Charley's JB Overproof Rum

Charley's JB Overproof Rum-iP-OK-USE

Product of: Jamaica
Aged:  NA
Price: $9.60 on Jamaica (avg.)
Alcohol: 63% ABV
Context: Overproof Rum
RG Rating: 9

Tasting Notes
Sipping Charley’s JB with all the moderation that overproof rums demand reveals a big rum that's very smooth in the throat.  A very pale straw colored rum while in the bottle gives the appearance of aging for a year or so, but JB is clear as a bell in your glass.  Visually, ample legs foretell of a pot-distilled rum laden with fusels and other aromatics.  In the nose, the single word Organic suffices.  In greater detail, the bittersweet bouquet associated with rotting and decay gives way quickly to sweet ethanol, grassy/vegetal cane, and heady, high ester pungent aromas of  dunder and tropical fruit, telling you in no uncertain terms this is a serious rum.  The initial taste is disarmingly smooth, mellow, and sweet, the bite in the nose is thoroughly softened on your palate with a fully refined flavor.  Diluting with water to about 30% ABV removes some heat while softening and sweetening the aromas, making them more approachable.  Mind you, JB packs a strong wallop of flavor, but honestly, you can sip it in moderation. A heavy, creamy, tongue-coating body lingers elegantly before finishing slightly sweet and mildly warm, as any fine overproof should do.  JB comes in like a lion but leaves like a lamb, a Trojan Horse in reverse. 

High ester overproof rums have their own unique bouquet, aromas and flavors, generally making them an acquired taste.  Or perhaps for most people, a taste never to be acquired.  They are hardcore, delivering a lot of musty flavor in a category of rum that is usually valued more for it’s high octane and absence of flavor resulting from clean distillation.  The closest thing the other side of Jamaica to JB is River’s Royal Grenadan rum from the equally old world River Antoine distillery on Grenada.  

When I first spied JB overproof rum, I figured the initials stood for “Jugs & Booty” judging by the poster shown below.  Even more risque posters advertising Jamaica’s other overproof rums were papered all over hundreds of the islands rumshops.  Alas, my conclusion about the acronym was  simultaneously too hasty yet insufficiently crude.  You see, on Jamaica, JB is referred to as by the locals humorously as Johncrow Batty, the words pronounced rapidly and and with a healthy dose of sarcasm.  Johncrow Batty is the nickname for any rum that has been bootleg tapped from a local distillery, aka: the mysterious pipe out to the cane fields that nobody admits to.  You could think of it as Jamaican moonshine, with similar inconsistencies from distillery to distillery.  

Distilled and bottled in Jamaica for the Trelawney Rum Company.

JB Rum Poster-iP-USE

As you might guess, the name is none too flattering.  “Johncrow” refers to the black birds pictured in flight high on the label.  Known as  Vultures in North America, it’s Johncrow on Jamaica.  “Batty” refers to the ass of the bird, and the rum is the smell and juice that flows from thence.  [Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.]  Obviously, this is not a complimentary reference.  But step into any local Jamaican rumshop and demonstrate your local knowledge by asking for Johncrow Batty and Ting or Cola, and you will definitely receive a few smirks, a knowing glance, or an eyebrow raised in surprise/respect.  It’s worth the theater.   

JB is the real deal, more flavorful than other Jamaican overproof rums, and just to my liking,  “When in Rome…” is how I roll.  I discovered JB overproof during a distillery tour of Jamaica in January 2012, when it quickly became one of my go-to rums.  During a day spent liming away the time with my travel buddies in several local rum shops between Negril and Mo Bay, I found myself gravitating to the extra flavor and camaraderie that JB delivers.    Flavor and friends is, after all, why we drink.Opinion

Reviewed:  January 2012 at various local bars while touring Jamaica.  My opinion was confirmed while sampling JB at the Rum Gallery in April 2012.

© Dave Russell 2017