Worthy Park Special Cask Release Marsala

Worthy Park Marsala Special Cask Release Rum Review by the fat rum pirateWorthy Park Special Cask Release Marsala. Worthy Park finally got around to releasing some of their more aged stock in the shape of the Single Estate Reserve in late 2017. That rum was book-ended by two Special Cask Releases.

The Worthy Park Special Cask Release Marsala is partnered by a Oloroso finished rum. Both releases were extremely limited – you may still find the odd bottling online if you are lucky.

The Whisky Exchange currently have a few bottles of this rum listed at £80.95. They do not have stock of the Oloroso. I found the Oloroso quite difficult to obtain myself. Ordering in the end from an online shop in France that I hadn’t used before.

The two rums are not re-finished Single Estate Reserve – as I had previously thought. Despite already being told otherwise at Rumfest in October by Zan Kong. My memory isn’t what it used to be.

Worthy Park Special Cask Release Marsala was distilled back in 2012. It is entirely a Pot Still distillate. Aged for 4 years in ex-bourbon casks before an extra year of ageing in Marsala cask. It was released as 319 bottles (suggesting it may be a single cask of rum) at an eye watering ABV of 60%. I have heard that the 1423 group in Denmark were responsible for the secondary ageing in Marsala casks. The rum was selected by La Maison du Whisky – though it hasn’t been sold exclusively by them.

For those of you who don’t much about Marsala (including myself) it is a dry or sweet wine which hails from the Italian city of Marsala. It is a fortified wine similar to sherry or port which is protected in much the same way Parma Ham and Cornish Pasties are by a DOC or PDO (Denominazione di origine controllata or Protected Designation of Origin). It is usually between 15% and 20% ABV.

I’m quite a fan of “sweet” wine finishes/maturations such as Foursquare’s Zinfandel and Port finished rums. It is likely that Foursquare’s experiments with such finishes has influenced Worthy Park with this release.

Worthy Park Marsala Special Cask Releasse Rum Review by the fat rum pirateThe rum comes in the same shape bottle as the Single Estate Reserve. Again we get a very nice chunky wooden topped cork stopper and a stubby 3/4 size bottle. Like Foursquare we get all the information we would need about the actual rum on the front and rear labels. No marketing nonsense just some nice factual information. Presentation is spot and the Worthy Park branding is clearly noted.

Worthy Park have become concerned that due to the proliferation of (very good) independent bottlings of their rums that they were losing some of their identity. The Single Estate Reserve was Worthy Park’s way of stamping the Worthy Park name down as opposed to the Rum bar branding used by their younger rums..

I think I’ve said enough now so lets get on with the review.

In the glass Worthy Park Special Cask Release Marsala is a dark/orange brown. Nosing the rum you get plenty of the signature Worthy Park note of English Breakfast tea. The Marsala cask has not ran away with the base rum. At 60% ABV it is comparable with Independent bottlings of Worthy Park issued at Cask Strength. It’s quite fruity in this respect – it isn’t very woody or oaky in terms of profile. I’m getting quite a lot of stoned fruits such as Peaches and Apricots. A touch of brine and a slightly herbal note.

The nose whilst punchy does not correlate with such a high ABV. It’s full and inviting with a nice mix of sweet and savoury notes.

Sipping Worthy Park Special Cask Release Marsala at full strength is a very spicy experience. It’s nowhere near as sweet as you might expect. The more savoury elements of Worthy Park – stewed breakfast tea and brine are still present. It’s quite fiery and the spicy notes from the casks are really coming out with a lot of lime and lemon zest and some really good notes of oak.Worthy Park Special Cask Release Marsala Rum Review by the fat rum pirate

At full ABV it is really in the mid palate and finish where you really appreciate the work done by the Marsala maturation. It mellows the rum out giving it a sweet almost raisin like note – a touch of Demerara sugar perhaps. The finish is really good albeit it slightly short with a lot of lemon zest and some almost whisky like malty notes at the very end. If you are expecting a rum which is totally overawed by the Marsala cask this isn’t what is happening here.

I’ve no doubt the Marsala cask maturation has made a difference to this rum – it has mellowed and slightly sweetened the overall profile. It’s not dominated it though. The Pot Still rum is just too fiery for that!

It’s a really complex and really interesting rum – much like Foursquare’s 2013. The more you sip this rum the more you get out of it.

Much like Foursquare 2013 you are very much best off taking very small sips of this rum and savouring it. Rather than diluting it down to try and take larger sips. It’s a young Pot Still rum with an “experimental” finish and its best tried that way at full strength.

In light of the few official Worthy Park/Rum Bar releases and a myriad of very similar Independent bottlings this was a must buy for me. It has been a must buy again since as well. Which is lucky as there were only 319 bottles to start with.

If you hurry you might find a few left in the wild. This is a rum which is way better than its 2012 vintage might suggest.

Great stuff!

 

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