Review: Robert Watson’s Demerara Rum

I’ve ordered a few bottles of this last month as I wanted to make myself a batch or two of hot buttered rum punch* and needed a “dark” rum, so I decided to keep a sample for review at a later time.

*For the record, the punch was in the decent-but-needs-working range.

Went deep onto the web (page 5 of Google search) to try and find some information and besides a couple old reviews from thefatrumpirate and The Lone Caner, there’s nothing but a general description: “A blend of Demerara rums from Guyana. The rums are matured in Guyana before blending.”.

A comment on Lance’s review says that Robert Watson’s Demerara rum was founded in the late 1940s by… well… Robert Watson – but there was no follow-up on that claim. Nowadays the rum, which is blended in Scotland and appears to be popular there, is owned by the Ian Macleod company which was established in 1933.

The rum looks very dark, someone definitely dropped the caramel colouring bucket in the blending vat. This “dark” or “old navy” style was and, while I’d say less now, still is in demand in the UK for its rich, caramely, bitter character – the fact that they are affordable might have something to do with that as well. The back label states that “Watson’s Demerara is a mature pot still rum from Guyana”, which seems quite improbable given the price… I mean, could this be comprised entirely of distillates from the legendary Port Mourant and/or Versailles wooden pot still/s? It’s more likely like there’s a hefty amount of column juice in there as well.

Molasses based, distilled in Guyana at Diamond Distillery (very likely) in column and wooden pot stills and aged for an unspecified amount of time in ex-Bourbon casks in Guyana before blending in Scotland. Bottled at 40% ABV with a generous measure of caramel colouring at the very least.

On the nose feels quite rich. Liquorice, strawberry jam, prunes, blackcurrants and raisins. Sandalwood, rose jam, vanilla and brown sugar. Seems pretty sweet. Dark chocolate, coffee liqueur and nutmeg.

On the palate the bitterness is the main player. Black coffee, Earl Grey tea, raw cocoa nibs, burnt orange zest and liquorice. Angelica root, bitter caramel, damp cardboard, cola and molasses. Some vanilla and maple syrup notes are trying to balance the bitterness, but it’s hopeless. The finish is short with a medicinal note and bitterness.

I mean it did the job for my batched mix, but this neat is like chewing angelica root and ground coffee, the bitterness is very off putting. I’ve had worse, but I definitely prefer Wood’s 100 by a mile for more body, complexity and even balance. Can be found at £18 on Amazon which is pretty decent.

Robert Watson’s Demerara Rum score:
Flavour/taste: 38/70
Value for money: 13/15
Transparency/purity: 9/15
Overall: 60/100


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