Edwin Charley "Enlightenment"

EC-E-Bottle-Wht 2

Product of:  Jamaica
Aged:  blend of rums aged up to 12 years (estimate)
Price:  $90 (varies widely)
Alcohol: 43% ABV
Sugar: 0g/L
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 8

Tasting Notes
Edwin Charley Enlightenment’s color highlights the figurine inside the bottle and shines like gold in your glass.  A crown of beads forms at the top of the swirl’s residual trace, then form into thin, short-lived legs with a few stragglers left behind.  This is truly one of the most attractive looking rums and presentations available today.  The initial bouquet is fruity and tropical, exhibiting the distiller’s signature aromas in a lighter style, with mild coffee bean, orange peel and grapefruit highlights adding sweetness to the aromas characteristic of  copper pot distillation and resulting dunder.  All of the aromas and a few additional subtleties (mild spices and pepper) are represented in the flavors, but their effect is more immediate - you’re fully aware this is a pot still rum.  Yet, it’s relatively delicate and sophisticated, keeping in step with the collection’s progression.  A medium-weight body quickly conveys the flavors over your tongue and palate, lingering quite a while before a long coppery finish.  The rum exits not sweet, but ultimately leaves a dry sensation that calls out for more.

Compared with it’s Appleton cousins - V/X, Reserve and 12 year old, Edwin Charley Enlightenment tastes more refined.  It makes for a more subtle sipping experience, and puts less edge on a mixed drink.

Regarding Enlightenment, the maker calls it  “Edwin Charley’s tribute to distillation“.  Referring to the curvy pot still figurine mounted inside each bottle, supporting text declares “An art passed down through generations, the tradition and legacy of pt stilled rums is in the imparting of distinct flavours and aromas that make the blend so unique.  The most traditional of our rums, this aged blend imparts a delicate fruity bouquest with subtle hints or orange peel.”  There’s no question Wray & Nephew have successfully delivered a fitting homage to Edwin Charley. 


Edwin Charley Proprietor’s Collection was launched circa 2005 with a series of four rums.  Never produced in large quantities nor intended for a mass market, they have since become eminently collectible due to their exceptional taste and unique bottle design.  Each version is packaged in an individually numbered, hand-blown Venetian glass bottle featuring an exquisite glass figurine inside.  The icons pay homage to the progression of rum; from growing, harvesting, distilling, and culminating in the single-barrel aging of rum.  The figurine inside the Enligtenment bottle is a bulbous pot still, honoring the art of distilling.  The glass itself is almost laboratory quality in its clarity and thin-walled eggshell-like delicacy.  [Note; the price shown in the sidebar is the amount Rum Gallery paid at airport duty shops in Jamaica, Barbados and Turks & Caicos Islands.  Since the rum series was barely exported, expect to pay 2X or more of the price stated here.

J. Wray & Nephew produces Jamaica’s top selling overproof rum under it’s namesake brand, as well as a few other fine rum brands at the Appleton Estate, Jamaica's oldest sugar factory and distillery.  Since 1749, rums have been produced from at least six varieties of meticulously cultivated sugar cane grown on the estate.  The Edwin Charley rums are a blend of pot and column still rums, except the Virtue which is a single barrel column still rum.  They are distilled  from a molasses wash fermented with a proprietary strain of yeast propagated from the sugar cane grown on the Estate.  Sure, you can smell and taste the familial resemblance between Edwin Charley and the other offspring in Wray’s portfolio, but they are developed into unique rums.  


Rum Gallery’s three recommendations - choose one.  

1 – and perhaps most important – make a mission of collecting all four rums in the Edwin Charley series.  They are best understood by sampling them in progression.  They will likely become the most prized bottles in your collection. 

2 – if you have to choose only one rum in the Edwin Charley collection, work backwards within the progression.  In other words, prioritize on Virtue, then Enlightenment, and so on.  After all, the ultimate expression of the maker’s art is arrived at the Virtue stage.

3 – if you are lucky to find any bottles of Edwin Charley, buy three of each.  Why?  Because you will drink one yourself, another you’ll share with friends in a magnanimous demonstration of generosity and respect, and the third bottle will be put on permanent display, never to be opened.

My personal sipping favorite is Virture.  But for pure visiula appeal, Enlighenment’s pot still figurine is pure art.

Edwin Charley Full Series-BLK-RG1

Who was Edwin Charley? 
Joy Spence, Master Blender extraordinaire at J. Wray & Nephew tells The Rum Gallery:  "The series is still in production and Edwin Charley ran his own company which was eventually purchased by J. Wray & Nephew Limited."  

Edwin Charley was a rum and wine producer who made his home in Jamaica from the late 1800’s until at least the 1930‘s.  He was the proprietor of a shop that bore his name in Kingston, Jamaica,.   According to J.Wray & Nephew Ltd (who produce this rum),  “Edwin Charley established a reputation as a merchant of the finest selection of rums.  In spite of being surrounded by such a premium selection, he maintained that no one had yet created the perfect rum and therefore made it his life-long quest to create this.  It was not until he had mastered the art that his rums became highly prized collectibles.  These rums were defined by their mellow and subtle but complex character, a unique style of rum for the time, a taste that has endured.”

Reviewed: June 2013 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

Note:  the price shown in the sidebar is the amount Rum Gallery paid at airport duty shops in Jamiaca, Barbados and Turks & Caicos Islands.  Since the rum series was barely exported, expect to pay 2X or more of the price stated here.

© Dave Russell 2017