In Australia The definition of spirits are defined in section 77FI of the Excise Act:
- Rum means a spirit obtained by the distillation of a fermented liquor derived from the products of sugar cane, being distillation carried out in such a manner that the spirit possesses the taste, aroma and other characteristics generally attributed to rum.
and the following considerations
- the manner in which the spirits are distilled, so that they possess certain characteristics generally attributed to the particular spirit (recognising that taste, aroma and characteristics can vary, even within a particular spirit type, for example light rum and dark rum)
- the addition of other ingredients to the spirit post distillation and whether the end product still has the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to the particular spirit, and
- whether the spirits have been matured in wood by storage in wood for at least 2 years.
You may be wondering why I’ve opened a rum review with the above legal excerpt? All will become apparent as we go on but here I have two new bottles. So new in fact that they have not been released for general sale yet.
About a year ago I received a bottle of Canefire Nº5 from the Kimberley Rum Company who are based in the Swan Valley just outside Perth in Western Australia. Not to be confused with the Hoochery Distillery who make Ord River Rum and are based in the Kimberly region of Western Australia. The two distilleries produce rums that are poles apart and I’ve reviewed both of their products before.
So Blair (Or The Bearded Rum Baron) as he’s known contacted me a few weeks ago and told me that he’d sent me another two bottles to sample. A couple of days later they arrived in the post. As before, I was more than grateful to receive the products gratis. I mean, who wouldn’t be? But I also felt a certain amount of trepidation. Obviously I was going to review these rums and again I’d have to be totally impartial in my opinion. Who would have thought free rum could bring you so much stress? Not that I’m complaining of course. I already knew what the Canefire Nº5 was like and it’s a pleasant sip so I kind of guessed that these two new ones would be at least half decent.
A little about each bottle. Each comes in that unique bottle that the previous offering came in. A friend recently asked if the bands that run around the bottle are for grip but I prefer to think that they represent the shape of a barrel. The labels are exactly the same as the previous bottle except that the Nº5 is highlighted in silver and the Nº14 in gold. I love the packaging and it all presents as very professional.
The first thing that I noticed was the huge variation in colour between the two bottles.
The Canefire Nº9 is a golden colour in the bottle whereas the Nº14 is a much darker copper colour.
At this point it’s probably a good idea to explain what each rum actually is.
Firstly Nº9 has been produced from the blend of 9 different unique barrels which were all put down in 2007. All 225 litre French Oak. The blend is made up of rums with a minimum age of 10 years and 27 days.
Nº14 is a blend of 8 different barrels which were all put down in 2003 giving a minimum age of 14 years 2 months and 13 days (to be exact). Again, all 225 litre French oak.
The Kimberly Rum company are releasing 100 bottles of each as “Grey Label” limited pre releases before a further 1000 bottles will be released later in the year. I have no idea how much each will retail for but the limited releases currently retail at a a hefty $279 and $479 Aus respectively and are available on their website.
So why did I feel the need to paste what the definition of rum is in Australia? Well before I go on with the tasting I had better explain that these rums, like the Nº5, are distilled from raw, unrefined sugar. Most rum is either the product of molasses (the by product of sugar manufacturing) or, in the case of agricole rums, from the juice of the the sugar cane itself.
In most other areas of the world where rum is produced, it either needs to be distilled from molasses or sugar cane juice to be termed as rum. When I posted my initial review of Nº5 last year on various forums it created quite a debate as to whether it can be called rum or not due to it being distilled from unrefined sugar. You can read more about the process in my initial review here.
In Australia, Canefire ticks all the boxes to legally be called rum. The definition is admittedly rather broad but if you go further back into Australian history, rum was defined as being produced by the distillation of the by products of sugar cane, including sugar and sugar syrup.
So in Australia at least, this is real rum. I can’t think of any other manufacturer that produces rum from actual sugar but there you go. You can make your own mind up depending on where in the world you come from. As I write this, the guys from Kimberley Rum Company are in America to showcase their products. I’ll be interested to hear how it was received over there.
I guess the most important thing to do now is to try them both.
When I took the photo’s for this article I noticed how the surrounding air filled with delicious sweet caramel/ toffee notes. It was quite noticeable just as the spirit sat in the glasses.
When I first tried them individually a few days later I noticed that both had a very similar profile. Initial nosing gives immediate sherry/ muscat notes. I messaged Blair at The Kimberley Rum Company while I was trying the Nº9 to tell him that was my initial impression and he told me that that would be the big ex-red barrels talking. I have to agree. It’s very noticeable. I didn’t notice any alcohol burn from nosing the Nº9 but there is subtle wood, vanilla and a warm peppery caramel.
On tasting I noticed an initial sweetness that gradually faded to a dryness as it filled the mouth and coated my tongue. The mouth feel was noticeably soft with only a hint of alcohol coming through. I hate to use the word but it’s smooth.
towards the back end there’s a slight brininess and those toffee/ caramel/ sherry notes continue to show themselves. This isn’t a complex rum but it does keep you coming back trying to unpick more of the flavours from the various barrels.
Moving on to the Nº14. Again there’s those fortified wine notes at the forefront and more of the sweet toffee’s and caramel. This is more complex than the Nº9 and much bolder. There’s a lot more going on here and to my palette this is the winner of the two for me. I guess it stands to reason that it’s more complex and flavoursome than the Nº9 given its extra 5 years age. Both rums are reminiscent of Spanish or Latin style “Rons” with their mildness.
The younger rum would be more suited to someone who prefers an easier going expression. It’s a very easy sipper that won’t have any novices screwing their faces up with harsh alcohol notes. The older rum is more robust and bold and both would have their place depending on what mood you were in at the time.
Personally I prefer rums to be more challenging these days and I’d be really interested if they were to release something similar at a higher or barrel proof. I think then we’d be on to something extremely exciting. At the moment though these come in at a standard 40% ABV.
Having said that, they are enjoyable expressions and I can see myself reaching for them when I’d like something “rummy” without being too challenging or “hot”
After a few conversations with various people where it is quite obvious that one mans poison is another mans nectar and vice versa I’ve decided not to score my reviews anymore. It all depends on the individual palette and what styles people enjoy. I’d suggest giving these a try though and my preference would definitely be Canefire Nº14.