Review: S.B.S x The UK Rum Club High Ester Jamaican Rum Collection (Part I) – STC^E vs WPE

In the vast, scary space that is Facebook there is a rum focused UK centered group of misfits appropriately called The UK Rum Club. The admins there, Wes Burgin aka thefatrumpirate and Steven James aka Rum Diaries Blog joined forces with Indy Anand, Chetan Landwa & Jaz Singh aka Skylark Spirits and Joshua Singh aka to bring the members of the said group a small collection of unaged* rums from Jamaica with various high ester marques for educational purposes and badass Daiquiris.

*no casks were harmed in the making of these rums.

The S.B.S (Single Barrel Selection) range from 1423 World Class Spirits is well known among rum enthusiasts for their limited single cask offerings and they are one my favourite independent bottlers out there – just check my S.B.S Australia review. The High Ester Jamaican Rum Collection is exclusive for the members of The UK Rum Club, but in a similar format you can find the S.B.S Experimental Cask Series at online retailers such as Master Of Malt for £120 each if you want to see how different casks can impact the flavour profile of a rum – the Hampden DOK one looks really good if anyone is looking to buy me a Christmas present.

The UK Rum Club set was £100 and 10% from each pack sold (125 in total) went to two charities chosen by the aforementioned admins:

  • MyAware – Fighting Myasthenia – chosen by Steven James
  • CHUF – Children’s Heart Unit Foundation – chosen by Wes Burgin

A marque is attributed to a distillate with a certain ester count and flavour profile, a recipe if you’d like. You can find a list of all the Jamaican marques here, courtesy of the Cocktail Wonk. The pack contains 4x200ml bottles of 57% ABV unadulterated funk from 4 different marques with various ester levels – measured in grams per hectolitre of pure alcohol:

  1. WPE from Worthy Park – 600-800 g/hlaa
  2. STC^E from Long Pond – 550-700 g/hlaa
  3. NYE-WK from New Yarmouth – 1500-1600 g/hlaa
  4. DOK from Hampden – 1500-1600 g/hlaa

I chose to review this pack in 2 parts because I wanted to pair the ones closer in ester counts in order to avoid comparing apples and pears… or bananas and rotten pineapples – so here’s part I.

Long Pond STC^E vs Worthy Park WPE

Long Pond, situated in the Trewalny parish in Jamaica was established in 1753 with a sugar factory and a distillery. While it had various owners, it’s worth mentioning that in 1953 Seagrams acquired Long Pond from the Jamaican government for their Captain Morgan rum. Today it’s owned by the National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ) which is owned in equal parts by the Jamaican government, Maison Ferrand and Demerara Distillers Limited.

Long Pond is known for their high esters rums and practices such as the use of muck pits and dunder (stillage) in order to supercharge the acid levels during fermentation. According to the Cocktail Wonk, the Long Pond distillery was closed between 2012 and 2017 due to environmental concerns especially regarding the disposal of the waste dunder.

The STC^E (Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate) is a marque previously made at the Cambridge Distillery which was closed in 1947. Unfortunately Long Pond doesn’t have its own brand and usually is bottled by IBs (Velier for example) or used in various blends.

Molasses based, STC^E uses long fermentation with the addition of muck and dunder to get the hogo going and then it’s pot still distilled. Bottled unaged at 57% ABV and free of additives.

On the nose the STC^E is… well… funky. Superglue, tomatoes, liquorice and rubber. There’s a sharp grapefruit note to it. Candied bananas in the background along with some strawberry jam. Cardamom, cayenne pepper and pears.

On the palate it reminds me a bit of HERR 57 from Savanna. The strawberry note comes back strong along with the grapefruit zest and some freshly baked bread. White pepper, peppermint, pineapple juice and Luxardo cherries. Very intense, a shot of Bacardi Carta Blanca is just expensive still water next to this. Pear brandy, green apples, glue, some parma violets and a drop of smokiness. The finish is long with nail varnish and pineapple.

Oh my, the complexity is beautiful. And the balance between the sweet, citrus and spice is great, with the funk spiking above that. Let’s see the WPE now.

Worthy Park, situated in the St. Catherine parish was established in 1670 as an estate, in 1720 started sugar production and in the 1740s started distilling rum. The estate was owned by three different families over time with the Clarke family being in charge of it since 1918.

Although sugar production carried on uninterrupted to this day, unfortunately not the same can be said about the rum distilling. In 1962 rum production at Worthy Park ceased due to an over supply of Jamaican rum after the World War II. Fortunately the Clarke family decided to resume distilling and in 2005 the distillery was equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and good to go. Unlike Long Pond, Worthy Park released its own distillery brands like Rum-Bar and Worthy Park although it can also be found in various blends or IBs. Visit their website for more information.

While WP do not produce Super-Saiyan-funk rums, their WPE (Worthy Park Extra) is still not to be messed with. It’s the funkiest rum they produce with a count up to 800g/hlaa, and they make it without using dunder or muck – they do a 90 days yeast propagation period before the wild fermentation to supercharge the yeast production.

Molasses based, WPE uses a 3 week long wild fermentation in open vats and then it’s pot still distilled. Also bottled at 57% ABV and free of additives.

On the nose seems a bit more tame and balanced than the STC^E. Grapefruit juice and a sandwich made with fresh bread, margarine, banana and glue – a champion’s breakfast. Lime zest, raspberries, biscuits, sea salt and white pepper. Some brasso and nail varnish as well.

On the palate this is familiar. English Breakfast tea, ripe banana, freshly baked bread and grapefruit zest. Toffee, cacao and raspberry jam. A touch of anise, cardamom and vanilla. So drinkable despite the ABV and intensity. Some bell pepper, balsamic vinegar and white pepper. The finish is long with banana and dark chocolate.

It’s crazy how easy it is to recognise the Worthy Park flavour and only now I realise just how much of the flavour comes from the distillate rather than the cask for the aged expressions. This is even more balanced, funk included, the flavours just seem more leveled than the STC^E.

Who was on the Zoom tasting session the other day with these rums knows I preferred the STC^E over all the others and I still stand by it. While the WPE is formidable and I love it, the STC^E just seem a bit more odd and interesting while not kicking me in the face with a safety boot. That being said they are both fantastic and the pack overall was amazing value for money, especially given the charity bit as well.

Well done Wes and Steven!

Click here for part 2 of the review featuring the monsters in the set.

S.B.S STC^E Long Pond score:
Flavour/taste: 58/70
Value for money: 17/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 90/100

S.B.S WPE Worthy Park score:
Flavour/taste: 56/70
Value for money: 17/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 88/100


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