Westerhall Estate Jack Iron

Jack Iron Rum Review by the fat rum pirateWesterhall Estate Jack Iron Rum is a lightly coloured overproof rum from Grenada.

Distillation of rum at Westerhall Estate no longer takes place.  Instead rum is imported from the Angostura Distillery in Trinidad.  It is then blended and bottled at what remains of the Westerhall Estate.

The Estate acts more as a bottling plant and visitor centre now.  It is sad that so many distilleries no longer produce their own rums but unfortunately like so many smaller distillers – competing with the big hitters is proving increasingly difficult.

Jack Iron rum is historically bootlegged moonshine.  On the small island of Carriacou, which is part of Grenada/The Grenadines “Jack Iron” is the stuff of legends.  Originally “Jack” was rum with an ABV between 70-90% ABV intended for blending purposes which was smuggled into Carriacou.  It was neither diluted nor blended but often spiced, drank neat and chased up with water (or for the less fool hardy drank with some water or ice).  The tradition of this drink continues to this day with many bottle shops and supermarkets (we are not talking Waitrose here) producing their own label “Jack” or simply filling already used bottles of commercially available rum with their spiced moonshine.

Quite how this rum is obtained in the first place is unclear.  How daring tourists will be to try this overproof rum in its rawest form and how willing the locals are to share their potent elixir is open to debate.  What isn’t up for debate is that Westerhall Estate blend and bottle (to a secret recipe) a “tourist friendly” version of “Jack”.

CARRICAU JACK IRONComing in at 70% ABV it’s potency pales when compared to some of the bottles available on Carriacou.  However, it will be more than enough for most sane people.  Drinking 99% ABV spirits cannot be good for anyone!  Jack Iron from Westerhall Estate is as mentioned earlier imported from Trinidad (Angostura).  It is lightly aged and is not filtered to remove colour (the also produce a White Jack rum).  It is then blended, lightly spiced to a secret recipe and bottled at Westerhall.  In the UK a bottle can be obtained from Master of Malt setting you back £36.83 for a 75cl bottle.

The presentation of the Westerhall Jack Iron is not as basic as some of the own label bottlings but it still has a (likely very deliberate) home made feel to it.  It’s quite cartoony and fairly distinctive.  Both Westerhall and Clarke’s Court (Grenadas other “big” rum producers) package their overproof rums in basic, home made style.

Unsurprisingly and to be honest quite wisely, this rum is mostly drank as a mixer.  Water or coconut water are popular choices.  It is also taken with cola and fruit juices.  Beware of rum punch in Grenada it’s usually made with Overproof rum!

Jack Iron is a slightly off colour very pale straw colour.  It is essentially a very young rum which has not been filtered to remove the colour.  This gives the rum a distinctive and again slightly “home made” appearance.

Nosing the rum is not an entirely surprising experience.  Initially it is pure alcohol fumes.  However, given time to settle down you actually begin to smell the rum.  It has that distinctive buttery slightly perfumed Angostura like nose.  Reminiscent in many ways of a stronger VAT19 or 1919.

Westerhall Estate Jack Iron RumDespite the ABV it is surprisingly sweet smelling once the alcohol fumes have died down a little.  A sip of the rum is very much a tongue tingle.  A larger sip will leave you with a very sharp short burst of sweetness followed by a very strong burn in the mouth and throat.  You would only sip this if you only had one eye, a parrot and a wooden leg and had little regard for keeping any beyond that evenings drinking…..

Sipping alcohol at this ABV is neither big nor clever.  Nor is it particularly informative.  In order to work out what is going on with this rum water simply has to be added.  ,the sweetness of the rum becomes more prominent.  As the ABV is decreased the burn and heat leave.  Giving way to a surprisingly sweet rum.

With water it is quite sippable although quite one dimensional.  It’s very much like sipping VAT19 -its very Angostura like but lacks the added depth of the 5 year old.  It is not as smooth and sickly as 1919.

Taken in a rum and cola Jack Iron offers a very different experience to a typical Jamaican White Overproof or a Pusser’s/Lemon Hart 151.  It is actually quite strange to taste an Angostura rum taken out of its usual context.  It’s very sweet (maybe the added sugar and spices) but the 70% ABV still lurks.  It gives a nice kick.

It’s very much the kind of rum which can easily lead to a very unpleasant hangover.  It’s not hugely complex.  The sweetness is mostly the Angostura buttery, slightly confected sugary notes –  a little Candy Floss like. It isn’t one note though, as it follows this up with a hit of alcohol. Which leaves you fancying another drink….

A wolf in sheep’s clothing of a rum.

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

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