Robert Watson’s Demerara Rum

Watson's Rum Robert Review Demerara GuyanaThe British have a long standing love affair with dark rum.  Most navy rum is British Navy Rum.  Dark, sweet Demerara based rum’s are fairly commonplace in the UK Supermarkets.  Brands such as Lamb’s and Captain Morgan lead the way in terms of sales.  Rum which has been distilled and aged in the Caribbean but transported to the UK for blending (and occasionally further ageing). Lamb’s and Captain Morgan use a blend of different rum’s from different islands.  Jamaican rum is used in Captain Morgan to lead the way in terms of flavour (it fails miserably).

However, underneath the multi national mega brands come a smaller group of independant Scottish bottlers who make rum predominantly from Demerara County, Guyana.  For those that don’t know Guyana is not a Caribbean Island.  It is sandwiched between Venezuela and Suriname.  Guyana is the home of El Dorado and Demerara Distillers Limited.

Guyana was orginally a Dutch colony but was for a long time controlled by the British and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Hence the heavy connections between Guyana and UK based rum producers/bottlers. I know little of the heritage of Robert Watson’s.  I understand the company is now under the control of Iain MacLeod (for non scottish people that is pronounced Mac-Cloud).  Like many Scottish bottlers they deal mostly in entry level vodka, rum (and of course) whisky.

Watson’s comes in a standard bar bottle, with few frills.  The yellow label is slightly gaudy but it does make it stand out on the shelf.  The rear label gives some information regarding the rum.  It mentions it is a pot still and long aged.  Unfortunately the long ageing isn’t quantified.  The rum may come from the Port Mourant (often spelt Morant) still or the Enmore still.  Both are to be found at the Diamond Distillery run by Demerara Distillers.  The only remaining distillery on Guyana but it’s numerous stills allow for a lot of variation in style.

As the bottle is clear you can tell immediately how dark the rum is.  It’s a very dark brown.  When poured in the glass it is still very dark but has flashes of red.  The nose is not as sweet as I was expecting.  It has a hint of that El Dorado smell but it is nowhere near as pungent and flowery.  When sipped the Watson’s is a little on the bitter side.  Often darker entry level rum’s such as this are sweetened.  I don’t think this has been.  It doesn’t burn as much as I was expecting.  The profile is mostly cocoa (not chocolate as it is slightly bitter) but it has a fruity taste as well.  A little bit of raisin or currants.  In terms of ageing I think this rum has spent less than 5 years in the cask.  It doesn’t exhibit any oakiness which I have experienced in older Demerara rum’s.  The rear of the bottle mentions it’s smoothness.  For what I think is a relatively young (and inexpensive) rum I have to concede that it is definitely not a rum which immediately has you running for a glass of water or a mixer.

Where the drink really comes into its own (and with it being Scottish I would imagine this will be mostly how it is drank) is when it is mixed quite liberally with cola.  The bitterness of the rum when sipped doesn’t disappear but it compliments the cola leaving you with quite a nice mixed drink.

Watson’s Demerara rum retails at around £15-18 for a 70cl bottle in the UK.  Internationally, I would be surprised if it was widely available.  However, Iain MacLeod’s Robert II branded rums (Dark and White) also of Guyanese origin are available in over 40 countries worldwide.

In terms of competition, domestically George Morton’s O.V.D. and Skipper Rum by Marblehead Development would be the direct competitors and possibly Glen’s Dark Rum.  Outside of Scotland I’m not sure how well this rum sells.  I’m in the North of England (Sunderland) but I have only really seen O.V.D in bar’s and clubs.

So I’ve spoken of the competiton so how does Robert Watson’s Demerara rum stack up?  Well I found it much more enjoyable than Skipper which I found to be pretty disappointing.  O.V.D I find to be okay for a couple of drinks but it is very sweet and cloying after anymore.  In terms of actual flavour profile I found it to be very similar to a rum which I have yet to mention.  Woods 100 Navy Rum.  Admittedly, an overproof (57%) but in terms of taste it is very similar.  Slightly bitter, slightly one dimensional but when mixed with cola gives you a decent enough mixed drink.

At the end of the day Robert Watson’s Demerara Rum isn’t going to replace your El Dorado 12 or 15, nor is it going to really challenge Pussers Navy Rum (the new 40% ABV is only a couple of pounds more) but it will suit someone who loves Woods 100 Navy Rum……but doesn’t love the hangovers it can give…

2 stars

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