John Watling's Amber Rum

John Watling's Amber 3YO-RG1

Product of:  Nassau, Bahamas
Aged:  up to 3 years
Price:  $35 (incl. 7.5% VAT)
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Sugar: 0-5 g/L (estimate)
Context:  Premium Pale Rum  
RG Rating: 8.5

Tasting Notes 
Bright color of pale bright gold in a proper tasting glass, and slightly darker shade of amber in the bottle.  Appearance:  swirling quickly produces a thorough leg presentation of moderate duration, with good structure and longevity for an unsweetened 3 year old rum. 

Sniffing reveals the tell-tale pungent funk we love about pot still rums, above average esterification, plenty of phenol and a waxy paraffin nasal texture, then lesser oily scents and slightly over-ripe tropical fruit (banana peel, mango).  Some understated nutmeg, vanilla and caramel round out the rum’s olfactory character.

The initial taste brings the banana and fruity enters into sharp relief against the heavier pot still aromatics; John Watling’s Amber is surprisingly complex considering its relatively young three years. The medium-bodied rum offers a substantial presence on the palate, while the finish combines mild fruit with molasses spirit and a little wood char.

Guillermo “Billy” Lay, the Master Blender
for John Watling’s Distillery elaborates on his creation: “John Watling's Amber 3-year old rum is a blend of pot-distilled and column-distilled rums.  My strategy was to develop a balanced rum that could stand alone as well impart character when mixed in cocktails.  It took some trial and error (albeit enjoyable!) to arrive at an equilibrium that achieved this.  I find that hybrids like this one (pot and column blends) can offer the best of both worlds.”

John Watling's Buena Vista Cap-RG1-

John Watling’s Amber rum is aged in oak barrels once used to age Jack Daniels bourbon.  Before bottling, the rum is filtered through charcoal made from burned coconut husks. 

Packaging is the same across all the John Watling’s expressions, and it leaves a potent impression.  The hefty glass bottle has a weighty feel due to its 3/4 thick base, yet its rising outward taper and waisted neck makes it slip-proof in your hands and easy to pour from.  The hand-woven sisal plait collar around the neck and thick thick wooden cap are nice finishing touches.

I love how the fresh pot-still aromas alert your senses to John Watling’s Amber rum before the more supple column-distilled character takes over during the tasting.  Yes, the rum has a dual nature; heavily aromatic yet very smooth body, and all in a good way.  This rum keeps you interested sip after sip.  Or work it into tailor-made  cocktails that allow its funk to shine, and others that reward a soft streamlined body of flavor.

John Watling’s positions their 3 year old Amber expression as a mixing rum for use in the ‘finest Bahamian cocktails.”  While it adds a certain depth of character to a fruity rum punches or a Goombay Smash (Bahamas national drink).  However, it’s got enough old-World oomph and robust flavor in it’s personality that I prefer to sip it neat.

Reviewed: February 2015 at the John Watling’s facility on Nassau, then bottle No. 22837 was sampled in September 2015 at The Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017