Review: S.B.S Jamaica 2018 (DOK)

I’ll mention the fact that this was also reviewed by Ivar De Laat about a month ago on his website. I’ll leave the link here as it is worth reading it here.

S.B.S Jamaica 2018 comes from 1423 – World Class Spirits, a brand that I’ve mentioned before in a few other reviews. This time in my bottle there’s juice from Hampden Distillery, Jamaica… well, I say juice, it’s a bit more than that. Basically this is the Super Saiyan of funk. The marque of this rum is DOK which stands for Dermot Owen Kelly-Lawson – a Hampden distiller from the beginning of the 20th century – and it means it has the maximum amount of esters allowed for export by Jamaica, which is 1500-1600 gr/hL AA. To make a comparison, Wray and Nephew has around 100 to 200 gr/hL AA. As Ivar mentioned as well, this wasn’t meant for drinking, but there is more and more demand for uber-funky rums (Wild Series Dok anyone?) and that made bottlings like this possible.

This is a limited run, just like everything S.B.S (Single Barrel Selection), only 217 bottles out there, made from molasses (and arguably cane juice), wild fermentation, pot still distilled and aged for just 6 months in PX Sherry cask(s). Bottled at a modest 59.7% ABV with no additives or chill filtering. Alright, cracked my knuckles, ready to go!

On the nose… oh boy, the glass is on the desk and I can smell it from here: sweet cherries covered in chocolate, overripe red apples, canned pineapple, Wham Bar, candied banana. The closer I get the more acidic it feels. Getting some citrus – lemon and orange zest along with some black tea. It smells very sweet and rich. My nose is in the glass and I can feel some damp cardboard in the back. If I leave it for longer, the room is going to be filled with the scent, not that I would mind, but someone needs to drink rum around here.

On the palate it is very acidic. Starts sweet and rich upfront just like the nose suggested. Tastes like a tropical salad mixed with some orchard fruits in which someone dropped quite a bit of nail varnish and some cardboard. Rotten bananas, ripe pineapple, sweet apples and raspberries, nail varnish (did I mention nail varnish?), menthol, chocolate again and dry oak towards the end. Reminds me of a chocolate bar I used to eat when I was a kid called “Rom” (Romanian for rum) and it was literally filled with a cream that supposedly tasted like rum… and this is that taste. Was Hampden flavouring my childhood chocolate bar? Probably not, but I’d like to believe so. The finish is long… ok, super long, I’m not joking. I tried this at work with my colleagues and after one hour into making cocktails and tasting them, my colleague told me he can still feel the rum. Estery fruits linger around making this an amazing experience.

This is both the Beauty and the Beast. It won’t be for everyone, especially not for the people that can’t stand Wray. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised, even if it felt quite sharp at the beginning, it quickly got to me. The PX cask does a good job rounding up the flavour and adding a bit of complexity (the orchard fruits I was talking about). Everyone I shared it with (all bartenders) were both impressed and delighted with it and I would happily recommend it to any rum drinker.

If you’re interested in more information about Hampden and their funky rums, this is an article from the CocktailWonk that also helped me write this review.

S.B.S Jamaica 2018 (DOK) score:
Flavour/taste: 58/70
Value for money: 13/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 86/100


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