For those that aren’t aware (and either you haven’t bought this rum before or cannot read – in which case you won’t be able to read this either and come to think of it you wouldn’t be reading my blog…) Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum is named after Chris Blackwell.
Still none the wiser? Well the Blackwell’s are (so the label tells me) one of Jamaica’s oldest merchant families renowed for exporting banana’s, coconuts and rum. Okay, I’m kidding Chris Blackwell isn’t famous for exporting banana’s. He was the owner of Island Records and he discovered U2 and Bob Marley. So you’ve got him to blame for Bono and No Woman, No Cry.
Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum is also noted as “Black Gold” and “Special Reserve” on the bottle. The Special Reserve part seems odd as I understand that this is a rum which has only been aged for 1 year. My other bottle of Special Reserve is my El Dorado 15 year old! Blackwell rum cost around £20-25 per bottle which places it in the same price range as Appleton VX/8. It is bottled at 40% ABV.
Blackwell Rum is actually distilled by J Wray and Nephew (who market Appleton Estate amongst others). It is made using an old family recipe and is created by Chris Blackwell and Joy Spence (the master blender at Appleton Estate). Blackwell’s family once owned J Wray and Nephew so the story goes.
The presentation of the Blackwell is actually really good. The bottle is dark brown and has a “lopsided” label, sealed with a wax/plastic seal similar to those used many years ago to seal letters. The wax seal has Blackwells embossed on it. Too much use of the word seal there I fear (and more to come later!) The front label has a Pirate style map of Jamaica and the rear has a picture of a very young looking Chris Blackwell and a little story about the rum’s heritage.
So onto the tasting. Lookswise the rum is pretty much the same colour as the bottle. It is a very dark reddish/brown. It is certainly not the bright orange colour of the younger Appleton’s. The nose is rich, dark molasses and caramel. There is a lot of youth and “booze” in the nose. This doesn’t smell like a refined sipper.
And in indeed it certainly is not a rum for sipping unless you enjoy a strong burn. It is too young and harsh to recommend as anything other than a mixer really. The sweetness of the aroma is overpowered by the youthfulness of the blend and the burn is long lasting and leaves little by way of flavour in the mouth, just heat.
I approached this rum not really knowing what to expect. Some reviewers seem to have concentrated on the Jamaican-ness of this rum. Now admittedly young Jamaican rum’s are quite rough and many a person who enjoys sweeter rum’s cannot get over the aroma and “funk” (it’s the only word that I can think to use!). However, this rum despite its rough edges doesn’t display that distinctive pot still high ester flavour of the younger Appleton’s or Smith and Cross.
In my opinion, of the reviews I have read, many have missed the rum which comes closest in terms of overall taste and profile. It seems odd because at the bottom of the Blackwell label is a reminder – Black Gold.
Once mixed with cola Blackwell Fine Jamaican rum reveals a lot of sweet flavours – caramel, black strap molasses, a little coconut, hints of vanilla. It’s pretty close to a Spiced rum. To my palate the rum it reminds me most of is Goslings Black Seal Bermuda Rum. Comparing this to Appleton just doesn’t work for me. It does have a little Jamaican flavour to it but it isn’t a rum I would personally recommend to a lover of Smith and Cross for instance.
This isn’t a pure unadulterated rum such as Foursquare’s offerings, it’s clearly been “altered” or as I like to say “confected”. This is a relatively inexpensive offering (some reviews note it is quite expensive in the US – it seems fairly reasonable over here).
Overall the rum is fairly reasonable mixing rum. It is enjoyable enough but at its price point there is a lot of competition. Any rum retailing at £20-25 should at least mix well. It isn’t something to sip, maybe over a couple of ice cubes at a push.
Unfortunately for Blackwell despite its cracking presentation and its reasonable price it’s direct competition – Appleton, offer a different more authentic Jamaican experience entirely as do most Jamaican Rums. This only really leaves it appealing to lovers of Goslings Black Seal or maybe even Spiced Rum lovers. I keep being reminded of Sailor Jerry but I fancy that is because the Blackwell bottle is similar. This isn’t a sweet or vanilla-ey as our favourite Tattoo Artists offering.
In my view this isn’t as good as Goslings Black Seal or Appleton VX. It’s not a bad rum but it would need a heavy discount say to £15 per bottle to make me buy anymore.