Earlier this week I posted up a Press release on Matugga Rum. Whilst this site is largely independent I am still happy enough (on occasion) to publish Press Releases or do some advertising for companies if I think they are a good enough cause.
I don’t just publish everything that is sent to me nor do I routinely accept samples. However, in this instance and armed with enough knowledge about the rum (not just from the press release) I am comfortable enough to review the samples Matugga have kindly sent me. I shall explain my confidence in this product.
Back in the early part of 2014 I bought a bottle of “English” rum. A spirit which had, at least been distilled and bottled here in the UK. The rum itself was small batch and copper pot distilled. For any UK rum enthusiast it was a rum to try. 100% Pot Distilled rum from Cambridgeshire, England.
The rum I bought was “Old Salt Rum” from the English Spirit Distillery. As part of an article I did a few months back on Spiced Rum, I contacted the owner of English Spirit Distillery John Walter who along with informing me of new longer aged variants of Old Salt, also gave me some hints about some new sources of molasses/sugar cane which he couldn’t discuss in detail.
Lo and behold then here we have Matugga Golden Rum (and Matugga Spiced Rum) made at the English Spirit Distillery and made with that mysterious molasses. From Uganda………or as Matugga are arguably more wisely putting on most of their material East Africa. The figure of Idi Amin and his various atrocities and acts of sheer lunacy are unlikely ever to be forgotten! For information Matugga is a town in Uganda.
So I was pretty comfortable when asked if I would like samples of the rum that I would be able to do an honest review. If I wasn’t aware of the rums origins I doubt I would have been interested in doing the Press Release or the reviews (they have a Spiced Rum as well).
As mentioned in the Press Release Matugga Rum are launching the rum this week (during Rum Experience Week) culminating with a stall at this weekends London Rumfest. Due to my wife being 8 months pregnant with our firstborn I am not going to be in attendance at this years event. I promise I will be there next year!
So I figured the next best thing to try and stay involved would be to “sample” a few new rums and get Matugga to advise those at Rumfest, that I had a live review of the rum online.
So moving onto the actual review of the rum. The presentation on the Matugga looks very good. As you can see from the opening picture you get a nice bottle similar to those used by La Mauny in their more aged expressions. A nice cork stopper is also present. Due to the time period involved in receiving the sample and conducting the review in time of Rumfest I haven’t been able to determine how aged the spirit is. (It’s certainly less than 5 years). The rum is already available online at Master of Malt and will set you back £39.99 for a 42% ABV 70cl bottle. Quite pricy for a relatively young rum – however it is worth noting that this is 100% pot still rum. Unaged or young rums such as the Clairin’s from Haiti (unaged white rums) released by Velier are all in the £35-40 price range. Velier are also set to market Habitation Velier shortly which are limited releases of 100% Pot Still Rums from the likes of Foursquare and I’m not expecting them to sell in the UK for anything less than £50 a bottle.
Matugga Golden Rum is as the name would imply a shimmering gold colour. It’s presentation and colour are very inviting.
Nosing the Matugga reminds me of the Haus Alpenz Jamaican classic Smith & Cross. The nose is big and full, very heavy in esters and there is a real dunder heavy Jamaican style funk running through the spirit. Huge tropical fruits, bruised black banana’s, treacle, hints of allspice and a very strong boozy sense of Piratey rum!
Much like Old Salt before it and Smith & Cross, Matugga is the kind of rum that grows on you as you get deeper into your Rum Journey. Whilst many will discover El Dorado or Diplomatico some of us continue the path of experimentation and begin exploring very different rums. Moving into the Independent side of things can be very interesting. Despite the slick appearance of Matugga and everything pointing to it being another Pyrat or perhaps more accurately a Tiburon (pretty young rum dressed up with sugar and put in a premium package with boastful claims) it really isn’t one of those “here today, gone tomorrow” kind of rums. When I first heard about Matugga I thought “oh dear he’s another one……..” but I was wrong and as said anything that involves 100% pot still distillation has got to be at least explored by any self respecting rummie, in my opinion.
First up I’m struck by the viscous nature of the rum. Long legs run down the side of the glass. There is added sugar to this rum (the Hydrometer tests confirms as much), however this rum is neither hugely expensive nor does it have any ludicrous ageing claims. Much like my recent review of Dark Matter Spiced Rum, I feel I must take into account the youthfulness of the spirit.
If in time, like Old Salt Rum, Matugga continue to produce rum I am sure they will look to make more aged rums. This seems a simple of case putting a rum to market in the hope that it is good enough to sell enough to perhaps lead to further phases of the rums evolution.
This rum as a sipper is slightly too challenging for me. It’s a little bitter and very fiery. It’s not particularly rough in terms of alcohol burn but on its own it’s all just a little bit too much. It could do with more time in the cask if its to make itself into a true sipper. It’s very, very flavourful but some of the flavours aren’t as pleasant as I would like. Too acidic and with a harsh bitterness.
The Matugga website offers a few cocktail or long drink suggestions. This however wouldn’t be thefatrumpirate without me getting the cola out.
A generous dose of Matugga, a splash of cola and a cube or two of ice and it’s a surprising turn around. Not in a sense that I thought it was a bad rum – I really don’t I personally really enjoy the sheer intensity and rawness of the pot still rum. It’s like Appleton V/X tuned to the power of 11! It’s just it was a little too much when taken neat.
But adding even a splash of cola seems to cut right through all the jagged edges and removes the bitterness. All the flavour remains from before but it seems a little refined and a lot more balanced. The rum and cola created with Matugga is rich and full of flavour with a very distinct and tangy slightly tart taste. There is a big hit of cooking apples like sweet and sour. Fiery notes of hot sweet peppers come through along with a lovely hit of rich dark treacley molasses.
I would imagine at Rumfest this will meet with some mixed reviews. It will certainly puzzle those who have never really delved into Jamaican style pot still rums or have tried anything slightly outside the box. Along with Smith & Cross and J Wray and Nephew White Overproof this stuff makes one of the funkiest rum and cola’s.
It won’t be to everyone’s tastes and it isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but there is something very daring about releasing a rum like this. Personally I really enjoy this kind of rum. I accept many won’t get It but that’s not my problem. I really hope they age it more as they go forward, as they could have a very distinctive and truly exceptional product on their hands if they do.