Walter Hicks 125 Navy Rum

Walter Hicks 125 Navy rum review by the fat rum pirateWalter Hicks 125 Navy Rum hails from St Austell, Cornwall.  Produced by St Austell Brewery who are perhaps better known for producing Tribute Cornish Pale Ale, Korev Cornish Lager alongside Bad Habit and Cardinal Syn real ales.

Products from the St Austell brewery are not only to be found in the South of England.  The Nicholson pub chain operated by Mitchell and Butler stock a number of their ales and have exclusivity on a couple.

It is very likely that you have not come across this rum before.  The crazy tax laws of the UK it makes it pretty pricy to try and market “overproof” rum such as Walter Hicks 125 Navy Rum.  As a result commercial domestic bottlers tend to stick to 37.5% or 40% with a few notable exceptions.

The proof of this rum is also likely to be quite puzzling.  Nowadays we use the more standard US “double proofing” if you like.  So if something is 50% ABV is it 100 proof, 40% ABV is 80 proof and so on.  Walter Hicks 125 Navy Rum is actually a fearsome 71.4% which would equate to around 142 proof.  I presume when the rum was named it was “proofed” using the then UK measure (we have since gone down the ABV route only rather than proof) of 1.75 of ABV so 71.4% ABV x 1.75 = 124.95 proof giving us Walter Hicks 125 Navy Rum.

The rum is a 7 year old Demerara blend. Matured in the UK.  It retails at £40 per bottle (multi buy gets you discount as well).  It is likely quite readily available in Cornwall in independent off licenses but I’ve certainly never seen a bottle of it for sale up North anywhere. Despite the very retro appearance (similar to the Rum Story’s Jefferson’s 1785 Dark Rum) it is still in production and if you do grow fond of this it is easily obtainable online direct from St Austell Brewery Shop.

Another thing which is probably puzzling you is how light this Demerara rum appears.  Well if ever a rum shows just how much caramel is added to Demerara rums this is it.  Reminiscent of the Jamaican and Guyanese rums from Mezan.  I would say without doubt this this has very little colouring and only light filtration. In terms of looks it is a million miles away from all other Navy rums I can think of.Walter Hicks 125 Navy Rum review by the fat rum pirate

Unlike other Navy rums Walter Hicks 125 does not purport to be a “Royal Navy” rum.  There is no back story on how this was once drunk by sailors in the Royal Navy.  It is named very simply after the founder of St Austell Brewery and is really a Navy style rum.

So what do we have then? Well in the glass as mentioned already it is a very natural looking colour its very pale and for many may be slightly unexciting.

The nose is surprisingly very sweet – very intense sweet molasses and caramel carried along with a slightly nose tingling hit of boozy fumes. Reminiscent in many ways to Lemon Hart 151 but not quite as raisined or fruity.  Even at such a high ABV it is almost sickly sweet on the nose.  Beneath this though is a slightly funky almost Jamaican Pot Still/Overproof funkiness.  I like the “booze” on the nose.

Sipped at full ABV is not really the greatest of ideas.  It leads very quickly on the sweet caramel and chocolate notes. This quickly disappears into a very hot and difficult to manage alcohol burn. Which leaves your tongue tingling and will numb it if you take too big a sip.  A drop of water should determine whether I want to persist with sipping this rum.

A drop does little really. I add a splash and using my hydrometer I bring it down to around 46% ABV.  The water certainly helps with the sweeter almost cloying notes of the rum.  Surprisingly it does little to eradicate the “boozy” elements of this rum.  Which I don’t mind at all.

Walter Hick 125 Navy Rum Review by the fat rum pirateIt’s not a massively unpleasant sipper with a little water but it lacks any real complexity. Walter Hicks is full of “menace” and is quite spicy but it doesn’t really have a great deal of definition or individual flavours.  Hot, sweet and very boozy.

When I bought this I figured I would use it a similar manner to Pussers Gunpowder Proof and Lemon Hart 151.  As a mixer with cola.  I didn’t expect much sipping wise (I was surprised to learn it was a 7 year old blend).  As a sipper it is average and a bit of a mood sipper (for when you want to imagine you’re a shipwrecked one legged pirate).

Mixed is where Walter Hicks shows its teeth.  It’s not as complex as Pussers Gunpowder nor is it is rich and fruity as Woods 100 Navy Rum.  However, it overs a less complicated more straightforward mix of menacingly strong grog and a nice sweet overlay.

It’s not classic Demerara – it is far too boozy, almost taking it to Pot Still Jamaican funk levels at times.  It’s not a rum I would wholeheartedly recommend to everyone.

It is good though.  It works great mixed with cola.  The strong alcohol and boozy flavours really shine and contrast against the cola.  Sweeter caramel and toffee notes meld nicely in the mix giving an all too easy to drink rum and coke.

This is well worth a try but beware of what it is.  Refined it is not.

4 stars






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3 comments on “Walter Hicks 125 Navy Rum

  1. […] wish to see what a naturally coloured blend similar to this might look like, then take a look at my Walter Hick’s Navy Rum […]

  2. I sometimes think I do not understand your ratings at all. Must be mostly about the mixing because based on most of your description I can’t believe you gave this 4 stars

    • It’s not a sipping rum so I don’t rate it as one. It’s a good mixer that can produce great drinks

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