Review: Mainbrace Navy Strength

“A naval phrase that celebrates courage, teamwork and friendship forged in the heart of battle. In the days of sail, the main sail was steadied, or braced, with a thick rope called the Mainbrace. If it was cut by enemy fire, a team of sailors had to splice the mainbrace back together whilst under fire to save the ship and win the battle. As a reward for successfully achieving this titanic task, the captain would order the ship’s purser to issue a double ration of rum or gin to the team as a toast to victory.” – from the Mainbrace website.

So here it is, Mainbrace takes inspiration from the British Royal Navy and its traditions although the blend itself wouldn’t necessarily count as a traditional Navy – but then many other brands that claim to be the recreation of the original Navy rum blend when it’s really not the case, it’s mostly about the flavour profile. Regardless, Mainbrace is a fairly unique combination with molasses based rum from Guyana and cane juice based (or agricole if you’d like) from Martinique.

Because of this seemingly appealing combination I’ve had my eye on Mainbrace for a while now and after researching it I found even more reasons to get bottle and review it. Mainbrace is a small Cornish brand and they’re supporting a local non-profit organisation called Clean Ocean Sailing which is composed of volunteers who clean up the litter in and around the Helford River. Mainbrace also partnered up with double Olympian Saskia Tidey and upcoming British talent Freya Black and are committed to the empowerement of female athletes.

Now back to the rum itself, their Navy Strength is the same blend make-up as their standard 40% ABV offering, but their website doesn’t offer any details about the stills or age and they didn’t reply to my email either which is somehow disappointing – luckily Amazon (where I purchased my bottle) has some information on their 40% blend so I’ll go with that.

According to them this is a blend of unaged distillate from Martinique and a blend of rums from Guyana distilled in 3 different stills and aged for 2 to 5 years. Looking online at various retailers, the Martinique distillery is noted to be La Favourite and Guyana has only one working distillery, Diamond. Stills wise, the Martinique rum would be made using a creole column still, as for the Guyanese component, given it says it comes from 3 different stills, I’ll assume at least one of them is one of their wooden pot stills.

So Mainbrace Navy Strength is molasses and cane juice based, pot and column distilled and aged from 0 to 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks. Bottled, as the name suggests, at navy strength so 54.5% ABV without any additions.

On the nose I can definitely feel the profile of the Port Mourant double wooden pot still from Diamond Distillery. Liquorice, English Breakfast tea, unripe banana peel, cappuccino and black pepper. Corn on the cob, saffron and apple cider vinegar. The Guyanese component seems more prominent, but there are subtle, sharp notes from the agricole as well. Plum jam, muscovado sugar, caramel and a hint of cane juice.

On the palate once again the Guyanese component takes over. Dark chocolate, liquorice, cacao nibs and biscuits. Muscovado sugar, lime zest and ginger beer. The agricole is very faint with notes of cane juice and unripe bananas. Raisins and oak spices as well. The finish is medium to long with caramel and cappuccino.

I like this, but I can’t help to think that it could be better. The agricole influence is very faint while the Guyana takes over – not that I’m complaining, I love Guyanese rums, but I feel like if there was some more agricole, perhaps some aged one, it would work even better and give it more layers.

Still, a good rum and I wouldn’t be reluctant to categorise it as a Navy Style. It can be found for about £45 (Master of Malt) which isn’t particularly cheap, but if you enjoy Demerara rums, even if it has a dash of agricole influence, you will not be disappointed.

Mainbrace Navy Strength score:
Flavour/taste: 54/70
Value for money: 14/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 83/100


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