Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum hails from Greenbrier Country, West Virginia via Jamaica. Smooth Ambler Spirits both distill and independently bottle older spirits when they see a suitable opportunity.
Revelation Rum is an example of when an older rare spirit or spirits have become available. They are most famous for their range of Old Scout whiskies. This is the first rum they have bottled.
This rum has garnered quite a lot of interest in the rum world. The bottle states that the contents are from 1990 – Smooth Ambler have since admitted that this is the youngest rum in the blend the oldest is actually from 1985! Some bottles have made their way to UK Shores retaling at around £75 for a 750ml US sized bottle. I believe the price is comparable in dollars in the Stateside.
Many people have questioned whether such a bottling could be produced at such a price point but hear it is. It is a blend of Jamaican rums from both Appleton and Hampden Estate (from what I gather). The rum from 1985 is a Pot Still and the 1990 rum in the blend is a column distilled rum. A lot of this was covered in a thread on the Rum Project.
The rum was bottled in 2014 and this bottle I have is from batch number 4 the label also lets me know it was bottled by Val. It is bottled at 49.5% ABV, not Cask Strength.
Amongst the questions posed to Smooth Ambler by Capn Jimbo was one about caramel colouring and chill filtering. Smooth Ambler replied no to both questions – only light filtering to remove any barrel sediment etc.
Which is the first notable thing about this rum despite its age it is very light in colour. Particularly if you compare it to more commercial bottlings. It is a light gold/straw colour. It is also noted that Smooth Ambler have disclosed that a lot of the ageing of this rum was not in a tropical climate.
So full marks so far for disclosure.
The first noticeable thing about the nose is the absence of any “funk”. For such an aged Jamaican rum I was expecting a lot of funk. What I am getting is a lot of oak and the influence of the bourbon barrels is very apparent. Its sweet /sour and mellow there is a nice balance. A little pineapple and banana.
In many ways it remind me of nicely balanced Bajan rum. It is certainly more in keeping with Appleton Estate’s 21 Year Old than it is with an aged Hampden.
At a strength of 49.5% its quite within my “sipping reach”. First impressions are spicy. The oak really dominates the palate. I’m not even sure if I would immediately pick this out as a rum. Such is the influence on the oak I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a whiskey. I certainly wouldn’t pick it out as a Jamaican rum.
The funk has been lost – overtaken by the oak. From what I understand Smooth Ambler haven’t bottled another rum since this one. To sell the rum at this price they must have got a quite a deal on the rums in the blend. I can see why as I think the oak may have just went over the line in terms of what many may enjoy.
Certainly if you buy this expecting a funky high ester Jamaican rum you will be disappointed. If however you enjoy for example Foursquare’s 2004 and/or Bourbon this might be more to your liking.
The oak in this makes it quite smoky and very dry. The spice is moreish like a good Bourbon sour/mash. The finish is long and (you’ve guessed it) very oaky.
It’s very much a mood rum – some days you’ll struggle to finish a glass. Other times you will find it almost addictive.
It isn’t perfect but it is interesting and as long as you can accept that its not a typical Jamaican I think its well worth a try.