Edwin Charley "Transformation" 

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Product of:  Jamaica
Aged:  less than 2 years
Price:  $74 (varies widely)
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Sugar: 0g/L
Context:  Premium White Rum
RG Rating: 9

Tasting Notes
Extremely smooth.  Edwin Charley Transformation is as crystal clear as the thin-walled Venetian glass it’s poured from - all the better for gazing at the sugarcane cutter figurine inside.  Legs are many and form at a moderately lazy pace before dripping in thin columns, leaving behind several clinging droplets that help the aromas to exhale.  Then, Transformation gives off a crisp, clean aromas of lemon citrus,  orange zest, mild vanilla and coconut husk with a suggestion of molasses and the slightest hint of coffee bean (more like a Latte).  Just like the aromas, the initial taste is surprisingly delicate.  The medium weight body supports slightly sweet, coconut and vanilla flavors balanced by mild white pepper and a waxy/creamy texture. Transformation holds it’s own against any of the premium aged white rums.  The finish is incredibly smooth, too short-lived, but lingers like a solicitous whisper. 

Anecdotes
Edwin Charley Transformation is a blend of Pot and column distilled rums, aged then filtered to remove color and ensure clarity.

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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 Foundation bottle is a sugarcane stalk, honoring the plant itself.  The glass itself is almost laboratory quality in its clarity and thin-walled eggshell-like delicacy.  

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. 

Opinion
Each of the four rums in the Edwin Charley connoisseur series is collectible in it’s own right, most notably for it’s individually excellent aromas and flavor taste and the beautiful bottle.  But they are even more collectible as a series.  Get one in the series, and soon you’ll be looking to add the other three to the top of your “Acquire” list.  Displayed in sequence, they tell the story of rum in four artistic chapters.  Foundation (chapter 1) and Virtue (chapter 4) bookend the series, and are on my “Hoard” list.    Transformation (chapter 2) and Enlightenment (chapter 3) are necessary to complete the story, but are not as definitively excellent as their siblings.

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We normally think of white rums as mixers, good for little more than the alcohol they bring to the party.  Yet Transformation is too precious and delicate to bury in fruity rum punch or waste in cola.  Sip it neat, on ice, or with a small citrus enhancer, looking at the cane harvester icon in the bottle and realize he’s a genie who took mother nature’s best and began her transformation to something delectable. 

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."  

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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: September 2014 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