Review: J. Gow Fading Light vs J. Gow Revenge

J. Gow was established in 2016 and is a Scottish rum brand inspired by the infamous Orkney pirate John Gow. His criminal career started in Amsterdam and ended in Orkney where he was imprisoned and hung (twice due to a rope error). The rum is made at the VS Distillery which is owned/operated by Collin van Schayk and is located in Orkney, Scotland (duh!) on the small island of Lamb Holm.

The J. Gow rums are multi-awarded and have been praised in the online community, and given this is my first time trying them, in order to catch up I decided to review two of their offerings (Fading Light and Revenge) at the same time while comparing them – which is always fun!

The name Fading Light refers to “the glow of the sun that never truly sets in the summer, or the dying light of short winter days. Known locally as the grimleens, the eerie dusk in Orkney has inspired many tales of ghosts and spirits.” – taken from their website.

What makes this rum special, besides being made in the UK is the fact that is has been aged in a chestnut cask for one year before bottling. The idea behind this is that chestnut is more porous than oak, making it easier to age and given the weather in Orkney is not particularly warm the thought process makes sense – and there’s a bit of a novelty too.

The Fading Light (FL) is molasses based, fermented for 14 days before being pot still double distilled and aged for 12 months in chestnut casks. Bottled at 43% ABV and free of any additions.

On the nose FL feels quite sweet and savoury. Olive brine, vanilla, iron, sponge cake and salted caramel. Fresh dough, parma violet, brown sugar and walnuts. A lot of flavours going on. Nutmeg, ginger and floral blanco vermouth.

On the palate has some funk to it. Black olives, overripe bananas, peaches, brown sugar and agave syrup. Rich with hints of vegetal/green notes. Cappuccino, cacao nibs, stout, cinnamon and a dash of nail varnish. Some cayenne pepper, camomile tea and nutmeg. The finish is medium with banana bread and nuts.

The Revenge ties back into the pirate branding of the rum as John Gow, after he instigated mutiny aboard the trading vessel, the Caroline, made the ship his own. He mounted 6 more cannons on the ship, renamed it The Revenge and started his pirating career. J. Gow Revenge is their most recent release and one of the oldest rums made in the UK, with a total of 3 years spent in oak.

The Revenge is a blend of 2 marques, HD and DS, one of which uses dunder.

Molasses based, partly fermented with dunder added, pot still distilled and aged for 3 years in a combination of ex-Bourbon and virgin oak casks in Orknley. Bottled at 43% with a limited number of around 2000 bottles and free of any additions.

On the nose Revenge seem a bit more sharp and spicy than FL. Black olives, grapefruit and lemon zests, overripe pineapple and dusty furniture. White wine, floral honey and black pepper. Vanilla, red apples and sweet chilli. So far it seems a bit lighter than FL in flavour.

On the palate it’s definitely more spicy. Cayenne pepper, tabasco, black pepper, honey and Belgian beer. Toffee, sponge cake, cloves, pears and dessert wine. Sweet and spicy would be the buzzwords here. Tobacco, saffron, stone fruits and walnuts. The finish is medium to long with vanilla and sweet chilli.

This is though, the Fading Light has a rich profile with a thicker mouthfeel, but then the Revenge has more spice which allows it to linger more on the finish and tingle my palate. It’s by a very small margin, but I do prefer the Fading Light, I really like that sweet and rich with a hint of savoury profile and I find it a tad more interesting.

The price points are £35 for the Fading Light and £39 for the Revenge which I do believe they are more than reasonable. How many chestnut cask aged/3 year old oak casks aged Scottish rums do you know? The J. Gow offerings are very unique and worth trying ASAP.

J. Gow Fading Light score:
Flavour/taste: 54/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 84/100

J. Gow Revenge score:
Flavour/taste: 53/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 83/100


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