Rum Review: Owney’s Original
Owney’s Original Rum Review
Owney’s rum is made in Brooklyn, New York at The Noble Experiment. The rum is distilled by Bridget Firtle, a former Wall Streeter and Brooklyn native who found distilling rum was a far better way to spend her days. Owney’s is not yet distributed in California [UPDATE: Owney’s is now distributed in California by Young’s Market.] but I was fortunate enough to taste it at the Miami Rum Festival; a sample was subsequently provided for review.
The Owney’s rum bottle boasts a distinctive design that simultaneously elicits thoughts of Prohibition-era labels on medicinal spirits and WWII-era tattoo art. The rear label tells the story of the brand’s namesake, Owen “Owney” Madden, a notorious New York rum runner and speakeasy proprietor. The custom square bottle bears raised glass letters and hand-numbered batch information. At the top of the bottle is a plastic-topped synthetic stopper.
Owney’s rum is distilled to 82.5% in a hybrid still. The unaged spirit is carbon filtered and proofed down to 40% ABV for bottling. It retails for $35.
In the glass, the rum is perfectly clear. A swirl in the snifter produces a razor thin ring atop the glass; droplets form and fall slowly and steadily.
The nose bears a bit of astringency as one might expect from an unaged white rum, but it’s not at all off-putting. More interesting are the aromas that appear after the alcohol dies down a bit—despite being distilled from molasses (non-GMO, 5-day fermentation) there are notes of fresh cane wafting up with the molasses. After the grass and molasses comes a bit of butter cream and a hint of brine followed by a dusting of black pepper.
As the rum washes over my palate, the smooth, slightly sweet and round mouthfeel fools me into believing there is no kick to be had. As soon as this notion is formed, a dose of heat and spice appears, proving me wrong. As things begin to gel, the roundness quickly reappears, playing down the spice considerably. The flavors are nearly identical to the aromas: butter cream, molasses, and a bit of grass followed by some black pepper and a briny note. There is also a bit of vanilla. The fairly short finish displays a bit of phenols and a small dose of baking chocolate.
I must admit that I am always a bit worried when I try domestically produced rum. As a rum promoter, I want to like it all, but many of these (relatively) pricey rums miss the mark badly. Not so with Owney’s. Bridget has managed to create a white rum with a flavor profile that calls back to its sugar cane roots while maintaining a smooth and silky mouthfeel that will please rum-lovers and easily draw in imbibers of other white spirits. If pressed for criticism, I might say that the rum is so smooth that we would benefit from seeing it at a higher ABV. As for what’s next, Bridget has of course laid down some rum in oak. With a new make rum that tastes this good, I can’t wait to see what the aged stocks end up like.
On to the scores:
- Appearance: 1/1
- Nose: 1.75/2
- Mouth feel: 1/1
- Taste: 3.5/4
- Aftertaste: 1.75/2
- Total Score: 9/10
Have you tasted Owney’s Original rum? Please share your thoughts below.