Arundel Cane Rum 10 Year Old

Arundel 10 year old rum

Product of:  Tortola, BVI 
Aged:  10 years
Price: $20
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Context: Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 7.5

Tasting Notes 
Smooth.  Arundel rum is golden copper in color. On the nose you uncover aromas of  sugarcane left to dry in the sun too long (perhaps weeks), very light oak, lemon grass, mild vanilla, and some light fusels typical of pot still rum. Initial taste reveals a medium body, lighter than expected, and a dry and slight musty combination of vanilla, leather, and cinnamon. The finish is long and begins mid-palate warm and semi-sweet then slowly fades further back in your mouth and throat and ends nice and dry with just a hint of sweetness. 

Anecdotes
Callwood crushes, ferments, and distills locally grown sugarcane to produce it's rum.  It's all performed on premises in a small centuries-old stone distillery that hasn't changed much from the age of sail.  The sugarcane is stacked outside by the crusher for days before the ritual begins.  Thus, the juice is less fresh than it is in say, a Martinique AOC agricole rhum, and it can be a bit "off".   Fermentation continues for a week to ten days before distilling in a very old wood-fired copper pot still.  Packaged in both 750ml full size bottles and 375ml plastic flasks, the rum inside offers an old-world authenticity few others can match. Bottles are adorned with a homemade label that hasn't changed for many years.  

Sugarcane stacked next to the crusher at Callwood Distillery on Tortola, April 2014

Any visit to Tortola should include a day-trip to beautiful Cane Garden Bay and the Callwood Distillery.  Callwood’s is like a walk back through time. Strewn variously around the original two-centuries old stone building, you’ll see the history of a small Caribbean distillery.  From rusting and discarded condensing coils, to ancient processing machinery two or three generations old, to engines and belts for powering the cane press and a couple of original copper pot stills – Callwood’s distillery is an observable history. It’s just a short walk from the gorgeous beach and watering holes that line Cane Garden Bay.  During the busy season you’ll take a brief tour complete with tasting room and photo opportunities.  In the off season you can still get a great sense of the operation, since most of the crushing equipment and stills are located outside the small building. See “Historic Distilleries of Tortola".

Callwood's portfolio includesd a popular spiced rum, 4 and 10 year olds, an unaged white rum and the local legend "Panty Dropper" seen at far left.

Callwood claims to be the oldest continuous pot still rum distillery in operation in the Caribbean. It’s not exactly known when it started operation but the style of architecture and bricks of the structures date roughly to the mid-1700s. In the late 1800’s Richard Callwood bought the Arundel Estate for his son, Richard Jr., 3 generations later Michael Callwood is still keeping the family tradition going and preserving an important Tortola cultural and historical site. 

Opinion
The Callwood distillery is a real as they come.  Outside the centuries-old stone building you’ll find an ancient cane crusher driven by long wide leather belt, allowing fresh cane juice to run freely down a cement sluice into original iron coppers.  Around back are small pot stills fired with various pieces of wood, discarded shipping pallets, etc.  Inside, you’ll see large, original glass balloon-shaped bottles used for holding tanks.  Overall, you gain an appreciation for rum making as it once was, and still is, on Tortola’s Cane Garden Bay at Callwood.  Naturally, there’s nothing artificial about the rum produced by Callwood either.

Callwood’s aging barrels appear as if they’ve been around for many decades, and their oak tannins and charcoal filtering properties may have faded somewhat with time and use. Thus, their Arundel four year old rum is not quite as smooth as you might desrire, so in mid-2009 Callwood released a 10 year old Cane Rum to augment their authentic, ancient style four year old. I was hopeful that the 10 year old could squeeze a bit more magic out of those old casks.  The verdict: Darn right they can.  There’s more life in that old wood!

Callwood’s Arundel 10 year old Cane rum shows pleasant aromas of musty cane and damp oak, only slightly sweet, a bit of caramel and green tobacco.  The initial taste is smoother and more full-bodied than their four year old rum, and presents slight oaky flavors with subtle vanilla and sweet butter, in a medium-light body.  No surprises at the finish, which is consistent with the aromas and flavors, but moderates quickly until a longer lasting essence is left on the tongue.

Probably not the most refined spirit in your collection; Callwood’s Arundel 10 year old Cane Rum is nonetheless worth owning.  It‘s the real McCoy, and can only be purchased at the distillery, where you’re treated to a visual feast and a complimentary sip.  You will leave far richer in your appreciation of rum and its production.

Reviewed:  October 2011 at Callwood Distillery on Tortola, BVI.

© Dave Russell 2017