Review: S.B.S x The UK Rum Club High Ester Jamaican Rum Collection (Part II) – DOK vs NYE-WK

This is part II of my review of The UK Rum Club exclusive High Ester Jamaican Rum Collection pack, you can read part I here for more context, but I’ll repeat myself a bit here because I am nice like that.

Wes Burgin (thefatrumpirate) and Steven James (Rum Diaries Blog) in collaboration with Skylark and put together a set of 4x20cl bottles of unaged Jamaican rums from 4 different distilleries for the members of their Facebook group, The UK Rum Club. The marques of the rums in the set are as it follows:

  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

There were 125 packs in total for £100 each with 10% from each pack going to two charities chosen by the two admins:

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

In this second part I’m having a look at and comparing the DOK (Hampden) and NYE-WK (New Yarmouth), both rocking the maximum level of esters in a rum allowed by the Jamaican government – 1500-1600 g/hlaa. A rum with this amount of esters wasn’t actually meant to be drank, it’s mostly used as a flavouring agent or even in perfumes – a little bit of it goes a long way, just try to pour a dash in your Havana 3. Let’s carry on with part II now, I’m excited.

Hampden DOK vs New Yarmouth NYE-WK

Hampden, situated in the Trewalny parish in Jamaica (same as Long Pond) was established in 1753 as a sugar plantation and 1779 saw its Great House built on the estate which also served as a rum store. Since 2009 and to this day Hampden has been owned by Everglades Farms Ltd. which is owned by the Hussey family. They have invested in the distillery and started selling under their own label (Rum Fire and Hampden), as opposed to just in bulk to other blenders or labels. Feel free to visit their website for more details.

If there’s a distillery in Jamaica most associated with funk, that would arguably be Hampden, and for a good reason. They uses dunder and muck pits, practices kept for over 150 years. Their fermentation area seems to have its own microhabitat of bacteria, mold and whatnot which contribute to the flavour and intensity of the Hampden rums.

The DOK marque stands for Dermot Owen Kelly-Lawson who owned Hampden estate back in 1827 and is the highest in ester count they produce – I wonder if they could reach higher levels if it was allowed. I have previously reviewed another DOK also from S.B.S, check it out here.

Molasses based, DOK (or The Beauty & The Beast as I like to call it) uses long wild fermentation (presumably weeks) with the addition of dunder, muck and cane juice in order to reach that 4 digit ester count after the pot still distillation. Bottled at 57% ABV and un-meddled with.

On the nose DOK reminds me quite a bit of mezcal, but richer and more intense. Luxardo cherries sprayed with paint stripper and dipped in an ashtray – in a good way. Agave syrup, cacao nibs, canned pineapple in syrup and raspberry puree. Feels vegetal, medicinal and fruity. Almonds, camomile tea, plums, juniper and cloves. Although it seems inviting to me now, I’d be reluctant to try it if I didn’t know what it was.

On the palate the intensity continues – a shot of Wray Overproof would be an aperitif for this. Romanian plum brandy (palinca), orgeat and cinnamon. Overripe pineapple, peach puree and a very grab-you-by-the-balls-intense acetone note. Oddly enough there’s an oaky profile to it, although (similar to me) no maturation occurred. Raisins, strawberry jam, watermelon, milk chocolate and cayenne pepper. The finish is, as expected, long with notes of sweet pineapple, fiery sweet chilly and nail varnish lingering.

Intensity is dialed to 21 here, it’s mind numbing (in more than one way) that such flavoursome unaged rums exist. It can be overwhelming at times, but if you can get into it you’ll be hooked… My favourite game will be to give this to various people to taste and record their reaction. On to the New Yarmouth.

New Yarmouth, situated in the Clarendon parish in Jamaica, was present as an estate in the 1700s and owned by John Carver. It changed ownership a few times over time and nowadays is owned along with Appleton Estate by J. Wray & Nephew Ltd. which is owned by the Campari Group. New Yarmouth is not a distillery you’ll hear much of, in fact I have trouble finding any information online about it, but this is where J. Wray & Nephew Overproof is made – the best selling rum on the island, owning 80% of the market and well ingrained in the Jamaican culture.

While they also sell in bulk, finding a New Yarmouth IB in the wild is no easy task (for now anyway), moreso an unaged NYE-WK which, same as the DOK, clocks in at 1500/1600 gr/hlaa – to put in perspective J. Wray has around 200 g/hlaa. The distillery operates both pot and column stills and I have no details regarding the production process, although there are rumors that NY has a muck pit. Please get in touch with me if you have more information.

NYE-WK stands for New Yarmouth Estate Winston Kennedy.

Molasses based, NYE-WK presumably uses a long wild fermentation and potentially muck/dunder and after (presumably again) is pot still distilled. Also bottled at 57% ABV free of any additives.

On the nose NYE-WK seems sharper with less perceived sweetness, but still mezcalish. Acetone, chalk, freshly baked bread, pear brandy, lime and grapefruit zests. Violet liqueur, cardamom and almonds. Some ground coffee, nutmeg and stone fruits – most notably apricot. Feels very medicinal, like I just walked into a hospital.

On the palate is quite spicy and savoury. Jalapenos, green Tabasco, tomato juice, dill, balsamic vinegar and black olives – I’ll have to grab a snack after this. Ripe pears, fresh strawberries, plums, peaches and some vanilla. It doesn’t seem very “polite”, but I still want more. Nail varnish, grapefruit zest, black pepper, mothballs and cocoa nibs. Finish is long with grapefruit, pastry and green chillies.

As I said the NYE-WK is more savoury, hot and slightly bitter at times, I can’t say it tastes like Wray, but it’s definitely closer in profile than the DOK – which makes sense since it is the same distillery. Definitely a very interesting one to try and surprisingly different from the DOK even if they are similar in ester counts – shows that ester levels are not indicators of flavour profile, just intensity.

I’ve tried the DOK marque before and this is the first time I’ve had NYE-WK and I’ll have to say the DOK (barely) wins due to the richness I find in it. They’re both megalodons intensity-wise, but I think the DOK is slightly more complex. Beautiful stuff and I’m very happy to have this set, moreso since buying this contributed to charity as well. It looks like the next UKRC exclusive set will take into consideration the input of the members as well – exciting times ahead!

Once again well done Steven and Wes!

Read part I of the review here.

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

S.B.S NYE-WK New Yarmouth score:
Flavour/taste: 55/70
Value for money: 17/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 87/100


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