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Rum Nation Engenho Novo Amarone Cask (Rare Rums)

Review: Rum Nation – Engenho Novo Amarone Cask (Nat 84)    (83.5/100)
Aged 9 Years – Casks 186 and 187 (Rare Rum)
Review by Chip Dykstra
Posted on March 19, 2020

Rare Rums is the special selection of Rum Nation bottlings. These are particular special limited edition releases with very few numerated bottles. Engenho Novo Amarone Cask (Nat84) was bottled from two casks (186 and 187) from Madeira’s Engenho Novo Distillery. It is a 9 year Old Agricole Rhum which was finished for 18 months in Amarone Casks, after an initial aging period in 2nd fill bourbon casks.

According to Rum Nation’s Rare Rums website (here):

This traditional distillery from Madeira conducted an experiment finishing their rum for 18 months in casks of the heavy, fruity Italian red wine: Amarone. It was a risky experiment; however the result was more conservative than expected. The typical herbal richness of their rum, full of earthy notes, was preserved: dark, and with the influence of the Amarone wine appearing as as a different twist in the peppery character and tannic astringency of the long, warm, lingering finish.

Madeira (an autonomous region of Portugal) is an archipelago comprising 4 islands approximately 520 kilometers off the northwest coast of Africa. Early in the colonization of these Islands it was noticed that these islands in the middle of the Atlantic had exceptional conditions for the planting of sugarcane. According to historical reports, the King, Infante D. Henrique, introduced sugar cane on Madeira Island in 1425 only 6 years after the Island was discovered.

Rum Nation – Engenho Novo Amarone Cask is bottled at 52 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 5/5

I love the bottle presentation that Rum Nation has chosen for their Rare Rum selection. Both the bottle and the canister look sharp. I especially like the glass closure which elevates the presentation of the rum brand. The label contains all of the relevant information regarding the brand including the wine finish the the barrel numbers the bottle was drawn from.

Everything about the presentation makes you feel like this bottling is special.

In the Glass  9/10

The rhum has a nice coppery colour with tints of red in the glass and my initial reation when I took my first wiff of the breezes in the air was MMM! I smell rum and hints of red licorice with vanilla and spice. There are herbal herbal scents of camphour and heather and hints light minty candies. As the glass breathes I notice building aromas of dry fruit (dates and raisins), spicy oak, rich baking spices and luscious chocolate all joining in with those cherry-like red licorice scents. I would score this higher but for a light astringent kick of alcohol which accompanies the wonderful aroma.

In the Mouth  49.5/60

Sometimes the nose of a spirit doesn’t match up completely with the taste, and that is what I notice here. One of the issues appears to be the excessive heat on the palate which is not supported with enough oak structure from the maturation. The time spent in the Amarone cask brings a bevy of fruit; however this fruit seems to dominate the spirit rather than melding into the oak and the underlying rum. The oak flavours which do push through show a noticeable woodiness. As well I seem to taste some underlying bitterness of tannin-like flavours of grape stem and skin. The result is a mash-up of flavours that fail to show unity or balance. The woody oak and tannins provide a bitter contrast to the fruit, and the flavour of rum is obscured rather than enhanced. The excessive heat seems to add to the disharmony.

I added a lump of ice to my glass which helps to put things in order, but not quite all the way. A splash of water helps some more, but despite my tinkering, I could not bring the flavours together.

In the Throat 12/15

The finish is fruity and heated with lingering herbal flavours. However it is also oddly shortened. Although the spirit appears medium bodied, it is also seemingly thin rather than full.

The Afterburn 8/10

The Engenho Novo Amarone Cask reminds me of those Renegade Rums that were released about 15 years ago by Bruichladdich and those bottlings of Murray McDavid which paired classic rums with a variety of exotic wine casks. The results were a mixed bag with some hits, but more misses. In those misses it was usually when the rum became lost within the fruit and the bouquet of the wine enhancement. That is the case here as the promise of the marvelous nose is never fully realized. My feeling is that the underlying rum has been marginalized rather than elevated by the Amarone Cask.

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


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


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