Review: DropWorks Funk Drop Rum

DropWorks is the newest British rum brand to appear on the market – you could say it’s the new cool kid on the block. I went to their launch party earlier this year in May at the Merchant House and I have to say it piqued my interest. Well, I was already reeled in as soon as I found out it’s made in Nottinghamshire, England, but the fact that they experiment with various rum making methods got me really intrigued.

Lewis Hayes, the owner of the distillery, has been in the hospitality industry for around 18 years and he is the owner of two of the most revered rum bars in London, Merchant House and Black Parrot. His vision for DropWorks is to make modern rum with a “rum is fun” attitude, but without dodgy flavourings or misleading marketing. With Shaun Smith as the Head Distiller they have a full hands-on approach with plenty of research behind it in order to make it right – they don’t shy away from experimenting with various raw materials, yeast or even muck and dunder.

Dubbed as the largest rum distillery in Europe, DropWorks Distillery has a production capacity of about 2 million bottles of rum a year and they’re currently casking 2 barrels a day. They are laying down a lot of unique and interesting barrels that will be released in the future as a “Drop” – hence the name.

They are all about looking forward, hence their double retort still is the first ever in England, they are the first to import cane honey and they are the first to use their own wild yeast strain, which are three different strains of yeast living symbiotically – this is a world first, according to Lewis. Also, as a little fun fact, it appears that DropWorks Distillery is closer to the Caribbean than Hawaii is!?

Onto the Funk, this is their overproof unaged white rum that has been developed after a few trials. They settled on a single marque rum that is fermented using cane honey, or cane syrup if you will, for 8 to 10 days using their tri-yeast (I came up with that name, do not have a go at them) and molasses based dunder (stillage). It was then distilled with molasses based muck on their double retort pot still.

Yes, I did ask what’s in the muck – it’s simply aged dunder. They take the leftover wash left in the still after distilling with molasses and they aged it without anything else added. It’s constantly topped up after every use, like sort of a muck perpetual blend. It doesn’t seem to be as graphic as the legendary muck from the pits in Jamaica.

DropWorks Funk Rum is cane syrup based, fermented for over a week with dunder and then pot still distilled with some aged muck. Bottled at 63% ABV without any additives.

On the nose there’s definitely some sort of funk going on. Ash, Maraschino liqueur, mothballs and unripe stone fruits. Paint fumes, palm sugar, umeshu and toffee. It has both a sweet and medicinal profile. Strawberry flakes, peach jam, blackberries and a touch of oregano. Some violet liqueur as well.

On the palate the funk comes back. Tangerines, strawberry jam, guava and ripe bananas. Sandalwood, black tea and liqurice. It’s more fruity and funky on the palate, it actually reminds me of Worthy Park to a degree. Some herbs with a mezcal reminiscent profile as well. Nail varnish and ashy flavours. The finish is long with medicinal notes and umeshu.

British overproof rums are really on their way to challenge the Caribbean with expressions such as the Hurricane from Isle of Man, Sugar House Overproof (embarassingly I didn’t get around to review it) from Scotland and this release from Nottinghamshire, England. English rum with a Jamaican flavour twist and a touch of mezcal-ish complexity – delicious!

As I said DropWorks is the new cool kid on the block and you have to meet him. If you’re a fan of Jamaican overproofs give the Funk Drop a chance. This fun looking bottle is quite reasonably priced at £42 (The Whisky Exchange).

DropWorks Funk Drop Rum score:
Flavour/taste: 55/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 85/100


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