Berrys’ Finest Barbados Rum (Aged 13 Years)
Review: Berrys’ Finest Barbados Rum (Aged 13 Years) 87/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published October 01, 2013
Berry Bros. & Rudd is one of London’s oldest Wine and Spirits Merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition from which to draw upon. The company began its operation at 3 - St. James’s Street (in London, UK) in 1698, and still operates from that same location today. Although they are primarily merchants of wine, the company has a strong presence in the sale of distilled spirits as well. And in fact, this presence within the spirits industry had its beginnings approximately 100 years ago. (The Cutty Sark brand was developed by Berry Bros & Rudd in 1923.)
Today Berry Bros & Rudd acts as an independent bottler of Whisky, Cognac, Armagnac, and of course Rum. A few of their rum offerings are available in my locale, and I was able to obtain a samples of the 13 Year Old – Berrys’ Finest Barbados Rum, from the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs. Unfortunately I was not able to track down the complete history of this rum. All I know is that the spirit was distilled in Barbados, and aged for 13 years before being bottled by Berry Bros. and Rudd.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
All of the rums in Berrys’ Finest Selection arrive in the tall, slender, long-necked bottle shown to the left. I like this style of bottle as it seems to exude a sort of masculine elegance. The label is quite satisfactory with a colour scheme which works very well and implies professionalism. A nice corked closure finishes the look. I also appreciate the brief tasting notes on the back of the bottle which highlight the main flavours I can expect to find within the rum.
The presentation would have garnered a perfect score if a more complete history of the distillation and aging was provided.
In the Glass 9/10
The 13 Year Old Barbados Rum has a light copper tone in the glass which when tilted demonstrates a thickened oily sheen which very slowly reveals some stubborn fat drooplets which dangle from the crest of the oily sheen without traveling back down the inside of the glass to the rum below. The initial aroma from the glass is filled with a complex combination of dark toffee, caramelized brown sugars, rich tobacco and woody oak spices.
Allowing the glass to breathe enriches the aroma bringing dark fruit and raisins, baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon cloves and nutmeg), some orange peel, and thick sticky marmalade impressions into the breezes as well. I receive additional impressions of charred marshmallows, toasted coconut, dried apricot, and scattered tea leaves. As well, hints of faint tar-like scents, some indications of copper tubing, traces of unsweetened cocoa and an indistinct cigar-like aroma are drifting in and out of the breezes.
I like the aroma which is rich and complex.
In the Mouth 52/60
The rum carries more heat in the initial delivery than the nose would imply. Within that surge of heat I taste sweet brown sugar mixed with vanilla and cinnamon, some hot spicy tobacco, and a firm oak presence (with perhaps some traces of corn and bourbon underneath). Under the heat and spice there are also pleasant flavours of molasses; soft mushy banana; canned fruit (peaches, pears, and apricots); and an abundance of dried fruit including raisins, figs and black currants. Dabs of licorice and menthol dance within the flavour of the rum, and light hints of brine and tar meander through the flavour stream as well.
The richness of the rum is perhaps ambushed to a small degree by the heat that it carries. At 46 % alcohol by volume, the rum packs a quite a punch. When I added an ice-cube to help with the heat, I encountered a lightly bitter side to the rum as charred sugar flavours and treacle seemed to be brought forward. Adding a dash of cola without ice was much more enjoyable.
In the Throat 13/15
The rum finishes with a long spicy kick to the tonsils and throat. A hint of charred bitterness is followed by trailing flavours of dark brown sugar, rich vanilla and glowing embers of cinnamon which lingers well past the final swallow. In small well spaced doses, the finish is very pleasing.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
The 13 Year Old Barbados Rum from Berry Bros and Rudd is a nice indulgence. The spirit carries more heat than other Bajan rums I have sampled in the past, and in fact when I tasted it prior to reading the label, I felt it carried the heat was more equivalent to a 50 % abv. rum than a 46 %. Having said that, I found the heated flavour both challenging and engaging. As the days draw shorter this autumn, I think I will find a few more occasions to return to this particular rum to help ward off the long cold nights ahead.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping
Barbados 10 Year Old Rum is a medium dark amber coloured spirit which displays bright orange flashes in the glass. A tilted glass shows a moderately oily sheen which very slowly releases a few stubborn fat legs. The initial aroma from the glass is filled with a sweet combination of butterscotch, toffee and brown sugars, some rich tobacco and woody oak spices. The melding of the oak spices into the sweet toffee and tobacco aroma is quite engaging.