Wood’s Old Navy Rum

Wood's Old Navy Rum Review by the fat rum pirateWood’s Old Navy Rum. Wood’s is a Navy rum brand which is quite a staple in UK bars and Working Mens Clubs. It’s not quite as common as Lamb’s – partly due to its ABV, but it is probably the second best-selling Navy rum in the UK.

You will probably find a number of  “old timers” proclaiming the joys of Rum and Pep (Peppermint cordial) or Rum and Black (Blackcurrant cordial) they will likely know all about Woods Navy Rum or Wood’s 100.

Which is one of the reasons why the brand has been given a new appearance. Wood’s Old Navy Rum has been given an overhaul – without losing the very essence of what the brand is all about. It is the only Navy rum that you will find in UK supermarkets, that comes in at Navy Strength. Wood’s Old Navy Rum is bottled at 57% ABV.

Woods Old Navy rum is a blend of 3 Demerara rums. I took part in a Twitter Tasting back in 2016. That tasting involved trying the three marques used in Wood’s Old Navy Rum. So I will give you a quick run down on each marque used to compose this blend

SVW – Which is distilled to 92.9% ABV. This is produced on the French Savalle column still. This is the rum in the blend comprising the largest part.

SV – Which is distlled to 82.4% ABV . This is the second largest part of the blend again it comes from the Savalle Column still.

REV – 69.7% ABV. Produced on the Wooden Versailles Pot Still. Although this is the smallest portion of the blend it is the rum which contributes most to the overall flavour of the final blend.

The marques are then blended together, before being diluted down to 57% ABV. Prior to Wood’s being re-packaged the old 100 proof was still a part of the tag line, though not as dominant as it had been previously. As the 100 referred to the old style “English Proof” it has now been removed. The more standard “double” to ABV US measurement is now used more commonly. Woods 114 isn’t as catchy.

In the UK we don’t really use proof much – though ABV is often referred to as “proof” mistakenly. On the new packaging the 100 has been removed completely.

You can still buy the old style bottling in 1 litre bottles. This is mainly found at UK Airports. I don’t know if they plan on re-packaging the 1 litre bottles and are just waiting for the current stock to dwindle. I haven’t seen a 1 litre bottle with the new branding as yet.

So back to the packaging. Wm Grant & Sons as owners of the brand decided to try to make Wood’s appeal to a younger audience. They are also pressing to try and get Wood’s more widely available globally. Currently it is very much a UK brand. The new stubby style bottle and the cleaner more modern appearance, certainly makes the brand more approachable and look more “Premium”.

I think we all expect a certain level of “tackiness” with a Navy rum blend – ships, sailors etc but this has been dialled back a great deal with the new look Wood’s. As you can see from the photo’s it is now a much more contemporary, clean and modern design.

The website has also been overhauled to also give it a more contemporary look, in keeping with the new packaging. Though they still play heavily on its Naval heritage – a blend unchanged since 1887 they proclaim. However, they do have a section on Cocktails which offers serving suggestions way beyond a dash of Blackcurrant cordial or Pep.

Despite the re-packaging Wood’s Old Navy Rum is still very competitively priced. I can usually pick this up in my local supermarket for £23 – frequently it is discounted to just £20. For a 57% ABV rum this is a very good price. Especially when you consider taxation in this country – which increases the higher the ABV of an alcoholic beverage.

It is worth noting at this point that the rums in the blend aren’t particularly “old”. It is a young blend of rums aged up to 3 years – but likely a lot of the rum is much younger. The colour of the rum is provided by our good friend E150 and possibly some molasses. DDL are known to coat the inside of the barrels with molasses. It is not a natural colour. If you 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 review.

Well I have waffled enough now so let’s get down to business and see how I find this rum nowadays.

As mentioned already Woods Old Navy Rum is a dark “traditional” navy rum colour. It is almost black with dark brown around the edges. It clings slightly to the glass giving it a slight coating.

On the nose you are struck by intense notes of raisin, coffee, dark chocolate and molasses. Really Black Treacle and even some sweeter Golden Syrup. If you are wondering what such things as Golden Syrup look like type Tate & Lyle Treacle into Google. It’s sweet and not hugely complex but what notes you do get, are warm and inviting. This is rum for a cold winters night without doubt. It’s a very British style of rum which suits our less than Tropical climate.

A sipper I’ve never really seen Wood’s as. Even the old timers mix it with just a dash of blackcurrant or peppermint cordial. It is pretty fiery but not ridiculously so. It’s still very sweet. A lot of raisin mixed with licorice and some bitter almost tannic red wine like notes. I’m getting chocolate raisins and plump sultanas. Water makes it less fiery but also dulls the sweeter notes. The finish isn’t big and is mainly just burnt caramel and a little bit of spiciness. I’m not sure beneath the bitterness whether it is oak or just the young alcohol in the blend. I suspect it’s the alcohol just giving it a bit of a bitter bite. Trying saying that fast after you’ve had a few.

Wood's Old Navy Rum Review by the fat rum pirateSince my last review of Wood’s I have bought probably around 10 bottles of this. I kept meaning to review it but I kept drinking it. As we are coming towards the end of the review, I may as well reveal that I rank Wood’s as one of the best “rum and coke” rums.

I also think it works very well whenever strong Demerara rums are called for in cocktails . Though, I confess I am not really a student of such things. Having tried the likes of Wood’s, Lemon Hart 151 and other “overproof” or “Navy Strength” dark rums such as O.F.T.D. and Gosling’s Black Seal 151, I do think Wood’s more than holds its own.

I’m not sure quite what went wrong with my last review to be honest. It really baffles me how I originally found Wood’s just a few years back.

Wood’s Old Navy Rum is one of those Demerara rums which “react” with cola giving a frothy “head” on a rum and coke a bit like in an ice cream float. It’s a fantastically rich and sweet rum to combine with cola. Rich raisin and sultana flavour cuts beautifully across the drink. It also delivers a nice spiciness and a certain “menace”. Wood’s is pretty boozy but all the better for it in my opinion.

Sipping Premium rum is all well and good but we need rums like this. We are lucky the UK market has this rum. It is not widely available elsewhere despite William Grant’s best efforts to upgrade it and get it more widely available.

The best sub £25 Demerara rum around – easy. Just go canny with it.








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4 comments on “Wood’s Old Navy Rum

  1. Excellent write up. Found this whilst trying to decide whether to mix it with coke.

  2. […] the nose is lighter than say Wood’s or OVD, it still has a good weight of oak spice and a touch of tobacco. It’s actually more […]

  3. My favourite rum, has not been available in Canada for many many years. Please tell me me Woods is coming back to Canada, Please !

  4. My go to rum for dark and stormy. Like you said, also works very well for rum and coke.

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