Rum Journal: A Secret Jamaican Rum

Above: Smatt’s white and gold rums

APPLETON. J Wray and Nephew. Myers’s. These are the undisputed heavyweight champions of Jamaican rum.

For a fine sipping rum, it’s Appleton (we like the 12 year). For a powerhouse white rum, it’s J Wray & Newphew overproof (or Rum Fire). Of course, there’s also the stratospheric Edwin Charley, also made by Appleton in severely limited numbers, along with a batch of small, mostly unheralded producers. For cocktails, or a floater, it’s Myers’s.

The aforementioned names have traditionally led one of the Caribbean’s most passionate centres of rum for what seems like aeons, until, most recently, the debut of the excellent Blackwell Rum.

But there’s another rum from Jamaica you may not have ever heard of, a rather mysterious, hard-to-find spirit — one that remains something of a secret in Jamaica.

It’s called Smatt’s, named after the pirate Black Jack Smatt.

The largely unknown, small-production brand, the brainchild of Ashley Smatt blended by Jamaican master blender Derrick Dunn, has two varieties: a white and a gold rum, which sources local Jamaican sugarcane and is distilled in a combination of both column and pot stills, with the final product being a blend of rums using both methods.

Smatt’s emphasizes its water, which comes from “natural mineral springs” in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, according to the company. The water is then “filtered through volcanic and limestone rocks to create a pure base element.”

Smatt’s remains something of a secret, still unknown to the wider market save for select shops and bars in London and the like.

We were able to obtain a bottle in Montego Bay, trying the five-years-aged Gold Rum, which comes in a rather beautiful, slightly frosted bottle adorned with an embossed gold ship.

The rum has a classic amber colour, with a strong aroma of oak and molasses.

The flavour profile features strong notes of coconut, charcoal, spice, caramel, pepper, molasses and a hint of oak.

What stands out is the rum’s smoothness — while it has the underlying power typical of a Jamaican rum, the finish is utterly smooth. Very smooth. This is not a full-bodied rum — rather, a lighter-bodied, refined spirit. On the rocks, the rum takes on a quality closer to cognac, slightly richer with stronger hints of charcoal.

Ultimately, it’s a rum that gets better the more you sip it. And that’s always a good thing.

All in all, a very good, elegant rum. We recommend it neat.

The secret is out.

— CJ