Merser & Co. comes from the Hayman family (the same responsible for Hayman’s Gin). According to James Hayman, his family was involved in the rum trade and blending over 100 years ago. During the 18th and 19th century, London was full of blending houses that were sourcing the rums from the Caribbean via ships that were coming down the Thames River. The blends resulted from each house were let to marry for a few months and then were shipped/sold around the world and the idea behind Merser was to revive the craft of rum blending in London.
Established in early 2019, Merser & Co. is London’s first blending house for over 100 years. Situated in Central London, it marks the return of the Hayman’s family into the rum business, as they were one of London’s original rum merchants – apparently Merser means “merchant” in Old English. The blending house is equipped with a blending room, store, tasting area and cocktail bar which unfortunately aren’t available for the public at the moment due to the pandemic, but as soon as it’s allowed I am planning to visit it.
About the rum itself, the website states it’s a blend of rums sourced from Jamaica, Barbados and Dominican Republic aged up to 12 years before blending. No anymore information is given about the blend make-up, although on The Spirit Merchant website (Hayman’s UK spirit division and distributor) mentions Panama also. And to make it slightly more confusing, at an online tasting last year it was stated that there’s rum from Guatemala in there too, with the components aged up to 8 years. I did try and get more information regarding this directly from Merser & Co. and all I’ve been told is that the website information is the most accurate, so I’ll go with that – rums from Jamaican, Barbados and DR.
After the rums are blended at the blending house they are then left to age for a further 6 months in 250 litres ex-Scotch casks, hence the Double Barrel moniker on the bottle. As having a bunch of barrels filled with flammable liquid in the centre of London is generally frowned upon, the said barrels are stored at the Hayman’s Distillery.
So Merser & Co. Double Barrel Rum is molasses based (and potentially cane juice for the Dominican Republic component), pot, column and multi-column still distilled, aged for up to 12 years in ex-Bourbon casks, blended in Central London and finished for an additional 6 months in ex-Scotch casks. Bottled at 43.1% ABV free of sugar or colouring.
On the nose vanilla jumps right out. Vanilla custard, cacao nibs and coffee beans. Spicy with charred oak, ginger, black pepper and tobacco. Fruity with sour cherries, red apples, mango and orange. Some dusty cardboard and coriander as well.
On the palate it feels oak driven with fruity notes. Pear, red apples, passion fruit, mango, blueberries and sultanas. Tobacco, caramel, ground coffee, dusty cardboard, leather and a slightly burnt note. The profile is similar of a Cuban rum with a splash of Barbadian distillate. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. The finish is medium to long with salted caramel and ginger.
Personally I’m a fan of full-bodied “Navy style” multi-island blends with rums from Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana, but I just tried two brands in one week (Golden Heist Rum and this one) that contain rums from Dominican Republic, Barbados and Jamaica and I’m not hating it. Even if the profile tends to be more towards the light and woody Dominican Republic rums, I found that the Barbadian and Jamaican component additions add some nice vibrant fruit layers along with a bit more body, but not too much so it overtakes the overall easy-going style. And sometimes easy-going is a nice change of pace.
Merser & Co. Double Barrel Rum can be found for £35 (The Spirit Merchant or Master of Malt) or even at the same price on Amazon when on offer, otherwise it’s £40. A safe blend, yet fairly complex. Go for it if you enjoy the likes of Havana 7, Doorly’s XO or La Progresiva. The packaging is pretty neat as well, hard to gloss over that.
Merser & Co. Double Barrel Rum score:
Value for money: 14/15