Oh man, this should be a fun one, but first some background.
Sunset Very Strong Rum is made at St. Vincent Distillers Limited (SVDL) on the… Saint Vincent island. The distillery was built on the site of a former sugar mill, the Mount Benick Estate, that was closed in 1985 because of the falling of the sugar industry. The mill itself was built in 1925 and in 1963 the St. Vincent government bought it and renamed it St. Vincent Distillers – pretty straight forward, eh? In 1996 the government sold SVDL to C.K. Greaves & Co. Limited who owns it to this day.
The only thing that could be more straight forward than a distillery in St. Vincent called St. Vincent Distillers probably is the “Very Strong Rum” moniker found on the label – which, for some reason, wakes up an intense urge in me of using a Russian accent when reading it. This stuff is… well… very strong! Take your usual 40% ABV rum, double it, and then add some more just in case. I normally turn my nose up to any spirit under 40% (looking at you, flavoured rums!), I find it very hard to take them seriously, but Sunset had my respect and admiration the second I read the ABV number.
What I’m about to do here do not try at home, this rum is meant for mixing – literally one shot of this in your coke is stronger than a double of most of the standard rail spirits. I have trained my body, soul and palate over the years in order to be able to withstand such concentrated spirits on their own – I’m a professional! Oh and definitely do not keep it next to a fire source… as you shouldn’t do with all alcohol actually… unless you’re some crazy bartender wearing tropical shirts and a layer of ground cinnamon.
Sunset Very Strong Rum (SVSR) is molasses based, fermented for about 36 hours and distilled in a double column still at 95% ABV. Bottled at a very strong 84.5% ABV and I believe it’s free of additions… barely any water added as well.
On the nose SVSR feels… nice actually. Coconut cream, biscuits, cocoa butter, toffee and vanilla. Liquorice, Raffaello, mint and grapefruit zest. The ABV tickles my nostrils a bit, but not as much as I would’ve expected. Peanuts, basil and orgeat.
On the palate it feels oily and sweet upfront. Coconut cream and toffee again, white cacao liqueur and a touch of mint. Think a subtle, boozed up Grasshoper. Slightly salted peanut butter and some Parma Violets. A grapefruit zest note gives it an edge and the ABV makes it hot and spicy from mid palate towards the end with cayenne pepper and green hot chilli. The finish is long and dry with coconut oil and a very hot spicy note.
I feel like St. Vincent Distillers are simply flexing with this expression, but then I read the locals drink this neat or with some ice – hats down! I should put tasting this neat on my CV, my throat feels like I ate sandpaper. Its initial flavour is actually quite sweet and enjoyable, it’s just the high ABV that’s punching my palate into the guts. It isn’t a bad rum at all, it also won quite a few awards including The World’s Best Overproof Rum and it works very well mixed with the likes of coke or Ting (grapefruit soda), in a boozy Pina Colada or simply used to add some serious punch to your Punch.
It’s not a crazy DOK or raw agricole/Clairin, the most interesting bit about it is the strength, but if it was bottled at 42% ABV I believe it still would’ve been better than many white rums available on the market.
Can be found at £43 on Master of Malt which is pretty good considering you’re getting over two standard bottles of booze in one. Also always worth having one on hand for those people that claim they can drink anything, just hand them this and record their reaction – I am terrible, I know.
I’ve never said this with a straight face, but if you buy Sunset Very Strong Rum, please drink responsibly!
Sunset Very Strong Rum score:
Value for money: 14/15