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Rum Nation Jamaica 26 Year Old (Distilled 1986)

Review: Rum Nation Jamaica 26 Year Old (Distilled 1986)   86/100
by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published April 23,2013

About a month ago, 60 bottles of a special rum from Rum Nation hit the store shelves here in my home province of Alberta. This small batch bottling (only 760 bottles per batch) was distilled upon a pot still at the Long Pond Estate in Jamaica in 1986 and was bottled in 2012 by Rum Nation. (In case you did not know, the Long Pond Distillery is the original home of Captain Morgan Rum.) The rum is apparently produced from locally grown Jamaican sugar cane molasses, and was originally aged in American Ex Bourbon Casks. However, after 18 years of aging in the Bourbon Cask, the rum was transferred to Oloroso Sherry butts where it aged for an additional 8 years.

I was sent a sample of this rum by Fabio Rossi, the owner of Rum Nation, and he advised me that he considers this a small batch rum made for primarily for connoisseurs. Crush Imports is handling the distribution here in Alberta.

Rum Nation Jamaica 26yo (1986-12) SL VI  GBIn the Bottle 4.5/5

The Bottle presentation for the Rum Nation Jamaica 26 Year Old is pictured to the right. This style of presentation is more commonly associated with limited edition Scotch Whisky than it is for Rum, and if I saw this bottle of rum and display box in a liquor store I would be intrigued. I appreciate that the grey box which holds the rum bottle not only tells me that the rum was distilled in 1986, it also tells me the year the rum was bottled, 2012. This information alone might entice me to buy it. My only quibble is that I wish the box and bottle would also have prominently displayed the fact that the rum was distilled by Long Pond. There are very few Long Pond bottlings available, and I think this information, as well as some tasting notes would be useful for connoisseurs.

In the Glass 9/10

Once poured into the glass, the rum displays the rich copper hue of a new penny. When I tilt and twirl my glass, the rum lays down thick lazy legs which hang reluctantly on the inside of the glass clinging to the crest as if unwilling to return to the rum. There are a lot of unfamiliar scents rising into the breezes above the glass mingling with the more familiar sensations of butterscotch, and fresh fruit. That initial aroma is a little intimidating, as I wonder to myself if I am ready for a rum like this.

The dominant impression is fresh asphalt with the scents of the thick black paving oil and the fresh sand and gravel which lie within. (I worked on a paving crew for two years and you never forget that scent after two summers of being immersed in it.) Under that phenolic rubber-like smell is an impression of coarse brown sugar and orange marmalade. Dry fruit, cocoa and licorice add to the complexity of the aroma with impressions of tobacco, toffee, baking spices, and vanilla all residing within those breezes above the glass.

As the glass sits the sensation of rubbery asphalt diminishes somewhat, and I sense a vague sort of mustiness underneath. Seaweed, a touch of brine, and sour green fruit all seem to be part of that underlying musty smell. In all honesty I am uncertain whether I like this or not. The complexity is staggering; but there seems to be too many sensory impressions competing for my attention which implies a certain lack of harmony. However, I decide that the sheer audacity of the aroma deserves to be recognized, and my score for this section remains high.

In the Mouth 51/60

The rum is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume, but it carries the heat of a much stronger rum. Hot wood spices, fresh orange and banana peel and an alcohol astringency combine to make me gasp when I take my first sip. This was unexpected, as the breezes above the glass only hinted at that spice and heat. Of course there is much more; that tar-like asphalt comes though in spades upon the palate carrying licorice, butterscotch, and tobacco in its wake. Dry fruit flavours (dates and raisins) give the rum a light bitterness; although this is tempered by some dark caramel toffee and coarse brown sugar. Return visits to the glass yield more flavour impressions; spicy cloves, some cocoa, subtle notes of coffee, and even a little cola seems to bubble up once in a while.

The underlying mustiness pushes through at the back of the palate, and if not for the uncomfortable spicy heat, my score here in the mouth would be much higher. However, I do find the spicy heat uncomfortable. Two large ice-cubes in my glencairn glass were required to tame the rum. And unfortunately, in the taming, the robust flavour has become somewhat muted as well.

In the Throat  12.5/15

Although the finish is lengthy and full of rich flavour, there is an unsettling spicy burn which accompanies exit. The rum travels a road which brings it very close to greatness; but, the path wanders left instead of right and we miss the mark by just a hair.

The Afterburn 9/10

As I said, this rum borders on greatness. It is full of rich flavours which deliver a wallop to the taste buds. Even after my tasting sessions are done, I still find myself intimidated by the sheer magnitude of the experience that this Jamaican rum delivers. If not for some uncomfortable heat, which had to be tamed with ice, the score would have reached the stratosphere.

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


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)


One Response to “Rum Nation Jamaica 26 Year Old (Distilled 1986)”

  1. Josh Miller said

    Sounds like a very interestingly refined beast, Chip! Hope a dram comes my way. Cheers

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