Review: Old St. Andrews Admiral’s Cask Dark Rum

Old St. Andrews Fine Spirits is named after Scotland’s golf centre, although they are based in Kent. Their website states that they are bottlers and distributors of “premium and distinctive alcohol brands”, they’ve been in the whisky trade for 75 years and that recently they also started distilling their own spirits. To be honest, scrolling through the website, the packaging of most of the stuff seems a bit gimmicky and the use of words like “premium” and “luxury” doesn’t help at all, but unfortunately it’s what sells – too kitsch for my own taste if anything.

Their latest product is a 5 year old “dark” rum from Panama that comes in a bottle encased by a small plastic barrel. A bit tacky and it looks quite cheap up-close, but I guess it makes for a decent Christmas present. Can’t find much information on the ‘barrel’ other than the age, ABV and country of origin which is not a big deal, but I couldn’t find anything about the distillery or production process online either. On the other side we get the inspiration behind the packaging written on the back of the plastic encasing – Admiral Nelson’s legend.

The bottle encased by the plastic barrel

Here’s the short version: the legend says that after Nelson was killed in 1805 at the battle of Trafalgar they kept his body in a rum barrel in order to preserve it while shipping it back. It is said that the sailors ended up drinking the rum from the barrel containing the body. Quite a grim legend but makes for an interesting story.

It’s also written that the rum takes its flavour from “not less than 5 years cask maturation”. Knowing Panama rum production I’ll assume this is a molasses based rum, column distilled and aged for at least 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks. Bottled at 40% ABV and, although I don’t have a hydrometer, it’s definitely sweetened, but let’s see if it’s worth the £38.

On the nose it smells… well, sweet. Clove syrup, plenty of vanilla, rose petal jam and cheap chocolate. Triple sec, coffee liqueur, mothballs, some tobacco and oak flavours as well. You can feel quite a bit of ethanol even under all that sweetness. It smells like a low-key spiced rum.

On the palate it has a pretty thick texture. Vanilla all the way with notes of milk chocolate, golden syrup, candied melon and marmalade. Sweet coffee, rose liqueur, sweet pumpkin pie, a little bit of oak and hints of cinnamon. I have to say it was more complex on the nose. It’s quite cloying on the palate, I feel the need to drink water after each sip. The finish is short, as expected, with vanilla and ethanol burn.

Yea, pretty boring unfortunately and the £38 price point is simply unjustified. Sweetened/flavoured ethanol that lacks any complexity. The packaging looks nice in the pictures but that’s pretty much it. I really hope their whiskies are better, but the rum is a definite no from me.

Old St. Andrews Admiral’s Cask Dark Rum score:
Flavour/taste: 25/70
Value for money: 4/15
Transparency/purity: 6/15
Overall: 35/100


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