Jack Tarr

Jack Tar-RG2-USE

Product of:  South Africa, distilled in Jamaica and Guyana
Aged:  Undeclared (estimate 3-5 years)
Price: $16
Alcohol: 43% ABV 
Sugar: 0-5 g/L (estimate)
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 7

Tasting Notes
Jack Tarr shows a copper-tangerine color (oak and caramel derived?).  Swirling produces quick forming legs that run at a moderate pace

The bouquet is dual natured; sweet and fruity like many Guyanese rums while exuding the funk that we love from dunder-rich Jamaican rums.  Next come aggressive aromas of esters we normally associate with copper-pot distillation or from column stills when the cuts aren’t too discriminating.  Edgy fusel scents and woody vanillins from aging barrels balance well, but you can’t charge Jack Tarr with being overly-oaked.  Fruity esters reminiscent of pineapple, overripe banana peel, mango and papaya fruits offer interesting contrast. Jack Tar is more about drinking then sniffing however, and here the deckhand really delivers.  The initial taste is a bit sweet of caramel and slightly astringent, with bold flavors consistent with the style of Jamaica and Guyana.  The medium-weight body rides on a waxy texture, while the finish is just off-dry, with a lingering spiciness.

Jack Tar was a respectful term for a seamen in thee Royal Navy, and came to be common slang for accomplished deckhands during the age of sail.  A Jack (or Manjack) was a sailor, and Tar was made from the pitch of pine or fir trees.  In the age of sail, lines (“ropes” to landlubbers) were made of natural fiber, such as hemp. Tar was applied to lines to make them resistant to sun damage and/or reduce chafe, prolonging their useful life.  Tar was also mixed with loose fibers, called Oakum, and used as caulk by stuffing it into gaps in a ship’s planking to make it watertight.  Tar was worked into the coarse-weave of garments worn by sailors, making their clothing water resistant.  Tarpaulin is an example. 

The daily Rum Tot officially rationed to sailors (Jack Tars) of the Royal Navy is generally thought to have been a blend of heavy rums sourced from Jamaica and Guyana, perhaps similar to the rum reviewed here.  It was stored onboard in barrels at “Navy Strength,” i.e.; greater than 57% ABV.  That %ABV was “proofed” by igniting grains of gunpowder in the rum.  If the gunpowder didn’t ignite, the rum had insufficient alcohol content.  Gunpowder accidentally contaminated by weak rum could render a ship’s guns powerless.  “Keep you powder dry.”

Jack Tarr is a hard working deckhand of a rum, rushing your palate with strong flavors, but also enticing the tongue with sweet caramel.  Sip it when you want a bracing rum, otherwise it works wonders in so many classic Tiki drinks that need bold and funky rummy flavor.  It’s made for MaiTai's.  Seriously, don’t let the low-value label and lack of story dissuade you; this is a big rum.  At the price, Jack Tarr deserves consideration for a place in your rum bar.

Reviewed:  July 2015 at The Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017