Review: Clarke’s Court Old Grog
It’s all too easy to get carried away on holiday and conclude that the local spirit you have enjoyed during your week in the sun is the most amazing ever, and you can’t quite believe that it isn’t widely available back home. I certainly have been guilty of such over-exuberent enthusiasm, only to find that the bottle squirrelled away in my suitcase and opened when I get home, somehow has transmogrified into drain cleaner! My product of the month this month might have been discovered under similar circumstances, but the efforts of the founders of Windward Trading who now import Old Grog into the UK, have been well worth it.
Old Grog has been produced in Grenada since 1937 and the name originates from the use of the abbreviation for, ‘Georgius Rex Old Grenada’ which was inscribed on the barrels of rum intended for King George III. Old Grog is a blend of molasses rums ranging in age from 4 to 10yrs, although no age statement is claimed on the bottle. Both whisky and bourbon barrels are used in the ageing of the constituent rums, with the different characters both being evident in the finished product.
On the nose, immediately evident is a huge aroma of banana milkshake. Other tropical fruits, buttered toast, cinnamon and popcorn also loiter in the background but rarely have I nosed a rum with such a characteristic single aroma as this. Such an aroma might give cause for concern that the palate might be unpleasantly sweet, but considering this is a molasses rum, it is not nearly as sweet as you would expect. Banana is again present on the palate, but toned back just a touch to leave the other flavours including vanilla creme brûlée, pineapple sherbet, green apples and a hint of winter spice to play their role. This intriguing and tasty flavour profile is supported by an alcoholic edge that provides a good backbone for mixing whilst also staying on the right side of coarse for those who want to drink neat.
1.5oz Old Grog, 1oz lime juice, 0.5oz sugar syrup, 3 dash Angostura bitters. Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.
This is a deliciously tangy punch that showcases the banana and tropical fruit flavours of this rum, whilst the lime juice adds refreshing tartness that prevents the drink from becoming too sickly. I particularly like this drink when scaled up and served in a punch bowl. It is refreshing, full of flavour and deceptively approachable to even those who claim not to be a rum fan.
2oz Old Grog Rum, 1.5oz pressed pineapple juice, 0.5oz grenadine, dash of Maraschino liqueur. Shake ingredients with ice and serve in a chilled glass.
The banana of the Old Grog combines exquisitely with the pineapple juice to create a drink that just screams hot summer days. It is however almost savoury in its flavour and the Demerara flavours of the rum come through more than you might expect. A good hard shake helps the pectin from the pineapple create an unctuous mouthfeel and I find myself drinking these far more quickly than is probably safe.
2oz Old Grog Rum, 1oz sweet vermouth, 2-3 dash bitters (Bokers work well), 0.25oz Maraschino liqueur. Stir ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
The tropical fruit flavours here are much more subdued, with the vermouth enticing the Demerara and spicier notes to the fore. The fruit are still very much present, but this time in a supporting role and with deeper red fruit flavours such as cherry also making an appearance. This is a full flavoured but light cocktail that demonstrates the versatility and total deliciousness of this rum.
Clarke’s Court Olg Grog offers a unique and interesting flavour profile that causes it to stand out from the crowd. what is lacks in depth and complexity of flavour, it makes up for in a wonderful banana hit that mixes well.
Old Grog rum is available from thedrinkshop.com
★: 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.