Review – Alnwick Rum
Northumberland isn’t the first place that springs to mind when one thinks of rum but that didn’t stop the Alnwick Brewery Co. nearly a century ago have a crack at blending their own. Having been lost to history for a time, the rum was resurrected in 2003 to once again bring the ‘Spirit of Northumberland’ to the world. Alas, a lack of suitable facilities currently means this dark blend of rums from Jamaica and Guyana are brought together in Holland and bottled in Scotland.
Nose: Huge aromas of molasses, treacle and demerara sugar. Orange oil, lightly roasted coffee, and cacao nibs sit amongst an impression of oil, resulting in a rather pleasingly complex and balanced nose for a dark rum.
Neat: Much lighter on the palate than the nose suggests, although it builds significantly from an underwhelming entry into a bolder and reasonably spicy mid-palate, heading off onto a drying and slightly bitter. Much of what you would expect from a dark rum; molasses, treacle and even a bit of cola nut. Lacking a little in body and complexity, but with potential for sure.
Mixing: The mixing potential is revealed to be respectable, as long as a healthy amount of sugar is added, for this is a rum that needs a bit of coaxing to show its true colours. It even stands up to interrogation in an Old Fashioned, particularly with a combination of chocolate and orange bitters. By contrast, it doesn’t stand up well to citrus such as in the Dino Sour where lemon proves to be too much of an opponent. Success with sour fruits therefore requires what would otherwise be considered an offensive level of sweetness, but with Alnwick in fact results in a contender for guilty pleasure drink of the year. The Bella Donna Daiquiri is such a drink, and a rare example of a cocktail which makes Amaretto a worthwhile purchase. Mixing long requires a flavoursome mixer; ginger ale for example is too weak and results in an insipid drink whereas a spicy ginger beer gives this rum all the support it needs. In all the aforementioned, complexity is admittedly a little lacking and so for a more detailed treat for the tongue, head for a Jungle Bird which somehow manages to pull off the blending of Campari, pineapple juice, lime and dark rum with aplomb.
Building on an Alnwick rum base, Percy Warmer adds Linidisfarne ginger wine, spices and sugar to create a liqueur inspired by the Whisky Mac.
Nose: The dark rum base is very evident, with treacle and molasses present right from the off. These are perked up by a lemon and orange-spiked ginger top note and a more delicate background spicing.
Neat: The ginger takes the lead on the palate, with the rum making only a fleeting initial appearance before waiting for things to die down before adding a bit more molasses on the finish. Ginger spice predominates, but with a citrusy-twist as apparent on the nose. At first it appears to be well balanced on the sweetness front, but that bitter finish on the rum combined with the heat from the ginger does make you wish there might be a little more.
Mixing: The ginger takes the lead over the rum in this liqueur, and thus although it is a a ‘unique’ product by type, it is in substitution for ginger liqueur that it is most appropriately used. In such cases an extra dash of sugar is judicious on account of this falling at the dryer end of the liqueur spectrum. The results are pleasing for sure; it makes for a solid Biblical Sidecar, the orange and clove helping to smooth things out whilst the cognac provides some depth that the rum base struggles with. The rum and conic could clash but don’t on this occasion, although this is not to say this liqueur always plays nicely with other spirits. White spirits such as with the gin-based Biggles’ AviationM are not a plan, but that’s not really the liqueur’s fault. Substitute the gin for Alnwick rum, and the soda for ginger ale in the Ginger Snap however, and the result is a refreshing, long and spicy drink. This is a niche product that most commonly will likely be consumed neat, but with a little thinking it certainly mixes well.
Alnwick rum is a solid dark rum that mixes well and impresses more than other much larger brands. A little sugar is much needed to tease out the treacle and molasses flavour which are just what you want from a dark rum.
Alnwick Rum is available to buy directly from the brewery
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.