Review: Sugar House Blood Tub Rum

Since I started blogging I became gradually more interested in rum distilled in the UK, with Scotland leading the movement. I can’t say I’ve tried an UK cane distillate that I disliked, but I can definitely admit that quite a few exceeded my expectations by far. Because of that I am doing my best to try as many local rums as possible, but I’m embarrassed to say this is the first time I’m reviewing something from Sugar House Rum.

Sugar House Rum is from Scotland, more exactly Glasgow based and it was established in 2017. The name is inspired from the original 17th century rum producers of Scotland – the Glasgow Sugar Houses. According to their website there were four such Sugar Houses around the city that were importing and refining muscovado sugar from the West Indies and also were into rum production.

Sugar House Blood Tub Room is the brand’s first aged release and one of the oldest rums in terms of wood maturation coming from Scotland – 3 years. The rum was aged in a small (almost) 50 litre virgin oak cask, which is also called “Blood Tub” due to its small size – hence the name of the bottling. Before I continue I have to mention the presentation because it’s just gorgeous (and very photogenic).

The bottle and labeling give it a vintage look to begin with, and to make things even better, it is packed in a bespoke wooden bottle box which comes with a wax-sealed envelope containing a certificate of authenticity featuring the specifications of the rum and tasting notes from none other than Steven James from the Rum Diaries Blog. Given all the effort that was put into making this bottle I was a little bit reluctant in opening it just yet, but I did have a sample of the rum, courtesy of Ross Bradley, owner of Sugar House Rum, so I used it to write my own tasting notes below (even the sample bottle looks cool).

The rum is molasses based, left to ferment for 2 weeks before being pot still distilled at Strathearn Distillery – Sugar House Rum doesn’t distill there anymore since around 2018. Aged in a small virgin oak cask for 3 years in Scotland and bottled at 56.4% ABV. The cask was filled in January 2018 with the sample being bottled in January 2021 and the 70cl bottle in June 2021 (so the bottle might not have exactly the same profile due to additional vat resting). According to my certificate my bottle is number 40 out of 61 – so a very limited release.

On the nose feels woody and spicy. Sandalwood, pencil shavings, cacao and ginger. Ripe bananas, coconut, cloves, dark chocolate and dusty old books. I wouldn’t say it’s funky, but it has a certain pungency, sourdough-like. Unripe peaches, black pepper, sour cherries, black olives and sweet chilli. Some hints of anise as well. There’s quite a lot going, especially for a rum this young.

On the palate there’s like a wood and chocolate explosion. Cacao nibs, milk chocolate, liquorice, caramel, sawdust and cola. Black pepper, banana flambe, brown sugar, sweetened coffee and cinnamon. Cayenne pepper, red wine, vanilla, stout and maple syrup with a hint of dust. This is sweet, rich and spicy in a very pleasant way. The finish is long with brown sugar and raisins.

This reminds me quite a bit of the Nine Leaves Encrypted III, it’s an absolute beauty with rich, woody, spicy and warm flavours. It cost me £75 and I regret nothing… too bad it’s out of stock, but that’s expected given that the number of bottles released has only two digits. My advice is to keep an eye on Sugar House Rum for future releases, I know I will.

Sugar House Blood Tub Rum score:
Flavour/taste: 59/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 89/100


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