Review: Mhoba Strand’s 101

Mhoba is an estate produced rum (from cane to bottle) at a small distillery near the village of Malalane in South Africa. Since I can’t acces their website at the moment, I got most of my information from Steven James’ Rum Diaries Blog website where he has an in depth article about how Mhoba came to be and how is made – very good read, I fully recommend.

I’m just going to go with the long story short here. Robert Redvers Greaves is the creator of Mhoba Rum, and it was an idea born from the need to capitalise the sugarcane grown on his property in order to keep the property and his father’s mining business going. He started building his own distilling equipment and began experimenting by distilling sugarcane juice slowly improving his spirit. He got his liquor license in 2015 and started making and selling his spirit to the local African market. After receiving positive feedback from some of the big names in the rum world, Robert confidently started selling its spirits abroad.

Mhoba Strand’s 101 is the result of blending a High Ester pot still rum and their woody Select Reserve Glass Cask, all distilled from the juice of the sugarcane.

The High Ester uses dunder, has a 21 days fermentation period with a mix of wild and commercial yeast and it’s distilled in one of the pot stills build by Robert himself. The Select Reserve Glass Cask is sugarcane juice distillate aged for 2 years in glass demijohns containing charred American white oak staves. Ivar from Rum Revelations has an interview with Robert that offers more insight to this, fairly odd, ageing method.

The idea behind this blend was either to add more fruity notes to the woody Glass Cask or more wood to the fruity High Ester. Either way it actually worked pretty good – it was well received by the rum community and now I’m about to dive in as well. Bottled at 58% ABV without any additives or chill filtering.

On the nose a pungent glue aroma jumps out of the glass straight away. Boiled corn, spent ground coffee, pineapple juice, white oak, a savoury tomato sauce note, marmalade and lemon peel. Dark chocolate with a hint of sour cherry and cloves. Intense!

On the palate creamy white oak comes first. White chocolate, white vinegar, apricots and a dry, young, tannic oak flavour that keeps bouncing back and forth while letting the esters come out to play intermittently. Green bananas, ripe pineapples, black tea with a bit of milk, ripe pears and white cacao liqueur. There are so many things going on, like the two distillates in the blend are fighting for dominance but none wins. The finish is fairly long with some oak spice and tannic wood. This is some well funky sugarcane juice rum.

I’ll be honest, first time I tried it I found the balance to be off. But no, it was just my unprepared palate. My only nitpick would be that the aged component feels a tad too young/rushed for me. This is quite intense with the aged part of the blend taming it a little bit while adding more complexity.

An everyday sipper? Most likely not, but more than welcomed when I’m looking for something different which happens more than often.

Many thanks to Steven and Ivar for their insight on the distillery!

Mhoba Strand’s 101 score:
Flavour/taste: 53/70
Value for money: 12/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 80/100


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