Smith & Cross London Traditional Jamaica Rum

SMITH AND CROSS Jamaica Rum Review OverproofSmith & Cross can trace their heritage back as far as 1788, producing of sugar and spirits.  Importing vast quantities of rum and sugar from Jamaica.  At one point they had a Sugar Distillery at 203 Thames Street at the old London docks. on the banks of the River Thames.

Smith & Cross is a 100% Jamaican pot still rum.  It is distilled in Jamaica at the famous Hampden Estate, who still produce their own line of rums.  The rum is produced from molasses, cane juice and syrup from freshly pressed sugar cane.  It is a mixture of heavy Wedderburn pot still rum (aged for only six months) and the more medium bodied Plummer, which is aged for up to 3 years in our old friend the bourbon barrel.  For further detailed information try http://www.alpenz.com/images/poftfolio/smithcross114rum.htm they will explain things far better than I ever could!

Smith & Cross comes in a typical bartender friendly bottle.  Having said that the bottle does have a slightly thicker more bulbous rounded neck and unlike most bottles similar to this, you don’t get a metallic strip screw top.  You get an authentic quality cork stopper.  The rum retails at around the £30 mark in the UK per 70cl bottle.  The labelling is simple, clear and unfussed.  Gold lettering with navy backdrop is easy to read and the information on the bottle is sufficiently detailed to let you know exactly what is contained within.  It is simple and gives the rum an authentic and slightly nautical feel.

Bottled at 57% the rum is navy strength.  This means it is (in old money) 100 proof.  This simply means that if any of the spirit was spilt on board a British Royal Navy vessel, it would not affect the lighting of gunpowder.  BOOOOOOOMMMMM!  This is not to be confused with Navy Rum.  Navy rum is traditionally more of a sweeter heavier  mostly Demerara based rum, such as Lambs.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be bottled at navy strength, though examples such as Pussers and Woods are.  This is very definitely a Navy Strength Jamaican only style rum.

For anyone who has sampled a Jamaican rum, many will have tried an Appleton you know that they are quite pungent.  For many rum drinkers this can be quite off putting.  I have to say I have found this style of rum takes quite some getting used to.  However, that is the beauty I find in rum.  So much variation and difference in the “one” spirit.

The cork produced a lovely pop upon opening the bottle and seals the bottle nice and tightly when re-applied.  The rum immediately releases its pungent heavy odour.  It invokes a picture in my mind of fruit punch laden with oranges, apples and pineapple.  It reminds me a little of taking those fruit pieces out of the punch and sucking the alcohol which has absorbed.  The smell is rich, sugary, heavy molasses.  It is reminiscent of an Appleton but also has that extra alcohol feel, which reminds me a little of Pussers.  On pouring, the rum seems to lighten considerably.  Smith & Cross is a light golden amber colour.  In the bottle it did look a lot more orange coloured.  This may be due to the dark label?

Upon sipping, the rum offers a considerable and quite rough alcohol burn.  You need a few sips before you can even begin to detect the flavours .  It leaves a long lasting tingle on the tongue and in the roof of your mouth.  It isn’t aged long so it is still a young quite rough rum.  It is heavy with caramel tones and  there is an element of fruitiness to the overall flavour but not one which I can immediately pick out.  Perhaps a little pineapple and banana.  When mixed 50/50 with cola I find that the rum becomes more oaked and a slightly tart.

On the rear of the bottle there are two cocktail suggestions.  One is called “Million” and calls for lemon juice and Angostura bitters, the other is “The Doctor” and calls for Swedish Punsch and lime.  I don’t even know what Swedish Punsch is (I’ll look later) but I do have bitters and lemon juice.Million

The “Million” was interesting to say the least.  My effort ended up looking like a bloody mary.  In some respects the spiciness reminded me a little of the peppery vodka concoction as well.  It was a very strange drink indeed.  It pretty much disguised the taste of the rum, which I really didn’t think was possible!  To be honest the drink was pretty vile, thought that might be partly due to my inept cocktail making skills.

The rum is steeped in tradition it is an old fashioned rum (similar to the also UK produced Old Salt Rum – see my review).  It is not a rum which I found particularly pleasant to sip or in my more familiar territory, mixed with coke at first.  It would seem that the rum is really for mixing in tiki cocktails and other long drinks requiring a bit of oomph.   It might even prove useful in getting rid of the old troublesome guest or at least helping them have some time out…..

However, first impressions are often deceiving.  As I have continued my rum journey I have discovered and tried other Jamaican rums and began to appreciate them more and more.

Smith & Cross is definitely not the sweeter newer style of rum which have been more prevalent since the 50’s and 60’s.  It is no Ron Zacapa or Diplomatico. It is a million miles away from that.  It is in many ways like Ronseal – it does exactly what it say on the tin (bottle).  Smith & Cross make no allusions or false claims about their product.

As a rum to recommend its a difficult one you either like dunder heavy Jamaican rum or you don’t!  I’ve had around 100ml of the stuff during this review and I can certainly feel it!  The ABV obviously attributes to this!

This is a good rum – well made and constructed and has no pretences about being anything other than an old fashioned hard hitting Jamaican pot still. It might well go great with a bit Ting – jammin!

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

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