Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum
Review: Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum (83.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on February 18, 2016
Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum is a molasses based rum produced from field to glass in Jamaica by J. Wray and Nephew Ltd..
J. Wray and Nephew trace their history back to 1825 when company founder John Wray set up ‘The Shakespeare Tavern‘ in Kingston, Jamaica. By the middle of the century John Wray was distilling and blending his own rums (primarily for his patrons at the Tavern), and by the early 1860s Charles J. Ward joined his uncle, and they began to sell their Jamaican rums internationally.
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.. The new company dominated rum production in Jamaica (and continues to do so) producing both Wray & Nephew Rum and the Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum. (They also produce other Jamaican Rum brands including Coruba Dark Jamaican Rum).
In 2012, Wray and Nephew Ltd. was purchased by the Campari group.
In the Bottle 4/5
The Wray and Nephew Overproof is sold in the simple tall ‘barshelf’ bottle shown to the left. The rum is considered to be a cocktail rum meant for mixing tiki style recipes and other tropical cocktails. As such the bottle is very bar friendly with an easily recognized label so the bartender can find it quickly. The bottle is easy to open, easy to hold.
I like the plastic screw cap at the top which is a much superior closure to the more standard ‘pressed-on’ metallic cap. I am not however a fan of the plastic diffuser at the top of the bottle. My personal experience with diffusers is that they make it harder for me to get my rum out of the bottle.
According to the label, Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum is bottled at 63 % alcohol by volume.
In the Glass 8.5/10
When I tilted and twirled my glencairn (after about an ounce of rum is added), I saw that the film of spirit which formed on the inside of that glass had a well-defined crest which held back for a few moments and then began to drop very small stubborn droplets that formed slender legs which trailed back into the rum. This is an indication of a light oily texture which is consistent with both the character of a pot distilled spirit and the high alcohol content of that spirit. (According to my research at least a potion of this tum was copper pot distilled.)
The breezes above the glass carry the persistent character of Jamaican pot distilled rum into the air. This aroma is vegetal, herbal, and more than just a little medicinal (as in menthol) all at the same time. I can even catch a few wiffs of resin-like airplane glue in there somewhere. Within that rather strange and somewhat punky menagerie of aromatic impressions I can also tease out some more familiar rum-like notes. Light caramel, hints of green banana, grilled plantain and pineapple drizzled with cinnamon and brown sugar, and lots of orange peel.
Then there is the alcohol push which feels lightly sharp in the nostrils. It is difficult to know whether to be exhilarated or fearful. I am leaning towards exhilaration; but I think I will keep my safety belt on.
In the Mouth 50.5/60
The rum smacks you around a little when you take too large of a sip. The throat is seared (just a little) and the tonsils seem to cower hoping not to be whacked again. Sipping had best be a more cautious affair. The flavour is off the charts though, deeply complex and full of character. I taste mildly sweet brown sugar flavours with an ever so light saltiness, the combination reminds me of peanut brittle taffy. Bits of menthol have a light cooling effect and give the rum a firm herbaceous quality. Some sharp orange and banana peel is present as well as flavours of roasted coconut, plantain, grilled pineapple, and exotic fruits. The rum is an ester filled bombshell!
Of course, we are not meant to sip this rum, and we are probably not meant to mix it with cola either. This rum, it would seem to me, is destined for tropical cocktails. Mojitos, Mai Tai and Tiki drinks, and Daiquiris all seem to plausible destinations for this intense, fruity, ester filled rum. In that vein of thought, I went in went in a very specific Tiki direction first and crafted a variation on the basic Zombie Cocktail. Then I crafted what I called a High Test Daiquiri (see both recipes below). I loved both recipes, although I admit the High Test Daiquiri might be an acquired taste for some as the full throttle flavour of Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum pushes right through the lime.
In the Throat 12/15
It is the wonderful flavours which linger in the finish which are scoring points here. Best to experience this overproof rum in a cocktail rather than sipped neat or over ice.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
Overproof spirits are extremely difficult to score. You cannot judge them in the same way that you judge a regular proof spirit. Simply put, the Wray and Nephew Overproof White Rum is not intended to be sipped neat or even over ice. Even in the cocktail format, it must be mixed in a judicious manner. However, when you get it just right, the results are wonderful.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
High Test Daiquiri
1 1/2 oz Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Curacao/Triple Sec
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup
Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into suitable cocktail glass
1 1/2 oz Appleton Estate VX Rum
1 1/2 oz Coruba Dark Rum
1/2 oz Apricot Brandy
1/4 oz Franjelico
3/4 oz Orange juice
3/4 oz Lime juice
3/4 oz Pineapple juice
1/2 oz Demerara Cane Syrup
1/2 oz Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum
Fill a large cocktail glass 1/3 full with ice and add a few citrus slices
Shake the first 7 ingredients with the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice
Strain into a large cocktail glass with ice and citrus slices
Float the Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum on top
Garnish with a Brandied Cherry
This recipe is not for the faint of heart, and I suggest that one ration per evening is more than sufficient.
(Please enjoy Responsibly!)
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)