IT’S LAST CALL at a far-off Bahamian bar.
You ask again for the rum you’ve been drinking, but the bottle’s empty. The bartender reaches under the counter, pulling out a bottle, unmarked, unnamed. You’re the first to drink it tonight, a member of some well-earned club.
That’s the soul of the Caribbean’s newest rum, Afrohead, a onetime house rum that’s now being shared with the world.
For years, this was a rum served only for guests at the Landing boutique hotel on the Bahamas’ Harbour Island; hand-bottled, unnamed, its only defining characteristic an “afrohead” logo.
Now Afrohead, the brainchild of Joe Farrell, a minority owner at the Landing, along with rum savant Toby Tyler, is being bottled for more than just hotel guests. (The logo is based on Brenda Major-Barry, the property’s majority owner, a former Miss Bahamas).
While it was born in the Bahamas, it’s truly a pan-Caribbean spirit, incorporating elements from Dominican molasses to being blended at Trinidad’s Angostura distillery.
And it’s the latter that comes across, and that’s a rather good thing.
We were able to obtain the Harbour Island Rum Company’s new Afrohead 15-year Old Grand Reserve Rum.
The rum’s aroma was, in a word, wonderful: a fragrant bouquet of sugar, honey and vanilla.
Its flavour profile was dominated by notes of caramel and vanilla, with creeping hints of black pepper and oak and a slight note of licorice.
On the rocks, the flavours opened up, with stronger vanilla, dried fruits and a decided punch of bourbon.
Indeed, they were flavours not unlike many found in the terrific rums of Angostura, but with a brasher, edgier quality.
The finish was smooth yet bold, rich the way a rum should be rich.
This was always something of a secret rum, hidden away at the bar.
And that’s what really comes through: there’s an authenticity to this rum — a truth in the flavours. it tastes like a secret rum, like a rum for a few, like a rum one serves one’s best friends. And it tastes, well, very good.