While English Harbour Rum has become the signature cane spirit from the island of Antigua, you may not know that the founders of Antigua Distillery Limited actually hailed from the Portuguese island of Madeira off the coast of Africa.
And the company’s newest expression is both an innovation and an homage, the brand’s first cask finish and a nod to its past.
The new English Harbour Small Batch Cask Finish Madeira Cask is the result of five years of aging its traditional rum in bourbon barrels, followed by a finishing in barrels from the Blandy’s Madeira Wine Company.
While the rum world has seen a wave of cask finishes in recent years, most expressions have spent time in either port or sherry casks.
Madeira, another fortified wine, has its own sweet character, and that has found its way into this latest English Harbour rum.
So what’s it like?
Rum Journal obtained a bottle on a recent journey to Antigua to find out.
The English Harbour cask finish has an aroma of white wine and a hint of tropical fruit.
The flavor profile is marked by black pepper, honey, caramel, brown sugar and, unsurprisingly, a slightly dry hint of fortified wine.
The result is, well, a really nice rum. It takes the more pedestrian five-year and turns it into something special, a fine, balanced, eminently drinkable expression — something that would undoubtedly make its founders proud.
Rum Journal Review: 91 points
For more, see our recent look at the English Harbour 10-Year Rum.