I’ve never been averse to a little rum fun. Especially when, as at Turtle Bay, it involves you being surrounded by the smells of jerk chicken, plantain and dumplings. My most recent visit was an exploration of some of the key rums from their bar, and a chance to sample one of their taster boards.
Their rum selection is pretty extensive, over 40 different rums for you to work your way through, plus around 25 cocktails, you’re never going to be short of something to enjoy. (It’s also worth noting that their cocktail menu helpfully labels any vegan options if you have specific dietary requirements).
We began with one you’ll probably recognise from bar shelves, and indeed supermarket shelves, Appleton Estate Signature Blend. Perhaps the most well known of their rums, it’s a blend of fifteen different aged rums, and though it has no age statement on the bottle itself, they’re aged for an average of 4 years. The result is a gently peppery rum, with hints of butter and vanilla. It hints at a woodiness, but that doesn’t really quite come through.
Our second was the Appleton Estate Reserve Blend. Much like our previous Appleton rum, this has no age statement on the bottle, but the 20 rums in it are aged for around 8 years. This gives the rum a much deeper flavour, the molasses is more prominent as is the wood and it’s impact on the spirit. More honey notes, fruit cake and a little nuttiness, with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Our final Appleton Rum was the Estate Rare Blend. This one actually states that it’s 12 year old rum – this means that the youngest rum in the blend is 12 years old. This is much richer and has an almost buttery mouthfeel with more oak and bitter chocolate notes, and lots of molasses.
For those with a sweeter tooth, our second round of samples will be much more your cup of tea. Santa Teresa 1796, Koko Kanu, and the fruity Plantation Pineapple Rum.
Santa Teresa 1796 is aged using the Solera method (often used for sherries, wine, or brandy. It’s a little more complicated than just popping the distilled spirit in casks, ageing it, and blending it (there’s a very good explanation here). The result is a lighter, slightly thinner rum than the Appleton, but with a sweeter flavour, featuring lots of banana, butterscotch and a little chocolate.
If you like coconut, you’ll love Koko Kanu. A sweet coconutty rum from Jamaica, this is definitely for the coconut lovers, it’s soft, silky, sweet and lingers on the palate. But if you prefer something fruity, then the Planatation Pineapple is where to go. I really wanted to like this as it’s been very popular with my rum drinking friends, but there is a definite fruity acidity to it, that I found a little overwhelming. I still need to find a way to drink it.
Our final rum was possibly the most recognisable, both in flavour and bottle, Wray and Nephew Overproof. Around 90% of rum sales in Jamaica are Wray & Nephew. With a 63% abv, this white rum, packs quite a punch, but despite that, you can pick out flavours of molasses, tropical fruit and vegetal notes.
Of course, if you’re not quite as geeky as me, then explore one of the boards (as we did before we wobbled home) four rums, a mixer and garnishes, mean you can have a little taster session with your friends, explore flavours and see what styles you like. At £14 it’s an easy introduction to a delicious spirit.