocean). The rum is in the a style of an older time; but it is definitely a rum which will grow on you if you give it a chance.

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


Suggested Recipes

Although this is not a Cuban Rum, it is so similar in style to a previously reviewed Cuban rum, the gritty Havana Club 7 Year Old, that I thought I would suggest a cocktail which I have also used with great success for that particular rum. If you try it, I think you will agree that this recipe works very well with the Original Lemon Hart.

Cuban Special

2 Oz Cuban Rum
1 Oz Lime Juice
1 Tbsp Pineapple Juice
1 Tbsp Triple Sec

Build over Ice in a Mixing glass
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a chunk of pineapple

(Photos courtesy Rum Connection)


Of course the Lemon Hart also loves to mix with cola.

Lemon Hart and ColaDark Rum and Cola
(the classic Rum and Coke recipe)

2 oz.  Dark Rum
Splash of 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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