Review – Rum Fire Velvet
The Hampden Estate which produces Rum Fire Velvet might not be well-known in its own right, but is does lay claim to producing bulk rum used as a flavouring element in many well-known Jamaican rum blends. Released in 2012 and weighing in at a hefty 63% abv, Rum Fire sits alongside the estate’s gold rum.
Nose: There is no disputing the fact this is a Jamaican overproof rum on the nose. It has all the funky, vegetal and characterful aromas one would hope for. Turnips and fermenting strawberries combinewith lighter notes of lime zest, cola and vanilla. It’s sweet-smelling and rounded, at least it is once your hooter has become accustomed to the high abv.
Neat: The feeling of evaporating alcohol that us characteristic of high abv spirits is most noticeable first on the palate. Left behind is a savoury, almost herbal and dare I say it ‘ginny’ character. The inclusion of ‘velvet’ in the name is not purely marketing gimmickry, for the is indeed a certain texture to this liquid, albeit one that leaves you in no doubt there is something decidedly dangerous lurking behind the smooth exterior. An abundance of tropical fruits sit slightly awkwardly with the herbal notes, but admittedly this is not a spirit that is designed for neat sipping. Water opens things up markedly, smooths the spice and reveals a complex spirit with hints of the floral, earthy and anise notes traditionally associated with absinthe. Although not refined within an inch of it’s life, nor is this a fiery monster best kept to hazy holiday memories.
Mixing: Too often overproof rum is relegated to being a flaming garnish on tiki drinks; something that is admittedly a fun part of the theatre of cocktails, but which does nothing to highlight the flavour profile as an ingredient in it’s own right. The next step along might be considered to be as a float on top of drinks such as the Zombie, where for some the enjoyment is purely the extra boozy kick that is received. In fact Rum Fire stands up to such a role and is characterful enough in it’s own right aside from its strength to add an interesting vegetal twist to this fruity number. Longer drinks, and preferably fruity to balance the vegetal/herbal notes are the route to the most tasty libations. The simple Rum Punch for example is a simple and enjoyable drink which offers much by way of variation opportunities, but swapping out the water for pineapple juice for example takes things to another level. Generally shorter drinks such as the Nuclear Daiquiri and rum punch up don’t offer the necessary dilution, and worse, they highlight an issue with this rum in that is doesn’t play nicely with lime. The result are strangely artificial-tasting drinks that highlight some unusual bitter and petroleum notes on the finish. The fantastically name Alamagoozlum cocktail however, is similarly ‘short’ in style and therefore not for the faint-hearted, but the addition of Genever, Grand Marnier, Chartreuse, egg white and bitters makes for a complex and enticing libation.
Rum Fire Velvet is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. It is, a punchy, flavourful and characterful rum however that has much to offer to those seeking a rum to stand out from the crowd. Rating: ★★★★
Handily listed in alphabetical order and scored out of 5.
★: 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.