3 Howls Gold Label Rum

3 Howls Gold-RG3-USE

Product of: Washington, USA
Aged: Solera method in new American Oak, the youngest rum is aged 6 months
Price: $28 
Alcohol: 40%
Added Sugar: 0g/L
Context: Premium Pale Rum 
RG Rating: 7.5

Tasting Notes 
3 Howls Gold Label rum is certainly smooth enough to sip neat, yet would be better employed in cocktails where you want a mild dose of unadulterated rum flavor.

Even in the bottle, 3 Howls Gold bares its namesake golden color, pales slightly in the glass yet remains attractively bright.  Swirling produces a large number of legs ringing the inside of the glass, many more than most unaged Gold rums.  Hmm, perhaps there’s more character to this rum than meets the eye. 

3 Howls Gold delivers pleasantly delicate, almost floral aromas, in a good rummy balance between alcohol, oak, vanilla and mild caramel.  Soft sweet molasses rummy alcohol and vanilla wafer cookies are the most notable scents.  Less pronounced are flavors of dry tobacco,  It smells more of oak than its short time in barrel would suggest - but no complaints here. On initial taste, the slight sweetness is balanced by some edgy redistilled tails (see more on them below).  Those mild flavors are delivered on a medium body and lead quickly to a not-quite-dry finish.  

Raw rum spirit exits the still, with Cypress fermentation tank in background at 3 Howls Distillery

3 Howls rum is fermented from sweet Barbados molasses in open top 600 gallon Cypress wood tank (pictured at right, behind the fresh spirit coming off the still).  Distiller Will Maschmeier explains:  “Cypress is less maintenance than stainless steel.  The stainless steel tank requires caustic acid to cleanse, but we steam clean the cedar tank for about an hour, then let it cool” before fermenting the molasses in it.

The molasses is diluted to 18°-20° brix, then Scottish Ale yeast and the backset (dunder) from a fresh distillation batch is removed immediately from the still to restart the fermentation cycle.

3 Howls' beautiful stainless steel pot still with copper column.

Distilled in a 300-gallon hybrid pot/column still.  The belly of the pot still is made of stainless steel, but it is topped with a four-plate 12-inch diameter copper column.  Inside the top of the pot still, sacrificial copper packing is hung over the boiling wort to “clean up” the alcohol before vapors reach the four bubble caps in the column.  The fermented wort makes two passes through the still.  For the first pass, only the pot is distilling, as the bubble plates are open.  During the second pass, the plates are set to the closed position to remove heads.  Once the heads have been removed, the plates are re-opened, and the still is operated in pot still mode.  The final spirit comes off the still at about 160 proof (80% ABV).  More importantly, Will keeps tasting the output during distillation and tunes the still to get the flavor he wants.

3 Howls makes both a White Label and Gold Label rum.  Only the Heart of the distillate is used to make the White Label rum.  The Gold Label aged rum also redistills the Tails (the “Queens Share”) in addition to the Heart, to extract more flavor, then ages the spirti briefly in oak to attenuate the harsh edges.

Packaging is stable and substantial.  The wide bottle is attractive, if not overly speed-rack bar-friendly, but a wide lip at the top of the neck aids lifting.  A thick wooden cap and synthetic stopper add a rewarding feel every time you pull open the bottle.

Rum Gallery rarely reviews “Gold” rums because the category is overpopulated with caramel colored flavored fakes.  3 Howls is different.  There’s enough to like about 3 Howls Gold Label rum that you should consider using it where a simple, clean tasting gold or white rum is called for.  It’s a real unadulterated rum that adds a crisp dimension to mixed drinks with clouding the issue.  I like the care that goes into choosing its raw materials, and I appreciate the diligence applied to distilling the rum.  Thank you Mr. Maschmeier.

Reviewed: March 2014 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017