Wow, here we are in November already and I’ve just realised that my last post was way back in June. No excuses but this year has just flown by in the wink of an eye and work and rum adventures have been keeping me busy. One thing that hasn’t changed though is my interest in Aussie rums and the last six months has seen a number of new releases from all over the country arrive at home which I’ve naturally been putting to the test.
I’ve got some catching up to do with tasting notes and jotting down my thoughts on each one so where better place to start than this newly arrived fire cracker from Baker Williams Distillery?
So admittedly, up until about a month ago I hadn’t even heard of this distillery until I stumbled across a link on a facebook page. Located in Mudgee, New South Wales, their website declares “Micro Flavour, Macro taste” which I’ll get onto in a while. The distillery is run by Helen Baker and Nathan Williams. (Hence the name). As a side note, and for what it’s worth, I like the name “Baker Williams”. To me it sounds a little bit classy or fancy. The kind of brand name you might find in upmarket department store food sections maybe.
Baker Williams, like a lot of micro distilleries in Australia, also produce numerous liqueurs, Gin and Vodka and an intriguing spirit called “Wildcard”. A friend recently commented to me that they are always weary of rum distillries that also branch out into other products. To me though it makes perfect sense. I doubt that any small, family distillery would be able to survive by just producing one product so as long as the rum is good quality then I’m all for it. Besides, I’ve generally found that someone producing good rums will also be producing good gin or whisky too.
The rum is simply labelled “Single Barrel RUM” and it turns out that this single barrel, first release is limited to 99 bottles. (I happen to have bottle 34). It comes in a nice, heavy bottomed, square 500ml bottle. A really pleasant surprise is that they have decided to release it at a whopping 65.3%abv. At that strength I’m guessing that Baker and Williams had a particular customer base in mind.
On their website they describe the rum like this;
“Born of a chance passing of the Sunshine Sugar Refinery at Harwood in northern NSW. What started as a spontaneous whim, is now a fantastic product.
We’d thought of running rum but all of the available supplies of Molasses had been sourced from up north (Qld) and we didn’t feel that was right – when a NSW molasses was in sight we had to go for it.
Fermented and distilled in Mudgee, aged in a virgin Bourbon cask for two years, this dark Caribbean style rum is a study in balance. Sweetness originating from blackstrap molasses carried over from distillation, has been tempered with well integrated but robust american oak.
The aroma is dark caramel, maple and, dare we say, butterscotch. The flavour is pine needles, dried fruit, orange peel and a subtle nutmeg finish.”
I like the fact that they’ve sourced the molasses locally rather than the probably more readily available molasses from Queensland. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Queensland molasses I might add). It adds to the whole artisan feel.
When I first peeled away the wax seal (something that always seems a shame to do but also wholly satisfying) I first noticed what looks like a chalked “34” on top of the cork. Possibly left over from when the bottles were being counted and I’m sure not left there intentionally but it kind of provided a tangible link back to the distillery and the fact that this has been hand bottled and labeled.
Removing the cork and there were immediate notes of lovely warm toffee in the air. The aroma almost burst out of the bottle and filled the air around me. In the glass all the aromas that I’d expect were there. Toffee/ caramel/ butterscotch and a faint hint of cherries. Almost like a cherry liqueur sitting open in the back ground.
I initially dove straight in neat and…. BOOM!!! Massive flavours. Even at cask strength I wasn’t expecting such a huge flavour profile. They are not exaggerating when they claim “Macro taste” this is like a huge bomb of concentrated flavours. They all came rushing at once and it took a few seconds to settle down and be able to dissect what was going on. I found a brilliant combination of butter menthol, peppercorns, a slight brininess and warm toffee undertones. This is a dry rum with layer after layer of flavour that just keeps coming. Fearing that my taste buds were going to go into melt down, I toned everything down slightly with a few drops of water. The same flavours were all there but now slightly more subtle and the wood began to make an appearance. Aged for just two years, I wasn’t expecting too much of the wood to show through but what is there is beautifully balanced and just right. The oak shone through on the finish and although not exceedingly long it lingered long enough without giving you that taste like you’d been chewing on barrel staves.
So okay, this is obviously a limited run and I can only imagine that it won’t last long once family and friends of the creators have all grabbed a bottle. I really hope that there is more to come as this is genuinely a delicious rum.
I’ll even go out on a limb and say this is possibly one of the nicest and most exciting Australian rums currently available.