Sunday, 15 March 2015

Review 33 - A. H. Riise Royal Danish Navy Strength Rum

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Not the best rum I ever tasted. Not even by a long shot.
Being from Denmark, at some point I had to get around to A.H. Riise.

Hailing from St. Thomas and created by Danish pharmacist A.H. Riise, the first rum was born in 1838.

If you are into the history behind it all, the AHR webpage has a lot of very interesting information available.

The rum on the bench today it the A.H. Riise Royal Danish Navy Strength Rum. A torqued up 55% version of the regular AHR Royal Danish Navy Rum.

According to the webpage it is a blend of up to 20 year old molasses based, pot still rums.

No filtration has been done and no added caramel has been used to tamper with the result.

Very promising indeed.

The rum arrives in a standard card board box which sports the regular details. Inside we find a tall, slender bar room bottle with a thick glass bottom which adds weight and a lot of yaaaarhhhg!

The synthetic cork with a plastic stopper makes it all tightly sealed.

The front label sports the danish flag as well as brand and product information – and a nice, big ”Navy Strength – 55%”. Most of these details are also found on the box.

The rum seems almost black in the bottle. In the glass it is still extremely dark, but with a very dark ruby glow. Perhaps even looking like old port.

After being poured and twirled, I got a heavy ring on the inside of the glass. Droplets formed fast but takes forever to fall. The thick layer on the inside of the glass hints a very thick and syrupy rum.

Already when you pour it into the glass, it hits you like a truck in the face. Even far away from the edge of the glass.

My first thought was ”Glögg!” - a traditional Danish Christmas drink, consisting of raisins, chopped almonds, red wine, oranges and a lot of spice. All thrown together in a pot and heated on the stove to be enjoyed hot. (Please bear with me if the recipe is inaccurate or faulty...)

At closer range I got boatloads of rum soaked raisins, burnt sugar and anise.

After a while I also found a little rubber and perhaps even tire smoke.

There is only a mild oak influence even though the age is up to 20 years.

Plunging the nose into the glass again revealed raspberry and blackberry jam.

There is also a floral scent in the background that I can’t seem to identify.

Surprisingly enough there is hardly any evidence of the high strength. Exciting, and quite frankly a very interesting and promising nose.

Holy Moses, Batman! I have never tasted anything this sweet. Not even sugar is this sweet. Syrup, maple syrup, sugary syrup. This is just too much.

It is so sickly sweet, that I can’t seem to get over the insane amount of syrup, sugar, caramel, molasses and every other kind of sugary substance you can think of.

Sip number 2 took a lot more courage, but revealed a little liquorice, red wine and a heat bomb from the alcohol and also a borderline heartburn.

Note: The heat bomb was no where near the nice experience from other high proof rums I have tried. In most of those instances the heat made the flavours expand and evolve. In the AHR-RDNR-NS it was just hot.

Sip number 3 revealed nothing new.

By sip number 4 I still hadn’t found any additional flavours and the heartburn is suddenly very real.

No matter how hard I try to concentrate on identifying other flavours, I get thrown off as soon as the liquid hits my palate.

The combination of the sickly sweetness and the heat bomb from the alkohol erases every single rational thought in my head and sends me into a downward spiralling sugar rush.

That is it. The rest is going back on the shelf as a caution to anyone asking me about A.H. Riise in the future. At least until I find a better product of theirs.

Edit: Visiting - a site by renowned sugar-in-rum-analyst Johnny Drejer - reveals that of 160+ rums analysed so far, the only two A.H. Riise rums are the ones showing the most added sugar.

Quite short on the finish except for the sticky sweetness, which seems to stay around forever and ever.

The alcohol doesn’t even manage to clean things up a bit.

Perhaps a mild red wine note lingering somewhere in there, but it has been sugar coated and hidden quite a lot.

Rating and final thoughts
I am puzzled by this rum.

How on earth did they manage to make a rum this dark without adding caramel?
Why on earth did they add all that sugar to the rum and make it nauseating?

Edit: Mr. Richard Seale of FourSqaure contacted me, and informed me that the spirits caramel often used as a colouring agent is in fact not sweet and therefore not a factor relating to added sweetness in rums. Therefore the section above has been edited to reflect this information better.

The website clearly tries to sell the rum based on a notion that it hasn't been tampered with. Looking into my glass with disbelief, I must accept that I has been fooled by the marketing shenanigans.

The sweetness is so insane, that no Zacapa, Millonario or Diplomatico will ever be able to match it.

It is so sweet that I am still wondering what to do with the last of it. Pour it into tea? Use it in a cake? Clog the sink with it? Perhaps use it for Glögg?

To make sure that I wasn’t making another Gosling’s-review, I even tried it as a mixer with coke. Result: It tasted like destroyed coke with maple syrup and hot car tires, and it wasn’t great.

I know it may sound a little bit hard, but the most interesting thing about this rum was the almost instant heartburn that came with sip number 4.

In the past I thought of other rums as ”insanely sweet” and I am so sorry about that (I am looking at you Diplomatico ExRes). Because this one redefines the entire concept of ”sweet”.

Perhaps there are someone out there who will appreciate this. But this will be both the first and the last time I am going for this rum. One day when I finally run out, there is no chance in a certain hot place, that it will be replaced.

At a price at around €55 you are getting robbed. There are hundreds of better rums at this price and below, and I see no reason to expose your self to it.

As much as I want to be open minded and focus on the positive things, I seem to fail at every attempt. It is not something I'm very proud of, but I have to restrain my self and award this breaker-of-boundaries a disappointing…

Rating: 40/100



  1. The Royal British Navy wins then Henrik?

    1. Perhaps. Unless they sport similar Cavity enducing beverages.

  2. A very entertaining (and useful) review. I feel bad for you though, because of what you went through to be able to write it.

    1. Well, that is just one of the sacrifices I have to make to satisfy my 4-5 regular readers ;)