Saturday, 15 November 2014

Review 6 - English Harbour 5 year old

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Not as smooth or complex as advertised, but still worth a sip.

This time I have got the English Harbour 5 year old on the table.

A proper caribbean rum from Antigua made by Antigua Distillery Ltd. (ADL) who also hold a couple of other rums in their line up. Among these are the 25 year old English Harbour which is somewhat of a legend.

To make this particular rum ADL employs a slightly different technique than most other conventional rum makers. Fermentation is longer than usual, distillation is done in all copper stills and ageing is done in smaller oak barrels.

Presumably this should result in a smoother end product. Looking much forward to that.

The squat bottle is green and gives off a sense of old. So does the label which fake tear along the edges and a very old style look with yellowed paper and oldish fonts. Quite nice.

On the front label we have the standards: name, age, origin, ABV 40% and company. And a little sweet talk ("Fine Caribbean Rum distilled in cupper stills … … and matured in oaken barrels"). And it's even there twice! One in top and bottom, and one on the left and right side. Seems redundant.

On the back label there is a longer sales pitch – but a quite informative one highlighting some historical figures and talking about tradition. It is actually so well done and I had to reach the absolute last sentence of the label before I realised it was even as sales pitch. Well done ADL.

On top, a natural cork with a plastic stopper. Nothing fancy.

All in all the presentation is nice, simple and a wee bit boring. But since this is an entry level rum it would be unfair to expect much more.

When poured into a glas we find a very light amber liquid that does not stick very much to the sides of the glass which indicates a rum of light character.

First thing I noticed was that the nose didn't come off very strong. It was all a very light and gentle experience. A little oak, some molasses, vanilla, a little smoke, caramelised orange peel and coconut. 

After having spent a good amount of time trying to decode it, the nose suddenly vanished completely. 

Like the rum did not have anymore to give. Putting a lit on the glass and letting it rest for a while made a few oaky aromas gather, but it still felt like the rum simply gave up.

Reaching the palate the lightness of the rum was confirmed. It feels clean and crisp but at the same time it was spicy and a bit harsh. It is not super sweet which a kind of guessed in advance since this is a british navy style rum with only a few years of ageing and a self-proclaimed light style.

The taste seems a bit simple and apart from the caramel and oak, the only dominating flavour was the spices. The orange peel is also evident but feels bullied by all the caramel, oak and spices.

The spices create a lot of warmth which lasts for a while but then fades. The slight harshness from the taste finishes of the whole show.

Rating and final thoughts
Summing up the English Harbour 5 years is a decent rum. It was not quite as smooth as I had hoped reading the sales pitch. But for a rum this young it did have a certain charm to it.

I am not totally convinced and it is not among my favourite rums but at around €30-35 it is worth a shot. I do find it a little too expensive when comparing it to other rums in this price segment, but if you want to try something with only a moderate sweetness this could be a fine choice.

(In my opinion this one is in the exact same category as the Flor de CaƱa 12 which I reviewed a while ago – an easy going rum with only mild sweetness).

Rating: 65/100


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