English Harbour Extra Old (Discontinued late 2007)

Englich Harbour Extra Old

Product of:  Antigua
Aged:  up to 21 years
Price: $30 on Antigua
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
Sugar: 0 g/L
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 9.5

Tasting Notes
Extremely Smooth.  All the intoxicating flavors and smells of the Windward Islands are exuded in this medium-dark amber colored rum. On your nose, moderate vanilla, caramel, oak, nutmeg, and coconut command you: "Drink me now to get my full effect!" OK, I'm in, you say to yourself, and then experience mellow flavors consistent with the invitation. Hospitably forward yet well balanced, with distinct flavors that prove this is a loyal Island Rum, with a pleasing, unburdened finish telling you to come back -- soon, and often.

Anecdotes
English Harbour rum is where my tasting of this fine spirit began.  It will always hold a special place in my heart and on my palate.  English Harbour opened my senses to the fine sippin' going on in the West Indies.  During my first sail in the Caribbean, I became a big fan of the local Island beers like Piton, Carib, Presidenté, Polar, and Red Stripe.  Not long after, I found myself setting sail from Antigua, and figured I would investigate their rums too.  Confused by the sheer number of brands and styles, I followed one of my rules of thumb, "When in Rome…" and asked for a recommendation at the local Quin Farara liquor store in Heritage Quay. Without hesitation and with a knowing look, the salesman steered me to his favorite; a bottle of English Harbour Extra Old. He affirmed that it was very smooth, ideal for sipping, 21 years old and a bargain at only $25. Convinced, I stashed it away on the boat. 

Mandalay

As the sails were hoisted for that night's journey south to Nevis, the sun began to set on the horizon and I desired something more serious than beer. English Harbour beckoned.

Once uncorked, I took a large brave sip and prepared myself for that certain bracing jolt. Instead, I was greeted with the most pleasing aromas and flavors, capturing the best taste of the Caribbean. Spices and sweet molasses were delivered with a friendly intensity that told me I could enjoy rum on my own terms.  The crew and I finished that bottle over the next several nights, and I came home without another. I never found this wonderful copper distilled rum the 'States, but a couple of years later I returned to Antigua, and came home with plenty.  In 2007, Antigua Distillers revamped their rum portfolio, introduced a new 10 year old Reserve and a 1981 vintage 25 year old rum.  Extra Old was discontinued.  Thankfully I still have a small stash this “seed rum”.

Opinion
English Harbour Extra Old is no longer being produced.  On the odd chance you stumble across an unopened bottle somewhere, buy it.  Or get ahold of me and I’ll buy it.  English Harbour rum is the closest you can get to the Antigua without actually being there, and it will make you dream of returning with every sip.

Reviewed:  June 2006 at the Rum Gallery, USA.  Updated December 2011.

© Dave Russell 2017