Bristol Classic Rum Rockley Still 1986 (Sherry Finish)

Bristol Classic Rum Rockley Still Rum Review by the fat rum pirateThe Rockley Still from which this Bristol Classic Rum takes its name is quite a mythical creature.

Fortunately for me it has been explored in great detail by Nikos Arvantis and published over at Steve James’ Rum Diaries Blog.

Bristol Classic Rum have released a good few variations of this Rockley Still 1986 distillate over the years.  This bottling is a Sherry Finish and more specifically an Oloroso Sherry finish.

This is the most recent bottling and was released in 2014 or 2015 despite being aged till 2012. The rum retails at around £110-130 and comes in a familiar Bristol stubby 70cl bottle. The ABV on this is 46%.  It has a light to royal blue colour scheme.

Like most (if not all) of Bristol’s offerings the rum has been matured mostly here in the UK.  It is unclear how long the Oloroso Sherry finish was but with rum unlike Whisky it is often for years rather than months.

There are very few rums available in the Rockley Still Style.  For those who haven’t clicked on the link earlier the Rockley Still is/was a pot still used to produce a heavier style of Bajan rum – some more recent bottlings from 2000 are believed to be produced in the style rather than from the actual still. See my earlier review of the Rum Swedes Barbados 2000.

It is felt that this rum is from the original Rockley Still.  On the rear of the bottle it is noted that this is a distinctive heavy, medicinal style of rum.  This is something which is very surprising to anyone who is familiar with the lighter, balanced, vanilla and oak aged led Bajan rums, produced by the likes of Foursquare, Mount Gay and even WIRD (West Indies Rum Distillery).

Rockley Still Rum Review by the fat rum pirate BristolI had originally not regarded this rum as a purchase. At over £100 for a Bajan rum I felt it offered little value for money, especially when compared to the islands other offerings.  That is before I was informed that this was a unique and entirely different rum altogether.

Which indeed it is.  At this stage I suggest you park all pre-conceptions of Bajan rum – vanilla and sour mash Bourbon oak ageing is definitely out with this one. Or so you might initially think.

The appearance of the rum is a dark to golden brown with reddish flashes.

First up is the nose.  I’ll note that all the Bristol Rums I have tried so far, that have either a Port or Sherry finish have a very similar slighty musky note with a touch of sulphur. Different rums from different islands but a similar note – must be something to do with UK ageing.

The notes on the rear label of the bottle are as usual spot on.  Medicinal is a note which would probably scare most bottlers – especially commercial rather than Independent bottlers.  Not Bristol – they make it very clear what you are getting in this bottle of rum.

Indeed this rum is very medicinal on the nose.  Benilyn or Cough Mixture – cough sweets, a touch of anise.  It’s rich with some nice fruity notes, some hints of oak and spice as well.  It smells rich and full bodied.  Sherry influence is there.

Bristol Rockley still rum review by the fat rum pirateSipping this rum is really an absolute delight. It is sweet, musky, spicy, oaky and full of fruit flavours.  It wraps up pretty much everything you might want in a rum.  It also has some heavier notes – navy tablet (a boiled sweet which is basically a mix of menthol and fruit), a hint of tar/tobacco, some musty old leather.

The entry on the palate is sweet and full of complex sherried fruits.  The medicinal notes which initially seem a little too much become more about added complexity as you move onto the second and third sip.  The cough mixture notes mix beautifully with the spicy oak.  You find that there is a more Bajan heart to this rum – Bourbon influenced sweet/sour notes take over in the mid palate and continue onto the long complex finish.

It really is a very complex journey with this rum.  It’s not a one note sweet sugar bomb it has some edges which seems a little rough at first.  It definitely improves as you get more acquainted with it.  It isn’t quite as raw and heavy as the Rum Swedes Barbados 2000 – the Sherry finish has smoothed those notes a little but without totally masking them.

I find this Rockley Still slightly better.  And the score reflects this.

4.5 stars

8 comments on “Bristol Classic Rum Rockley Still 1986 (Sherry Finish)

  1. […] Fat Rum Pirate’s 2016 review is here, and reddit had a shortform review just a couple of months […]

  2. Whiskybroker has just bottled some rum casks, a dark 11yo Belise, a 1989 Uitvlught and a 2000 Wird from Barbados. The last on is really interesting, an attractive flowery nose which could easily pass in a blind tasting for whisky. After it has been in the glass a short time it the smokiness intensifies.

  3. This is a fantastically rich, almost decadent version of the Rockley Still 1986 distillate, perhaps thanks to old age and sherry casking. It is the sweetest of the lot – but chemical analysis show vast majority of the sweetness is not saccharose, but fructose (derived from the sherry). The finish also feels different on the palate from artificially (added) sugar rums, and of course there’s none of the mouth-coating glycerine “smoothness”. Really fine Rum I feel, and a relic of old Bajan pot still spirit.

  4. I think this rum is an amazing blend of the medicinal character of the “Rockley Still” style along with the richness and deep character of dark oloroso sherry – astonishing achievement. It’s interesting to note how cultural background affects what we taste in the Rockley Still rums – I always find pine sap in the nose especially (reminds me of old sauna ceiling, leaking some pine sap from the boards). Disappearing history in a bottle.

    • This is the last batch of this rum – Bristol have more 1986 Barbados stock but not of this particular rum. It’s had a pretty good run though

  5. Sounds great and high praise indeed, right up my street by the sound of it. Missed it online at £100 and now it’s gone up quite a bit. Not sure I can justify the extra now, but it’s nice to know what I’ve missed out on…..I guess!

  6. How does it compare to Dos Maderas 5+5 for about 1/3 the price?

    • It doesn’t on any level. The only similarities are the finish.

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