Ancient Mariner Navy Rum

Ancient Mariner RumAncient Mariner Navy Rum.  To be honest if I had been told such a rum existed I would have immediately expected a very cheap “West Indies” blend of rum.  I would have expected such as rum to have been available in a local convenience store as their own brand rum.  A horribly designed label (complete with sailors and ships) standard cheap bar bottle, awful cheap screw cap and a price tag to match.

What I certainly wouldn’t have expected is what this little Scottish rum enterprise attempts to deliver.  Conceived in 2011 the Ancient Mariner Navy Rum was produced to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.  (Queen Elizabeth’s 50 years on the throne in 2012)

The rum is bottled by the Hebridean Liquor Company.  For those unfamiliar this is a Western County of Scotland.  The address given on the bottle is in Argyll.  Argyll and the Bute is the county.  The region will be familiar to whisky drinkers as it contains the isles of Islay and Jura.

Ancient Mariner Navy Rum is designed to recreate the traditional British Navy Rum which was issued to all sailors as part of the their Daily Tot up until 1970 when Black Tot Day occurred.  Part of the rum’s literature states that a sample of the original Navy Rum was sourced (I assume this was some of the Black Tot rum which is available for anyone with £600 going spare).  Following, a search of the best distilleries in the Caribbean a match was found.  It is interesting that the Navy Rum was/is traditionally a blend of rum’s from differing islands in the Caribbean.  However, this rum is from just one distillery and one island.

The rum is sourced from the now defunct Caroni Distillery which is now sadly closed.  The Caroni Distillery closed in 2002.  As you can see from the photo the blue sticker on the front of the bottle states this rum is 16 years old.  By my maths if this rum was bottled in 2011/12 the rum must be from 1995/96.  On the neck of a bottle is a little tag which gives some contact details and a lovely little “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.Ancient Mariner Navy rum Caroni

Ancient Mariner Navy Rum comes in a very nice square, squat and thick glass bottle.  It is quite a heavy bottle considering it hold only 50cl of rum (500ml or 1/2 a litre, just under a pint in old money).    The price tag of this rum is not cheap either I was lucky enough to get a bottle for £35 but on their own website the rum retails at £45 per bottle.  It is bottled at Navy Strength 54%.   It is worth noting that whilst this may seem expensive, rum’s from Caroni bottled by the likes of Velier and Samaroli retail for much higher mark up’s often exceeding £100 per bottle.  It should not be forgotten that what you are getting in this bottle of Ancient Mariner cannot be repeated.  You will probably be lucky to get a bottle of this in 2 or 3 years time.  Maybe even less.

When nosed the rum is initially very oaked and slightly musky.  It kind of smells a little old.  It also has a sweet spirit like nose it really gets into your nostrils a little like whisky can.  It has a medicinal note as well.  As this is a 54% rum I wasn’t expecting anything else to be honest.  The fact this is Navy Rum also made me expect quite a full on experience.  Once the Ancient Mariner has rested in the glass a little while you do begin to get some fruit flavours in its profile, sweet plum’s and grapes.

Ancient Mariner Navy Rum CaroniAs a sipper I would not recommend a sip as soon as you have poured a glass.  Instead enjoy the intricacies of the complex nose, let it get warmed up to room temperature.  If you sip it immediately it can be too intense and quite rough.  Once warmed a little it is much more inviting.  Even still this is still a 54% ABV and it is still very spicy when taken neat.  A drop or three of water makes the rum less hostile and easier to drink.  The water also opens up new flavours.  The Ancient Mariner is actually quite tart, there is a marmalade like sharpness to the rum almost bordering on bitter.  There is a little sweetness still coming through and that old musky oak also sits prominently on the taste buds. The rum has quite a long finish which is a little odd and difficult to fathom.  There is a hint of soapiness to the finish.  Overall the sipping experience is complex but quite odd.  This is definitely a rum which you need to re-visit.  It could end up being one of your all time favourites.  A grower of a rum.  It’s very different and overall not at all unpleasant.

I’ve tried this rum on a good few occasions now.  If I compare it to Pussers as a Navy Rum then it definitely has a lot of similarities.  It is slightly whisky like and a kind of love it or hate it type rum.  However, it doesn’t have that Demerara note which I so enjoy.  Which rum is closer to what our sailors actually drank is questionable.  The rum which this is based has had its heritage questioned (it was allegedly found somewhere in Germany) and Pussers has been discredited by many a sailor (rightly or wrongly).

As a piece of history (a 16-year-old Caroni) I have found tasting this rum a pleasant experience.  It has certainly warmed by cockles and left me wondering what my 12 Year Old Caroni will taste like.  It is interesting to try these heavier Trinidadian rum’s as the rum’s produced by Angostura (the only surviving distillery on Trinidad) produces very light almost floral, buttery rum’s.  This rum is a very different beast.

How I enjoy my Pussers and Woods 100 is with cola.  Whilst the Ancient Mariner might be a higher end experience I am still going to give the rum a whirl with some cola.  The Ancient Mariner carries itself very nicely into a mix of roughly 40/60 cola. The muskiness subsides and the fruitier side of the rum’s profile begins to come through.  It has a taste which I have not really experienced before.  There are notes of raisins and sultana’s but again like the nose there is a quite pungent floral sweetness to the drink.  On the nose is a little like after shave.  It’s almost as if the rum is warning you not to pour too much into the glass, be careful respect me.  I’m dangerous if you have too much.

With cola the rum becomes very moreish.  The brashness and oaked nature of theimage drink sits beautifully alongside the sweetness of the cola.  It is a quite addictive drink.  It leaves that musky oaked almost tobacco like profile on the palate.  I don’t usually enjoy notes of tobacco but this just has a very slight touch of it.

I would recommend trying this rum to anyone who enjoys Pusser’s rum, whilst it does have similarities (mainly the whisky like notes) it is different enough to be enjoyed in its own right.  Likewise I would recommend it to anyone wishing to experience the heavy old style Trinidadian rum’s (it will be cheaper than most other routes to doing this!) or someone wanting to try a little bit of history.  I also feel a rum such as this would appeal to a whisky drinker.  It isn’t a sweet sickly rum and represents perhaps how a real rum can taste.

4 stars

 

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