Review: Portsmouth Distillery – 1812 3 Year Old Rum

A three year old rum fermented, distilled and aged entirely in England? Yes, please! I pre-ordered this bottling a few weeks ago and now I’m excited to give it a try. The rum is made at the Portsmouth Distillery which was established in 2018 and is located on the Portsea Island in Hampshire, England.

The Portsmouth Distillery Co. produces a range of spirits such as gin, brandy and, of course, rum. The site of the distillery is actually placed inside the 18th century Fort Cumberland, a Historic England property. The first site of the fort was built in 1748 and was meant to guard the entrance to Langstone Harbour, east of the Dockyard of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. It was sited to protect the Royal Navy Dockyard, by preventing enemy forces from landing in Langstone Harbour and attacking from the landward side (thank you, Wikipedia!).

Fort Cumberland was completely rebuilt as a part of a programme of improving Portsmouth’s fortifications – the rebuild works started in 1785 and were completed in 1812, hence the name of the rum.

Interestingly they don’t use molasses to make their rums, but they import dehydrated sugar cane juice from Costa Rica and turn it on a syrup on site in order to use as a base material. The 1812 is described by the label as a single cask release – my bottling comes from cask 1 out of 22.

So 1812 is unprocessed cane sugar based, fermented for around 2 weeks, pot still distilled and aged in a 200 litre ex-Bourbon barrel for 3 years. Bottled at 43% ABV without any adulterating.

On the nose it feels quite fruity. Pink grapefruit peel, quince jam, unripe plums and green apples. It has like a dry white wine-ish profile. Figs and white grapes. White pepper, printer ink and iron. Hints of coconut and nutmeg. Doesn’t feel like a lot of cask influence on the nose, but let’s see the taste.

On the palate it seems to have some medicinal notes. Juniper berries, cacao nibs, toffee and bay leaf. Feels quite botanical and earthy. White pepper, bananas, grapefruit and angelica root. Biscuits, sea salt and peach. Finish is medium with toffee and some bitterness.

Alright, so unfortunately I’m not a fan. This isn’t terrible, but I would also struggle to recommend it. It feels like the flavours are not really in harmony, it just jumps from sweet to medicinal to bitter and I can’t get into it too much. Also the cask influence seems very minimal – I would be curious to try their 1968 rum, which is the unaged version of this one, in order to determine if the ageing threw the distillate off.

As I said it isn’t very bad, but quite meh, especially compared to other UK distilled and aged rums. It’s £48 for a bottle on their website, which is pretty standard price for an aged UK offering coming from a small distillery, but the taste and profile don’t fully rise up to the money value unfortunately.

I’ll still keep an eye on the distillery, might be just a not-so-great batch.

Portsmouth Distillery – 1812 3 Year Old Rum score:
Flavour/taste: 44/70
Value for money: 9/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 68/100


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