Old Amazon No1. Tonka Bean Infused Rum

Old Amazon No1. Tonka Bean Infused Rum Review by the fat rum pirateOld Amazon No1. is the brainchild of Olly Simpson who is behind along with two of his friends Rum Fellows Ltd.  In 2014, Olly tested his rum infusions on unsuspecting friends at a BBQ.  Inspired by their positive reaction he set about Rum Fellows first creation…..

I’m always interested (often sceptical) in new rums and this Rum Infusion sparked my interest immediately.  Being a British rum did nothing to sway my enthusiasm.

Old Amazon No1. is 100% Pot Stilled Rum.  It is distilled by the the English Spirit Company.  The base rum in this infusion is actually a rum I have already reviewed.  Old Salt Rum.  Despite harking back to an almost bygone era I actually quite enjoyed the pungent intensity of Old Salt Rum.  However it was without doubt one of the more challenging rums I have tried.  It’s certainly not a rum I would give to my more sensitive friends.  That aside I am assured having spoke to the company their Old Salt Rum is now aged for 3 years so it may be more approachable to sensitive types, than it was when I originally sampled it.

So with the base of this rum identified what else do we need to know about this rum? Well I can probably guess what you are thinking.  What the hell is a Tonka Bean?  In truth I had no idea prior to tasting this rum.  For the purposes of this review I have took the time to Google and find out exactly what a Tonka Bean is.

The Tonka Bean is a flat wrinkly legume (a dry fruit that grows from a pod) which grows on the Cumaru/Kumaru tree in South America.  Quite how Olly came across these is anyones guess.  It is worth noting that Tonka Beans are used frequently in perfume and have such an intense flavour they can be used as a vanilla substitute.  Tonka Beans have actually been banned in some countries (most notably the US) so I hope this rum isn’t going to kill me…….In large doses apparently the Coumarin in the seeds can be lethal.

As this rum has a HMRC duty sticker on it I am safe (I hope) to assume that the rum is perfectly safe and has been fully tested prior to being brought to market.Old Amazon No1 Tonka Bean Infused Rum Review by the fat rum pirate

Old Amazon No1 is now available via Master of Malt.  I was actually Olly’s first online customer.  I paid £35 for a 70cl bottle.  This Spiced/Infused rum comes in at 42% ABV.  I like the heavy squat stubby bottle that is used.  The red wax seal is very thick and is actually a bit of a pain as there is not thread to help break it away from the bottle.  This is something that needs addressing.  Once opened, Old Amazon has a very nice cork stopper which gives a very satisfying pop.  The label currently has a bit of a home made feel to it but I’m sure this is something Olly will also address in time.  It is very early days for his little enterprise.

The nose of Old Amazon is unlike most conventional Spiced Rums.  Technically this rum is infused with Tonka Beans.  As I’m not a distiller I’m not sure how much of a difference there might be between a Spiced and an Infused rum?  I’m guessing Olly gets the rum as is, from English Spirit Company and then adds the Tonka Bean flavouring/infusion.  The nose is strong and pungent.  Stewed apples and pears, slightly soft brown bananas. The young rum from the Pot Still is still very much evident but there is a softer note to the rum.  The Tonka Bean extract mellows the Old Salt Rum base.  Bringing with it gentle light spices.  Vanilla, a little nutmeg, some Demerara sugar notes.  There is a rich sweet note in the nose.  It’s inviting but also has a little menace about it.  It’s still a very strong complex, challenging young rum.

Old Amazon No1. Tonka Bean Infused Rum Review by the fat rum pirateThe nose did not surprise me from my experiences with Old Salt.  For those unfamiliar we are in Smith & Cross like territory.  Heavy funky Jamaican style Pot Still Rum.  Rum for Pirates and Plunderers.  What does surprise me is how much the Tonka Bean infusion has added both sweetness and smoothness to what was quite a bitter tasting spirit previously.

In many ways Old Salt was quite inaccessible to many and a little harsh.  A touch to rough perhaps.  Certainly it would not be a rum to appeal to a Pyrat or Zacapa drinker.  The Tonka Bean Infusion has tamed the beast.  Don’t get me wrong this is still a very strong vibrant Pot Still spirit but the infusion has smoothed a few of the rums rough edges.

Unlike the Old Salt Rum you could easily sip this straight from the bottle and enjoy it.  I had previously drank Old Salt rum cut with a tiny bit of Ginger Liqueur.  The infusion in the Old Amazon No1. works in a similar way.  The sweetness and lightness of the Tonka Bean infusion really lifts the drink and makes it very enjoyable.

Mixed Old Amazon No1. can be a difficult rum to judge.  It doesn’t make a fantastic rum and cola.  I much prefer it straight.  In cocktails, it will probably work best with fruit juices otherwise the pot still elements may clash and overpower more delicate soda based cocktails.

Much like the recently released Dark Matter this is taking the Spiced Rum market in another direction.  Despite the Tonka Bean being a Vanilla substitute this rum really doesn’t go down the intense vanilla flavour of say Morgan’s Spiced Gold or Old J.  The Tonka Bean infusion enhances rather than dominates the rum.  Like Dark Matter this feels authentic and natural not synthetic and cloying.

It will certainly be interesting to see what Olly comes up with next.

4 stars






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