This is something totally new to me and I feel genuinely privileged to be reviewing this rum. It’s the newly released (so new that I’m not sure it’s available in shops yet) Canefire No.5 rum from the Kimberley Rum Company in W.A.
So the guys at KRC contacted me and asked if I would like to try a bottle of their new release on the house. Now, of course, who can refuse an offer like that. I’m forever chasing Australian rums to try so I was pretty excited about this. What did worry me though was how could I possibly write an impartial review now? Could I really write exactly what I thought of it without fear or favour? What if it was awful? What would I say?
Blair is the brand ambassador from KRC and my contact. I asked if he would mind giving me some details on the rum. I’ll admit that I had very little knowledge of the brand so I was intrigued to know what the distilling process was and also the provenance of the company.
Blair replied comprehensively to my questions and with the amount of information and honesty that some of the larger, more established companies could learn from.
This is what he had to say
“Rather than using molasses or cane juice we use unrefined sugar. While it does have an element of molasses to it, it isn’t as base heavy. We started up in Kununurra in the 90’s. We were farming all of our sugar from the Ord River Sugar Mill. Unfortunately, the sugar mill shut down in 2005, so we had to start sourcing from QLD. Since 2006 our entire production has been from our site in the Swan Valley, WA. The Great Northern Distillery houses our 1000L reflux still. We had her custom built in Australia. It is 100% stainless steel, which makes it ideal to stripping alcohol down to its purist form. We call her Candy.
When we put our stuff to barrel we use exclusively French oak, 225L ex-Shiraz barrels. We do not strip or char the barrels but prefer our rum to sit on that shiraz seasoned wood. We do have a compliment of barrels that do not fit this profile (such as Hungarian white oak, American oak, 300L barrels, different seasonings and chars) but we consider them satellites – put aside for future small batched releases.
We have 2 main types of spirit that we put to barrel; Annual Reserve and Rohan’s reserve. Annual Reserve goes to barrel at a higher percentage and is a much cleaner spirit. Over time this gives more consistency across the barrels, for blending. Rohan’s Reserve is named after our founder and former Master Distiller (Rohan Passmore). Rohan’s Reserve goes to barrel at a lower percentage, and a bit more tailings in the final cut. This becomes more verbose and varied, and we use these to blend ideal flavours, using the Annual Reserve as a base.
For example; Canefire No.5 Rum has a base of 9 barrels of AR, and 5 selected barrels of RR; all aged 5 years”
All very fascinating and refreshingly informative but what does it actually taste like?
Well firstly the packaging. I love the bottle. Slightly quirky with a good shape and a couple of thick bands embossed in the glass. It’s almost reminiscent of a barrel. I’m not sure if thats the idea in the design but that is certainly what it reminds me of. The label is very classy in metallic red and matt black and “Hallelujah!” it’s not a screw cap!!
But all the nice packaging in the world means nothing if the product isn’t up to par so lets remove the stopper and find out.
Initial nosing left me a little surprised. I was honestly expecting this to be a very sweet smelling rum but I was very wrong. It actually has a very nice citrus, grassy aroma with a background of under ripe pineapple and banana. There’s almost an agricole feel to it. There’s very little, if any, alcohol burn to it at all. Right at the back is a toffee hint. Very easy going on the nose.
First tasting and I get a really delicious Agricole. This rum really is full of surprises as I really did expect a sweet, heavy expression. Instead I get a delicate earthy, grassy hit. It really is a beautiful flavourful experience. Again, like the aroma, it’s not heavy on the esters but they are there without the alcohol burn. It’s a world away from the Hoochery Distillery rums that also hail from the Kimberly region. The Hoochery Rums are big, powerful, in your face, aggressive rums, where as this is delicate, floral, grassy. It’s still complex with lots happening in each mouth full and it really is a pleasure to savour and discover what is coming up next but it’s not a challenging rum by any means.
The finish is very nice it’s long and gentle. The french oak from the barrels comes through now and the lingering long wood finish is most pleasant.
My concerns that I would have to try and say nice things about a bad rum have been allayed. This really is a beautiful expression. Great for when you just want something to sip on without having to fight any powerful alcohol notes to get to the good stuff.
As an after note, I recently acquired an alchometer and I put the Canefire No.5 to the test. The label tells me that it should be 40% abv and the alchometer agrees. This is pure, unadulterated rum. Another Australian winner in my opinion. Fantastic.