English Harbour Reserve (10 Year Old)

English Harbour 10 year old rum

Product of:  Antigua
Aged:  10 years
Price:  $65 on Antigua duty free
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
Sugar: 0 g/L
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 9

Tasting Notes
Extremely Smooth.  Medium dark amber colored, English Harbour Reserve 10 Year Old is ever so slightly darker than the 5 year, and just a half shade lighter than the discontinued Extra Old.  Once poured, beautiful legs leave evidence of a healthy viscosity on the sides of your tasting glass. On the nose, its heavenly sweet, light with sugar cane grass and a predominant praline vanilla scent, followed by oak, buttery light caramel, dried fruit, a hint of alcohol and
 a copper texture (from the still).  A full-bodied and viscous body remains true to the aromas, with harmoniously layered flavors of vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, cardamom bring a warm and smooth pleasure.  A delightfully long finish delivers a delayed sweet warming to the back of your mouth and throat, eliciting an audible mmmmm.   

The Rum Gallery had been anticipating the release of English Harbour 10 Year Old ever since my visit to Antigua in early 2007.   I wasn't disappointed, and I'm just as pleased now, even as the price has fluctuated dramitcally while Antigua Distiller's Ltd seeks the 
market's sweet spot for the their excellent 10 year old product.  

English Harbour rum begins with molasses imported from the Dominican Republic and Guyana, while the DR source is preferred for it’s  higher sugar content (55-58%).  Baker’s yeast is used to initiate fermentation.  Anthony Bento, Managing Director of Antigua Distillers Ltd’s explains this is why English Harbour rums have their wonderful bready flavor.  Some airborne wild yeast also enters the open-top fermentation tanks, potentially giving an additional, if somewhat random, complexity. 

ADL Copper Column Still & Inspection Windows

ADL’s continuous, copper three-column still is located near St. John’s harbour on the ruins of an old fort called the Citadel, kissing the Caribbean Sea.  Mr. Bento claims this location imparts the slightest hint of sea and salt notes to the rum, and I wouldn’t argue with him. 

The fermented wash is distilled in a copper, three-column continuous still that was refurbished in 1991, making it the youngest of it’s type in the Caribbean.  Spirit comes off the still at 95.7-96% ABV, with a rather low, less pungent ester count of about 12 grams per 100 liters, as described by Technical Manager Moya.  She shoudl know, having spent time producing very high-ester rums on Jamaica prior to joining the ADL team.  The spirit is usually aged at 70% ABV, although ADL is slowly reducing this to between 62-65% ABV.  

English Harbour 10 Year Old is aged for a minimum of 10 years in used, ex-Jack Daniels barrels.  About two pounds of oak chips are added to each barrel of rum to provide natural color and flavor.  Barrels see no more than two rounds of aging for the 10 Year Old rum, and the Angels take their share of 40% during that time.  Blending the 10 Year Old product endures about 8-10 weeks of Master Blender Kevin Semple’s patient tending, and the rum is diluted with water produced through reverse osmosis prior to bottling.

English Harbour, Antigua

Antigua rums command an enigmatically envious position between light and full bodied.  English Harbour Reserve 10 Year Old rum is simply delectable.  It’s also a bargain.  It’s predecessor, Extra Old, was my first (rum) love, the one that started me in this adventure, and the 10 year old nearly steals my heart now.  I collect English Harbour Reserve every time I visit Antigua, and will forever consider myself fortunate to drink such exquisite rum.  English Harbour Reserve 10 year old rum is difficult to find, and high priced off of Antigua, but it’s worth it.

ReviewedReviewed: Repeatedly in October 2012 at ADL's tasting room on Antigua, October 2011 while sailing around Antigua and Barbuda, and in December 2008 at the Rum Gallery, USA.  Left: English Harbor from Shirley Heights.

© Dave Russell 2017