Review: J. Gow Hall of Clestrain

I still remember when I attended the Rum Show earlier this year in July and I visited the J. Gow stand. There Collin van Schayk walked me through his J. Gow range and after we exhausted what was on the table, he pulled a sample from beneath – it was a preview of this bottling and easily one of my Rum Show highlights. After trying it I promised I would get a bottle no matter what, so here we are.

J. Gow is made in Orkney, Scotland and its name is inspired by an infamous pirate, John Gow. This same pirate raided the Hall of Clestrain on the 10th of February 1725 during a return to Orkney. According to the story, some said he took many valuables and others claimed he only left with some silver spoons. The hall is also known as the birthplace of the explorer John Raye who was born in 1813 and 10% of the profits from each bottle of J. Gow Hall of Clestrain is given towards the restoration of the hall.

Now for the technicals, this is the SD/DS marque which has been aged in a chestnut cask from 04/09/2018 to 29/11/2021 and underwent a secondary maturation in 3 second fill PX sherry octaves until 05/09/2023 bringing it up to a total of 5 years of ageing.

J. Gow Hall of Clestrain is molasses based, fermented for 14 days, pot still distilled and aged for 5 years in a chestnut cask and 3 former PX sherry octaves. Bottled at at 54% ABV without anything added and only 229 bottles available – mine is number 19.

On the nose it feels quite spicy and oaky. Walnuts, dried apricots, floral honey and Tokaji wine. Yellow apples, sultanas and brown sugar. It has a a very interesting profile, moreish and spicy. Ginger, white pepper and a hint of nutmeg. Pencil shavings, orange marmalade, vanilla, baklava and passion fruit. Acetone and dried plums too.

On the palate there’s an explosion of fruity flavours. Dried figs, sultanas, walnuts, Tokaji wine, passion fruit and a touch of jara lemon. Agave syrup, white grapes, white pepper, apricots and white mulberries. It really tastes like a white dessert wine, similar to a fruity nectar, but without the actual sweetness. Ginger, menthol, vanilla and some nail varnish. Some subtle notes of smoke and savoury layers too. The finish is long with fruity honey and roasted nuts.

Okay, just wow! This is complex and filled with orchard fruits flavours as well as layers of nuts and oak spices. All incredibly well integrated, and when you think about it, this is only a 5 year old rum which is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, buy boy does it deliver… It surpasses the J. Gow UKRC Single Cask Selection which scored 92/100, so I have to say, J. Gow is the rum brand of the year for me. Beautiful rum!

Hall of Clestrain is priced at £80 which honestly is fantastic value for money, especially considering it gives to charity as well. How often do you find a rum made in Scotland that is aged both in chestnut and sherry barrels? Stock is limited so if I were you I’d grab myself one as soon as possible!

J. Gow Hall of Clestrain Rum:
Flavour/taste: 62/70
Value for money: 17/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 94/100


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