Rum Review: Lost Spirits Navy Style Rum
Lost Spirits Distillery Navy Style 68% Cask Strength Rum Review
Recently I had the good fortune to share a few drinks with Lost Spirits Distillery owners Bryan Davis and Joanne Haruta and spend some time talking about their new Navy Style rum. While the average rum nut would be excused for not knowing about Lost Spirits, it’s well-known in whisk(e)y circles that Bryan and Joanne produce award-winning single malt whiskies among the strawberry and artichoke fields of Monterey County. But on this night, they were all about rum.
A self-taught chemical engineer, Bryan’s scientific, methodically analytical approach to making spirits is refreshing. We spent considerable time talking about fermentation microbiology and the chemical reactions that occur inside the barrel, but it’s his passion for the craft that really blew me away. I mean here’s a guy that knows where to make his cuts and how to blend barrels, but he’s also built two stills with his own hands and speaks about his products as if they were his children. And speaking of those products, I had a chance to try the 55% ABV rum while we chatted. It was quite good, but Bryan maintained the 68% cask strength was smoother despite the lack of water. He sent me away with a bottle to prove it, so that’s what we’ll be looking at today.
The tall bottle is clear and topped by a natural cork stopper with plastic cap. The label is a thing of beauty. My son remarked that the label looked “steampunk-inspired” and I can’t say I disagree. It’s old and new at the same time—there’s an angel on the label, but he’s sitting on a skull and cross bones. There’s also an old wooden frigate with enough cannons to obliterate the entire Spanish Main. But as artful as the label is, it’s the words that make the biggest impression on a rum nerd such as myself. Words like “no additives” and “cask strength”. There’s even an ingredients list which shows only “baking grade molasses, evaporated sugar cane juice, water.” The lack of caramel color is surprising given its darkness, but it’s all from Bryan’s innovative barrel aging protocol.
In the glass, the deep brown rum is as dark as cola. In the light, there are flashes of red mahogany, and a swirl of the snifter produces multitudinous long and liberal legs. At 68%, there is a fair bit of astringency, but that’s to be expected. The nose shows plenty of phenolics and charred oak on the bottom end, while the waft of ethanol carries the citrus upward: mostly lemon and grapefruit. Let’s taste it neat before we add some water…
The rum enters with a kick of heat and spice. Simultaneously, the palate is thinly but thoroughly coated by oaky tannins. There is a big dose of the phenolics and charred oak we noticed on nosing, and after only a few sips, my palate appears to be conditioned (anesthetized?) to this bold beast. As I get a good dose of dunderous funk, I’m already thinking this will be a huge hit among the high hogo set.
In between sips I can taste the citrus I noticed earlier, which is now represented by whole grapefruit and blood orange zest combined with a bit of lemon. There is also some dark purple grapes and marasca cherries. Beyond the fruit is molasses, vanilla and a hint of caramel, all of which is never too far from the charred oak that carries the long finish. Let’s add some water and see if we can pick anything else up…
As I add a few drops of water and swirl, I can’t help but think about saponification, and what Bryan would say at this point. On the other hand, this rum has so many aromatic esters that it could definitely survive the loss of a few from my quick water addition. The water does open it up a little while playing down the astringency, but it’s almost as if the rum has gotten “hotter”. Now I understand what Bryan was saying about the smoothness of the cask strength—water doesn’t add much to the party. Two new flavors do come forth at the lower proof, however: a bit of cola nut and sarsaparilla.
At 68% ABV, my tasting glass is still half-full and I’m half in-the-bag, so we should probably wrap this up. Suffice to say I really enjoyed this rum, and wait with childlike anticipation to see what Bryan and Joanne do for an encore. Because for an innovative team like this, the best is certainly yet to come.
On to the scores:
- Appearance 1/1
- Aroma 2/2
- Mouth feel 1/1
- Taste 3.5/4
- Aftertaste 2/2
- Total 9.5/10
Have you tried Lost Spirits Distillery Navy Style rum? Please share your thoughts below!