Alnwick Rum

Alnwick Rum Spirit of Northumberland review by the Fat rum pirateThe Legendary Alnwick Rum no less.  The Spirit of Northumberland it proclaims.  Not much of a proclamation to make really.   I can’t think of a drink other than Newcastle Brown Ale the North East has produced, which is famous beyond its own counties borders.

We’re a funny little bunch up here in the North East of England.  When we aren’t watching our EPL soccer teams FC United of Newcastle and the Mackem Red and White Stripes, reading the Viz or eating Kebabs we are usually to be found boozing.  In actual fact we usually do most of these things pretty much at the same time…….

Until recent times the North East had a thriving drinks industry with Federation and Vaux breweries supplying thousands of pubs, clubs and off-licences throughout the North East and sometimes beyond! Unfortunately billion pound supermarket chains, International Drink conglomerates and to a lesser degree the smoking ban have led to thousands of these pubs, clubs and off-licenses closing along with the breweries that served them.  The dwindling North East Food and Drink legacy is left with Newcastle Brown Ale and Pease Pudding.  (We won’t mention Teeside’s culinary masterpiece the “Parmo,” oh I just have).  If you are wondering what these two gastronomical masterpieces are then I think you’ll gain more enjoyment searching on Google than me telling you.  Just be prepared!

As I’ve said already we are a funny bunch.  Proudly passionate of our culture and the kind of area that really gets behind their own people.  X Factor successes such as Little Mixx and Joe McElderry owe a huge debt to the people of the North East.  And so probably does this little curiosity.  Quite how this Jamaican and Guyanan (Demerara) rum, which is blended in Holland ever came to be called Alnwick Rum is explained here on their website.  I urge you all to read the history behind this strange little dark rum.

The rum is available at a lot of independent retailers in the area as well as certain branches of Sainsbury’s and also at the Alnwick Garden and Castle Shop.  If you are ever in the North East a trip to Alnwick Castle and Garden is well worth it.  It retails at around £25-29 pounds for a 70cl bottle.  The rum is bottled at 43% ABV.  So is slightly stronger than most rums in this price bracket.

The Legendary Alnwick rum review by the fat rum pirateIn the bottle the rum presents itself as almost black with a deep brown colour to its edges when the bottle is handled.  In the glass the rum dark reddish-brown.  Thinking off-hand I’m not sure if I have had a rum which is a blend of Jamaican and Demerara before.  I thought Pussers had some Jamaican rum in its blend but it turns out I was wrong.  The appearance buts me in mind of Myers’s Original Dark rum.

The nose is quite distinctive.  It’s heavy and quite viscous.  When poured from the bottle the rum coats the neck.  The Jamaican side of the rum comes through almost overripe banana and thick treacly molasses and burnt brown sugar, like Myers’s.  It has a rich deep treacle toffee aroma.  It’s a very moreish nose.

Onto the tasting and firstly I am not sure how the Alnwick rum sees itself.  It comes in a fairly standard bar style bottle, yet it stretches the price bracket a little and the rum is bottled at 43% ABV which is much more common with classic sippers such as MGXO and El Dorado 15 Year Old.  So it breaks a couple of rules, but hey this is rum after all.  Rules what rules?

When sipped The Spirit of Northumberland is short and very bitter.  The tannins in the drink make me pucker a little.  The rum isn’t particularly rough, it leaves a little tingle on the tongue but it’s not offering me much by way of flavour.  The sweetness which was present on the nose seems to retreat. In many ways it feels like the rum isn’t quite hitting my taste buds properly.  It has a very short finish so short that it doesn’t even seem to get started.  I’m just not getting a great deal beyond some is bitterness.

I did have Alnwick Rum down as a mixer to be honest.  In the same bracket as OVD, Skipper and Watson’s Demerara.  I personally feel that the “North East” thing makes it slightly more expensive than perhaps it could be.  As the rum was so disappointing as a sipper I’m going to put a decent size glug of the rum in with roughly 60/40 cola and see how it goes.

When mixed there are aspects to the rum that I quite enjoy.  I like the rich fruity Jamaican notes.  There is a little coffee in the mix which is nice.  The entry of the rum is pretty good. Unfortunately, in the same way the sipping experience was short and ,the mixing experience also disappoints.  This is quite a bitter rum especially the aftertaste.  Initially it’s very sweet and you think it’s quite nice.  What I found is that I had to drink this quickly, to try and avoid letting the bitter aftertaste take hold.The Legendary Alnwick rum review by the fat rum pirate

Alnwick Rum is not a bad rum but it isn’t a great rum either.  It’s price tag means that for me it will be a rum which I will not buy again.  If you look on their site you will see 4 and 5 star reviews of this and suggestions that it is the best rum ever.  It’s not.  I doubt it’s makers would ever suggest it is either.  What we have here is a blend of relatively young (if we are talking about the BEST rum ever) rum.  Likely to be at best 5 years old, I think I’m being kind there as well.

Alnwick rum is pretty distinctive in its profile and as with most rums it will have its fans.  However in summary I think I have tasted a lot more rum than most and I can list a number of similar rums which I would buy instead of this.  The most obvious of these would be Myers’s Original Dark as whilst it had a lot in common with this rum it delivered on the rich treacle sweet molasses flavour as well.  I just felt that that the Demerara in this blend was overshone by the Jamaican rum and it just didn’t quite work.  I would also seek out Gosling’s Black Seal before this and also Appleton V/X or even the 8 Year Old which is roughly the same price.  I think that really puts it into perspective.

Sadly I can only give the Alnwick Rum the following score, which is a shame because a re-tasted this a few times as I so wanted to really like it! Why aye man!

2 stars




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One comment on “Alnwick Rum

  1. I tried to buy a bottle at Sainsbury’s, Derry, N Ireland, at the checkout they said it wasn’t for sale??? That was last month. there again today, there was a bottle on display, this time with a price tag – but it wouldn’t,t scan and they said they couldn’t sell it to me…so although I visit the Alnwick area fairly regularly, mainly for Swallow Fish and Craster kippers, I guess that’s it for the rum, eh? You reminded me about Goslings, so let’s make our Dark and Stormy drinks with that… BTW, using Crabbies alcoholic ginger beer instead of non-alcoholic produces a Dark and Stormy drink I now call a ‘Perfect Storm’

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