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Rum Nation Ilha da Madeira 3 Year Old

Review: Rum Nation Ilha da Madeira 3 Year Old  (84/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 04, 2019

Rum Nation is an Italian company created by Fabio Rossi, who began his life in the spirits trade as a Oenologist (one who has studied winemaking). After his studies, Mr. Rossi left the wine business and started up a whisky company in Edinburgh (Wilson and Morgan) acting as an independent bottler of Single Malt Scotch Whisky. His interest turned to rum and in 1999 Fabio Rossi founded Rum Nation. His company is headquartered in Italy; but Fabio purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas. As a result Rum Nation provides a rather unique assortment of rare limited edition rum bottlings.

One such bottling is Rum Nation Ilha da Madeira 3 Year Old bottled at 42 % alcohol by Volume, and produced at Distillery Engenho do Norte.

Engenhos do Norte is located on the north coast of Madeira, in the village of Porto da Cruz. The Porto da Cruz mill (built in 1927) is one of three old sugar mills operating in Madeira. It still uses the machines and mechanisms of that time, and is the only such mill in Europe to use steam as a driving force. Among other equipment of that time the plant uses a wood boiler, built by Jones Burton & Comp. Lda, from Liverpool, another boiler fed with firewood and the waste from grinding, several steam pumps, and (in full operation) copper tubs that once served for the manufacture of honey.

Among the products produced at Engenho do Norte are the Rum Agrícole brands, Branca, Rum 970, Rum 980 and Rum North.

Note: 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.

In the Bottle 5/5

As you can see the bottle which houses the Rum Nation Ilha da Madeira 3 Year Old rum is very nice. The squat bottle has a look and feel which implies ‘substance’. I like the postage stamp label which brings the spirit’s heritage to the presentation. A glass stopper seals the bottle which really pleases me. In the past I have criticized the low quality cork stoppers used previously by Rum Nation (on their premium products). This is because in my somewhat dry climate, low quality stoppers tend to become brittle quickly, and when they do they break rather easily. This is especially the case with high strength offerings where the high alcohol content speeds up the process of cork deterioration. It is very refreshing to me that Fabio has taken steps to improve the seal allowing the consumer to enjoy the benefits of cask strength offerings without the problem of deteriorating corkage.

In the Glass   8.5/10

When poured into the glass the rum shows me a colour just past amber on the way to copper. I notice light notes of butterscotch accented with a light grassy herbal quality. Vanilla, tropical fruit and a hint of green grape seem to be floating in the breezes as well. As the rhum breathes, I notice light floral character developing which seems to be connected with the herbal notes within the spirit. Banana, more green grape, a light winding mint, and hints ginger and cinnamon round out the nose which is quite delightful.

In the Mouth   49.5/60

When I take a sip, I notice the rhum is light and smooth. The scents and aromas of the nose come through very well on the palate. The spirit doesn’t beat you over the head with its flavour rather it sort of lets you settle in and discover the nuances as you sip. Herbal grasses and mint, butterscotch, light dusting of oak with ginger and cinnamon, orange peel and banana, and light flavours of green grape. The spirit reminds me of what I would believe a light cognac would taste like.

When I add ice, the impression of cognac grows. The spirit is a nice easy going sipper with or without the ice, and I think it would work very well in a cocktail such as a Sidecar. I’ll leave that up to you to find out.

In The Throat: 12.5/15

The 3 Year Old Madeira Rhum is light to medium bodied with a smooth mid-length finish. I taste willow and fresh cut hay, as well as mint, light butterscotch and anise as I swallow the spirit with wood spice and hints of cinnamon left glowing at the end.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

I have tasted rhum from Madeira only once before and have found this experience very similar. The three year old spirit is light and nuanced, and it represents an excellent gateway into the world of tropically aged Agricole Rhum.

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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